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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Life has a mind of its own

The machine is at the shop. No, there's nothing wrong with it, it just needed to be serviced after so much use. It's not my machine, it belongs to the kids' grandma (Noni). We're calling it the "in town" machine as Noni lives 45 minutes away and comes into town on Thursdays for bible study and quilting. It's so nice to have such a beautiful machine to work with. The Brother machine The Dad gave me as an engagement gift 16 years ago is a simple machine that can't be calibrated for the precision sewing required in quilting. One day I'll have the money to buy something of my own that is nicer but for now, babysitting the "in town" quilter is perfect.

I've got a few quilts in the que, two Orlando moms have requested I Spy quilts like the one I made for the auction. If you haven't followed up on the status, the auction raised more than $3000, enough for 17 moms to get scholarships. That's amazing. So hats off and many, many thank you's to my readers that supported the cause by either bidding or donating fabric or resources so I could make the quilts. In total, the quilts I made generated $130.

I will be changing gears to generate some personal cash with the quilts. AB's dentist has prescribed an appliance for his mouth to correct an under bite. Medicaid deems the procedure as elective so we're stuck with the $900 bill. We don't consider it an option. If AB's jaw continues to form improperly through puberty, not only will it impede his speech, correcting the error after he is done growing is a painful, long process that begins with breaking his upper jaw. Clearly, the simple appliance in his 10 year old mouth today is worth the preventative cost. More information to come but I'm not opposed to making a made-to-order quilt if you are interested. Just email me using the link on my profile page.

I've also considered compiling my poetry into a book and pursuing a vanity publishing. I'm not sure of the initial cost or if I'll recoup the outlay in addition to making a profit from the sale but it's an idea rumbling in my brain.

I saw Sissy last Thursday, enduring one more meeting to staff her case. The hospital has done precious little and has just barely begun to address the "wish list" I had for her at intake. Of course, my wish list isn't the same as a Christmas list. I have asked that the hospital take advantage of the resources available in the metro area, mental health resources that are not an option here. In other words, I'm asking them to do for her that which we are unable to accomplish at home. Which is the point of hospitalization, right? Apparently not. She's only had two individual therapy sessions. TWO?!? And my one-on-one time with Sissy was spent with her spinning one yarn after another. I don't think she said anything that was true.

So, on the drive home, 60 miles in, I had to pull off at a truck stop because I was in a full blown panic attack. *sigh* It is so frustrating. All of it is. My health, her health, our family, the state of health care, our state's inability to adequately support our daughter, this double-jeopardy position we're in, all of it. Thankfully it was a Thursday, the day Noni is in town so she talked me out of the crazy tree and I made it home safely. Then I spent the weekend taking slow deep breaths after the hospital called me back on Friday to say that medicaid approved another 30 days of hospitalization.

I forget, as I live this life, that it really IS overwhelming, that I'm allowed to be stressed out. I have reasonable cause to be anxious, it's not contrived or exacerbated by my own mental incapacity. Rather, I suffer these bouts of torment because of our situation. I would be free of it altogether were our life less messy. Currently I'm actively working on giving myself permission to be tired, anxious, angry, stressed and grieved. It's hard to do, oddly enough. I've been in self-last-at-all-cost mode for so long that it takes a concerted effort to put myself first. It takes even more effort to avert life's attempts to redirect me on the self-deprecating course. Feels like I'm paddling up stream nearly every day.

I called Sissy last night and addressed her lies. The phone call was cut off by staff that intervened after Sissy began screaming into the phone. I got an odd satisfaction in knowing that I had the opportunity to call her out on her behavior without having to deal with the aftermath. I called back an hour later and she claimed that the staff hung up the phone because someone ELSE on the unit was in crisis. I tried to redirect her to the truth about her own behaviors in our previous conversation but she wouldn't own it. Then I told her she was staying another 30 days at least and she bemoaned that she would be missing Thanksgiving.

And that's where I get stuck. I think she truly doesn't have a concept of the time frame so I feel bad that she is too challenged to understand such things even after I explained to her that 30 days from now is the beginning of October and Thanksgiving isn't until the end of November. But I know unequivocally that she is a master of manipulation and she played me for a fool last Thursday when I was there. Relating with her is like sitting on an off-kilter see-saw. No amount of juggling the weight and positions will make the plank stable. Every time I bend my heart toward her, I get burned. It's too easy for her to hurt the ones she loves because she's learned by experience that no matter what she does, we'll keep loving her. So I concluded our conversation by telling her that the choice is up to her. She can choose to learn a new way of dealing with stressors or she can continue to live her days at a hospital but she can't keep hurting and trying the trust of the people that love her.

