Monday, March 15, 2010

Happiness Right?

I guess I'm on an up swing. Finding my happiness again : ) I know, I know. You are thinking how can you forget how to be happy? It's a long story and it seems to be a cycle in my life. More important is the fact that I'm ready to be happy again. Yeah! How did I know I wasn't happy? A couple things have recently happened. Silly things. In the brain class I was taking, on how to integrate reflexes, I sat by another mother who recently adopted. And I felt like a little kid around her, she could get me laughing so easily, yes we did get in trouble in class... too many inappropriate laughs, see like a little kid. I was at a giving up point and instead found myself laughing and realized it had been a while since I laughed so easily (and to the point tears would stream down my cheeks)! So, since then I have been trying to laugh more. It really is good medicine.

It has been helpful, but something was still missing. Well the other day I was at the store and ran into a neighbor I don't hardly ever see any more. She now has 8 biological children and we were just chatting about kids and the adoption and then went our separate ways. By the way, she is always smiling and happy, amazing! As I was pulling out of the parking lot I saw her riding on the cart with her three littlest all on/in the cart laughing. I used to do that all of the time and it made me smile and that was my silly ah-ha moment. Happiness, somehow that is what I have forgotten to add to my days.

I've never thought that I have been one to have regrets, a couple silly things, but nothing big. (Troy will correct me on this if I'm wrong, I'm sure I'm forgetting something). I've always felt like choices I've made have made me who I am today and I've been grateful for the good and the bad. But what I realized with this adoption it has been full of regrets... I've regretted that I wasn't strong enough to force my no, that it was these kids not the kids we hosted, that we didn't come home and grieve our loss, that we believed the lies and adopted "these" perfect children (whom I thought we bipolar in the orphanage), having a birthday for Tanya so she could punish us, adopting teens that emotionally are 6 years old (if I had wanted 3 six year olds I would have adopted six year olds), etc. Some of these regrets have then turned to anger and trauma and fear. No room for a ray of sunshine in that mess of emotions. I lost my happiness and laughter. I felt I couldn't even be happy for my biological kids. If I did anything for them the adopted kids would pout and point and want to go back to Ukraine because nothing was fair here. Well, nothing is fair and we've been talking about that a lot these past two weeks because I can still be happy even if nothing is fair. And I need to play with and do things with my kids and it's ok that it's not all 6 all of the time. No more guilt. And somehow the kids will all live through it too, and they too can learn to be happy when nothing in life is fair.

Somethings that have been helping me:

My brain teacher, Tawny, (who is teaching other Brain classes) recommended a book called, Loving What Is. It is a self help book and I can't do it super well yet, been trying, but the idea of living in reality and not in our thoughts has been very helpful for me. I catch my thoughts wandering down scary paths all of the time. ie: If Tanya can't read beyond a first grade level she will be living with us the rest of our lives and she will never talk to me and wait for Troy to come home to ask him a question when we are 70, I still won't be her mom and she's going to drive me crazy. I know sounds crazy, but my stress with Tanya leads my thoughts in crazy ways! It's been good to start saying is that reality?. No. Yes she will have a questions like, how do you cut a snowflake? And she'll wait for Troy to come home from work to ask him, then for him to answer I don't know go ask your mom and then she'll go hide in her room. I always assumed it was hate for me, but we are learning her mom was her abuser and so she's really just as afraid of me as I have become of her.

I guess I should put blogging down: I hadn't realized how much I do feel like I have to say about things : )

Friend/family support through blogs and in person: I appreciate everyone out there who has listened and not judged or gotten upset with me when I have said terrible things about Tanyas and my relationship.

Therapy: We found our therapist through Touchstone Therapy in SLC. Ray is the owner and their focus is attachment issues. They work with a lot of children in State custody and a lot of adopted children. Our therapist is amazing and has helped us learn and understand more about attachment and bonding and why Tanya's brain works the way it does. And a few weeks ago she had some great break throughs with Tanya and Tanya is really doing much better. She has decided she wants to be a part of our family and that she wants a mom. First step, now onto baby steps to accomplish that goal.

