Monday, April 30, 2012


My friend, Diana wrote about "The Importance of Boundaries and Safety" on her blog today.  She based her post on Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs but added another basic need that is the base for the entire thing:  safety.  I couldn't agree more.

Our family, too, has had to set up necessary and sometimes often very painful and very isolating boundaries over the past four and a half years.  I've been called "adversarial," "too intense," "over-the-top," and "a b*tch."  Yet, like Diana and her family, without the boundaries, our lives are chaos at home.  It all boils down to our kids feeling safe, whether that feeling is rational or not in someone else's eyes.

It is lonely here.

I recommend you read Diana's post.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Eventful Week

Tornado that passed by Salina, Kansas
April 14, 2012
Apologies for the rather long silence here these last nine days.  We’ve had an interesting week in the TMT household.  Our schedule has included trips to the doctor, a college son’s play, a rage/meltdown by The Princess, a tornado out break, a trip to the ER, a bad reaction to pain meds, and visits with social workers.  Yes, life is never boring for very long around here.  (This statement is rather ironic because right before all these things happened, I posted in a private Facebook group of trauma mamas that things were quite calm at that time and I was wondering if I’d forgotten how to live in calm.  ‘Didn’t need to wonder for long.)

The trips to the doctor were because I tore the meniscus in one of my knees.  I’ve done it before.  I’ve also had surgery twice before to clean it up.  My family physician ordered an MRI and was sure I would need surgery again.  However, when the orthopedic surgeon read my MRI, he ordered additional x-rays.  He said surgery would only give me a 50/50 chance of relief at this point because my arthritis was already too bad in that knee.  A total knee replacement is likely somewhere down the road, but not yet.  The doctor asked me if I was afraid of falling.  I said no, that I didn’t really feel wobbly at all.  So, I got a cortisone shot.  I can get one every three months.  It helped a lot, but the day I got it was the opening night of my son's college play.  My knee hurt and was unstable for about 24 hours after the shot, so we didn’t make it to the play that night.  Whether it was me being hurt, or missing the play we planned to attend and having to wait until the next night, or a combination of both, The Princess was triggered over the top and went into a rage.  It was loads of fun.  I want to spare you some of the detail, but will share a lot of what happened so I can tell you how Hubby and I therapeutically parented our usually very sweet girl that evening.  

Our very talkative daughter would not speak.  She hid under her bed and made “G-R-R-R” sounds to express her anger.  She sat in the dark.  She would not take her shower or brush her teeth.  She wrote angry notes and threw them down the hall between the bedrooms, assuming we’d run to pick those notes up and read them.

At first, Hubby went to her room and tried to reason with her.  She has absolutely no respect for Hubby when she is triggered, so this did not work.  We knew it would not work, but Hubby tried anyway.  After that, we simply sat and watched TV, and we waited.  We waited for her to come out from under the bed.  We waited for her to pick up the notes (she handed one to me).  We waited for her to speak.

The note contained content I’ve read many times before when The Princess is angry.  She equates our love for her to the things we buy for her.  The note said we hated her, but loved the boys.  It told us how mean we were for not allowing her to have a cell phone.  It told me I was a bad mother because I would not buy her a certain pair of very short shorts.  It went on and on. 

I did not respond.  I read the note, folded it back up the way she'd given it to me, and put it down on the coffee table.

Eventually, she came out of her room, arms folded, scowl on her face, stomping down the hall and barked, “Don’t you want to talk to me?”  I said, “I will listen to whatever it is you want to say.”  She asked again if I wanted to say anything to her and I replied again that I would listen to her.  She blurted out several things.  I didn’t respond.  I just listened.  She got tired and said, “Why aren’t you arguing with me?”  I asked if it would make a difference.  She thought for a moment and said, “No.  Probably not.”

