On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

a lesson in patience

I'm still trying to process last week's therapy session in which I was asked how I am working through my grief. I am so annoyed with myself that i don't have an answer yet. I keep thinking, and reading and trying to sort it out but it seems the only emotion I can dredge up is anger. And that's a start, isn't it? I just don't really like the anger emotion because it doesn't feel productive to me and because there has been so much anger in my life, I really would like to have had enough of it already!

With only anger hanging around me, I have been attacking my usual activities and have realized that people, just ordinary, every day people can make me pretty mad. They have such a narrow focus that it should make me laugh, not want to hurl hard objects at their heads or cry at the insanity of it. Yet I find myself henpecking and nitpicking, rolling my eyes and in general, being easily annoyed with ridiculous things.

Our local christian radio station has a great morning show team which I listen to regularly. We've found that our family's mornings are much less chaotic, angry and short-tempered if tunes about God are infiltrating the atmosphere of our home. I make breakfast and lunches and we finish the previous night's homework listenting to this music and the morning show team. But the host of the morning show has gotten me in a dither.

Apparently, his sister got his 2 year old son a Little Tykes playset for Christmas. He has spent several mornings discussing the foibles of attempting to assemble the enormous plastic pieces that fail to bend to his will and fit according to the diagrams. At first it was amusing, as he laughed at himself and his ineptitude to follow the pictoral instructions and the minor scuffles it caused for him and his wife. But by day four, this playset still unassembled and his morning bit about it beginning to get old, he said the darndest thing that nearly made me drive off the road.

I was driving back from dropping the kids off at school, still listening to this ongoing drama when the sidekick of the morning show asked the host why he thought he was having so much trouble with this playset. The host said that he felt it was God's way of teaching him patience, that the past 7 days of efforts had definitely given him pause to consider his temper and how he could alter his attitude when doing things that challenge him.

OK. At face value, there is merit to what he's saying. I really like these guys, I've met them, actually had the opportunity to be on the morning show two months ago, I have no issue with them. But when you compare assembling a playset as a lesson in patience to the life trials of so many others, well, that just makes me want to puke. Seriously? God teaches him patience through a little tykes toy but he chooses to teach me patience through health problems, infertility, adoption of special needs children, bankruptcy, economic trials, RADs, RTCs ...


Either God is really cruel and unkind and hates me or the host of the radio station leads a very narrow, simple life. I literally shouted at the radio in the van, "I can give you an opportunity to learn patience! Come to my house for A DAY!!!! And then realize that the insanity and patience-demanding things you encounter in that ONE DAY is what I endure EVERYDAY!"

You see? Completely irrational anger. This shouldn't have been such a trigger for me. It's just a stupid radio show. It's just a silly little joke about the host's inability to assemble a toy. For me, it's one more reminder how much harder my life is when I chose to serve and love the same God as he did. It's just one more thing that tells me that there are simpler, easier, happier lives out there and I'm not living them. It's one more thing telling me that karma is bupkis. Choosing to do the right things, to live a life that honors God doesn't bring you the easy lessons in patience. How did the host of this radio show get so blessed to have a cool job, a wife, two beautiful biological children while my life has been one endless struggle of pain, sorrow and anguish? I don't know how he got that easy lesson in patience, I sure wish I knew his magic charms with the Creator because man, I wish God had taught me patience that way!

I will be glad when I get past this anger. It just doesn't move me forward and I hate getting mad about these things. I have a husband, I have children, I have a home, I have ... to still learn a lesson in patience.


waldenbunch said...

Just remember we only see what people allow us to see. As you are being transparent and helping your self and others through your trials, we never know what the next person is going through. They may not be able to share all the terrible things that are going wrong. I know I can't share everything that happened with our adoption. People just don't understand. You are perfectly normal in being angry. This IS a tough life. But I have to believe the rewards one day will be great, even if each day has little peace on its own. I'm trying to learn how to have peace in the midst of life. Maybe that's the big lesson God wants us to learn, to trust Him in the midst of the storm, with no guarantees for tomorrow. I do know things have gotten better for us, even though I still have 2 healing RAD kids, the recent death of my father and my mother in a nursing home. I'm working on that positive attitude :) We'll work on it together. Just remember you're not alone!

Anonymous said...

Oh great post, I totally identify, it has caused me to be so angry about every little thing too!!! and I really need to stop. My theory is that when things are going well and I'm happy I have that extra patience and room to let little things pass. But when things are tough and kids got on my last nerve, then there is no room for any other annoyance no matter how small it is. Seriously even friends and driving make me angry and I have to calm myself all the time, I didn't used to be like this. But maybe one day we will look back and laguh hopefully!

Diana said...

Oh, my gosh. I have SOOOO been there, and done this! WAHHHHHHH!!!! Crazy woman alerts are going off all over the place in my head just by reading this! Not crazy woman you, crazy woman ME!

In my case, it had gone way beyond anger, though. When I got to this point, I literally felt like one of those cartoons where there's a big dam or pile of garbage off in the distance. You know the ones where if a tiny little fly lands on it, the whole thing comes crashing down, enveloping and destroying everyting in it's path. And so my entire life at that point was being spent swatting flies. I coudn't see the structural repairs that needed to be made on the resevior at the time, but oh yah, I knew it was full to the bursting point. I also knew that if I allowed even a tiny little fly to land, my whole world was going to blow apart in a very unpretty way...and I'd most likely wind up doing something I would deeply regret for the rest of my life.

BEST thing I did for myself at that point was recognize it. Sounds like you're there, my friend. The next best thing I did was get into a fabulous massage therapist who was trained in both cranial sacrum work and emotional release therapy. Don't wait on this one. Don't think about this one. Don't even wait to get permission from the hubs. Just DO IT, and do it TODAY. I found my person off a referral from a family therapist. But if you can't find a person who's trained in that kind of work, just find a good massage therapist (chiropractors office, day spa, wherever) and get yourself a fabulous hour long massage.

