Sunday, August 22, 2010

So Much for "Vacation"!

Well, this "vacation" seems to be turning more into a therapeutic journey. In the midst we are having fun, but there is something that has been unleashed that is anything but relaxing and vacation-like for me.

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 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.

Night all!


Lori said...

So excited to see what the kids think of Disneyland!!!

Anonymous said...

Delurk -- I've been reading and loving your blog for a long time, and finding it very healing. I just wanted to suggest having Olesya -- or anyone who is having trouble verbalizing -- draw what she feels, and then explain the drawing.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder if the girls do feel "on vacation"...from all the wonderful, exciting, active things they've been enjoying and adjusting to at home and now feel more free time to be able to consider more of these heart issues. Not that they haven't already addressed some of them, but in between they've been busy with so many good things that they maybe just haven't slowed down to consider more of the issues deep in their hearts. Maybe seems odd to us that vacation would include such soul searching, but they might also be seeing you much as less busy and as having more time to discuss these things. Just more time for quiet reflection? I'm not sure about they why, but it's so good they are thinking these things through (hard as it is for all of you sometimes) and have at least some of the language to try working through it. The most important part of it all is seeing and hearing you express that you are there to help them. Yet even that is new to them, something the girls still have to learn to grasp...the permanency of relationships, of family.

I know it can be exhausting for we moms to feel that we are so often helping our kids sort out their adoption, abandonment history. These are such complex issues, that even as adults and mothers we have a hard time sorting out. I'm a bit ahead of you in that our oldest adopted child (who ever wants to phrase it that way, but for such purposes of these discussions?)just turned twenty. Hers was a domestic newborn adoption, so hers is a different story, yet they all are. But just to say, there will probably always be discussions of some sort concerning that history, which come up at different points in our children's lives. They aren't all heavy, sometimes just a passing comment, most often positive or just imformation gathering or dispensing. Even when they are extremely comfortable with that part of their history (as she is), things come up now and then, sometimes prompted by school assignments (dreaded DNA/family tree projects)or other's comments, or just in touching base about how a child feels. But hopefully the really hard stuff gets brought up early enough and honestly, so they are "in tune" with their feelings for now.

You are a blessing to your kids, Cindy. Honesty and compassion are gifts you are giving them. I'm coming off a discouraging day, not for anything that occurred, but just from self-doubt and some "tudes" that have been showing here. I was greatly encouraged by an older couple at church, after our twenty yr old and the mission team she was on a few weeks ago shared about their trip to Hungary. This older couple stepped up to encourage me that God brought my mission to my door, rather than sending me overseas (except to travel across the Gulf of Mexico to Guatemala four times). I needed to hear that, so God blessed me with their words, unbeknownst by them how important they were to me yesterday.

Sorry for how exhausting this reassuring and healing can be, but yet I know you recognize it for the beautiful thing it is! Here's praying you can all have a few days of real vacation in between these soul searching conversations!

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

Paper towels my foot! You are mopping up emotional crises and breakthroughs with the clothing on your shoulder and your bare skin as you hug and hold and listen and respond and kiss.

You are held in love by so many.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a blessing for all of you.
I wish I had the presence of mind to
deal with all of that the way you do.
I just get overwhelmed myself and shut
down. Thanks for giving me an example
of how to deal with these things.

Mishelle said...

This is not exactly the same, but I'm a speech-pathologist who works with kids. Inevitably, when one of my "kids" goes on vacation, they come back with a burst in their vocabulary or language skills. I've wondered about it for years--something about changing the routine and being stimulated in new ways leads to a lot of learning. It seems like the same would apply to emotional learning as well. Mishelle

4texans said...

You are such a thoughtful mother and very attuned to your kids needs.
I can't wait to hear about Disneyland, we haven't braved it with Nicholas yet (he is still 4 though). If you are by chance driving north towards Fresno or San Francisco on I-5 (or 99)during any part of your trip, I would love to meet you!
Katherine, mom to Nicholas from Almaty

Stephanie and Gary said...

There is no need for capturing moments like these with photographs when you have been able to capture for your readers, but for yourself and your future, how beautiful and cherished these moments are with your children. Just as I can imagine you holding your "baby" girl in your arms and all the joy that entails, I am sure having captured these moments in your blog, you will not need a photo, but only to turn inward again, to have that memory right beside you.
You continue to amaze me and inspire.
Stephanie in NYC