I'm going to warn you, this blog is just for me. Sure I'm writing it and posting it for you all to read, but it's for me. This one is for me to remember that the journey is worth it.
Have you ever begun a new direction in your journey and struggled in the early stages to think that it would go in any kind of positive way? It seems so easy to get discouraged as soon as you begin, before any progress can really be shown.
I was thinking of that this morning as I went to work out for the first time in a while. A few months ago I had plastic surgery to remove 7 lbs. of excess skin after my weight loss. This made it near impossible to work out for quite a while, and I'm still healing.
This morning I got on the treadmill and was 2 minutes into my normal 35 minute treadmill routine, and I started thinking..."Maybe 35 is too much to start back out with." Then a little bit later... "I don't even know why I'm doing this, I've done so well up until this point." I was tired from the treadmill already and just wanted to get off.
My parenting journey has been similar. No, I don't just want to get off, but when I start a new direction it's hard, it's tiring, and just feels overwhelming since parenting in and of itself is overwhelming. The extra is just, extra overwhelming.
Our boys have been through a lot. Some before us, some with us. They've gone through a lot and that trauma shows in their behaviors and struggles. Early on in my single parent adoption journey I had others try to connect with me (judge me) by saying they knew what I was going through because their experience was similar when they went through a divorce and had their kids on their own every weekend...................
I've had to help people understand our situation a bit different by helping them to see my boys as having the special needs that they have. Sure, you can't see them necessarily. Sometimes they even just look like poorly behaved kids. In reality, they're hurting kids with emotional and social special needs.
We weren't handling them well. I admit it. I kept losing my cool. I didn't know how to get through. We reached out to an organization that helps with families that have adopted. Okay, I admit, my wife did. I was convinced there was nothing to help. We've tried so many things.
Then the first meeting we were suggested a book. I've been told books before. My wife began to read. I didn't. I've tried so much before. I didn't want to try a new direction to the journey. I would just plug through the difficult terrain. Grin and bear the path before me.
My wife lovingly convinced me to give it a try. By chapter one I was in tears and felt heard, felt known, felt less like a failure.
I began to implement some of the things I learned. Nothing perfect, and nothing that I know I'm going to be able to do all of the time forever to come. But, I tried. It was hard. With my own traumas and struggles, it was hard. It was like the workout, I wanted to quit shortly after beginning. Parenting our boys is already so much, and having to remember these extra steps was just...more. I didn't know if it was even working. We were surviving before, why struggle even more?
My son had his birthday this past week. Birthdays and holidays are fun for our boys, but they're also trauma-memory inducing. They tend to have lots of behaviors because the days that are special trigger unconscious memories of pain, struggles and loss. This birthday was no different. My boys were struggling and fighting and hurting us and each other. I definitely took some extra of my anxiety meds.
What was different though was our responses. We remembered the book and thought through how to help our boys. We did the extra effort and it was exhausting. We noticed less yelling and faster recoveries from the outbursts. I still didn't know if it was all worth it. Just like the treadmill, I thought I wanted to give up at minute 2. Then the two words.
My son continued to struggle and hurt his brothers. He did things that he shouldn't. I remembered the trauma that was causing it and loved him through it. I reminded him at every step that he was safe and loved and that I was there for him. It was tiring and scary. At the end of his birthday he was going to spend time with grandma and his brothers. I gave him some love and coaching before he would be off with them. I was scared about what we would come back to. As he gave me a hug and walked away he said something that I couldn't make out.
I looked back and said, "What was that?"
He turned and in a serious, grateful tone with hope in his voice said, "Thanks, Dad."
Those two words gave me hope. It got me past minute two. So often we get discouraged on the journey when it's trying something new because we don't really hear those two words. I could have blew it off as a typical "okay, thanks." But, maybe because of my extra anxiety med, I was able to slow down and take it all in.
Those two words, they meant more than what they stated. They meant we were making progress. They meant that healing was taking place. They meant that we could keep on.
This blog might be for me. If you're this far into it, I hope it's for you too. I hope it's for you on your journey to hear the two words you need. Two words that will keep you going beyond the two minute mark. Two words that will be your sign that you're headed on the right path.
Two words. Hear them. Take them in. Hold onto them.