Monthly Archives: March 2016

The guarded heart

Guarding your heart is something you do when the possible pain is too overwhelming to imagine.  You cannot gaurd your heart when you parent a child.

I repeat this about a hundred times a day :).                                                                      Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.

Took some time off

I am so sorry that I haven’t blogged for a week.  I took a break to practice mindfulness for a week. 🙂

Damian continues to have his ups and downs but he has showed no physical aggression for several weeks. He is generally compliant at Hillside.

We brought Damian home for his first therapeutic home visit on Easter.  While anxious he did very well.  He had no “intolerables” on his visit and although sometimes it is hard to gauge his emotions,we think he enjoyed himself.

Family therapy continues to be intense but he is starting to communicate with us and his psychologist.

One moment at a time there is hope.

Off campus pass

Today we took Damian off campus for the first time in 4 weeks.  First we had a family therapy session.  then we went to IHOP and then to Piedmont park.

Damian is working on the DBT concept of “radical acceptance”.  That essentially means complying with anything asked of him without question or thought.  He is also working on “opposite action” which means he does the opposite of what he wants to do.  These are hard skills for an adult to practice let alone a 12 year old.

We are planning on taking him on his first “home pass” this weekend.  I am terrified and both Garrett and I are going to therapy on Thursday to prepare ourselves.  We still struggle with wanting to hope but guarding our hearts.  That is the trickiest part of all, because parenting is about complete and total acceptance that love will conquer all.

As we were leaving Piedmont park a little hand slipped into mine and for several blissful moments love came easily without complication or doubt.

In my rainbow pooping unicorn world…

In my mind and heart (and apparently fantasy land) I had a plan to connect Damian to his siblings through the shared pain of adoption.  It was beautiful, painful, and memory searing for Maya and Noah, but not for Damian.

I was excited to talk with him on Sunday about Saturday’s sharing.  I asked him if he remembered what Noah and Maya discussed with him, he simply responded , “Yeah we talked about some boring stuff.  Hey mom can you bring me some more gel pens when you come tomorrow?  And did you know that snakes sometimes eat rocks when they are hungry?”

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you can’t find the unicorn you are looking for.  Today a little piece of me believes they may not exist at all.

In Suffering All Are Created Equal

Today Noah, Maya, and I went to visit Damian.  Damian has been working hard to distance himself from us and it has been difficult to get him to talk.  So instead of our usual card games and puzzles in the dining hall I took my little crew up a hill and to a quiet picnic table.  I was too nervous to look at any of their faces as they cautiously talked to each other about the weather.

We sat down and I took a deep breath.  I was about to open some very deep wounds.  I was going to knowingly inflict pain on my 3 in desperation to bind them together in that pain.  I was going to open the doors on the adoption memories of all 3.  Not the happy, politically correct, flowery adoption  talk but the ripping, ending, lose of their first mothers and families.  These hard talks have always been done individually so that we honored each child’s privacy.

Today I forced them all to share, remember, yell, cry, walk away, and come back.

They argued about loss, pain, and family.

They fought over suffering and wether it is equal or not.

They stared me down in anger and questioned me brutally.

They sat as far away from each other as they could, they offered a hand in sympathy, a touch to a shoulder, they buried their heads in their hands, threw up their arms, and changed seats a thousand times.

When they were exhausted, their eyes swollen and red, they became silent and still.  Sitting closely together in a circle on the ground, with me at a distance at the picnic table.

They sat there for what seemed like forever but was most likely just minutes.  Then Noah got up and came to sit next to me, with Maya and then Damian following.

Finally Noah said, “I guess we all have issues don’t we?”.  To which I replied, “Suffering may not be created equally, but it is felt equally.”  Damian replied, “I guess everyone has pain.”  And Maya closed with, “Everyone has these pieces of their life that they try to forget but you can’t get rid of them no matter how hard you try.  You can’t get rid of them because they are a part of you.”




Today we were to start explaining the “intolerables” of our house.  These are not rules they are unacceptable, no compromise, no second chance offenses.

They will be…

no self harm or threat of self harm

no physical aggression

no eloping (leaving the house without permission)

We started tonight with the no eloping.  He immediately started arguing with us.  I informed him that eloping was an intolerable and it was not open for discussion.  He told us that he was going to be at Hillside forever.

With every fiber of my being I wanted to scream, “FINE”!

But instead I took a deep breath and said, “If that is your choice today, I feel sad for you.  You have family and friends who love you and want to take care of you. Goodnight Damian, I love you, I will talk with you tomorrow.”



Unintended consequences

Today was a hard day filled with regret.  Noah had a close friend tell him she was thinking about killing herself two days ago.  Her mother contacted us today, the girl was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for attempting suicide.  Noah did not tell anyone about the girl’s statement of suicide.  When asked why, he responded that she only said it once and that Damian says it all the time, so saying it once didn’t seem like a big deal to him.  The last six months had desensitized Noah and as parents trying to normalize the situation we were in, we often “glossed over” the enormity and seriousness of what was happening with Damian.  Needless to say we had a sit down and talk with each child individually tonight.


After I finished my pity party for one, I made Damian a photo book.  I filled it with pictures of him with the family for the past 5 years.  Birthdays, holidays, family parties, reading, games, and everyday pics.  I am going to make it impossible for him to forget us :).  I spoke with his psychologist and he is going to be required to write about what was happening in one photo every day.  He will also be reading a letter or card (that you all have sent) each day in his individual therapy session.

I  am sure it is easier for him to not to deal with the emotions of missing us.  But we are not going to let him do that.

Like the who’s down in whoville we are going to yell and shout until Horton hears us. “We are here, we are here, we are here!”

the lithium is gone

Damian has been off his lithium for 3 days.  No major issues yet but it is still early.  He has been at Hillside for 15 days.

My stupid bronchitis turned into pneumonia and I can’t see him this weekend so I am sick and mad at being sick still.

Our family session on Tuesday went as expected.  As in in, I expected it would be awkward and it was.  Damian has been talking about how he loves being at hillside and wants to stay there.  In his own words he has “more freedom” there.  When the therapist pointed out that he couldn’t even go to the bathroom without permission and camera watches him while he sleeps, Damian simply responded “oh, well.”  There is no arguing with logic like that.

Today Leah drew a picture of the family and Damian wasn’t in it.  I feel defeated and unsure.  How am I supposed to be a mom to him right now.  For me being mom  has always been a verb, my action, the doing of mom.  Now I am a noun, a person, not doing, just being.  I am struggling with the mindfulness of just being, it’s not in my nature, I am always doing, and now I am just not.

Dialectic Behavior Therapy-The Wise Mind

Damian worked on DBT-Wise Mind training today.

This teaches that a “Wise Mind” looks out for itself.  It remembers what worked and what didn’t.  It remembers that to survive it must learn to make “Wise Mind” choices.  Example:   If a “Wise Mind” saw someone jump off a chair and hurt themselves.  Then your “Wise Mind” would choose NOT to jump off the chair and hurt itself.  EVEN if your impulse tells you to do what the other guy did.

Your “Wise Mind” is constantly battling your “Impulses”.  They are mortal enemies.  Foes for life and the battle will never end!

Sounds pretty epic right, these people at  Hillside know the heart of a 12 year old boy and they are willing to get into his psyche by whatever means necessary!!

So suit up, we have officially entered Level one of DBT training.

We have our first family/counselor meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Oh, and in typical Deb fashion, we now own every recently published DBT training manual, advice story, skill guide, activity, diary, and daily planner!  Thanks to and 2 day shipping :).  I am happy to loan them out, just let me know.