>Flying Triggers

>Catchy post title, eh? Sounds kinda “Kung Fu” or “martial arts slow motion special effects”: “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragons” no?

Maybe it is in it’s own bizarro way – in that this post is about how or IF you can bend backwards and or jump over the flying sharpened knives of flying triggers.
But this post is also about how flying itself is a trigger for our newest daughter.
Maybe I shoulda titled the post: “Crouching Mama, Hidden Triggers.

Hang on, explanation follows:

So, we’ve just come back from a once in a lifetime kinda crazed huge family vacation.
By which I mean, we are a huge family, it was a huge vacation, it is always kinda crazed…..full of rollercoaster highs and lows as well as some peaceful lazy times in the Tuscan sun.

All of this, the highs the lows the crazy loud messy spectacle of our family in general, was kind of expected….we knew to a large degree what we were getting into.  I mean, look at  us! It’s not hard to figure out and we’ve lived with us long enough to know most of the land mines, even the recurring big ones.

Except a few key ones.
The Triggers.

And as these key triggers, or this one key trigger, might be something that could give some insight into others in a similar boat (or, erm..plane…)…. I’m posting.

It took us until the end of our trip to figure it out.  Ok, me.  And honestly, I think it was a little bit of Mercy (yeah, capital M) showered down on desperate me (Thanks be to God) that it even clicked.

But, finally, something did click during another bout of inexplicable weepy meltdown and acting out by Marta….and I realized: she’s scared.  Not sick, as claimed. Not sad, as claimed.  Not angry. Scared.  Not just scared, even.
And thus her terror had triggered a cascade of trauma response: fussing, mean, weeping, grimacing, freezing out, complaining, dragging, coughing, getting sick in various ways… I’m not talking about weeks or days of this. This plays out over the course of a morning, or afternoon.

A swift collapse of a fragile house of cards.

That’s a trauma response.
Very easy to slot it into the generic kid slot of: kid behaving badly.
But that would be a mistake.
One that I’ve made often enough.

But in older child, hurt child, adoption…you cannot forget that you are dealing with a kid who has more hurt than  you can know, more fear triggers than you can realize.
It’s so easy to forget that.
And get aggravated at manipulation or another round of acting out (Yeah, see, no wonder mom awards here….).
And often it can be just those mundane but annoying things.
But then there are the times, which look identical, that the behavior has another layer or many.
And those times are the ones you need to sift through, to brace them through.
To hold on and weather it, even if it’s not fun….and just be there, with them so they can ride out that fear.
And get to the other side.
And maybe, next time…maybe, have a slightly lower fear trigger response.

Anyhow.  This particular trigger response was due to the whole travel passport thing.  As you might remember, our Marta wasn’t allowed to travel in a timely manner, due to the change in regulations regarding TB cultures.  Not only that, she had been told that we were coming to see her and then we didn’t.  And even now, that is still something that imprinted on her – despite explanations – that we didn’t show.  (Thank you very much, CDC and Homeland Security).  Thus, nowadays, if we fly, she gets very very nervous.  It manifests as illness, grief, anger….all the “fun” stuff.  If a passport is involved? Even if it’s a BLUE USA passport???? A kind of terror.  Truly, irrationally.

Yeah, I blame that whole nasty delay of ours.  I suspect if she hadn’t had such a hard time getting home, she wouldn’t be so terrified of the process of it.  But she did. And she is.  And it makes flying hard.  Exhausting for all, but most especially for her.  Tom and I {He is MUCH better than I at doing this} have to leap over the flying triggers, reach through the tears and wiping nose and tense hunched shoulders and pull her back – hang on tight to her to let her know, somehow, that she will come with us.  No matter what.

But trust is a long time coming – true trust.
So, in the meantime, we jump and bend and twist to get past the daggers of terror.  Not as gracefully as the folks in the clip above.  Not very gracefully at all.  Clumsily, stumbling, we muddle along.  Hoping for a bit of improvement next time, and a memory that “it can be easy” to replace the seared memory of it being impossible.

This is older child adoption.  The part that isn’t talked about too much: the stumbling gymnastics of trying to read the body and behavior language of a child who comes with history.  It is a constant work in progress, sometimes beautiful even in the leaping…sometimes a slow waiting game for that trust and understanding to be laid down.

But here is the hope:  when Marta finally landed on our last leg of the flight home, she hurried off our little plane and stopped in the terminal. I was catching up with Gabey and saw her fling her arms out wide, and say, in a big voice with  big grin, with big relief “I LOVE America!”

So we landed with a happy relieved laugh for us all.  Home again.  Whew.

2 thoughts on “>Flying Triggers

  1. >Awesome post. Awe-inspiring, I mean. And all moms who figure out this complicated stuff DO get the Wondermom Award. I officially pin yours onto your shoulder.(Oh, if only all moms would be as compassionate to the meltdown moments – they're ALWAYS about something. Always.)


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