Monday, November 16, 2009


It's been more than a year since my last entry. I wonder how long Victoria's struggles will be dominating my life. I have to try hard to leave aside the demands she makes on me. If I don't, her behaviors would consume me every moment of my day. It's particularly hard when she is at her worst. I've learned not to take it personally, give it all back to her to own and just wait. She is a broken record with the blame, guilt and anger she wants to place upon me. Thankfully I don't internalize it but what it takes out of me to combat her intense hate and mockery, exhaust me. Often I can't believe this is my life.
She had a good week. Usually the weekends do her in and by Sunday she has completely unraveled. This weekend was the first time in a long time she held it together. Until Monday. I know it's coming, I just wish it wasn't so big. I go in her bedroom to get her up and she has peed from her head to her toes. This alerts me she had big feelings she couldn't manage. Usually they are negative feelings she can't express but I know it was the good feelings of the week she couldn't handle. There isn't much I can do for her at this point to help her regulate her feelings. It is a choice for her. I give her many opportunities to talk through her feelings. But I can't force her.
So I immediately have her begin to clean out her clothes and her blanket. Defiance. Slow. I let her know I'll come back later when she's ready to clean up fast and snappy. The fuse was apparently really short because a huge explosion followed. Screaming, banging, opening and closing her window as hard as she could over and over. I'm thinking....really? Is this all necessary? It isn't but when she gets stuck in the fear, she thinks it is. I'm not sure how she is going to get out of this bad place.
She will and she will continue to cycle and I'll keep looking for the progress in it all. Perspective.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Helping Me, Helping You

Two months ago when I wrote the post about the tender loving moment with Victoria, I allowed myself to become hopeful beyond expectation.  Others warned me but I knew I could maintain it. I could.  She couldn't.  This disappointment knows no words.  It unfortunately manifested itself in anger.  The ease in which I felt justified in my anger brought me back to the early days when we were both operating under massive amounts of rage.  I was so sad I allowed myself to go back there so quickly and struggled to pull myself out of it.  Anger is a secondary emotion that can be a result of both hurt and disappointment.  While I cannot protect myself from the hurt and disappointment, I can protect myself from the anger that ensues.  But it was so swift, it didn't even feel like I had a choice.  
So after two months of regression and changes I once again find myself in the arms of a loving little girl.  For five days now she has tried hard to obey and is being kind.  This is unprecedented.  For four years we beg, plead, encourage Victoria to do the right thing to allow herself to be happy.  And then, one day, she just decides to.  It catches me completely off guard. Instead of being excited, I am tentative.  I am encouraging yet cautious.  This skepticism protects me but hurts her.  I am beating myself up.  I still struggle to be gentle with myself.  I know I will eventually come around and offer my heart to her.  I do that tonight.  
It is again helpful, healing and pure.  I will spare the specifics and leave it with this exchange.
"I needed your birth mom to give you up so I could have you and you could help me.  Heavenly Father had a plan for us.  I needed you to help me as much as I am helping you."  I say.
"Heavenly Father knew I was going to mean to you and he sent me here?" she asks, "how can I help you if I am being mean?"  
"You helped me become a better mom." amongst so many other things, I think in my mind. 
"How?" she asks.
"Someday, I will explain it all to you." I end.  
(I'm not so sure it was God's idea to send her here to me.  If you ever get the chance to read "The Little Soul and the Sun" you may begin to understand her purpose in my life and what she was willing to do for me)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Love Lessons

I wish I had a tape recorder.  Victoria often says the most profound things that should not be coming out of a seven year old mouth.  But she has experienced emotional trauma beyond her years.  I asked her if she ever wondered how Max knew how to help her?  "Yep, he took love lessons", she says. Oh really? Where would he learn those?  "From his mom." She says like I should have already known. " That's where everyone learns love lessons." 

What she doesn't know is that she has taught me more about love than most will ever feel or understand.  This, from the same girl, that hasn't had the ability to accept or show love for her entire life.  This, from the same girl, that has broken my heart into pieces.  Relentlessly.  

I think I am avoiding it.  I don't think I am letting her, until one day I see all the pieces lying around me.  As I pick up each piece, it hurts all over again.  I pick up the piece that feels like there is no progress;  I pick up the piece that reminds me how lonely it can be; The piece that reminds me she doesn't care;  I pick up the piece that reminds me I am not doing enough; the piece that says I'm not doing it right; the piece that says we are not done yet; the piece that says I'm tired; the piece that says I'm making this take longer than it should; the piece that says she still isn't feeling all my efforts; the piece that says someone else could do so much better. 

