30 January 2012

When we are angry we are blind to reality. Anger may bring us a temporary burst of energy, but that energy is blind and it blocks the part of our brain that distinguishes right from wrong. To deal with our problems, we need to be practical and realistic. If we are to be realistic, we need to use our human intelligence properly, which means we need a calm mind. - Dalai Lama on facebook this morning.

How do I teach this to Julia? How do I practice this myself?

My dear friend, Sharyn, asked how Julia’s skin condition was doing. I did not realize that I had not written about it in a few days. I feel like it is all that I write about. Julia is getting better, albeit very slowly. She goes to school with less than 5 bandaids plus one bandage on her right wrist which covers five sores that are close together. Her wrist has the greatest number of active sores which are close together and when they erupt during their most itchy time, they are hard to resist scratching. I bandaid one and bandage the wrist. These sores show no sign of healing. The go through the cycle of eruption and calming down about every two weeks but even when they are calm, they do not look like they are closing up. There is another month before we can see the doctor again. I am hoping for healing because I don’t really know what else the doctor can recommend doing. There is just one sore on Julia’s left arm and a very few on her left leg. On her right leg, there are still many sores but a good number are in various healing states. There are a few on her trunk and on her butt. Some of these itch at times but there are few enough in any one place that Julia can either control her scratching or ask for help. She is not always good at asking for help but she is getting better.

I’ve resumed working on first time listening with Julia. We did some last summer but it seemed impossible to work on when there was so much itching going on. When I ask Julia to do something, i expect it done the first time. If she does not immediately stop what she is doing and answer me, i make her stand in front of me, look me in the eyes, and repeat what I’ve told her. When she repeats what I asked -- which can take awhile because she had not listened or does not remember -- I ask when it should be done. The right answer to that question is “The first time” or “now.” And then she does what I’ve asked. Sometimes she gets angry at me, especially when she is engaged in something she likes to do but it is important that she learns this for two reasons. First, it forces her out of her own world. To the extent that she is disassociating or that she is over-focused on what she is doing, she must learn to be attentive to the world around her. Second, I am demanding that I be the most important person in her life and that i must be listened to and obeyed without question. This is the attachment piece of learning how important mother is. Children who depend on their mothers when they are infants don’t need this lesson, they know how important mother is because they have experience that care even in their earliest years. Julia did not get such care and needs to get the lesson inside of her.

We go through the exercise whenever she does not listen and obey, wherever we are. Her line therapists do a similar exercise, more for the first reason then the second. It is slow going and will take a long time, but we chip away at the resistance as well as the lack of concern that she exhibits. There is a part of her that wants to please me and her therapists and we tap more and more into that part.

I worked on a new work book for Julia today. Last year, Marilyn worked with Me and My Volcano with Julia and this fall, we started with an adoption workbook. However, the adoption workbook explores orphanage life very briefly since it seems to be most geared to child who were in foster care or multiple placement in their family. So, we’ve been talking about a workbook that would be very specific to Julia, telling her story as much as we know it and filling in some of the gaps with appropriate guesses. It was good to work on today but it is a very sad book and had me close to tears all day. I’ve sent the first draft to Marilyn to get her feedback. I am excited that Julia is actually ready for this step. We have been building to this point for a pretty long time. Julia has some of the vocabulary to described and understand her feeling, especially of anger, fear, and sadness. She has been somewhat ready to confront some hard issues and I am interested to get Marilyn’s feedback and to get started. There is an introduction that tells Julia how to use the book. Each page will have the paragraph of story at the top, a space for drawing, and then three lines at the bottom for writing. The basically apes the format of the other two workbooks. It is a format that Julia really embraces. I am anxious to get started.

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