Tag Archives: PTSD

The Blessing of Blogging

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Isn’t it a beautiful thing to watch God work…

Taking our vision and transforming it into something so much greater than anything we could have planned ourselves.

How grateful I am for the journey God has taken me on these last 5 years. When we opened the door to the world of adoption we had no idea the wild ride we were boarding. We didn’t anticipate the twists, turns, sharp drops, and stomach flips. We also didn’t anticipate the magnificent peaks, thrilling climbs and heavenly views.

Perhaps that is why God opens doors an inch at a time. Had he swung the door wide open revealing the entire ride I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to climb on. Rather He has revealed it a turn, a hill, a twist at a time, allowing us to grow in our ability to trust that as the ride conductor He won’t push us past our limit. Through the journey He taught us that if we simply lean into the wind and trust the creator of the ride we find ourselves buckled into then there is no need to fear the tracks ahead, regardless of what the next turn brings.

Often in the midst of a journey we struggle to see past the climb we find ourselves on. We can easily lose sight of where we began and how far we have come. I think this is revealing of the shortsightedness we as human beings struggle with.

In the scriptures the word “Remember” appears in various forms over 300 times. The significance of this word is revealed in the frequency God commands us to “remember.” Our Father in Heaven knows us. He created us. He is aware of our shortcomings and our shortsightedness. History has revealed men’s propensity for forgetfulness especially when it comes to remembering lessons revealed to us during the strain of an upward climb when we then find ourselves coasting on a straightaway.

One month after Tyler moved in with us I was prompted to embark on a different journey, one well outside my comfort zone. I felt called to record the journey we were just beginning by way of a blog. I knew nothing about blogging, was pretty much absent on social media, preferred my privacy, and was downright frightened of putting our journey out there for everyone to observe and perhaps judge, but for every reason I found to not move forward with this prompting three more reasons why I needed to take this leap were revealed.

This blog began as an act of obedience. I didn’t know what, if anything, would come of my efforts. When I began it was painfully laborious as each blog entry took hours to complete. As time passed I became more comfortable with the medium, more adept at typing, and more at peace with the transparency that comes with recording my life in this way. What was initiated by a prompting became a source of joy. This blog became my gift to my kids as I recorded the story of our journey for them to have when they are older. It became a way to connect with, offer support, and glean support from others who are walking their own hard road. It became my therapy, my safe place to work through my own emotions and find a resolution and peace that I could only seem to find through words. By sharing with others, I found a piece of myself that I didn’t know existed, a voice that up until then had been silent. As we rode this ride of adoption the purpose and blessings of this blog evolved as we evolved, and in this journey I found my own calling.

 

This week I typed my 1000th blog and I have reflected on all that we have experienced together. While the purpose that drives me to sit before the keyboard has evolved over the last five years, the joy I have found in sharing our story continues to be one of the greatest blessings in my life.

How grateful I am for this journey.

In trauma therapy with Tyler we continue to lay the groundwork for EMDR, a needed next step in healing from PTSD. Unfortunately, we can’t get anywhere near the past before Tyler shuts down. It is far too big and scary for Tyler to face. Knowing we need to get him comfortable with looking backwards in time we decided to start small and safe, moving from his early years with us, prior to his adoption, backwards through time.

The goal is to help him feel safe remembering good times so that he will eventually feel safe looking at the scary stuff, so he then can begin to heal from the scary stuff.

This is where the blog comes in. Originally intended to be a scrapbook of Tyler’s life, something for him to hold onto and treasure as an adult, it has now become a powerful therapy tool. I have had past years of blog entries printed up into “digital scrapbooks.” We have been using these blog books in therapy to look back and REMEMBER, so that Tyler might become less afraid of looking to the past.

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Every night Toby reads a few blog entries to Tyler as his bedtime story. Tyler now looks forward to this special time of getting to hear stories in which he is the lead character.

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We also bring these book to therapy with Miss Tina and read some entries with her, helping Tyler to become more comfortable with remembering, working on identifying emotions felt in those moments from his past, and utilizing those entries to start building a life book for Tyler, something he currently does not have.