Then, after I've picked them up, alone.  I find myself somehow whole again.  My whole heart reminds me  that there has been progress.  Inches when I want feet.  That I do have help if I am willing to trust it;  That I have a sweet and special witness that she can feel and reciprocate my love.  It says that I am doing what I can, when I can; That my best is more than enough.  It reminds me that I am in it for the long haul;  That says I know where to get more strength; That says I cannot compare myself; that says I keep giving for all the glimpses; that assures me I have the only heart to heal hers.  

I struggle to stay consistent with myself, in the middle of all her and life's inconsistencies.  But at the end of the days, where we have been in complete harmony, I learn love lessons.  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Can't Wait To See You Again

Breaking through the wall is intense, time consuming and slow.  We are looking for that weakening in the fortress to have new, healing and helpful moments with her.  They are rare and fleeting.  Each day that passes I really do gain a better understanding of her and of me.  I also understand that nothing will ever get any worse.  I have felt as bad as it gets.  Of that I am completely sure.  What I don't know is the feeling that it's as good as it gets.  I had a small, beautiful, healing, hopeful, personal and LOVING moment with her.

We had just finished two hours of intense therapy.  We are focusing a lot of attention on feeling mad.  This is her most manifested emotion.  Anger.  We are talking about many things that could be the source of this anger.  Towards the end of the session, the wall was weakening. We get into the car to go home and I always have to sit for few minutes to regain composure.  The sessions can be draining.  She continues to talk about her anger.  I can see she is still "in the zone" and real feelings are being manifested.  I bring her into the front seat, hold her in my arms and talk for 45 minutes.  For the first time, heart to heart.  I will not be specific here. I will be in my book.

I cannot remember all the words that I spoke.  I cannot remember all of her responses but of this I am completely sure; it was divine, as real and pure as it gets.  Just trying to think of the specific words feels like it would somehow diminish the experience.  The revelation to her of the hurt and anger she has for her birth mom was freeing.  She has lived her lifetime with this anger not knowing where it came from. Neither did I.  She has taken it out on me for four years because she didn't know how to get rid of it.  And neither did I.  

 Allowing herself to feel the hurt she has endured is more than a small heart should ever have to bear.  For the first time since bringing her home, I felt fortunate to be her mother.  I am seeing what it is in me that made me the only one that could do this for her.  That could survive her.  I don't want to let her out of my sight.  I want to hang onto her.  I want this to stay.  It was the sincerity I have been waiting four years for.  It wasn't a sword.  It was the Balm of Gilead.  

It doesn't last.  Weeks have past. Hours of therapy have gone by.  I am waiting to see her again.  

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fortress of Fear

Victoria is fairly predictable at this point.  She is hard as nails when it comes to expressing her true emotions.  She is so wired to say the right thing rather than the thing she is really feeling.  It makes it very difficult to get to the heart of the matter.  What is that anyway?  What is this fear that motivates and directs her every move?  Because she is so inconsistent and contradictory, it is hard to say, but this, four years later, is my best guess.

A fear of being abandoned again is her biggest fear.  The hurt that doesn't answer questions about her birth mother? Why her? Why the orphanage? Why she doesn't have any baby pictures? When is her birthmother coming back to get her? What color of hair does she have? How old is she? How will she recognize her?  How will she find her?

A fear to trust.  This would require her to give up control; to be dependent.  She would prefer death.  She trusts me to feed her and take care of her but she does not trust that I will always love her and keep her and that I really know what is best for her.  She is trying to wear me down, seeing how far she needs to push for me to give up on her.  I am amazed at the intensity, still, four years later.  

A fear to feel.  Right now, all of her feelings are a result of pure selfishness.  The product of selfishness is the misery, the low self worth, the hopelessness, the defiance, the lack of remorse. Empathy and sacrifice feel different than anything she has felt before.  It feels vulnerable, risky, hard and submissive.  She is really not interested in any of that.  She will not allow herself to feel any of that long enough to feel the good that comes from opening her heart to others.  To me.

