Tuesday, March 31, 2015

JoJo Strows

video

He clearly doesn't intend to be this way, he'd shot this video more showing how he thinks I feel.  Like he's deliberately losing things, or trashing the place, when the reality of his mindset is that he simply involuntarily drops what he's holding at the moment when something else catches his eye.  It's as if what he was then holding no longer existed, no memory of dropping it, no thought of where it might've gone.

I've observed this behavior in him for 15 years.  As a child, he'd run outside holding a book or a toy, as he seemingly always needed some tactile experience, but would immediately be distracted, drop what he was holding, and repeat this scenario a thousand times a day.  Thus our entire acreage littered with that which he no longer grasped.

I busted out laughing when he showed me this video.

I've learned to live with this aspect of who he is.  Therapy has not changed it, he's wired this way, he's hard wired this way.  It's annoying as it could be, but it just is what it is.

He gets dressed in the laundry room because getting his clean clothes upstairs is an exercise in futility.  He doesn't look in his closet, he automatically looks in the laundry room.  He just does.

He strows a line of apparel from door to door, sofa to sofa, out on the back deck, or on the trampoline, in the van, or draped over Grandma's pretty fence.  His balled up sweatshirt is hanging off the basketball goal, his shoes are scattered in the garage.  His toothbrush is in the family room on the sofa and his deodorant is by the creek.

"JoJo, go pick it up," I'll suggest, and he's always amazed to find each item, "I wondered where that went," he tells me, as if it literally chose to go somewhere, and he really had nothing to do with it.

He's not lying, he's not manipulative, he just doesn't remember squat.

When I watched the video, my first thought involved my wonder at where he'd gotten a juice box.  I don't buy those expensive environmental nightmares.  JoJo also leaves everything out that he's used in the kitchen, never comprehending that everything belongs back on the shelf or in the fridge.

"Oh," he'll tell me, wide-eyed at the marvel of everything having a certain place to go.

There's just some things I've had to let go of, some reasonable expectations because he emotionally melts down over behavior redirection, literally believing that I must not love him anymore if I don't like how he acts.  Huh?  I never said that, I said, "Pick up your stinky socks, son."

So I finally learned that our relationship is more important than strewn socks.

Not an ideal compromise in that any future wife of his is gonna be annoyed, but Honey, even with all of this therapy, it's been me that had to change in order to keep my sanity.

And in the Big Picture?  Last weekend's disaster where one of mine was arrested for public intoxication?  It wasn't JoJo and it wasn't Fabian, they came out smelling like roses, they'd played video games all weekend instead of being involved in the crap.

So I enjoy JoJo's silliness, his goofiness, figuring the crap all over the place is a small price to pay for being his mama.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Bozo Food Snob


I keep swiping Sarah's photos, but they're so dang good.  Hey, if it makes me smile, reduces my stress, I'm gonna run with it.  Ray's wearing the same outfit Jack once wore to the Perfectly Polished Dance.  None of us being big spenders, nor do we go out to buy an outfit for a one time thing.

Chuck, Jesse and Yolie came by with CJ, Mae and Isaiah, of course, after church.  Jack up under Chuck's armpit for the duration as they fixed our lawnmower.  Chuck is his Hero with a capital H.

This being the South, we should've mowed a couple of weeks ago.  It really does seem to me that my baby Jack was just born, but he'll be 15 in June, time for his Learner's Permit, CW tasked with teaching him stick shift, "Just jump in Mom's truck and figure it out like I did," was his sage advice.

Really, Dubs?  That's all you got?

At any rate, Jack's in charge of the riding mower, keeping the meadow, front and back yards mowed, plus Grandma's big yard, while CW generally tends to my Upper Gardens as he admitted mowing relieves stress.  Yep, that it does.

The first book written by genius Michael Pollan was Second Nature:  A Gardner's Education - meditations of one man's relationship with the Earth - something we all need in order to maintain a grasp upon our sanity in today's world.  Pollan later educated us all regarding food and plants via An Omnivore's Dilemma, Cooked, Botany of Desire and others. I recommend 'em all.

That said, as I was drifting off to sleep I was thinking about growing up TV-Less when my brother Gary and I spent our childhood racing through book series and authors, starting in our youth with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, one summer both of us attacking all of John Steinbeck's books, I think I'm gonna suggest to both of my brothers that we now plow through all of CS Lewis's amazing writings.  I'm on Surprised by Joy at the moment, but I still maintain Mere Christianity is the absolute best.  Others swear by The Chronicles of Narnia.

