Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How Trauma Does Birthdays

It's Bean's birthday, so of course Abi has been a mess all day. From being silent and owly this morning, to bragging at school that everyone loves her and fights over the chance to be her partner, to being sullen and angry at home again with us. 

At first I felt frustrated. She was demanding attention and I just wanted to give Bean a nice birthday. Finally she was such a grump that Hubby sent her to her room so we could enjoy the festivities without her sour mood there. 

Still, it bothered me that she was being such a stinker. Didn't she understand that it was Bean's day? Couldn't she allow him that?

Then, I started thinking about what the therapists have been telling us: that her brain goes into panic mode and she can't always rationalize it away. Yes, she knows it's Bean's birthday. But trauma was telling her that the attention he received meant we didn't love her. 

I went up to her room and told her that. I told her that even though her brain was telling her we don't love her, it's not true. We do love her. As I spoke, she broke down and sobbed. 

I held her, sitting on the floor next to her bed. Over and over we recited, "Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. Natta and Seth and Cody love you. Just because it's Cody's birthday and we gave him attention and presents doesn't mean that we don't love you. We do!"

At last, she calmed, and I pulled out a silly singing Elmo guitar to play with. 

Little girl, my heart hurts along with yours. It's so hard that things like this stir up such deep fears and hurts. I hope each tiny step forward will help you find a way past this trauma and rejection, but no matter if it does or not, we will always love you. 

Yes, I snapped a selfie of us. I asked her if it was ok. Because this is where we are. 

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