When I began blogging 1000 entries ago I had no idea the magnificent journey we were embarking on. I had no idea what God’s purpose was behind the prompting. I had no idea what a lifeline this virtual conversation with all of you would be for me. I especially had no idea that these words, penned for another purpose…

To encourage others and be encouraged, to serve as a form of therapy for myself, to record our story of hope and healing for future reflection…

Would end up being the very tool needed to help Tyler heal.

It is beautiful how God is using Tyler’s own journey, his own story, his own reflections, to heal him from the trauma of his past. It is so divinely perfect and beyond anything I could have planned or orchestrated myself. This daily practice has also blessed us in another way. It has helped us to “Remember.” Remember the struggles, the climb, the self doubt, the worries, the fear…all so distant now. By rereading the stories from that first year of our adoption journey I remember how hard it was and am humbled by how far God have taken us, and the miraculous work He has performed in all of us, refining us and making us better than we were before. 

When God cracks open a door and asks us to step inside without seeing exactly what we are walking into we can trust that is we simply obey and take a step of faith He will take us on an incredible journey, a journey that’s purpose is often unseen until years down the road.

Thank you for walking with us through these last 1000 blogs. We couldn’t ask for better traveling companions as we reflect on and “Remember” God’s goodness in our life.

Equine Therapy

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In our search for therapeutic tools to help both of our adopted sons heal from the trauma of the past, we stumbled across equine therapy. It has proven to be hugely beneficial in helping patients with PTSD. Our therapists’ office happens to offer equine therapy through one of its sister branches 45 minutes away. This is a different ranch than the one that the older kids are now volunteering at two mornings a week. Ready Yourself Youth Ranch has no openings until spring and I wanted to start the boys before then, so I signed them up for a 6-week session with a certified equine therapist through Glade Run Adventures.

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Saturday was Ozzie and Tyler’s first therapy session.

(Because Ozzie is away receiving treatment for a few months, his lessons will pick back up during the winter months, while Tyler will continue with this 6-week session.)

When we arrived, the boys were each assigned a horse.

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Ozzie was paired with Rosie,

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And Tyler was paired with Smokey.

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Their first task was getting fitted for boots and helmets. Once they were geared up it was time to gear up their horses.

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The therapist walked the boys through the process of grooming their horses. This is a big part of the therapy work, as it creates connection between the rider and the horse. The boys had a good idea of what to do thanks to our visit to RYYR ranch a few weeks ago with our Family Based team.

Next, they learned how to saddle the horses and prepare them for riding.

Soon it was time to mount up and begin the riding lessons.

Since this was both boys’ first time on a horse by themselves the therapist worked on the basics…how to sit, how to hold the reins, how to communicate with the horse, and how to be respectful and kind to the animal they were riding.

Since Ozzie was on the bigger horse, and struggled a bit more with the tasks at hand, the therapists focused her attention on helping Ozzie. She walked him around the ring, while guiding him through his interactions with the horse.

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Tyler took to the lesson a bit more easily. This was due in part to him having a less stubborn and more docile horse. He found his groove quickly and was soon a pro at moving around the ring.

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Both boys did really well and LOVED the experience.

I think it is an unexpected blessing that current circumstances puts them into different 6-week classes. Their needs are very different and what will be worked on from a therapeutic perspective is vastly different. With Tyler, the therapist will focus on the PTSD and the heightened anxiety he is struggling with. With Ozzie, the focus will be on attachment, kind and respectful interactions with animals, and meeting his sensory seeking needs.

While both are signed up for equine therapy to meet vastly different needs, I am certain both will benefit from it. It was nice for them to be able to share this one lesson and connect over a shared experience that the older kids didn’t participate in.

When their lesson time was done they climbed down from their steeds, walking like cowboys from an old western. They were both feeling the effect of working muscles they never have exercised before and were a bit stiff and sore. The instructor told them that was to be expected and it would lessen over time. I couldn’t help but smile as they moseyed out of the barn bowlegged and shuffling.

Their legs may have ached more than ever, but they left with their hearts aching a little bit less…

And that is a huge blessing.

Olive the other Reindeer

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Olive our Great Dane pup is growing by leaps and bounds. She now outweighs half the family, is as tall as Toby when she is standing on her back legs, takes up the entire couch when she is stretched out, and can reach the countertop with all four feet on the ground…

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which has led to a new level of puppy proofing,

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And she is not even 10 months old!

