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!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh Pono Pono!

Thought this was an interesting story, especially since Bear and Ponito both used the nickname Pono for awhile (that's how Ponito - "Little Pono" - got his nickname).  It feels a little new age weird to me, but I feel that way about Reiki too, and I have friends that swear by it.

Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients–without ever seeing any of them. The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he improved himself, the patient improved.
When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane?
It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story.
However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called ho 'oponopono. I had never heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know more.
I had always understood "total responsibility" to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of total responsibility that way. We're responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does. The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspective about total responsibility.
His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist. He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous. Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.
Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.
"After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely," he told me. "Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed."
I was in awe.
"Not only that," he went on, "but the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed."
This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: "What were you doing within yourself that caused those people to change?"
"I was simply healing the part of me that created them," he said.
I didn't understand.
Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life – simply because it is in your life–is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your creation.
Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life.
This means that terrorist activity, the president, the economy–anything you experience and don't like–is up for you to heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have to change you.
I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in ho 'oponopono means loving yourself. If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone–even a mentally ill criminal–you do it by healing you.
I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when he looked at those patients' files?
"I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again," he explained.
That's it?
That's it.
Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, your improve your world. Let me give you a quick example of how this works: one day, someone sent me an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled it by working on my emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason with the person who sent the nasty message. This time, I decided to try Dr. Len's method. I kept silently saying, "I'm sorry" and "I love you," I didn't say it to anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit of love to heal within me what was creating the outer circumstance.
Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. He apologized for his previous message. Keep in mind that I didn't take any outward action to get that apology. I didn't even write him back. Yet, by saying "I love you," I somehow healed within me what was creating him.
I later attended a ho 'oponopono workshop run by Dr. Len. He's now 70 years old, considered a grandfatherly shaman, and is somewhat reclusive. He praised my book, The Attractor Factor. He told me that as I improve myself, my book's vibration will raise, and everyone will feel it when they read it. In short, as I improve, my readers will improve.
"What about the books that are already sold and out there?" I asked.
"They aren't out there," he explained, once again blowing my mind with his mystic wisdom.
"They are still in you."
In short, there is no out there.
It would take a whole book to explain this advanced technique with the depth it deserves. Suffice it to say that whenever you want to improve anything in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you.
"When you look, do it with love."

From the book, Zero Limits by Joe Yitale

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bear's not getting out soon

Bear signed his plea bargain agreement this week.  Turns out he was mistaken about the terms (doesn't surprise me as he often hears what he wants to hear).  Instead of 5 years it's 7, so he has a choice.  Spend almost 2 years in real prison or one year in prison bootcamp.  He's chosen the 1 year, but there's still a 8-9 month wait in jail for this tiny little county to process him and a space to open up.

 He will not receive a medical assessment until right before he goes to boot camp (that's part of the intake process) so that means ANOTHER 8-9 months off his medications (he's bipolar among other things).  If he gets in trouble while he waits for bootcamp, then he could lose the ability to go.  He's already been sitting in jail, unmedicated, for 7 months and was off meds for 5-6 months before that.  He's coping, but barely... so far.

Frankly, I was very worried about him being released in a few months.  Assuming he decided to come home to Texas (which he waffles on by the hour), he was already asking me to find him a job and an apartment... ummm, not possible with no money, horrible credit history, and not actually living in the state at the moment! I tried to do some research into his options, but even with Power of Attorney, most places wouldn't talk to me about his options unless he was a client, and since he can't do intake without being physically present... I didn't have anyone to talk to about it.  I did hear that Gary Job Corp is not accepting new clients right now, so that was not an option, assuming we could talk him into it.

Honestly jail is not the worst place for him to be.  It provides him with the structure he desperately needs, BUT it's horrible that he's still stuck in this limbo with no way to get back on his meds.  If he'd gone into the system on his meds, they would have maintained them, but since he was off his meds...   Next month he'll have been off his meds for a year, but it takes 4-6 months for them to get out of his system so right about the time he was realizing he needed them - he went to jail.

