Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Elephants


It seems we have quite a few of these in our house. They're the kind that take up loads of space, but no-one dare talk about.

Dave-the-therapist thinks it's about time we talked about some of these elephants. He also thinks that until we do, Mini won't be able to move forward.

Truth be told, we have approached some of Mini's elephants in the past, but it magnified the awful behaviour we were on the receiving end of. Looking back, some of the behaviour is probably because those elephants are jumbo and quite scary, and Mini was unable to manage the scary feelings that talking about them caused, so he lashed out instead. Talking about those scary things made him feel unsafe.

And also, the NC and I struggled to help Mini through those scary conversations. I realise that Mini is anxious about these two elephants (and more besides), but I haven't had the training/knowledge/confidence to deal with them effectively and appropriately. Previously when we've talked about these things, Mini has exploded and I've backed off - I'm not a therapist, and I don't know how to handle these explosions. I don't know what are the right questions to ask to help Mini, and to help me. He hasn't coped with talking, and in turn, we haven't coped with his inability to cope...yes I know it's a bit confusing!

So as per Dave-the-therapist's advice, we've been approaching some of the elephants - the two biggest being Mini's fear of being moved on again/being left behind (at friends or rellies houses) and the fact that Mini and Dollop are different and Mini is aware of those differences - as a result he thinks we love Dollop more than him.
Post meltdown/defiance/argument/violence etc etc, we've been doing the empathy bit (faking it on the occasions we can't make it), and exclaiming/asking 'Oh, do you think that when we help Dollop first it's because we love her more than you?' or 'I know you struggle when we go out, oh *mock surprise* do you think we're going to leave you there?'. It's really hard in writing to get across the tone of voice we use when doing this, but playfulness comes into it, lots of acting and exaggerated movements.

Now, with help, we're getting somewhere. I so wish we had this help in place before. I'm not saying Dave-the-therapist has all the answers, but by using his techniques, tone and body language we have managed to have a pretty good start to the half term holiday, despite several 'events' that would have normally triggered some anxieties for Mini. I'm still anxious myself about approaching some of these bloody great big heffalumps - well, actually more anxious about what to do if Mini starts talking and I can't handle what he's saying, or answer his questions, but I know help isn't far away if things get out of hand.

We live in a small house, but it feels a lot bigger and lighter now that those elephants aren't taking up so much space!


7 comments:

  1. Just reminds me of that saying "how do you eat an elephant?" Answer "in small pieces". That's exactly what you are doing chipping away at the fears bit by bit. You are doing a fantastic job and although it seems tough at times the effort you are making will make a difference in the long run, I'm sure.X

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    1. I love that saying - never heard it before! xx

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  2. good on you for taking on those elephants despite how very big they must've been.

    Aloha,
    I'm oh so very lucky to be a Bloggy Mom with ya and I'm following you now from the November hop. I'd love it if you'd join me for the ride at Local Sugar Hawaii where we're riding the wave of life, one teensy tinsy adventure at a time.

    And I wanted to personally invite you to join me, today, for An Aloha Affair; a new sort of being together on Aloha Friday. Come mingle and grow with us.

    xo,
    Nicole
    localsugarhawaii.com

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  3. I am in my forties and adopted and I thank you for your blog comment today.
    I am glad you are getting help with the elephants.
    At 43 and with both adoptive parents now gone, I still have big issues around abandonment and fear of people leaving me. Always. Drives my husband mad.
    And yes, the bit of wondering if your sibling is more important is normal too or is for me anyway.
    All I would say and this is meant in a nice way is to ensure that whilst looking at the boy's elephants you also pay attention to your little girl's. Please don't take that the wrong way. If I can help in any way, you can find me on twitter @kateonthinice.

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    1. Thanks Kate for your comment.
      As a matter of fact hubby emailed our post adoption support worker today about Dollop, and how we feel that Mini's needs always seem to come first (even if Mini himself doesn't see it like that). So we're on that, but I really appreciate your thoughts x

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  4. I love your honesty in this post.
    It's so heartening to hear your talking about your elephants instead of dancing around them fearfully.
    Yes, it's hard and it's scary (believe me we've had quite a few elephants in our house and we'll probably have many more to come) but you'll be so much closer than you can ever imagine once the huge heffalump is out the of way. You'll also find your arms fit round your children that little bit better.
    You won't have all the answers (none of us do) but as long as you listen and love and try to help then you're going down the right road.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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