With this incredible 9 month long growth spurt comes a lot of feeding (8 cups a day/ spread over three servings) Toby recently repurposed an old bench that had lost its seat, into a new feeding area for our tall girl.

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But even with all the unique challenges of owning a Great Dane, the dividends are huge. Since we brought home Olive, Tyler is a different child. We were led to adopt Olive as a therapy tool for Tyler, our youngest son who suffers from PTSD due to early childhood trauma. He was in a bad place and couldn’t sleep at night because of the paralyzing fear he had that his birth father was going to find him and kill him. He needed to feel safe. He needed a furry companion that he felt could protect him from his worst nightmare which led us to find the biggest, and yet gentlest/most tolerant breed of dog we could. We needed a gentle giant to serve as Tyler’s support dog.

Since Olive moved in Tyler has become a different child.

Olive has not only grown physically in the time we have had her but she has also grown in her ability to obey and follow commands thanks to obedience class. We knew it was important with a dog that big, that we establish control and teach good manners as soon as possible. It is one thing to have a naughty 8 pound Yorkie that jumps up on you, but quite different to have a naughty, 150 pound goliath try to climb up your leg.

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Olive has now completed three levels of training and begins the advanced class this week. Rusty has stepped up as the primary trainer who works with Olive in her classes and at home. We found Tyler’s energy, coupled with Olives distractibility, a bad fit for obedience class. Rusty’s calm, but strong presence, is a much better fit.

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Olive loves class and looks forward to playtime with her four footed friends, especially Rebel, a German Shorthaired Pointer, who is her best friend.

I am amazed at how much she is learning and how well the classes are working…

for the most part.

But every now and then Olive gets herself in trouble.

For example…

Saturday morning we woke to the clip clopping of feet on the roof above our head.

Our first thought was “Tyler!”

After a quick peek in his bedroom to find him still asleep,

Our next thought was, “Goats!”

It has happened before…

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What we never expected when we stepped out the front door was to look up and see this:

It wasn’t the pawing of Dasher, Dancer, or Vixen…

No, it was Olive, the other reindeer!

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Being the owners of an under one-year-old Great Dane is a dichotomy. She has the appearance of a full grown dog. She is as tall as a small pony. But she has the enthusiasm, curiosity, lack of common sense, and klutziness of the puppy she really is. It is a dangerous combination and many a breakable has been destroyed inside the house because of this  combination of energy and enthusiasm, coupled with her complete lack of understanding of how big she really is.

She has gotten “stuck” in many sticky situations as a result, and this morning was a prime example of that.

Near the back of our house the distance between the ground and roofline in significantly shorter than in the front of the house, which means a determined little boy, a pair of climbing goats, or a tall Great Dane in pursuit of a cat can, if they are motivated enough, climb onto the roof.

It appears this is what happened on Saturday morning. Olive, in pursuit of the cat, followed Stripy up onto the roof and then discovered it was a jolly, good place to play. She ran, frolicked and barked, delighted by this grand adventure until mean old Toby made her come back down to earth.

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What a goofy girl she is!

Olive, down girl! Down!

Great Dane = Great Love

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“When someone says “Great Dane,” the term conjures up a picture of the gangly and troublesome Marmaduke ruining the neighbor’s yard, or Shaggy’s clumsy canine companion in a Scooby Doo mystery, cowering or devouring everything in sight. The most we get from these caricatures are lovable, bumbling giants generally causing mayhem. Does the Great Dane personality live up to its cartoonish hype?

The Great Dane Personality—An Inside Scoop

Matching or surpassing the size of an Irish wolfhound, cut by sleek greyhound lines, and bearing the muscularity of a mastiff…the Great Dane makes an impressive figure. You might assume that large, sturdy frame craves the outdoor life—but the Dane is a bit of a couch potato.

Since these house dogs by nature are huge, you may want an appropriately spacious home. As for property damage, well…let’s face it, some of us were boisterous and destructive as adolescents, right? How upset can we be with our formidable, four-legged friend as they go through a similar phase?

