First and foremost, thank you so much for all of the supportive and encouraging comments and emails - they have meant so much, and I have read each of them over and over. I feel a bit embarrassed by how desperate I've been feeling, and by how much I have eaten up and clung to the words that so many have offered. But if there's one thing I'm learning (again!) in all of this, it is that I need a community of people around me, and that my community comprises of family, face-to-face friends, fellow adoptive parents and want-to-be adoptive parents, and online friends - many of whom have come to mean a lot to me. Thank you. I have to say, too, that Geoff has been pretty terrific over the past 48 hours: he let me cry and rant and profess that things are never, ever going to get better; and he hugged me and told me that I was wrong.
Last night, for the first time ever, I gave Matthew a few milligrams of melatonin, to see if it might help him fall asleep. Normally, if Geoff or I lie down with him at around 9:00, it is easily somewhere between 11:00pm and midnight when he falls asleep - this is partly anxiety and partly (I think) that he's a bit of a night owl. Last night, I lay down with him at 9:00 and he was asleep by 9:08! It was unbelievable! Hats off to melatonin. I was so elated to have some evening time that I couldn't fall asleep until close to midnight (stupid, huh?)!! Sadly for me, Matthew had a nightmare somewhere around 3:30am and ended up in our bed for the rest of the night - something that I'm totally fine with, and it happens often, but which usually means that I won't sleep much more during the night. So I was up at 3:30, unable to fall back to sleep until about 6:30...and by 7:00, Geoff was off to work and I needed to be up with the two younger kids. I was pretty exhausted.
But I have lovely and supportive parents. My mom and dad have been a little worried about me lately, and worried about Matthew, too, so when my Mom called this morning to see how we were doing, I told her how exhausted I was. She asked how they could help and the first thing that came to mind was to ask if they would consider taking all three kids out for lunch so that I could try to sleep for a while. They did just that. They were here by 11:30 and gone with the kids by noon, and all three kids were totally and completely happy to go with them - they adore grandpa and grandma and this is the second time we've been able to leave the kids with them for a short time! They came back around 3:00 and during that time, I slept for over 90 minutes. I must say that I feel like a bit of a new woman...a little more capable of handling whatever comes up. It was a very, very supportive thing for my parents to do and I'm very grateful for how much they love their grandchildren, and how much they love and want to support their middle child...me.
Matthew fared a little better today, probably because of the needed eleven-hour sleep he had. It was still pretty rough in parts, particularly in the late afternoon/early evening, but it was better. I've also just started getting some personal therapy again, and went tonight - which was very helpful. There's something about being able to be utterly frank in a confidential and supportive environment that is very cathartic. Tonight's session enabled me to dump some of the anxiety and gain a little perspective...something I've been both lacking and sorely needing.
One of the things I've been thinking about all day is how I never really anticipated set-backs/regression. When things started getting better a few weeks ago (for all three kids), I kinda thought that the hardest times were behind us and things were starting to look up. I should have realized, but didn't, that there's a reason for the expression 'two steps forward, one step back.' The past week has felt like a definite step backwards and I've been so discouraged and heartsick. Furthermore, as I've seen Matthew suffer, it's affected my attachment to the younger kids - particularly with Seth, who is the harder of the two for Matthew to accept (given the closeness in age, similar interests, desire for parental time and love, etc etc). The more I've seen Matthew reacting to Seth, the more my own attachment to Seth has felt strained and the more my displays of love and affection have felt, well, affected...put on...not from the heart. I've been struggling with so much guilt about what Matthew is going through that I regressed in my need to attach to our newest family members. Thankfully my regression been pretty short-lived and, now that I recognize it, I can deal with it.
So much about the adoption world is like living on a roller coaster. In the years leading up to our referral, there were so many ups and downs; it was crazy-making. And now, after our children are finally, finally home, apparently the slow climbs and sudden descents are to continue...only there's not nearly as much discussed openly about this part of the journey, particularly when it comes to the adoption of older children, and surprisingly little about the adjustment of existing siblings. Perhaps because parents feel guilty about feeling the ups and downs, perhaps because it's just plain hard to acknowledge the complexity of the emotions involved, perhaps because those emotions can be so dark and challenging to deal with, perhaps because it's hard even to acknowledge the tarnishing of long-held dreams...whatever the reason, there's not all that much really candid talk about some of the emotional challenges and the extreme ups and downs post-adoption, at least in comparison to the volume of discussion pre-adoption.
Having said everything that I've said, and despite everything we've been going through around here, I continue to be amazed by all three children that Geoff and I are blessed to parent. We truly have three remarkable children - it's not always evident, and I'm sure that I don't appreciate it often or fully enough...but it's true. I am thankful, with regard to the younger children, that they have clearly been well loved by their first family; this will make all of the difference for them as they continue to adapt and attach and develop. And as I think about Matthew's ongoing struggle to do the adaptation that he needs to do, I feel comforted by two things in particular: First, he had a great start in life that I hope will stand him in good stead and get him through this very difficult time; and second, as one friend pointed out to me last night, God has a plan for Matthew's life in all of this, and this challenging situation is precisely what Matthew needs for the perfecting of his character and the shaping of his heart. For those who are praying for Matthew, for us, thank you.
Over time, you'll continue to read more of the ups and downs that I/we am/are going through. It's inevitable. I hope you stick with me because I think all of this is about learning to live life to the fullest and I want to talk about this stuff and work through it.
Well, we made it through another day after not knowing yesterday how to get through the next hour. There is much to be thankful for, indeed.