Friday, March 23, 2012

Peeking into the Past

My daughter sees a psychologist. Or, rather, a psychologist sees her--every Thursdays, at 6:30, in our home.  Dr. Brown has her own practice but because Alanna's challenge is her social anxiety the good doctor has been kind enough to do therapy in a place that is most comfortable...In the comfort of our living room.

Last night they sat together and watched Alanna's video for the first time.  The video chronicles Alanna's miraculous recovery from the swine flu.  They watched the video in silence, Alanna looking away every now and then, Dr. Brown glancing at Nana every so often.

They talked about the video when it was over.  What was Alanna's favorite part?  What did she think about being in the hospital?  Did she remember anything?

Alanna has seen the video countless times with me in the past.  She, in fact, asks to see it sometimes.  Clearly oblivious to what it all means, she would often giggle at pictures of herself once she was well, saying things like, "I was running, I was playing with a butterfly, etc.,"  We never talked in detail about the video. She just knew three things: she was in the hospital, she was very sick, Jesus healed her.

After the doctor left, my four year old was the most gregarious we've seen her.  She chatted up a storm with her Dad in the supermarket, she asked questions in a bulleted fashion, her energy up, her anxiety totally absent.  But when 3AM came, while asleep, Alanna began to yell and moan.  My husband and I rushed to her room and stood over her bed.  

Alanna was tossing, turning, kicking, her eyes closed.  She was crying, clearly in distressed, and she could not be comforted.

She was doing the same things that she did for several nights, every night, when she first came home from the hospital.  It wasn't in the same equal amount of intensity but she was clearly reliving the nightmares of the ICU, fighting doctors and nurses, pushing away needles, while in a restless and anxiety-filled sleep.

I scooped her up in my arms, my heart heavy, and rocked her back and forth.  And eventually, after drinking a glass of water, she fell into a deep and quite sleep.

It was 5:30 in the morning.

This morning, while getting ready for work, I told my sister and my husband that I didn't want Alanna talking about her hospital experience after all.  That I prefer it to be tucked safely in her subconscious. They disagreed, of course.  My husband said that suppressing all that trauma cannot be healthy for anyone.

It's better she deals with this now while she's young than when she gets older and it shows up in different ways.  

I wondered if that was what happened to me.  At Alanna's age I had been in critical care, expected to die, but a miracle took place.  There had been an epidemic and children around me in the hospital were dying.  Some doctor that no one seemed to know or remember ever seeing told a nurse to remove a certain IV from my arm.  Once it was removed I recovered almost instantly.  No one ever saw that doctor there again.

But I did not receive therapy.  No Dr. Brown came to my living room.  There were no discussions about a video.  There was no peeking into the past.  And just like Alanna, I too did not socialize.  I would not play with other children.  I would not speak in social settings.  I preferred to stay in my room by myself.  I had no desire to be with other children and engage in play.

But at home I would never take a breath from talking.  And although my tolerance to playing was low, I interacted with my sister and played with her appropriately.

I am, in essence, Alanna with no therapy. And I wonder...would talking to someone have made a difference and if so, what kind of a difference?  Would peeking into a traumatic past in such a tender age have changed the type of woman I am today?

I am a board certified behavior analyst and as such, I am leery of psychologists but I was the one who insisted that my daughter be seen by one...I wonder why?

I wonder if my near death journey at 2 years old affected the way I view the world?  I wonder if it plays a part in my insistence to remain stoic and unaffected at things that could tug at my emotions and render me weak?  

I wonder if it's the reason why sometimes I feel utterly alone?

I didn't have a Dr. Brown and sadly, I didn't have a mom and dad who would scoop me up in the middle of the night and rock me back and forth.  That was just not how things were done.

But I did have the Lord, the same one who gave me that miracle to live.  And Nana has Him too.  But thankfully, she also has her Dad who jumps in the middle of the night at every cough, at every whimper, and especially, at every cry.