The Great Dane temperament in adolescent years can be marked by wild abandon, their terrible twos (and threes) quite hectic if you don’t have sufficient time to watch and train them. This sense of growing glee can lead to testing limits, jumping and leaping over objects and furniture, and exulting in their rapidly developing bodies. Their height also allows them to counter surf if you leave food out, so you’ll need to be as disciplined as your dog when it comes to keeping house.

Looks are deceiving (in a good way)

Size coupled with all that energy might sound intimidating, but the Great Dane is a lover, not a fighter. One value for a dog devotee: This breed provides an imposing image for home protection while actually being low on aggression.

The Great Dane delivers a protective visual deterrent, while actually being friendly and fantastic with kids. Strangers stay away, but friends and family needn’t be wary. As they grow and grow—often clocking in as the tallest dogs on the planet—make no mistake…hiding within their large and striking stature is a little dog mentality.

Down deep in a Great Dane personality, they just want to be your lapdog—provided your lap can sustain close to 200 pounds! Thanks to their friendly nature, they want to curl up with you, so you can’t have a body bubble with this breed. They want to stand with weighty paws on your shoes, leaning into your body, showing that demonstrative attachment. If you’re easily bowled over or have very tender feet, tread carefully when considering a Great Dane.

Big appetite, small workout

One thing is true: that Scooby Doo hunger isn’t just animated fantasy. This robust breed consumes mass quantities of food, so a Dane lover needs to factor that ongoing budgetary requirement into their plans.

The impetuous Great Dane temperament makes them gobblers, so you’ll need to break up their diet of 7 to 10 cups of food per day into at least two sittings, or they’re prone to serious health problems like bloat. While they require a lot of food and look enormous, these giant dogs have slower metabolisms and don’t require an equally enormous amount of exercise. They’re inherently playful, so interaction is vital to build relationships and reinforce training, but they don’t need the exercise time of smaller dogs.

Great Danes are know for being of average intelligence but they are actually very easy to housebreak and train. They do well in obedience classes and can follow commands such as sit, stay, down, come and heel quite easily. They can also be in agility classes since they were bred to be working dogs. As a breed, the Great Dane temperament includes a strong want to please and so treats and positive reinforcement can work really well while trying to train a Great Dane.”

This was one of many articles we read as we were researching Great Danes after a trainer suggested this breed as a good emotional support animal for Tyler. Living with extreme anxiety and PTSD as a result of abuse in early childhood before we adopted him, his therapist suggested a dog might be just the therapy tool needed to reduce anxiety and bring some relief to the night terrors that haunt him.

We were looking for a large, intimidating looking dog that Tyler could believe would be able to protect him from the birth father he worries will find him and try to kill him, despite all the “logical proof” we present to convince him that he is safe and protected. But we were also looking for a gentle, easy going temperament in that same support animal. A trainer suggested a Great Dane.

Two months ago God led us to Olive.

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She was 10 weeks old and 15 pounds when we brought her home.

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She is now 18 weeks old and 52 pounds.

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Her affect on Tyler and on our home is nothing short of miraculous. She has secured her place in all of our hearts, but especially Tyler’s, as protector, beloved companion, and best friend.

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We are finding the article’s description of the breed to be completely on point. She is a couch potato through and through, sleeping for hours a day, only to be overcome with crazy bursts of energy that cause her to race around the room, bouncing from couch to chair in a hilariously comical dance of clumsy steps, flying legs, and flopping ears.

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She is over the moon in love with her family and will never sit on the other side of the couch when there is the option of laying across a warm body. She always has to have some part of her touching someone whether it is laying her head on our lap or leaning against our legs as she stands beside us.

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She gallops like a filly just learning to run, and is quickly growing to the size of a small horse, doubling her weight every few weeks.

She can now reach the counter and our need to “baby proof” has become more complicated by her growing reach.

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The good news is she has proven to be very easy to train. Her innate love for her family and her people pleasing personality has made her the most trainable breed we have ever owned. She is almost done with her basic puppy training class that takes place every Tuesday night and has loved it. She has blossomed with the experience, becoming less nervous and timid with each experience and encounter she is exposed to. She loves her buddies in puppy class and always sleeps well after  playing hard with the other puppies for an hour.