My other brother, Jim, comes today, as he and Grandma had planned a trip to Savannah for the Savannah Music Festival.  He's so good to her.

After my latest kick in the gut this weekend, another brother bailed him out, Yolie and I tag teamed him with a lecture, his tears flowed, which is why I haven't given up, plus I love him so much.  He's so emotionally immature and needy, I desperately need to help him understand much more of life before he sets out into the big bad world.

Look kids, y'all come from alcoholic relatives, as do I, most of my great uncles on Dad's side were heavy drinkers.  Doesn't it then make sense to not even touch alcohol?  Don't let it gain a toehold in your lives, don't fall victim, you be the boss of you, don't allow the alcohol to be a dictator.  Jeepers.

Yolie was helping CW with a college essay on how La Llorona, on another level, comparing with how the Virgin Mary affected culture and the place of women.  I could literally see CW's head spinning, writing not being much fun for him, but having enough discipline to know this needed to be done correctly.  It took him all weekend, but half the time he was stalling in frustration.

"Can I go with Bita?" Isaiah had asked Jesse, knowing his dad would be right behind us.  I was headed to Nando's travel team game, a home game for once, always fun and exciting, Nando's skills are a joy to behold.  They won 4-1, Nando scored only once, but it was nearly a midfield left-footed arc that impressed everyone.  Another kid who'd been out with a back problem returned and made his own first goal of the season which thrilled the parents, Nando had an assist, and another guy scored, such a good game.  Nando preens when the older brothers are there to watch, we had Jesse, Tony, CW and Scotty with us.

Scotty had a JV Team Dinner at an all you can eat pizza joint, so CW took him.  CW's way cooler than me, plus he wanted to pig out on pizza, satisfying both boys with our choice of accompanying adult.  I'd have just sat there hungry and untempted by the buffet in front of me.  Iceberg lettuce?  No thanks.  Snobby, ain't I?

Even after the tears and stress of the arrested kid this weekend, I still try and pull myself together, still not running to the doctor for a prescription, but definitely tempted, my uber healthy eating paying off, I'm still the Bozo doll that bops back up after each figurative punch.

I have an empty unscheduled day ahead of me, after this rain front goes through, in which I'm gonna put a couple hundred onion sets in the ground.  Technically Good Friday is when I plant everything else, it's a little early this year, but I think I'm safe to get started on my tender plants.  This past month of weeding and adding wood chips will surely pay off for me.  It always has done so.

And my kids who break my heart when they crap up their futures?  Oh my.  But where would I be without them?  Who would I be?  I'll never know, as this is who I am.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Polished and Then Not So Much For Another Kid

I saw this picture last night, a couple of hours before I had to deal with crap.  For a minute I got to enjoy Ray's Perfectly Polished Dance photo.

Here on Palm Sunday my preacher explained how the donkey must've thought all the fanfare was about being a special donkey, at least from the donkey's perspective, when in reality the crowd was cheering for Jesus riding said donkey.

Billy Graham called himself, "just a donkey," similarly to what Bill Wilson stated, "I'm just the bus driver, trying to maintain humility after raising up an impressive ministry.

That all spoke to me, as did our local guidance counselor, who I'd poured out our latest misery to this morning in church.  He told me of another famous pastor, Dr. Mark Rutland, who had a wayward brother that he'd been praying would stay out of prison.

God impressed upon Rutland that prison could be the anvil necessary to forge the relationship needed between the brother and the higher power.  Ohhhh, I see.

I had a middle of the night phone call, a kid of legal age arrested for drinking downtown.  You gotta act really stoopid, which is a shade crazier than stupid, to get arrested in a college downtown where the antics are wilder than, let's say, a historical downtown.

I did not get up and leave my family to bail him out.  I'm broke as all get out, what with replacing a hot water heater, a toilet and a well repair job within the last several weeks.

And me bailing him out?  What would that say to him?  "Oh did the mean old policeman arrest you?"

He's since called me twice and gotten the expected lecture from an outraged, fed up mama.  This is a kid with little impulse control, emotional immaturity, and a easy susceptibility to peer pressure.  Sadly he was with older siblings who helped him get into this mess - they are all privately texting me and denying it.  Clearly one of 'em's lying.

I'd just helped this one get his 80 hours community service done in record time, I've loaned him money and I'm flat broke.  As in we best not run out of milk in the next three days.

I'm both sad and angry.  Sad because I'm unsure he will ever learn these simple lessons, angry that he can't/won't listen, and very irked at my other kids who think they know it all because they've either been arrested or know what happened when their crime buddies were arrested.  Huh?  What kind of life is that?