In my case, massage was no longer a luxury. It was as medicinal and equally as necessary as my daily thyroid and diabetic medications are. The first one was amazingly helpful, but it did take more than one before I was really able to cope with things as I had previously been able to. It was also the first step in being able to start chisling through that wall I'd built around myself and really be able to access the parts of me that so desperately needed healing.

Unfortunatley, I don't tollerate most Rx meds very well, especially ones for depression and anxiety. I dont tollerate those at all! I did (and still do), however, find St. John's Wort to be quite effective. Do a little research on it, though. It can interfere with other medications, so make sure it won't interfere with any others you may be taking. Like most other mood enhancing meds, it also takes time to build up and work. Unlike Rx meds, most people can start out on a stronger dose of St. John's and decrease over time, which means you see faster max effectiveness without side effects (unless it's interfering with other meds.) I was on a MAX dose of the stuff for well over a year after we brought our kids home. It's quite literally what kept me going. There are several other good anti-anxiety supplements available as well...GABA, kava-kava (which I think has been pulled from the market in most places), valarian, etc. There's also tons of info about all of them readily available on the internet. Best part - the supplements are also all readily available over the counter :-)

And finally, remember that anger is a very normal and natural part of the grieving process. Of course you don't want to get stuck there like I was, but it IS a vital part of grieving.


Diana said...

BWAAAAHHHH, HAA HAA! Guess what my word verification was on that last piece of my commnent? "Ovarie"! I'm not kidding. Really, could there have been a more appropriate word (other than maybe utris or sycosis) to discuss grief and loss? I'm sitting here in the blissful silence that occurs just after all my children leave for school and burst right out laughing over that one.


Here's how the grieveing process ended up breaking down and finally being completed for me:

Shock/numbness: that's the "just keep swimming" piece that I'd become so very good at.

Denial: When I was finally honest with myself, I was in huge denial that anything other than the stress of my kids and the adoption was weighing on me. Reality was that it was WAY more than that. It was 30 years of stuff I'd "stuffed" and "forgetten" about...except feelings that are buried alive never die and are never really forgotten. At the roots, I found a snot nosed girl from the 4th grade, glaring issues with my in-laws, discord with my husband, stuff that happened during our adoption journey, and of course, the kids.

Anger: I was angry at everything - the inlaws, my husband, my kids, a completely screwed up adoption and child welfare system, the people who hurt my kids, all the idiots in Ukraine who didn't give a rip about my kids but coveted my money, myself, the loss of my former life, the hole my kids had bliown in our family, and yes...all that translated into being over the top annoyed with everyone and everything.

Sadness/depression: I had to go through the grieving process for EACH of the above issues and take steps to change my outlook on every single one of them. It was HARD, HARD work. I can't even tell you how many buckets of tears I cried over "Miranda" and how she hurt me in the 4th grade. But once I did, my kids behavior started bugging me less and less and I was much more able to respond from a place of acceptance and love towards them. I wrote about "Miranda" on my blog. Same thing with my in-laws...except with one big difference there. Miranda left my life years ago. My in-laws hadn't. I had to make a deliberate and conscious decision to sever any and all contact with them and send them packing...and then accept them for who they are, what they do, how they do it, etc. I didn't have to keep them in my life, but I did have to accept them and let them be who they're going to be and accept that no matter what I do, I can't change them. I never closed the door to them being able to come back into my life should they choose to do so - but if they do, it will be under different circumstances and we will start completely over and build a new HEALTY and mutually beneficial relationship.

Same thing with the husband, except I chose to keep him and learn how make things work there. That was a very good decision :-). He also sent his parents and sister packing, btw.


Diana said...

My, I'm verbose today!

I then had to do work in getting over the trauma of Ukraine, what people did to my kids, what the kids were doing to our family, etc.

And once I'd done all that, I was FINALLY able to move to a place of peace, acceptance, and forgiveness. Oh, yah. That last one what the biggie. It was then that I was finally to see things from a different perspective, see others for who and how they really are (and more like how God sees them), forgive them for their faults (indluding those who so deeply hurt my children and left me with one doosie of a mess to clean up), forgive myself for the expectations I placed on them, for allowing other people and past hurts to keep hurting me over and over and over again for so many years, and for the ill feelings I'd harbored towards various people and situations for in some cases, many many years.

Oh, man, the work was INTENSE and HARD. But the end result has absolutely 100% been worth it. Like so many of the burdens we carry through life, we don't realize how stinking heavy they are until we're finally able to set them down and leave them behind. But it is possible, it is doable, and did I mention worth it???

Keep at it. You can do this, and you’re not alone!

Stacy said...

You are not alone. I have been there. I have said those exact words. You can get through this. {{hugs}}

marythemom said...

I've always subscribed to the belief that God would never give me more than I could handle. I remember thinking that God was teaching me patience. Over the years the trials and tribulations became harder and more frequent, and I started to get angry and resentful. When we adopted 2 kids with RAD, things got worse.

At one point I discovered that the years of trials and patience learning was NEEDED for me to be able to survive (and hopefully thrive) in my life. (If "that which does not kill us makes us stronger"... just call me Superwoman!). I am now an incredibly strong person.

That radio personality is learning a lesson in patience... but unlike us he doesn't need to be taking graduate level courses! He's learning enough patience to live with his life.

God gave me the lessons I need, and I work hard to remember that He loves me and this is so worth it.

Mary in TX
Mom to biokids Ponito(10) and his sister Bob(13)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE 11/06
Finally finalized on Kitty(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!
Finalized on her brother Bear(16) 7/08. He turned 15 the next day.

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."