Tyler is her Daddy and he is her first choice when she wants to romp and play,

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but when it comes to the other fur babies in the house she has eyes only for Ellie, our Bashar. Sweet Ellie has become the adoptive momma to Olive and is incredibly patient with this horse-like puppy that is twice her size who wants to always snuggle.

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I’m sure Ellie sometimes tires of the puppy, but she never pushes the puppy away when Olive curls up next to her (or climbs up on her) to sleep.

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What a blessing this goofy dog has been!

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Meet Olive!

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Well, we are home.

And while home is a lovely place to be I must admit the transition from life as a gypsy back to a life filled with schedules, appointments, farm chores, phone calls, and responsibility has been a tough adjustment.

I finally feel like I have my footing again and have adjusted to the point that I can blog and share what is new with us at Patchwork Farm.

I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the adjustment from life on the road back to life at home. It was an interesting experiment in character and temperament to see which kids relished the nomadic lifestyle and which ones struggled with life on the road.

Overall  everyone did well and enjoyed our once in a lifetime adventure, but some “thrived” while others simply “managed.”

This was most notable with our two youngest.

I anticipated that this trip might challenge Ozzie. Ozzie is a child who does best with a rigid routine, predictability, quiet time, and opportunities to isolate from others. This trip offered little of that. In the months leading up to our trip we worked with our therapist to identify possible struggles and make a plan that Ozzie could use to find some quiet time in our travels. Even with that preparation this lifestyle was not one that suited Ozzie’s temperament and he struggled with the abundance of family togetherness, a tough thing for Reactive Attachment kids.

For a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder and Autism, a life of living on the road, with intense family bonding experiences and little routine or predictability, is very hard.

He loved the vacation. He loved the sites and the opportunities to see and learn but there was a noticeable exhale of relief when we pulled into the driveway and he could run up to his room and shut the door.

Tyler on the other hand came to life on this vacation. He was a different child. He was joyful and engaged. He was extroverted and confident. He was eager to learn and willingly put himself in social situations that would have shut him down emotionally had we been at home.

For a child with PTSD and ADHD, a life of constant changing experiences, exciting new sights, and new people to meet, all while living in close proximity to the people who bring a sense of safety and security, resulted in miraculous changes.

Tyler’s anxiety all but disappeared as he spent 24/7 surrounded by people who could keep him safe, all within arm reach from any corner of the bus.

Coming home has been hard for Tyler.

On the first night home he broke down in tears and asked, “Why can’t we just all live in the bus?”

I often tell people that we could not have adopted little boys who were more different.. They are extreme opposites in their looks, stature, strengths, weaknesses and even in their struggles. This extreme contradiction makes parenting them a challenge because in my efforts to meet the needs of one child I am giving the other child the opposite of what they stand in need of. Case in point: this trip. One thrived. One struggled. Now that we are home the other is thriving and little brother struggles.

It is a challenging juggling act and that description is a simplification of reality because there are also three other children and a husband whose wants and needs need to be considered.

It seems that, whether right or wrong, my way of meeting the diverse needs of everyone is to “triage.” I do this by meeting the needs of the child most in crisis at the moment, as I shared in this previous blog post:

https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/love-is-a-battlefield/

I now find myself trying to save Tyler from a heart gushing wound as he faces the fears that have consumed him for years but have reemerged after a two month vacation that did more to address his anxiety than all the medication management in the world.

Tyler’s early childhood has a storyline that would shake you to the core and leave you sleepless. The horrors of Hollywood films don’t hold a candle to the horrors he experienced at the hands of the very people that were entrusted to protect him. The result is severe PTSD. He lives with constant fear but is debilitated by the fears that awake as night approaches. Like most little boys he fears the monsters that lurk in the dark corners of his room. The difference, however, is he knows what the faces of those monsters look like. He knows they are real. He knows the hurts they can inflict, and he is terrified they will return.

For over a year Tyler’s anxiety has increased. I won’t go into all that results from such severe trauma memories but suffice it to say that I am dead on my feet after a 4-5 hour bedtime routine every night. My heart breaks for him and rages against the adults responsible. I consider myself a forgiving individual but after parenting the trauma inflicted on both my boys by the very people that were supposed to protect them I am convinced there is a special corner of hell reserved for those that hurt the innocents of the world.