I tried early on to get him on his meds, but hit a brick wall. When we thought he'd be getting out and/or treatment in a few months, I let it slide, because I didn't see any other options. Now that we're looking at another 8-9 months before he is even assessed. I don't see that I have a lot of choice, but to fight.  I tried contacting a Disability rights/advocacy agency in Oklahoma, but they wouldn't return my messages.

Normally an adult should be advocating for themselves, but I wouldn't be surprised if an assessment shows that his mental capacity has deteriorated, he was doing a lot of drugs in the months before incarceration and without meds to help him focus, and being borderline to begin with... he still needs a strong advocate.  I just don't know how to get him what he needs.  I've tried contacting the Disability Rights people again, but we'll see if they follow through.  One person said she had to "talk to the attorney and get back to me."  When I asked her when, she said, "about a week."  I didn't think to ask if they do pro bono work.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bear Update

Bear called yesterday, pretty much in shock.  He said he got a visit from his biodad recently, and the biodad didn't know he was in jail.  Biodad also told Bear that he'd been clean and sober for the the last 7 months for the first time in many, many years.  He blamed the drug use for not adopting Bear and Kitty when they went up for adoption 7 years ago.  He told Bear he was now ready to be part of Bear's life and was bringing Bear's 1/2 sister to visit next time (Biodad has custody of 2 of Bear's 1/2 siblings - something that I know hurts Bear as much as Biomom keeping his younger half sisters but not him).

Bear  has always been very vulnerable to biofamily rejection.  He craves love and acceptance, but doesn't know how to maintain a relationship.  His black and white thinking puts people on a pedestal or throws them into the pit.  Nothing in between.  Because he doesn't live with shades of grey, and, of course, real people are never perfect... Bear sees someone as perfect, until he perceives that someone is rejecting him (which can just be asking him not to call as often, or telling him they want to spend some time alone), then he pushes them away before they can hurt him.  Hence, Kleenex Girls. I've never heard why Bear's foster dad refused to keep in touch with Bear, beyond the contact we begged for in the first few months of Bear's placement with us, but I have to assume it was something similar.  Kitty still has the occasional conversation with her former foster mom.

Although they've never lived together, Biodad has been in and out of Bear's life quite a bit.  Usually what happens is Biodad accepts Bear's attempt at contact, and then Bear texts and calls obsessively, ignoring the Biodad's requests for moderation (like that Bear not call during work hours).  If Bear doesn't get an answer immediately, he calls back every two minutes until the call is answered.  At one point Biodad called Hubby and I, asking us to stop Bear from doing this.  Eventually Biodad shuts it all down and disappears, leaving Bear to feel rejected yet again.  Until the next time.

Bear is extremely depressed and vulnerable right now.  It would not surprise me if Biodad ends up back on the pedestal with all issues forgotten.  Bear might even try to stay in Oklahoma (where Biodad lives) when he gets out... until the inevitable, and Bear "has to" run again.


I finally steeled myself to open the bags that Bear had left hidden in the dog house for months before we discovered them.  Could have been worse I suppose.  It was mostly graduation stuff, some really stinky clothes, a ton of empty bullet casings!, some empty deodorants, fish bait, cologne, and a loaded altered air gun (similar to the picture, but with the red plastic removed, VERY realistic looking).

Ironically the friend helping me deal with the contents of the bags is the same friend whose son had given Bear an air gun that looked almost identical to this one to "fix."  Bear had popped off the red plastic part that identified it as a toy, and brought it to school to trade for drugs.  I hate the thought of this realistic toy being in my home or in Bear's hands (easy way to get himself shot, because it looks so real), so I decided to give it to my friend's son to replace the one stolen by Bear all those years ago.  It felt like an ideal solution!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

iPod Update

Wow, I got a lot of great comments on this subject.  Thank you!

Lisa said EXACTLY what I'm feeling, except for one thing. Asking Kitty to show me she can be responsible is something she CAN'T actually accomplish; therefore I'm torturing us both, dangling a privilege over her head for responsibilities that I know she's can't handle (she's still working on basic stuff and probably always will be).

In the past I've "put it in her lap" and truthfully I've done that this time too because I keep wanting to give her "typical teen stuff," but the more I think about it the more I realize that's unfair to her. By leaving it up in the air, she continues to feel tortured and like I'm being unfair. It's damaging our relationship. She lives in a black and white, short-term world.