And she has me who is determined to tell her only things that will build her up and let her know that she is loved more than she could ever fathom.  And then she has aunts and uncles and cousins who remember her in that hospital bed and who shower her with open affection.

And on Thursdays, she has Dr. Brown.

This peeking into the past is proving to be a bit more trying than I realized but I suppose my sister and my husband are right.  It is better she deal with this trauma now when she is young, so she can leave it behind with her youth and she can grow older, emotionally healthier, and stronger.

If not, she just might find herself in front of a computer someday.  Typing, blogging, reliving stories of the past and wondering...what if?

I suppose they can peek into the past gently all they want.  And should her nights prove to be restless, I and her Dad are here.  We will scoop her up, rock her back and forth, give her a drink of water, and put her back to sleep.

And in her sleep, the Lord will be there.  The same one who gave her that miracle to live...


  1. Well, simple enough. Ask the Lord what He thinks. Should Alana go through this pychologist thing - talking it out - or should she go on forgetting about the past. Only the Lord knows what's best for her.

  2. And anyway, I don't know if I'm being biased, but I happend to think there's nothing wrong with Alanna being shy or extremely shy. That is her personality. Why are you working against that that you would bring a psychologist to bring her out of it? What if that's how God wants her to be, for now? What if that is how God really likes her after all? I love her the way she is. She has character. She has depth. She is not every bouncing giggley child. As long as she's confident with you guys and with her surroundings that's what matters.

    I love the way you are, even if you were anti-social when you were a kid. I loved you! You were unique. And because of your uniqueness God dealt with you. You were quiet. You were still. So that God was able to deal with you. You think if you were running around like every kid in the block you would have the ears to hear God? You wouldn't be the person you are if you were "brought out" to be sociable and be like every child in the block.

    There is a reason and a purpose Alanna is the way she is. And if you don't like it, seek the Lord. Let Him show you what He really feels about it. (I.E. I hate psychologists. Don't even think they're going to do anything for Alanna. They might just end up damaging her. I don't trust them.)

    I don't want Alanna different! Let her grow naturally the way she is! Because someday she might be the next you - preaching her heart and soul out to young people and telling them how much God loves them the way they are!

  3. LOL, Ate, of course you're being biased! Understand that I'm also in the field. Alanna, on her off days,will still come in to the classroom, stand in a corner and just walk repeatedly in a circle. She also would only talk for a long time only in the presence of her immediate family. I'm sorry but once she's in kindergarten, I won't be there to protect her from the misery of having no friends and being bullied. In my own classroom kids are able to grab anything from her hands, toys, food, candy, etc., without her saying a word, just looking at her feet. She does not stand up for herself so no thanks, Ate, I can't just let her stay the way she is and hope she just outgrows it. Her issues are obviously more serious than mine were.

    I'm there during therapy and her psychologist is really good. Alanna has been able to tell her that she's afraid to speak because she's afraid to say the wrong things and she's afraid people will make fun of her. So they talked about what's the worse case scenario, even if she were made fun of for speaking, etc., It's not a cure type of therapy, it's a coping kind that teaches Alanna what to do in instances when she feels most anxious.

    She slept fine last night and Alanna really has come a long way. I got counseling for her not because she's shy, but because her shyness impeded her function in a social setting. Shy is ok, even anti social is fine to some extent. But when she's started school she'd sneeze stuff all over herself and would just sit there, afraid to ask for a tissue. She's wet herself because she's afraid to ask to use the bathroom. She's let other kids take toys she was playing with and push her out of a center. Tears would run down her face and she wouldn't make a sound so she doesn't bring attention to herself. And I'm her teacher!! Those are all not ok, Ate. She needed help to assert herself and the therapy and being in a special class has helped her a lot.

    In this particular case Ate, you absolutely would not want Alanna to stay the same. You would want her to learn to become more confident and assertive.