About a year ago, as we were discussing treatment options with Tina, our therapist, she suggested a emotional support dog for Tyler. She shared that she had been praying about Tyler and how to help him and this came to mind. She spoke of the success she has seen with a friend that raises and trains dogs for soldiers returning from Afghanistan who also suffer from PTSD.

Long story, short, we spent this last year praying for the right dog and the right time and through a series of “God-incidences” we find ourselves with a new addition.

Her name is Olive.

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She is a 10 week old Great Dane.

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It was after speaking with the trainer and her suggestions for breeds that would be a good match for Tyler that we decided on Olive.

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We needed a breed that had a impressive, threatening stature that Tyler could believe would physically be able to protect him from the father he believes is going to try to come and kill him,

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Olive’s Dad.

 

but also a breed that is incredibly gentle and loyal.

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Olive came home on Monday night.

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Tyler has slept in his room with Olive at his feet ever since.  For the first time in over a year we have been able to get him to sleep in his room without acting out in his anxiety with destructive or self-injurious behaviors. He has fallen asleep within minutes rather than fighting to stay awake for hours  in fear of what will happen when he closes his eyes.

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He finally feels safe.

I wish I could convey the weight that has been lifted from this Momma’s shoulders. I could weep with joy at the rest I see in Tyler’s body and the peace I see in his eyes.

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Toby leaves to go back to Michigan to finish my sister’s addition in a day or two and he will be gone for 6 weeks. This will be the true test of Tyler’s confidence and trust in Olive. With Daddy gone can he still feel safe?

I pray that is the case!

“Blue Bunny”

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“Blue Bunny” is the word of the week.

This past week, in therapy, we talked about how quickly escalating emotions have become common place, particularly following therapy sessions for Ozzie. He can go from 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds over what the untrained eye might see as unimportant or trivial. With Ozzie out of the room I shared with Tina my struggles to properly parent these hyper-speed mood swings.

She explained that part of what we are dealing with, in addition to the other diagnoses, is classic PTSD. The trauma he has experienced is the cause of  much of the behaviors we are dealing with. Angry outbursts are one of the symptoms.

She called Ozzie back into the room to share with us another tool to add to our “tool box”… and I eagerly agreed to give it a try since we have had such amazing success with all of our other homework.

(Have I mentioned how much I love this woman!)

She told us we need a safe word…a word that can be uttered by Ozzie or I (or any other member of the family) when emotions are starting to escalate and we need to push the pause button. It is, in essence, like calling a time out. Everyone stops the conversation, retreats, applies the coping tools we have been working on like the shoulder tapping and deep breathing, and when everyone is back at their baseline we come back together to try the conversation again.

It has been amazing!

We had multiple opportunities to put it to the test this week. Each time when things were just beginning to get heated (The key is to use the safe word as early in the escalation as possible) one of us would yell “Blue Bunny” and the conversation stopped.

Its effect is much like throwing a bucket of cold water on fighting dogs. It snaps the brain out of its current mode, makes you smile at the silliness of the word, and allows everyone to decompress and then try the conversation again.

You hit pause, rewind the tape, and press play again when both family members are ready.

While this has been hugely effective with my traumatized son I would imagine it would be a helpful tool to add to any parenting toolbox…or marital toolbox, for that matter.

Just imagine the look on  your defiant 18 year old’s face if in the heat of the moment you yelled out,

” Pickled Platypus.”  🙂

It certainly derails the tantrum, if only for a while.

All of these coping tools we have been working on with Ozzie are in preparation for the EMDR work that his therapist will be beginning with him soon.

Here is a little summary of what EMDR is according to WebMD:

“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It’s growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents.

At first glance, EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on talk therapy or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.

Your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes. At the same time, the EMDR therapist will have you recall a disturbing event. This will include the emotions and body sensations that go along with it.

Gradually, the therapist will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. Some therapists use alternatives to finger movements, such as hand or toe tapping or musical tones.

