Saturday, January 07, 2017

Resiliency (the unedited version)

Bart and I have chosen a path that requires a great deal of resiliency.  We of course, didn't realize this back when we started this journey.  We had no idea how deep into ourselves we were going go have to reach to find the strength we would need.  Back then we had no idea what attachment disorder was, or FASD, or ODD.   We may have known the letters or heard the concepts, but we certainly didn't know what it felt like to parent a child with those issues.   We didn't know anything about the juvenile justice system, or residential treatment, or teenage pregnancy, or homelessness.  We thought we did, but we were clueless.

The foster and adoptive parents that I know are ones who have learned to be resilient.   The word has a very simple definition:

the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  
One of the most powerful moments I have occurred a couple years ago.  There was a new treatment foster care agency that was presenting at a meeting I attended.  They were having great success in transitioning the most difficult teenagers from residential treatment into private homes.  Everyone at the presentation was dying to ask the question, so at the end someone said, "What did you do to get the kids to change enough to be in that setting."

The answer was astounding.  They said, "We do absolutely nothing to help the children.  We teach the foster parents resiliency."

So I thought today, since it is snowing and I can't do the fun stuff I had planned for today, that I would come up with five things that have helped us be more resilient and tell you about them.

1)  Remember that this is a season.   "And it came to pass" are some of the most encouraging words in the whole Bible because they remind us that whatever we are going through, or feeling, or experiencing, isn't going to last forever.   There will be brighter days.

2)  Remember the times in the past that have been difficult and the fact that you made it through them.  People are surprised at my lack of anxiety about the bad things that could possibly happen to our children and say they wished they could be that calm.  I literally laugh out loud at them and tell them that the only way to get to this point is to have already survived almost every bad thing that could possibly happen.  With very few exceptions, we have survived nearly everything that parents could confront and we are still standing.

3)  Look for one moment of joy each day.  This is one of my survival tips in my book "Okay, which one of you took my sanity" but it really works.  I look for something good that has happened each day and almost every day I can find one.  And then I tell myself that I definitely want to get up in the morning and find out what tomorrow's moment of joy will be.   One of my big moments of joy today is that my twin granddaughters turned one yesterday and I am looking forward to seeing lots of cute pictures of them with their big brother!

4)  Count the days, or the hours, or the minutes.   I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes I just have to count the time until something is over.    I remember times when almost all our kids were teenagers  at the same time (I know, not good planning) when I would literally count the minutes until it was time to leave for school in the morning.

Right now I am counting the hours until one of our sons moves out of our home and heads to job corps.   He is almost 22 and has been living here since July.   He doesn't wash his clothes often enough, eats constantly, is incredibly disrespectful, and does not clean up after himself.  In November, he had already lost two jobs and was told he could get into Job Corps and to be ready to go any time.   Since then he has done nothing.  He has not worked.  He has made it to church most Sundays with great effort on the part of his siblings to get him up (and with the reward of dinner out if you come to church).

You think I'm exaggerating, but he has not done anything   He has stolen our credit card multiple times, chewed tobacco and left spit everywhere, and has done nothing to even try and help out.  We have tried to get him psychiatric help, but it's hard to come by here and he is less than cooperative.   

He sits at the computer that I moved from the office to our second kitchen and is there 10-12 hours a day.  I realize that this is probably going to not make Bart happy that some of our parishioners might be seeing this, but it proves a great point about resiliency because I have put up with this.  This is a picture of what it looked like after he cleaned it.  We have had multiple battles over the past two months about this spot. 

There are probably some folks out there who are thinking that I shouldn't shame him this way, but he has had more than enough opportunities to redeem himself.

Anyway, I digress.  This part of the post is going to mean that I don't put a link on Facebook for this, but let me tell you:  Counting the days and then the hours until he leaves have gotten me to this point where he is still here and not homeless and I am not in jail.

5).  Spend time with and hang out with resilient people.  Find people in your life who know how to get through tough times and then hang on tight to their hope when you have none.  Email them, call them, FaceTime them, SnapChat them, FB message them.... however you can be around them, be around them.

6).  I know I said five, but this one is too good not to include.   Read positive stuff.   Scripture works. So do novels that have feel good endings and self-help books.  Anything that makes you feel better when you put it down, put that in your brain.  It can distract and sustain you.

So now I am going to have to write this again and take out my complete rant about Tony, and then I can post it places, but for those of you who have been my blog readers forever, I thought you would want the kind of blogging I used to do back in the day  :-)

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