Olive Goes to Therapy
It sounds like a charming children’s book, doesn’t it?
I think it has the making of a best seller.
Can you picture the illustrations? A tall, lanky Great Dane, stretched out across the couch as the therapist listens attentively with notepad in hand.
Maybe it could be a series of books.
Through the eyes of Olive we could delve into the fears, worries and struggles that can be hard to talk about when you are a child.
And as charming as the illustrations would be what would touch the heart is the story.
What a story it is.
All about redemption, protection, and the miracle of healing that can come through love….
It has been a miracle in the making.
Comparable to the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, the restoring of sight to the blind, or the raising of the dead,
Jesus is working a modern-day miracle under the roof of my home.
And He is using a clumsy, lanky, goofy, 12-week-old pup to bring a miracle of healing to pass.
Let me set the scene…
Toby is now in Michigan.
Stressors that were lifted during our two-month road trip have re-settled on the household.
Every element that brought anxiety, explosions, and meltdowns last time Toby left home have returned, but miraculously the behaviors have not.
For the first time since Tyler moved in at age 6, he feels safe. Possibly for the first time in his life he feels safe.
For those that know Tyler the idea that he is anything but confident, strong, busy, and self-assured is hard to believe, but the very things that create that façade are in fact the symptoms of deep-seated fears and anxiety.
Tyler is afraid to be still. His constant movement is a tool to quiet the thoughts and fears that are always lurking just beneath the surface.
As long as he is “doing” he isn’t “feeling.”
This strategy of constant movement has worked for him in the sense that the need to constantly move has resulted in some mad athletic skills, but to maintain a life of constant movement as a solution to keeping the demons at bay is not realistic, long term.
Besides the fact that it drives those around you crazy, makes success in school difficult, and limits future possibilities, all issues… especially when you are also functioning with severe ADHD…there is also the simple fact that at some point your body must rest.
The sun will eventually set.
The house will become dark and quiet.
Your body will scream for rest.
And bedtime must come.
This is when the hardest part of my day begins.
It is when I am emptiest, when I have little to give in the way of creative thinking, energy, and patience that I am called on to tap deep and step into the arena with Tyler as he battles the darkness of his past that threatens to swallow him up every night.
Bedtime is the toughest part of any mother’s day. Even with a child that hasn’t experienced trauma bedtime is the roughest hour of the day. For Tyler and I bedtime is not merely an hour-long struggle but rather a hard, hard journey that begins with tuck-ins at 8 :30 pm and concludes with sheer exhaustion around midnight ,following hours of fears, tears, and meltdowns.
Tyler is haunted by memories of horrific abuse and that abuse has resulted in fears of closets, the dark, bathrooms, being alone, and not being fed.
We have made strides. Growth and healing have occurred. God has sent angels to walk with us…aka Miss Tina, our therapist… But nothing has had a more powerful effect than this silly little dog that God placed in our lives.
We added Olive to our family for the purpose of being an emotional support animal to Tyler. She has fulfilled that role tenfold… and she is only 3 months old. We have been shocked at the security and emotional stability she has provided so quickly. We expected it to come as she grew in stature. We knew a grown Great Dane would bring Tyler the feelings of safety he needs from the birth dad he fears will find and kill him, and we knew a large, heavy dog would satisfy the need he has for weight on his body when his 150-pound dog would sleep in bed with him,
But we had no idea that this 20-pound, bouncy pup would also bring that same security. It is as if in Tyler’s eyes she is already a warrior standing guard at the foot of his bed. I find myself tearing up at the image of Olive, a babe in need of care and protection herself, sitting at the foot of Tyler’s bed having no idea what a hero she already is in his eyes.
Bedtime has been a miraculous transformation as Tyler lays down to sleep with Olive snuggled up next to him and within minutes…yes, MINUTES…they are both sound asleep.
She helped Tyler face some big fears this week as he showed up and participated in events that caused epic meltdowns a few months ago. His only request was that Olive come along.
“I just don’t feel scared when she is there,” he explained.
We even were able to tackle some BIG trauma issues in therapy this week thanks to Olive. Tina invited Olive to come to therapy with Tyler. The topic of parent/child relationships and trust were discussed. These are topics we have not been able to address at all previously. They are just too big and scary. But Tina took the discussion in a different direction and made it less personal, thus more emotionally manageable for Tyler, by talking about what a Daddy should and shouldn’t do to/for a baby, using Tyler as the Daddy and Olive as the baby.
WOW! What insight we received into his past as he listed the things he would never do to Olive and the ways he wouldn’t hurt her.
We also got insight into the intense fears he has of parent figures and the fact he views people physically bigger than him as “scary.” These were all things we could never delve into before that we could now begin addressing with Olive laying across Tyler’s lap on Miss Tina’s couch.
I knew that God’s hand was in the circumstances that led us to Olive.
And I knew she was being brought into our life to help Tyler heal.
But I had no idea how powerful her presence would be and the miracles I would be privy to as God takes a lanky, baby Dane, and a busy, broken boy and creates a holy, healing love.
Miracles still happen.
I witnessed one today.