This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Entrenching Deeper into Distorted Reality

It feels like we're stuck. At a recent therapy session, we spent the entire session talking about Kitty's relationship with Hubby (or lack thereof).  Kitty's distorted perception means she sees him as being hyper critical all the time.  Hubby's parenting style tends to be a bit quiet, a little sarcastic, a bit authoritative, and very laid back.  He tones it WAAAAYYYY down with Kitty, because she can't handle it at all, but she still sees all interactions through this skewed filter.

For Christmas last year, Santa brought the kids a Wii system and a couple of games.  Honestly the kids don't play it a lot (they say it's because of the limited game choices), but partially it's because it's set up on the main TV screen and if you want to play, then no one else can be watching TV.  In the car, Kitty started complaining that Ponito was playing Wii in the mornings so she couldn't watch her shows.  Hubby said something along the lines of, "Heaven forbid, someone doesn't get to watch TV!"

Kitty took this to mean that he thought she was self-centered, and for the next two days ran around to her teachers and family asking them if they thought she was self-centered (they of course all answered no, of course not).  Of course the reality is that she IS self-centered in a totally oblivious to the wants and needs of others kind of way (not so much that she thinks the world revolves around her). Immediately after the incident though, she just shut down and spent most of the rest of the day in her room.  Honestly, this is so typical of her usual behavior that we didn't really notice.

At one point in the evening, Hubby told her she needed to come out of her room and join the family.  At first she hid in a nearby room and read a book.  At therapy a few days later, she told me she'd decided to come out and deliberately torment Hubby by babbling at him while he tried to watch TV.  She was very successful although Hubby didn't realize she did it deliberately, because she does it so often.

I hate that it's so hard to live with her.  I want to feel that she's maturing and becoming easier to live with, but the reality is that while she is maturing in some ways (she didn't rage about this!!), she's not becoming easier to live with at all.  It feels like she's entrenching herself in this defense mechanism.  I see the Borderline Personality Disorder ("I hate you!  Don't leave me!") becoming a stronger part of her personality.


Kitty seems to be getting something out of holding Hubby and I at a distance.  Of course I understand why she is afraid to acknowledge that she is attached to us; she feels like it gives us power over her.  Plus, she really doesn’t have the relationship skills she needs to be able to have a healthy relationship, but how is she going to get those skills if something doesn’t change?

Bear went through something similar when he realized he was going to have to leave home soon (his perception, not reality of course).  At 15 ½ he finally started relaxing enough to attach and let us get close, but then suddenly he freaked and decided he had to leave home at 17 so he started pushing us away (irrationally he also seemed to blame us for abandoning him).  At 16 ½ we finally convinced him that being able to move out at 17 was an urban myth, and we wouldn’t allow him to leave at 17, but he was already thinking ahead to 18.  We tried to nip that in the bud too, but were ultimately unsuccessful.  He’d rejected us before we could reject him.

So here’s our dilemma:
We can go with status quo and continue to suffer Kitty’s verbal abuse, tiptoe around her impossible to contend with hypersensitive reactions, and allow her to continue to distance herself… and “enjoy” 20 years of this crap - knowing she loves us, and waiting for her to someday decide, maybe, to acknowledge it and treat us accordingly.  At which point there still might be some time to start working with her on how to have a real, loving relationship, that doesn’t involve hurtful “teasing,” revenge, and fight/flight or freeze responses.

Part of me wants to tell Kitty again that we plan to get legal guardianship, which means she no longer has the excuse of leaving in 1.5 years, so she NEEDS to learn to have a relationship with us.  Let her know we’re tired of being treated like crap, and won’t allow it anymore, but that we’re in this for the long haul and nothing she can do will push us away.  Hopefully alleviate the abandonment fear and avoid the sour grapes stuff that Bear did for so many years before he finally left (I know you’re going to leave me, so I’m pretending I never wanted you anyway, and I’ll prove it by leaving you first… and it’s your fault).

Another part of me worries that instead of relieving the pressure of her fear of abandonment, she’ll focus on seeing legal guardianship as a prison sentence… that we’re controlling her for the rest of her life, and her ODD will kick in and she’ll push us away anyway, and the next 20 years will be even worse -if that’s possible.  Plus she’ll STILL be miserable because she really does love us and need us and now she can’t let herself admit it.

I wonder if there’s a way to achieve the same goal without using the apparently triggering “legal guardianship” words.  Possibly wait until after her ARD next week, when she sees us fighting to get her what she wants and needs at school (assuming she chooses to see it that way), since school seems to be the biggest reason she’s mad about legal guardianship.  Maybe give her the ultimatum about not treating us like crap, but without the net of legal guardianship (assuming that doesn’t trigger her fear of abandonment).



Anonymous said...

What do you respect, admire, and appreciate about Kitty? Name those characteristics to her, often, and build a more loving attitude toward her based on your honest praise of her strengths. And tell the hubby to ditch the sarcasm with his loved ones---it's an eroding force in relationships, especially with children. The more you convey your love of her *to* her in a way that she can take in, the more she'll trust you and care about you in return. But parents have to do the bulk of the love work: always has been the way, always will be the way. The parents' payoff is when they see their children loving *their* children as well as they were loved by you.

Anonymous said...

I would love to "talk" with you more, as I am in TX and have a 15 yo dd with a probable BPD diagnosis. I understand much of what you write. If interested, let me know and we can somehow exchange contact info. C

marythemom said...

C - the best way to connect is through Parents of Children of Trauma. The information is on the right sidebar of my blog. If you join this Texas support group (which I moderate) then we can talk. If you don't want to join just note that in your application. It will still give me your e-mail and I can communicate with you directly.


marythemom said...

Anonymous - What I put on my blog is my personal thoughts, and probably sounds more negative than it is. I don't share most of these with Kitty and I try to maintain a loving attitude with her at all times. Honestly Kitty is very emotionally disturbed and has been the entire 6 years I've known her (although it was worse in the beginning), which makes it very hard to find positive things about her. Plus, she cannot accept praise (she believes you're lying to her). I try to provide as much loving support and reinforcement as I can get her to accept.

Maybe I overstated Hubby's use of sarcasm, it's more gentle teasing (and it is not used in a demeaning way ever!), and he doesn't do it much with Kitty because she absolutely cannot handle it at all, although it's nice that she finally has matured to the point where she can understand it. She used to be so literal that we actually had to tell her that something was a joke.

Anonymous said...

I get how Kitty can't accept praise. That's a hard thing for many kids who know that they're different from others. But can you make a list, here, of what you value in Kitty? And then remind her of those things every day? What do you respect, admire, and appreciate about Kitty?

In our house, we have a No Sarcasm Rule. There's such a range of intellectual and educational levels, that it's just not fair. If I let some sarcastic comment slip out, I always apologize to my kids. It's not a level playing field at all, and I end up feeling small afterwards.

Hope that Kitty finds some way to contribute to the community and makes some valuable friendships through her contributions. That's a good way into adulthood. A volunteer gig or two might help her clarify her strengths and skills.

Adrian said...

Just a thought, how stable is she really if life is so hard with her and shes still so... Walking on eggshells emotionally? How could the school district deny she's effectively disabled like this...
Isn't there anyway to get her more stable than that or is it mostly because her personality disorder makes her character under what the medicaation controls unstable?