I explained I did not want to argue.  I told her there was no argument.  I told her she did not really believe the things she was saying to me – not when she was calm.  She knew I loved her and she knew I didn't give 13 year-olds cell phones.  I told her she lashes out at me whenever she’s afraid that I'm sick or worried that something may be wrong with me.  (She also does it whenever I leave for more than a day, but we didn’t go into that.)  I told her she was disappointed that she had to wait to see the play, but that she was especially frightened about my knee.  BINGO.  She ended up talking with us calmly and apologized to me the next day.

On Saturday, the entire Midwest plains experienced an out break of over 120 tornados.  This was scary, too.  The Princess and Youngest Son seemed to handle this well, however.  They participated in our precautions and preparations.  We talked about what to do if the sirens went off here.  We cleaned up the garage to get my car inside in case we got large hail (my family uses the garage as a big junk room – I’ve given up on trying to get them to keep it clean)That’s when I fell.

I experienced the worst pain I can ever remember – even worse than childbirth.  On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 12.  I broke my ankle – same leg as the “bad” knee.  So, off we went to the emergency room.  Thankfully, the ER was fully staffed in preparation for a tornado, and the waiting room was pretty empty because everyone was home, preparing for that possibility.  I was examined, x-rayed, wrapped and “booted” rather quickly with instructions to get to the pharmacy quickly for my pain meds, because they were closing early.  Those pain meds made me very sleepy at first.  The next day, however, they made me very sick.  This also scared The Princess.  I sure was putting her through the ringer.  Thankfully, the tornados went around us and our town saw no damage.

I went back to the orthopedic surgeon after the ankle break.  I’ll be on crutches for three weeks, wearing a boot.  Then the three weeks after that, I’ll just be in the boot.  I broke the tip of my fibula.  The surgeon gave me a different kind of pain pill, too.  It makes me very sleepy, but I don’t get sick from it.

Yesterday, I informed The Princess’ caseworker about the events of the week, so she’d know we were still working on some things.  I also wanted her to know how we’d handled things the night of the rage.  I knew she would pass this along to our therapist, who we don’t get to see until next week.  So, a different social worker is stopping by today at 1 p.m. to check in on me.  It’s okay.  She knows me.  She’s just doing her job.  It’s actually kind of nice to have someone local stop by.  Today is the first day I’m home alone since my fall.

Really though, I’d just like to go take a pain pill and get a nap.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Importance of Friends Who Get It and Love You Anyway

It’s a little difficult to concentrate on writing this morning.  The kids have the day off from school.  There are two young girls playing a dance game in the next room.  They have it turned down out of respect for me, but it’s still pretty impossible to get any deep thought into word.  It’s even hard putting these few sentences together.

But this is good.  This is very, very good.

The Princess watched a movie last night with me and a friend – a friend just a bit younger, but one who is quite mature, and one who gets what it is like to live with trauma.  Her life is far different than The Princess’.  She is blessed with an adoptive mother who has adored her from birth.  She still gets it.  She still knows about loss.

Friend spent the night.  They giggled, and talked.  They listened to music.  They’re giggling some more.

Have I ever mentioned I loathe Britney Spears’ music?

But it is a good, good morning.

Encourage your kids to find the friends who help make their lives better – and friends whose lives they can also make better.  Do the same for yourself.  Find friends who get how hard it is to raise traumatized kids with attachment issues – how some days it just makes you crazy – but who love you anyway.  I am so thankful for mine.  I wish you all lived much closer.

Friday, April 6, 2012


He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  – John 15:2

For traumatized kids, loss is such a profound part of who they are, where they come from, and even who they’ll likely become.  They’ve lost their first family.  Some have lost a culture and a first language.  Some have lost friends and possessions, even real estate (some Eastern European orphans own homes which usually end up being signed over to the state when they are adopted).

However, loss can be a good thing as well.  Sometimes, we are moved on from things that held us in bondage.  Sometimes, God cuts off a branch, or removes a stumbling block in our lives so that we can go on to bear much more fruit – so we can experience the good He has waiting for us – good we could not begin to grow into while still attached to the branch that needed pruning – the loss that needed to happen.