"I just wanna come home," I could hear him fighting tears, not too smart to show such vulnerability in jail.  I believe he does wanna come home.  I'm just not certain he will/can fly totally straight.

Another grown kid literally spat yesterday, "Well, that's because I do listen to you."  Things are going his way because he has a job and is tending to his obligations.  Duh.  Things do tend to go right then.

So bottom line - if y'all run wanna run afoul of the law, then have at it.  Get yourself your own place to live, don't call me for bail money and I'm not babysitting any grandkids so parents can party.  Call me mean.  I call it concerned.

Women my age should have a huge nest egg.  I do not.  I spent it all on my kids who irrationally blame me for everything under the sun.  I don't have squat, pretty much no savings, but I do have a pension to pay my bills each month.  I just have to keep my bills low - very low.  For the rest of my life, and I'm good with that.

The baby we're praying over is improving slowly, however the baby's grandfather died this morning.  That's a heap of pain for the baby's mom to have to be dealing with today, it kind of again puts my life into perspective, and I have a family member there tending to it all while her own family waits for her here.  A lot of prayers being sent up this week.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Impulses

What a nice surprise, outside arguing on the phone regarding insurance coverage and Medicaid over a kid who desperately needs medication refills, my favorite brother-in-law appeared.  How cool.  He'd been up in the mountains, maybe five hours from here, and decided to come over.  We'd gone first to Scotty's game and then to Ray's baseball game that didn't end until close to 10 p.m. at night.

Our normal low this time of year is 47 degrees but we're again in a cold snap, Isaiah has a soccer game at nine this morning in which I'm bundling myself up in order to survive, cold weather sissy that I truly am.  Nando's game last night was cold enough.

And as if we didn't have enough games to go to, Scotty's involved in an all day volleyball thing going on up at the high school.

Unbloggable stuff burdening me, difficult paths to walk with several kids.  Another iffy kid had needed me to order a new birth certificate for him, now that it's here, I can't find him.  Mid 20s, living in Atlanta, might've lost his cell phone - or more likely didn't pay the bill.

It's this impulse control stuff, or rather a lack of impulse control that can be so challenging.  "I didn't mean to do it," they've wailed to me over the years.  I've watched the behavior, I know it didn't involve malicious intent, they just didn't think.  Quite possibly unable to think, certainly unable to think far enough to comprehend consequences.  That it likely can't be done makes me fear their future of course.

One time a kid held his hand over the stove burner just to check if it was heating up.  Another kid walked by and impulsively hit that hand to make it fall on the burner.  Right in front of me, I watched it happen as if in slow motion, by the time I shouted it was all over with no injury, just an outraged kid.  The aggressor was instantly stricken, "I'm so freaking sorry," he screamed in dismay.  Seriously, y'all, this is how a lack of impulse control looks.

People with an impulse control disorder can’t resist the urge to do something harmful to themselves or others. Impulse control disorders include addictions to alcohol or drugs, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, paraphilias sexual fantasies and behaviors involving non-human objects, suffering, humiliation or children, compulsive hair pulling, stealing, fire setting and intermittent explosive attacks of rage.

That's a more serious illustration of a lack of impulse control.  In most of my kids who are so afflicted, it's way more minor thankfully, but still difficult to deal with, as consequences are a natural occurrence.

Scientists don’t know what causes these disorders. But many things probably play a role, including physical or biological, psychological or emotional and cultural or societal factors. Scientists do suspect that certain brain structures-including the limbic system, linked to emotions and memory functions, and the frontal lobe, the part of the brain’s cortex linked to planning functions and controlling impulses-affect the disorder.

Just as conduct disorders are prevalent in the adoption of older children, so too are impulse control disorders.  That's why I cut and paste articles, knowing that most of my readers are parents who are also dealing with parallel issues in their families.  I know this from experience and from your emails. I may not know much, but the I do know that the commonalities are there.

I wish I could point to answers, could help us all figure everything out, but I can't.  I've spent 20 years with therapists, counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists, picking their brains, trying every suggestion, questioning them relentlessly, and the bottom line is that mental or emotional disorders, the challenges and the symptoms can sometimes, at best, only be managed, not necessarily cured, nor fixed - which is obviously what all parents desire for their children.

I knew nothing of this when I started my adventures in adoption, despite reading book after book which back then basically attributed much of the difficulties simply to grief and loss, none of us comprehending what now seems obvious - the massive traumas, the genetic predisposition to criminal activities, or family diagnoses of mental illnesses.