Then I breathe slow deep breaths, I close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me, I collect myself once more and I quilt or read "Charlotte's Web" to WG or help AB with his cell model science project or watch a Netfl!x movie with The Dad or put an E-collar on Grace the dog so she won't chew her paws. I take a soothing shower and snuggle under a blanket with coffee in hand. I say hello to friends on faceb@ok or wash a few windows, blog or volunteer in the resource room at the kids' school. I just keep on keeping on because there is nothing else I can do. Life, it seems, has a mind of its own.

11 comments:

Ashley said...

A good friend of mine uses "Smashwords" for her publishing. There is no initial cost, and she's done very well with it. E-mail me if you want more info.

The rest... I'm thinking of you.

Meg said...

I have a brand new Singer sewing machine I will send you. The box has been opened but it has never been out of the Styrofoam packing and never been used. It says on the back of the box it has 80 stitch functions and can do quilting. Email me you address and I'll put in the mail to you. meg@raisingbipolar.com

Ilana said...

"So I concluded our conversation by telling her that the choice is up to her. She can choose to learn a new way of dealing with stressors"

Does she really have a choice?

Integrity Singer said...

@Ilana - yes, in some things she is cognitively choosing to behave in a way to get negative attention. It's not just my observation, many therapists have made the same conclusion about her behavior. When with others or in the hospital setting, her behaviors are significantly less violent which points to the truth that she does indeed have some control over her actions. I understand that the triggers and her skewed thinking are part of her challenge and I accept that and am willing to work with it, in the same way as I make accommodations for her brother. But the level to which she vehemently opposes, defies, rages and responds is grossly out of proportion. By her own admission, many times to many different professionals, she knows her responses at home are exaggerated and that she will continue to behave accordingly in the home setting. Thus, we know there is an element of choice to her behavior. This is the "choose to learn a new way" that I was referring to and I made sure in our conversation that she understood what I was asking of her: i'm not asking her to change her mental illness, I'm asking her to behave at home the way she does at the hospital and with others.

Ilana said...

Ah, I understand you better now. It has to be dperessing that no mental health professional, up to now, found a cure that can really help to solve those behavioural problems one way or another...

Could there be a negative feedback circle, with her behaving badly, you sending her away (and being gratefull that she has a sister who behaves normally), her feeling rejected or being jealous at her sister, thus behaving negatively, ect?

Integrity Singer said...

@ Ilana - yes, the therapists and I agree that there is something about the negative attention that is feeding her desire to continue on that path but we haven't put a finger on it yet - or found a useful therapeutic parenting technique that will avert the cycle. As for WG, lately she's been behaving rather poorly too and I've been using that truth to help Sissy understand that everyone makes poor choices, mom included. Everyone has consequences. Everyone must choose to be responsible for themselves. As frustrating as it is that WG has been acting out lately, it's been helpful for Sissy to see that no one is perfect and everyone must be truthful and make restitution. It has also helped her understand that the rules that apply to her, apply to everyone; that I'm not just making it up as I go along and unduly punishing her. Her perception is still skewed but that's where I see the difference between mental illness and choice.

beemommy said...

@ Ilana, you seem very interested in this topic. May I ask if you have a personal or professional experience with mental illness? I ask because your first comment on this post seemed accusatory. The second, slightly less so. I know Integrity Singer personally and have observed for years now how the behaviors of this child have impacted this entire family. We have to all remember that Sissy's behaviors/mental illness go back to her beginnings before coming into this family.

Ilana said...

Funny, I was thinking about WG acting out more when her sister is away since you wrote about one (minor) meltdown from WG, quite some time ago (not during this present hospitalization).

It seems that one extremely misbehaving child holds the siblings "at bay": they have to dance around the "misbehaving" one, so they cannot afford to bring up their own issues. Once normality comes back, they revert from "extra-Good" to "normal", too...

Barb G said...

You remain in my heart and my prayers, my friend. (((hugs))) I am sorry.

Ilana said...

No, I have no personal experience in those issues. This is why I find those personal blogs so interesting. I think every parent to be should read this blog, so as to know what could expect them. Not only foster/adoptive parents, every parent, because mental health issues exist also in "bio-children", and I think it is always very, very hard to cope.

triplehmoms said...

I have a friend that is looking for someone to custom make a twin sized quilt for her son's new bedding. I gave her your email address from your profile and I KNOW she will be getting in touch with you soon!
You are in my thoughts. I don't know how you do it, honestly. My kids exhaust me, especially #3, BUT I don't deal with as much from her as you do with Sissy. Keep breathing, writing, quilting, and whatever else you can to help take care of yourself and your family.