People who use the technique argue that EMDR can weaken the effect of negative emotions. Before and after each EMDR treatment, your therapist will ask you to rate your level of distress. The hope is that your disturbing memories will become less disabling.

Although most research into EMDR has examined its use in people with PTSD, EMDR is also used to treat many other psychological problems.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has noted that EMDR is effective for treating symptoms of acute and chronic PTSD. According to the APA, EMDR may be particularly useful for people who have trouble talking about the traumatic events they’ve experienced.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have jointly issued clinical practice guidelines. These guidelines “strongly recommended” EDMR for the treatment of PTSD in both military and non-military populations.”

Ozzie’s therapist is hopeful that Ozzie will experience emotional healing as a result of EMDR work, but she has made it clear that the road to healing is a long one,  a hard one, and the effects of opening those doors to the memories of his past trauma will affect the entire family as we help him cope with the emotional fallout.

It is a delicate dance…

opening the door to the past.

If you open it too wide, too quickly, Ozzie will shut down. Yet if we leave those doors firmly shut the pressure just builds until the force of those traumatic memories push the door open with explosive force. I would love to just lock the door to the past, throw away the key, and never open that door again, but for Ozzie to heal we must open that door and walk into a very dark, scary place to face the demons.

Oh, how I wish I could do it for him and let him remain untouched by the darkness,

but that is naïve…for he has already been consumed by a darkness that I will never fully understand and the only way to loosen the hold of the nightmares that consume him is to face those nightmares again by revisiting those memories.

I can not protect him from his past…for he has already been scarred. All I can do is walk with him on his crusade toward healing and promise him he will never have to face those demons alone again.

At the end of a hard therapy session he crawled into my lap and whispered, “no more.” The therapist, seeing we had gone to the limit, ended the session

and I just held him.

This was turning point in our relationship. Ozzie, who never shows me pure, emotion-driven, physical affection, initiated a hug. In the midst of overwhelming emotion he clung to me for comfort.

And that means he is bonding…

slowly, but surely, he is seeing me as his caretaker, his protector, his ally, his Momma.

We both left therapy completely drained.

This past Monday we also had our adoption support group for parents of traumatized kids. In this week’s session we talked about giving them a new internal voice. A voice to drowned out the voice of their past that whispers:

“You will always be a bad boy.”

“You can never be trusted.”

“They will get rid of you as soon as you are bad, so you might as well get it over with.”

“This is all your fault. If you had been good your father wouldn’t have hurt you.”

“You’re just stupid and worthless.”

“No one will ever love you.”

As we talked about the importance of affirmation,  kindly correcting, looking for opportunities to say “yes” instead of always saying “no,” and looking for behaviors to praise more than you notice behaviors to correct, we also worked on a project for our kids. Every set of parents was given one mirror for each child they had.

Around the edge of each mirror we were told to write words that described that child. As Toby and I sat and worked on each mirror we gave much thought to the adjectives that best described the positive attributes of each child. It was a powerful exercise and we found ourselves reflecting on the blessing of each child and the special, God-given attributes, they bring to our family.

When we arrived home we sat the kids down and told them about the activity we did upstairs while they were meeting downstairs. We then gave them their mirrors. It was touching to see the impact our words had on them. When I asked the kids which word (That we used to describe them) meant the most to them it was fascinating to hear their answers,

and I believe reflective of the traits they value most in themselves.

Grace chose: Diligent

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Molly chose: Generous

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Rusty chose: Talented

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Ozzie chose: Imaginative

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Tyler chose: Strong

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How we see ourselves, when we look in the mirror, is on point with the self talk we hear in our minds. I hope each time my children look into these mirrors they will read the words and be reminded of their great, infinite, divine worth.

Mirrors are powerful things and have great influence on how we see ourselves.

So we must remember to turn the one who holds the only mirror which is true, and clear, and NOT distorted. It is here we will see ourselves as He sees us and we will see those we love through His eyes. It is through our Savior that we see the divine beauty in ourselves and others.

As Lynn G. Robbins said:

“Heavenly Father sees our divine nature. We are His children. They way He sees us, because of His love for us, is perfect. The mirror which He holds constantly before us, if we would only raise our sight to look, is the one in which we should trust. Its image is always true and never distorted.”