This lauded bestseller, now available in paperback, takes an uncompromising look at how we define psychopathology and makes the argument that criminal behavior can and perhaps should be considered a disorder. Presenting sociological, genetic, neurochemical, brain-imaging, and psychophysiological evidence, it discusses the basis for criminal behavior and suggests, contrary to popular belief, that such behavior may be more biologically determined than previously thought.

What would I do differently had I known all of this?  I just don't know.  All I've learned through all of this is simply that I just don't know.

I'm gonna shake it off and go enjoy Isaiah's game.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dunzo


What makes me smile?  Jesse, here with his son Isaiah and his nephew CJ, well that makes me grin as does Daniel, now almost 30, calling me to say he had been outside his home weeding, while listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts.  "I'm my mom," he crowed.

I'd just been listening to several segments while wondering if he'd heard them yet, knowing it'd positively cement and affirm within him all the many positive financial moves he's been making in his adult life.

I, too, weeded and spread wood chips yesterday.  Daniel'd called many places in the Atlanta area searching for a wood chip source, while I was again blessed by four truckloads showing up at my home with chips so fragrant I swooned.

"That's your trauma talking, a perfectly illustrated trauma response," Dr. Mandy'd stated, as I explained some stuff from last week.

Hmm.  Yes it is and I don't wanna be defined by that anymore.  I wanna be normal.  Therefore I gotta work on it, get it shook off of me, dunzo, bored with it.  Can it be that easy to do?  I doubt it, but I'm all about working towards a goal.  I feel like a victim, that's weak in my book, get a grip, move on because I can.

Don't need this crap resurfacing, I'm in control of my own life.

Yet the hesitant manner in which Yolie began yesterday's phone conversation did it to me again, afraid of what I was gonna hear.  It certainly was a prayer need about a baby of an extended family member, I'm begging all y'all prayer warriors to pray for this precious one please.

It's kinda what the Bible Study of Breathe is all about - well, that's a stretch.  It's not about getting over trauma so much as it is about margins in our lives and I don't want mine to be labeled by trauma.  Bo-ring.

I listened to all the ladies yesterday, knowing I have little in common with any of them, but the reality is I have little in common with any regular person.  I'm an older mom with kids still at home, or there's my numbers, or my single status, or being a grandma to 27, or whatever, I don't have to be on level ground to learn and absorb.

It's nice to spend this time with Sarah, and to just sit back and take it all in.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

108 For Sarah


Sarah'd helped lead 108 sun salutations at the UGA Botanical Gardens this past weekend, check out the muscles on that girl, this just from yoga, she's in front of the guy wearing a white shirt in the bottom picture, she's wearing a dark blue tank top.

A great talk with a counselor yesterday.  She'd once worked with gangs and felt secondarily traumatized, finding herself in a big city in a hot yoga studio in the inversion posture, laying on the floor with her feet up the wall, while everyone moved gracefully around her, and likely wondered what her issue might be.

"I just didn't care," she told me, "I just didn't care."

I get that, she'd spent several years under heavy duty work stress.  Let's imagine 24-7 of that, 365 days a year, year after unrelenting year, no break, at one time, no beach trip for five long stressful and debilitating years.  Add in outside criticism from those who should'd've helped, but didn't, instead threw hurtful spears and barbs.

It's a wonder I didn't punch out a sticker chart suggester.

I've never even spoke of, much less blogged about, some of our more serious crap.  I'm still internally processing much of it.

My friend, Marie O'B, having lived similarly, we met at an Adopt America Network meeting years ago, both of us later to really endure the spit hitting he fan, splattering us all, smearing our eyesight and weighing down our abilities, expressing her agreement with how I'm feeling, adding how lost she now feels.

I thought about that a lot.  I don't necessarily feel lost, I do feel dismayed on many levels.  I'm still shocked at my own grown kids who brag about drinking and carrying on, not comprehending that it was just those same behaviors by others that sent them into foster care many, many years ago.  Oh y'all, please break this cycle for your sake alone.

The counselor yesterday telling me to take care of myself, and I'm just not sure how to do it.  Oh, maybe I am lost.

An almost grown kid with me yesterday explaining to the counselor how hard working I am, which is not so much a get it done thing as it is a disseminate my excess resentment so I don't explode.

"Just because your mom seems invincible doesn't mean she is," my kid was told.  This was more about their own reaction to me caring, setting rules and boundaries.  Somehow this counselor led my kid properly back into, "This is why Mom does this, it's because she cares what happens to you, and you just said, 'My mom's the only one I really trust in this world.'"