    1. Hm. That is disturbing. Very. But I guess I would approach it differently than you. As I didn't like going to school when I was little if she was my child I would keep her at home and home school her myself. I wouldn't trust her to kids or to anyone, even if she was "normal", how much more so with the way she is. There is an internal thing that's making her afraid and only the Lord can deal with that. I would lay my hand on her everyday and pray with her everyday and seek the Lord myself with prayer and fasting until she's "well". This is me, this is how I will deal with it. I do not trust schools or their teaching anymore anyways. I would keep my child at home and be there for her until she's assured that there's nothing to be afraid of.

      Just make sure with all this "therapy" she's going through, and I am glad you are there with her when they do it, that they don't start offering medications. Because that always seems to be their answers these days. That's why I don't trust them. I don't think that's the answer. And I hate to see her become dependent on that. God forbid.

  4. That brings back memories.not asking the teacher for things, not fighting back... One time in school, I accidently stepped on a girl's foot and she punched me right in the chest. I just stared back at her. Another time, around 5 yrs of age, at a neighbor's house, I was too afraid to ask about the bathroom so I just soiled myself. My neighbor could not fathom why I just did not use the bathroom.

    There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. I still have some issues with stage performance, but I regularly have to speak to audience of 50+ teenagers, and with rehearsal I do it comfortably. It's definitely the teen years that will be hard. At least she has cousins her age--I did not have female friends/relatives my age. But yeah, she needs to learn how to deal with being around other kids her age, because mommies can't hold their children's hands forever. And if I remember, I did not always tell my parents when someone was teasing or bullying me.

  5. Thank you. While I have grown up to be a public speaker and I'm at-ease in public settings, I think back on my school years,and especially high school, with dread. Those were not happy times for me. I did not have the same level of timidity as Alanna so I know what she has to confront. Plus kids are just so much meaner nowadays. I just want to equip her with the proper tools so her childhood isn't laden with misery.

    But thank you for sharing. It is comforting to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  6. I usually like all your blogs but this one is so touching!!! It breaks my heart, reading what you wrote about all of Nana's struggles. I am so glad that there's so much support and help available for her. And, I say use every tool available to let her overcome this issue. After all, it is God, who is the giver of talents and giftings. It is God, who uses people as His hands and feet, as His instruments. So, then let's not overlook, that it could also be God, who could be using these people as added help, in addition to the support that she is getting at home from her loved ones. As far as you're concerned, I believe, there isn't anything that God has allowed to take place in your past, that you couldn't handle. The same is true, in this day and age!!! I think, although we choose what paths we will take everyday, by the decisions we make. And sometimes our decisions affect, our surroundings and others. God is always in control, and there to fill the empty spaces, that were failed to be met, by others. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that, although god is not responsible for others reactions and behaviors towards you, He took care of all those areas that were missed and thus, you turned out to be a fine person, by His faithfulness and mercy. Give yourself some credit, you're not that bad!!! I couldn't imagine you, any other way. Think on this, all the lives that God has used you to touch, be it ministry or career. Perhaps had you been any different, your destiny, Nana's destiny, and everyone else's that have come across your path, may not have been the same. So, be thankful for these past experiences have molded you and shaped you to be the woman that God has desired for you to be. and although this blog is about your daughter, I also believe that God's hand is powerfully upon her life, and just like her lineage, her future will be one, where she will be a mighty strong, woman of God. I just, focused on you in this response a little more because, I felt in my spirit, you needed to be reminded, that even those things that, be by the devil or influenced by people, although intended to harm us and take us out, God will turn it around for good. So, continue to trust him like you always have for yourself and for Nana, because he hasn't failed you yet and will not cease to fail you in your present and in your future.

  7. Lol, oh and I have no idea how I wrote you this response. I really think it was inspired by God and I hope it encourages you.

  8. Thank you for this, Anonymous. So heartfelt and beautifully written. I was blessed by this response.