It is hard trying to find creative ways to show her love that she cannot misinterpret or use as a substitute for the real thing.  The love she requires takes time and very conscious effort.  It cannot use many words, candy, food, toys, other people, favors.  It needs to be intimate, directed and purposeful.  It has to be done in such a way that she doesn't feel like she has done something to deserve it.  Somehow I have to make her feel that it is unconditional, sincere and lasting.  Before I can ever reach that place I have got to get over some huge obstacles.  That fortress of fear.  

Caught in the Abyss

Victoria's obsession with relying on others to make her feel good always is frightening.  This is the stuff addictions are made of.  This isn't a typical kids demand for being entertained.  She wants to be having fun all the time and when she isn't, she is angry.  When she is angry, she begins to live in this dangerous fantasy land that wants to hold someone responsible for not providing constant attention.  That would be mostly me.  I knew her demands were insatiable but I thought there was a magic amount of attention that would suffice for her.  I see now, there really isn't.  There is no balance to be had between negative and positive attention.  She will take it all and all the time.  Again, it is never enough.  It was a long time coming to this place because I just couldn't imagine, nor really understand, how demanding she really is.  I felt it to be sure.  It sucked all the energy out of me. 
This dangerous fantasy land conjures up all kinds of half-truths, total imagination and vindictiveness.  Her view of reality is distorted by what she has lived and how she really wants to be living but a mind so abused by her past will not allow her to think clearly.  
For so long, I would think "How could she appear to be so smart yet be so completely senseless at times?"  I thought it was a trick.  It really isn't.  Between trying to say the right thing and suppressing her true feelings she is caught in the abyss.  

Her Story

I am not completely ready to take on her story in this blog.  I have found a personal coach to help me begin writing my book where I can be more expressive and specific.  But lately I have sat down and wrote a few posts about her as her behaviors begin to make more sense to me after years of fueling madness.  I suppose at times along the way I have read bits of this somewhere or someone has told it to me but I guess I had to live it to learn it.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


As the sun arose,
its light capped the snow covered peaks,
while the shadow blanketed beneath.
The icy blue sky fell behind
and lent itself to a magnificent backdrop.
Who would stop for a moment
and watch
as the sunlight
inched down the mountain
and see the shadow shrink away?
I don't have time.
I must make time.
He has got me to notice,
now I need to stay.
There are too many good excuses
to make me not pause.
And bad ones, too.
I listen.
I listen.
Averting my thoughts.
Even if I don't hear a thing,
I know I have reflected for a moment
and took notice.
I keep looking in good places for temporary comfort.
It is fleeting and volatile.
When will I stop pursuing this disappointment?
It only leads to discouragement and frustration.
Where is that true Comforter?
The One that appreciates me for who I am and values what I can give
The One that sustains me in peaceful reverence
not in impatient aggrivation.
The One that doesn't need specifics
because He pays attention to the details.
It is here that I will find enduring comfort
and His answers always sufficient.
If I would stop for a moment.
I will not only notice,
I will recognize Him.
And know that he is nearby
even though I feel so distant. 

written january 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Today, but feels like Tomorrow

There is something hopeful about tomorrow, next week, next year.  I feel it on most todays now when dealing with Victoria.  Her anxiety, her hyper vigilance weighs on me and pulls my focus off.  But it will get better.  I just don't know when.  What I do know is that we are much closer than we have ever been.  
We are approaching the present now.  I don't know what that means for my posts.  I have shared only a part of my story.  I will be back on some tomorrow to share part of her's.  When I have that advantage of hindsight.  
This was just a glimpse.  Maybe someday I can write the whole story while not living in part of it.  

What I Know For Sure

I have been tentative about allowing comments on my post.  This has never been about receiving sympathy.  In the beginning months of therapy, my lament was, "I just wish I would have known this in the beginning when we brought her home." However, despite the pain, especially the unexpected pain that came from good sources, I can never wish I had known.  Far too many truths have been revealed and I am beginning to feel the warmth of the sun.  

This story is far from over but I am more hopeful than I have ever been and more prepared than I could have ever imagined.  I am anxious for the day when Victoria will be able to relinquish the fear and allow the love and joy to flow freely from her heart.  That she will be free from the weight of despair that has robbed her of a childhood that should have been full of innocence, light-heartedness and happiness.  I know before that day arrives there will be more disappointment and impatience but I have loved this girl more than anyone despite what I could not do for her.  This love brought her to this home.  This love allowed her to stay.  This love will mend her.  This love will allow her to love others.