Bam.

My own responses had basically been about my aversion to conflict and arguing.  I'm so over teenage rebellion, so literally bored with it.  Oh pub-leeze, I get that you're trying to establish your identity, but choose wisely.

I've been affirmed by nearly every single grown kid much later, sometimes grudgingly so, but at least I eventually hear, "Mom, you were really right about life."  Yeah. I know.  But it's not so much that I wanna be declared right as much as I want for them to succeed, and it is/was my job to teach them what they didn't really wanna learn, nor know, at the time.

Today Dave Ramsey launched a new online budget tool at EveryDollar.com. Yes, you can devise your own via Excel or pen and paper, but their development team learned that very few online budget tools had been used for the long run so they spent 3 years and 3 million dollars devising his budget that we can use for free.  Now that's how you give back.  I'm very impressed.

Last night I worked the concession stand at the high school, as it's every soccer parent's duty at some point, plus it was my turn to take a crockpot meal.  I had a bird's eye view of the field which was good as I don't wanna miss the games, but one girl came to the stand and spent $5 on 10 Ring Pops.

Tabby was with me, helping out and her eyes got very wide, unsure if I'd launch into a tirade on nutrition or bad spending.  Honestly I was too surprised to say anything, nor is it my place, but good golly I saw a lotta money blown last night, as nothing we served was good for you.

Oh well, I did my duty, these folks spending habits isn't my issue, if they wanna rot their teeth out, then OK, Scotty's team won 5-1, Nando was the volunteer ball boy, JoJo cheering Scotty on, and even CW came by after his college classes to catch the last few minutes of the game.

Turns out we have a game nearly every night this week, I'd planned to go see one of Ray's, but it won't happen this week.

Another kid finished 80 hours of community service, technically put in 81, and I'd told him, "Good job!"  I also let him know there's no reward for a good job except from within his own self.  "Honey, if you expect the world to pat you on the back, it isn't gonna happen.  You just have to get where you know that you know that you did a great job, and allow that knowledge to strengthen you from within and build your own self-confidence."

Hello, Cindy, listen up.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Put It Down

I'm struggling.  I don't like my attitude at all, I keep thinking it's best that I don't process aloud, keep my bitterness to myself, Grandma suggested I search for the positive, that's frustrating enough, I keep weeding and hauling wood chips, hoping to disseminate my inner resentment.  Got the sugar snap snow peas planted between rain showers, about a month later than usual.

Years and years of living with some fairly extreme challenges has taken a toll, when my kids screw up, I'm the one who takes it the hardest, the wear and tear on my emotions is debilitating.

This is PTSD illustrated, and I know it.

When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

Because of relentless stress, danger and violence, and primary and secondary trauma for many, many years, I'm now, um, not the same.

I do not have flashbacks like a war veteran, I don't have have disturbing thoughts, I'm simply left with a sense of hopelessness, a constant level of fear regarding the safety of some grown kids, and an accompanying cloud of depression.  I'm numb, emotionally exhausted, I've become a fretful person, edgy and hyper vigilant, and I feel like a negative Nelly, a whiner and a complainer - thus less blog posts, because I'm boring my own self with all of this.

I function just fine.  I got Nando way over to Alpharetta for a superb soccer game on Saturday, I'd taken Lily, Tabby, Tony, and Nando to several yard sales where they'd all happily scored with stuff they liked a lot for cheap.  I've lost interest in things.  I definitely need some new (used clothes) yet I'm completely unmotivated to look for any.  I just don't care.

I know that I'll be OK eventually.  I have no doubt.  I'm negatively changed forever, and that may look like a loner old lady, and I'm OK with that.  That's why God made gardens and gardeners.

In the meantime I'm avoiding several grown kids who make awful choices seemingly on purpose and against all logic.  I don't wanna know about it, I feel helpless to protect them from the unavoidable natural consequences that they never believe will happen to them.

The lack of values frighten me, especially if they have children.  The constant lies, or an inability to obey laws burdens me emotionally - them?  Not so much.  Again I feel as if I'm carrying everyone's load, and I need to put it all down.

See why I need Dr. Mandy?  Need to re-shift my perspective?  Why social withdrawal is attractive to me?

I have way less demands on me nowadays than I've experienced in many years so I ought to be working on getting a grip.  Emotionally wrecked isn't a pretty sight, being the emotional punching bag, even on a passive-aggressive level is exhausting - that it's been so dang blatant has taken me out at the knees.

I just wanna be left alone.