I left this up in the air for several weeks while I thought about it. During these weeks, I gave her some things to do to help repair the relationships and show me she's capable of handling this and she's done... nothing. She says she has written a restitution letter to Grandma and a letter to me about why she should get her iPod back, but she didn't give them to anyone and now she's lost them. Of course she believes it's the thought that counts.

We've had several talks about the "issues" including why I felt the boy and her behavior with him were inappropriate, and she can't/won't see my concerns. Another reason I know she's not ready.

I've offered her the iPod with the internet feature disabled, and she doesn't want it.

"I just wish she was younger and had more years to grow under you roof."  - Thanks RADMomInOhio!  Me too!

Thanks for your responses. I try not to need all this validation, but it really does help to know that someone else "gets it."


I decided that the internet was a "can of worms" that I just didn't want to have open with Kitty.  I don't see this as an area she's going to grow in anytime soon, and it has the potential of being really harmful.  Everyone's comments here reinforced that.  Hubby and I talked about it a lot, and he was very ambivalent about it.

I explained my reasoning to Kitty, over a series of conversations with repetitions of my concerns and some suggestions of possible compromises (like getting the iPod back, but without the option of texting).  I left it up in the air for quite awhile about whether or not the iPod would be returned, in the hopes that we could discuss the concerns instead of focusing on the no.  I finally let her know that chances were very slim, because we couldn't come to an agreement, especially about safety concerns.

Then we went to therapy.

I really like our attachment/ somatic therapist.  She seems to "get it," and understands too that Kitty is not going to grow up and leave home anytime soon, which is definitely a refreshing change from the teachers at school and my friends with neurotypical kids who don't get it.

BUT sometimes the therapist seems to focus on keeping up the appearance of normalcy for Kitty.  It's such a fine line.  I don't really want to force Kitty to have to face reality (I hate being a Dreamkiller!), but at the same time, pretending she's a normal teen means she should have normal teen responsibilities, privileges and opportunities... none of which she's ready for.  The therapist acknowledges, out of earshot of Kitty, that Kitty'll be living at home for the rest of her life (shh!! don't tell Hubby!  He's not ready to face that reality!)

The problem is the therapist does NOT present that reality in therapy, and at this weeks session, she made it very clear that she felt Kitty should have this "normal teen privilege."  *sigh*

So Kitty will get her iPod back.  With some "compromises" that may delay the return for awhile, maybe forever.

1.  She has to write a letter of apology to the Grandparents.  And actually give it to them!
2.  She has to sit down with me and write the terms of the return of the iPod, including a list of who she is  and is not allowed to text.  (With the understanding that eventually this may include more people than it will to start with, and will probably never include ex-bf).
3.  She has to continue to show that she's doing (most of) her chores (with reminders) and not isolating in her room.

This was Tuesday evening.  So far she's done none of the above.  I did check the cubby in my car where I stuck the iPod and it's not there.  I'll search the car tomorrow and if it's missing, I'll search her stuff.  If I find she's taken it, it goes in the trash.  No more arguments.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Books and Methods Review - Methods - TRE

What is TRE?

TRE stands for Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises
A video about how it works
The latest book:   The Revolutionary Traume Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times by David Berceli (Author)
TRE is a simple technique that uses exercises to release stress or tension from the body that accumulate from every day circumstances of life, from difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, or traumatic life experiences (i.e., natural disasters, social or domestic violence).
TRE is a set of six exercises that help to release deep tension from the body by evoking a self-controlled muscular shaking process in the body called neurogenic muscle tremors. The uniqueness of this technique is that this shaking originates deep in the core of the body of the psoas muscles. These gentle tremors reverberate outwards along the spine releasing tension from the sacrum to the cranium.
The exercises are a simple form of stretching and are used to gently trigger these voluntary muscle tremors.
Once the technique is learned and mastered after several sessions, the warm-up exercises can be accelerated or replaced with your normal exercise activity like walking or yoga, and the technique then becomes a quick and effective method for consistent relaxation. Eventually, these tremors will evoke themselves naturally in a rest position to reduce any stress or tension that was accumulated over the course of the day.
TRE is being used by thousands of people around the world as an effective tool for releasing chronic traumatic stress, physical tension and emotional trauma. It is also quickly becoming a popular way to release the everyday stress, tension, and anxiety that evolves comes from the daily pressures of life

