Unhappiness: You Can’t Change Your Past

Another therapy day in the household. Emotionally it can be a trying day. Especially when you come home and have to explain that one of your daughters will only be having 1/2 the therapy she’s used to having in that given day. We are on a weekly therapy schedule with one daughter and a bi-weekly schedule with our oldest- it’s based on where they are at when it comes to processing their past and handling the stress of the present.

I spend a full session with my youngest daughter and her therapist- mainly because she doesn’t want to really do any sort of work. She’ll deflect, get easily distracted, feign tiredness and sickness- ask questions about anything else but doing the work to become closer to us as a family. Today we focused on her increase in temper tantrums over the past few weeks. She believes that when my wife and I have a disagreement, we are going to break up like her birth parents did. She also thinks that I look a lot like her birth father- so she disassociates who I am sometimes and then becomes controlling and fearful that I will be abusive in some way.

The therapist and I asked her how often she’s unhappy about her life. Sadly, she mentioned at least once or twice a day. She believes that her life would be so much better if she came out of my wife’s belly, or if she never experienced the neglect and abuse of the past. We keep reminding her though that the only person who can change that unhappiness is her and her alone, and the therapist mentioned radical acceptance needs to enter into her frame of mind.

She’s lived with us now for 3 1/2 years. If we were going to give up on her, we would have never had her come back to our home when she’s been hospitalized a few times due to her physical and emotional outbursts. It’s very sad to me that she struggles still to look me in the eye when we are having a heart to heart conversation. She doesn’t want to listen to reason. She struggles to accept the fact that she’s adopted and can’t go back to live with her birth family.

She also feels like she was the cause of everything bad that happened around her- thus she’s permanently labeled herself as a bad kid. You can’t change poor self-esteem of a 12 year old in one week of therapy- or even one year. We just want the inner turmoil to settle. I know that if she continues down this path of pushing everyone else away and wanting to control everything within her world, it’s going to be a rough, unsafe adulthood for her.

What amazes me is she asks after therapy is over if she had a good session or not- almost oblivious to the sighs, deflecting and struggle to answer any straightforward question about her past. Maybe it’s wrong of me to get frustrated. Even now as they settle down to sleep, instead of talking about their feelings they spend too much time getting into back and forth petty drama- not usual sibling drama but annoying revenge drama.

I almost feel like that 45 minute therapy session works for me better than it does for her- I have another source to release all of my pent up emotions in a better manner without running away. Time keeps ticking away, and I wonder if they will look back on this and wonder how much they let negativity rule the clock, and its something you can’t get back once its spent. I have to remember I’m happy most of the time, and when they feel pain it’s not a reflection on my ability to provide the safety and security they need in a loving family.

I’ll be there when they need me, but I’m no longer a punching bag.


One Response to Unhappiness: You Can’t Change Your Past

  1. Jared says:

    Wow, this reminded me so much of me in my adoptive family. At first things were great. Then things got a little rough to say the least. I was adopted when I was 8 still with vivid but vague memories of my birth parents. My birth parents were neglectful and abusive. I began acting like a normal teenager would. Rebellious at times but they handled it like my birth parents would. They were abusive. Can’t say some of it I didn’t deserve but they didn’t know how to treat me because they didn’t understand me. That stuff still hurts to this day and I’m 23 now. I’m glad you aren’t going to give up on them. They need you more than they act they will. Trust me I know. I tried so hard to push them away from me once the events started to happen. Deep inside though I wanted no more than a simple hug and being told they won’t give up on me. Adopted kids feel already abandoned and outcast. Just keep pushing.

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