My husband how is always encouraging me to take time for myself and to find new hobbies. If I would just listen to him more, sorry Troy, he sees me change before I realize I'm stressed or angry or having anxiety and he knows that a class or time for me keeps me happy. In fact I've decided I'm going to sign up for pottery classes in the fall, at the Bountiful U of U extension, if anyone wants to join me. Watching my sister Kathryn throw cute vases and bowls reminded me of how much I love pottery classes (and knitting, I should pull that out this summer). I also love to travel, but I've been to afraid to leave the kids, especially after Tanya wigged out when Troy and I went away in the fall and my mom stayed with the kids. But I'm realizing I need to take care of me and have some breaks. It's ok that I'm not superwoman and I can't fix everyones problems. I forget that too all the time, I like to stick my nose in things and try to fix them. That's how I ended up working with kids in the first place. Next week Troy and I are getting some sun for a few days and my mom is so brave to watch the kids again! Hopefully this round will be much calmer and easier! So I'm getting back into the swing of things and am going to visit some friends this summer and I'm joining Diana on her girls weekend for adoptive moms the last weekend in May. All are welcome! Diana's blog has also been a great source of information for me and she was my encouragement to find a therapist when things had come crashing down with Tanya in the fall. Kids with attachment just think and do differently and I couldn't figure out why things weren't working.

Just thinking/listing these things has put a HUGE smile on my face... now if I can keep it on while I go exercise. Ha ha ha. Have to do it, in the end it makes me happy too.

So smile and like the song: Don't Worry, Be Happy! Hopefully it really can stay that simple...


Wendy said...

Good for you Carlin!! I am so glad!! You are amazing. Just think, we were in Kiev together almost a year ago-ordering who knows what and using slow internet at that downstairs cafe? I just remember how great it was to see you and Troy and speak ENGLISH!
We missed you Wednesday and want to know if Wednesday will work better for you than Tuesdays. Let me know because everyone else is fine with whichever.
Great post!

Diana said...

whooo-whoo! It's all good stuff!

So glad you're finding your smile again. But don't be too hard on yourself for losing it. Holy toledo, do I know what it feels like! I was stuck in they abyss of anxiety and depression for a year after we adopted our kids. Those times are hard, lonely, scary, and they HURT!!! Also remember that 8 bio kids is VERY different than having even one kid with RAD, PTSD, etc. Those issues are compounded exponentially when you have more than one, and esepcially if you brought home 3 kids all at once who don't speak English and have a past outside your family.

I'm ESPECIALLY loving that you're coming for the retreat!! I'm counting you in, girlfriend! I'm personally planning on spending a few day doing LOTS of laughing and smiling and spa-ing and chilling and whatever else-ing that does't involve kids! Feel free to post the details of the retreat here and pass them around as you wish. I know there's LOTS more moms out there just like you and me who also need (not just want, but NEED) to come! Let's find them!

One little correction, though, it's not the last weekend of May. It's the weekend before Memorial Day (which is the real last weekend of May.)

Jen said...

Wow, I didn't know things have been so hard. I'm truly sorry, but I'm happy for you that you are finding the things that bring you happiness. We all have to find the time to do things for ourselves because it's what helps us get through the other stressful things in our lives. Hang in there and keep pursing happy things. I think about you often even if I'm not on blogger as much anymore.

Lori said...

I was so happy to read your great post. It's hard to go on and be happy even if our children are driving us crazy. I can take some good lessons from your thinking. I'm looking forward to seeing you again at one of our lunches.

The Horlachers said...

At our last lunch, we were talking about the challenges that go along with adopting a child you have never before met. You not only did that, but you did it times 3! For what it's worth, even though things have been challenging with Tania, she surely is a better person because of the structure, security, love and protection you and your family affords her. The days will come when it will all fall into place with her and all you have done. Meanwhile, you and Troy have been and are wonderful parents. We can all see it in the smiles on the faces of your kids.

hale said...

You are real and down to earth adn human. I don't know what's wrong with that.
The Lord trusts you greatly adn you are not letting anyone down. You blow me away!

Amy Rast said...

Loved reading your post. Thanks for sharing your feelings for all of us to read. You are an amazing person.

I am grateful that despite how you were feeling, you took time to be there for me. Your advice, help and friendship have been a lift to me during a hard time. It speaks of the strength and generosity of your character that you could give even when you felt empty yourself.

You are a great example! Thanks