I don’t know about trees, but when I get cut, it hurts!  I don’t like going through pruning of any kind.  Even though I know losing weight will benefit my health, I don’t like losing it.  I don’t like the process.  Even though I know I cannot move on in ministry while tied to obligations that no longer serve God’s purpose for my life, I don’t like changes.  And on top of all that, I am probably THE most loyal person I know – sounds like I’m bragging, but I’ve been told it’s more of a fault than an asset. 

I don’t leave relationships easily.  I never have.  I was never one of those 7th graders that said, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore.”  Friendship has never been a casual thing to me.  To me, there is a sharp difference between “friend” and “acquaintance.”  Friendship is not seen as something I would fight for only so long as it benefits or blesses me personally.  I do not share confidences.  Your heart, your secrets -- they are all safe with me.  Always.  I do not bad mouth my friends to others, nor gossip about them.  I am fiercely loyal.  And if that’s a fault, then I guess there are worse faults.  However, I have learned some things the last couple of months.   If you’re not bearing fruit, if something in your life is holding you back from the ministry God has planned for your life, if someone is feeding you lies about the people He WANTS you to work with, minister to, and be under their spiritual authority, then God’s going to prune away those branches that will ultimately cause your faith to die.  He’s going to get rid of the dead weight, so new life can sprout.  Even when we want to hold on for dear life (or is it “dear death?”), and try to “fix” things, if they’re broken – if they never really worked in the first place – or if they were really one-sided, He will take away that which keeps us from becoming closer to him – to serving him. 

Our family’s been through the pruning process – through the years -- and especially through these last couple of months.  We’ve all had some branches pruned away and some branches are still in the process of being pruned.  But, oh WOW, it’s been pretty amazing to see what God has done in the process.  We are excited for this coming Easter Sunday, for example.  We are part of a brand new church plant – a new branch from the tree of our home church.  We cannot WAIT to see what God has in store for this Sunday – for the church, for our kids, for our pastors, our ministry leaders, and ourselves.  We are letting go of things that held us in bondage and moving freely, so freely, into His marvelous light.

Our kids still have work to do.  We still have work to do.  We still stumble.  We still fall.  We still pray for people that will come along side us and support us at those times.  But we have hope and a peace that passes all understanding.  The kids are hopeful.  They’ve come a long way.  They are looking forward to a future, even as they’ve given up much from the past.  They’ve taught us so much.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Trauma Mama Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Honestly, I have no desire to see this movie, nor will I allow my two youngest kids to see it.  I don't care if "everyone is seeing it."  I've never been one to care too much about what "everyone" is doing.  Frankly, I do not understand why any Christian parent would think this was an okay movie.  Call me rigid (I'm not - but I care about what my kids see).  That said, I cannot give my own review of the The Hunger Games.

What I can do is encourage parents, especially parents of traumatized/attachment disordered kids, to THINK.  Use the tools we teach our kids:  Stop.  Think.  Breathe.  And then respond.  I'm not saying you're a bad parent if this movie is okay for you and your family.  I'm just saying I don't understand it.  And I always promised to be honest and real on this blog.  So, there you go.  Do you have a child who suffered neglect?  One who didn't have enough food to eat?  What about one who was abused?  Taken advantage of by adults?  Used in some sick way for an adult's entertainment?  Then ask yourself if the good of the artistry outweighs the triggers of the themes and make your decision from there.

Here is a link to Christianity Today's review of the movie:  The Hunger Games.
MPAA rating: PG-13(for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images, all involving teens)
Genre: ActionDrama
Theater release:
March 23, 2012
by Lionsgate
Directed by: Gary Ross
Runtime: 2 hours 22 minutes
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Donald Sutherland (President Snow), Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goodbye, Loyal Friend

Things have been pretty hard around here today.  We lost our best friend this afternoon.  The Princess and I found him in the hallway between our bedrooms right after I picked her up from school.  We had him since he was a pup.

Best Friend
Now chasing butterflies in Heaven.