Marythemom:  I haven't actually tried this, although the book/video is on my wishlist.  I do know that trauma, especially pre-verbal trauma is stored in the central nervous system, and it is released through tremors.  When Bear first came to live with us he was experiencing PTSD flashbacks and night terrors.  He was totally freaked out by the fact that afterward he was shaking like a leaf.  Luckily I had just been to a lecture on this phenomenon and was able to reassure him it was not just normal, it was a good thing.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Teen Privilege Dilemna

Need some advice.  Kitty (17yo) is emotionally only 6yo.  Since her last release from residential treatment (released because she was emotionally and mentally unable to complete the program), she began attending a special school for emotionally disturbed kids which only has 15 kids in it.  She is finally fairly stable, although her new job through the school vocational program has her running at right on the line of being too stressed.

Against my better judgement, we allowed her to have an iPod last year, which has internet and texting capability, with the idea that if she could handle it, we might allow her to get a cell phone like her younger (13 and 16yo neurotypical) siblings, and if she couldn't then we'd have concrete justification for not allowing it.  She became obsessed with watching YouTube videos, and reading anime.  Although generally she seemed to stick to appropriate sites, she definitely uses it as an means to isolate.

The main problem was the texting.  She was texting biofamily and many friends and it was triggering her during a time when she was very unstable.  I told her she had to stop, and while she complained, she did.  When she got stable, we allowed texting again.

So here's the dilemma.  Two weeks ago, she was spending the day at Grandma's house.  She texted an old boyfriend and invited him over, meeting him in the front yard of Grandma's house deliberately without letting anyone know what she was doing.  She was eventually discovered, and tried to imply that Hubby and I knew about it and it was no big deal.  Luckily nothing scary happened, but the grandparents feel used and more  concerned about supervision.  We had several big problems with all this:

  1. Ex-boyfriend is older (graduated high school 2.5 yrs ago- she's only a junior).  He apparently washed out of the military and is in junior college.  Emotionally she's only 6, so it's really an even bigger age/experience gap.
  2. When they were "dating" they were uber supervised at all times (he was a senior, she was only a freshman).  However, she had secretly arranged to meet him at church a couple of times and snuck off to see him in the parking lot.  Luckily, she's immature and has been sexually abused (not luckily she was abused, but you know what I mean) so I'm almost positive nothing more serious than kissing happened.  He dumped her because she wouldn't sleep with him and proceeded to date and dump several of her friends.  She was extremely distraught over it all and it contributed to some of her self-harming and suicidal issues.  
  3. She knows we don't approve of the relationship, even as friends, because she's just barely stable and we can't chance her becoming triggered and unstable again.  Especially unsupervised.  Especially without Grandma knowing about it.  And she chose to meet him anyway.
  4. She still thinks what she did was OK, because she disagrees with me about my reasons for not letting her hang out unsupervised with this boy.  She thinks she can handle being around him without becoming unstable, and maybe she can, but she's not able to see what triggers her and she's not very rational at the best of times.  She doesn't get it that sneaking around damages trust and only hurts her "case" about being ready for teenage privileges.

So I took her iPod away for an indeterminate amount of time.  She wants to know what she can do to earn it back and is constantly asking/ demanding/ whining/ bargaining and threatening for it's return.  I'm torn.

  • Part of me wants to just give it back to her, even though I don't think she's capable of handling it, because she's trying to blackmail me with giving up (why bother doing what she's supposed to do if she can't have _______ - today it's texting), isolating even more than usual, and that she sees no point in doing chores if she doesn't get to ________(-today it's texting)...  
  • Part of me says this was an experiment to see if she could handle the responsibilities and the internet, and the reality is she can't, so continuing to leave it as a possibility is cruel and I should just get rid of it now and deal with the fall out.  
  • Opinions?