Tonight it was Olesya's turn, and a conversation stimulated by my desire to discover what had been niggling her the past few days turned into a tearfully honest dialogue over how she felt not important at the orphanage compared to Angela. There, Angela was sort of the Queen Bee, with Olesya the lowly little sister who was not at all recognized for her own special gifts. Olesya has been pushing a few buttons the past couple of days...nothing continued or excessive but just a little here or there and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. While we talked about her need to control things a bit and have it her way, she spilled it all about feeling out of control of so much back in Kazakhstan, and about feeling like a second fiddle to Angela.
We also talked about how hard it is to learn what a family really is, what it means to be part of one, and that it is a challenge to figure it all out. She admitted that while she loves her family and would never want to go back, she doesn't always understand things...like talking about our feelings, sharing our hearts, etc. We also talked frankly about Angela's needs right now, about how Angela remembers a lot of very sad things that Olesya is fortunate enough not to deal with due to being so young when in her biological family. Olesya told me how sad Angela used to be and how different she is now, and that she is glad about that. I told her that Angela is also feeling badly about how things went the first couple of weeks of our journey to adopt them, and she nodded saying "I know Mama, she feel so bad and sometimes she cry too about it."
I explained that was exactly why it was so important to talk about feelings, to share the sad and happy things, and that being in a family means you are not alone with these feelings anymore. But I acknowledged I also knew that they each didn't really have a vocabulary to express feelings or even how to label them. Olesya often says "I don't know" when asked how she feels about something, and I have come to realize it goes well beyond mere words that are not known, it extends much deeper and goes to her inability to even recognize what she feels. She said she really doesn't know what it is she is feeling, and that no one ever asked her before so she doesn't understand it...she knows "sad" and "happy" but not much of the depth and breadth in between.
I explained to her how to act during these conversations we will be having....that we look each other in the eye, that we try to put into words what we are feeling and that even if she didn't have the right words, she could use the words she did know and I would help her. I told her "I don't know" is never an answer, something I have always told our kids, and that I expected her to stop and really think about what was in her heart. I also said I knew she would need a lot of help with this and a lot of practice, but that I was here to help show her how to do it. We also talked about being honest with our feelings, even if she thought it might hurt my feelings. I explained I would say things sometimes that might make her angry, but my job was to help her learn and grow, and that might mean she wouldn't always want to hear what I had to say...but I hoped she would listen respectfully and be open to talking.
We ended with her in my arms for the longest time, crying a little and then heaving a big sigh of relief. She pulled away, smiled a little smile and said "I go say sorry to Matthew, thank you Mama for make me feel better. I tell you next time if I feel bad inside."
As Joshie lay in bed next to me as I type this, I wonder what in the world has happened to cause all this internal work to be going on right now. It is as if the dam gates were opened up and a flood of emotions has come pouring out of everyone, all at once, and I am left scrambling to clean it up with nothing more effective than paper towels! Not sure what has triggered this from all these kids, but there is some incredible and intense stuff swirling around me every single day.
Today in the pool, I played with the kids and it was obvious Angela has had another breakthrough with our conversation last night. She asked me to carry her around the pool like a baby, and for the first time I really held my daughter fully in my arms, cradling her and nuzzling her as I would had she been my infant baby girl. That this child would allow this, let alone ask for it, is quite an accomplishment on her part, and I am so proud of her willingness to fight to be brought to a place of wholeness. It is very difficult work for her, and requires tons of letting go.
I am sorry these posts are photo-free. I have my camera along, but have not broken it out much for some reason. I have a few pictures, but somehow seem inhibited emotionally from connecting through the lens...I go through periods like that now and again and I am not sure why. I will get some posted soon, I promise.
Maybe we have most of this out of the way as we look to begin a new week with fun activities ahead...visits with friends, Disneyland, the beach, more grandmas time. If not, then I guess we move through it all and see where we come out on the other side. Such surprises of unexpected soul work right now, but it happens in timing that is not ours to dictate, only to respond to.