trauma, fear and emotional healing

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were backing out of the driveway when my youngest son rolled down the car window and shouted, "That's a ten!"

No. He wasn't  giving a score for a neighborhood gymnastics event. Rather, he was giving his daddy a rating (1 to 10) of his fear level. You see, David was in the garage, cutting a piece of wood with the circular saw. And even though David, as a carpenter, uses the saw pretty much every day, when Jadon observes his daddy doing something that seems dangerous, it brings up all sorts of fears.


It's a common emotion for many people, but for a child who has experienced trauma, the level of fear can be dibilitating.

Jadon and Grace both had surgeries before we adopted them. I don't know exactly what their hospital experience was like, but I can guess. I can guess because they are both absolutely terrified of doctors and dentists. But, their fear comes out in different ways.

For example, Jadon has been an angel for his surgeries here, but his fear frequently comes out as anger leading up to a doctor's appointment. To be honest, I haven't always handled that anger well, because I didn't know that it was due to fear. Now I know. Now I approach my precious boy a little differently. I give him a lot of space to talk about his feelings, give him special treats (my son definitely experiences love through food), and give him extra grace for his behavior (without, of course, letting him be unkind to other people).

Grace's fear, on the other hand, comes out in ways that are more obvious. A couple of months ago Grace needed some shots. My sweet girl sobbed for an hour in the doctor's office and as I held her still on the table, she stared blankly up at the ceiling and screamed in an absolutely other-wordly sort of way. I've never seen or heard anything like it and I vowed that she would never have an experience like that again.

So when I spoke with her dentist yesterday about ways to help her feel safe in the dentist's office, and he informed me that she just needed to go back on her own or she would never be emotionally secure, I decided that it was time for a new dentist. Don't get me wrong, this dentist is not a uncaring man...not at all. He just doesn't understand the effects of trauma on my little girl.

Our precious Father is the only One who can completely heal our children from their fears, but He has also entrusted David and I to be their protectors and advocates on this earth. In the past, I have not understood that calling as fully as I do now. I entrusted my children's emotional health to the medical experts, rather than to my mama's heart.

Yes, children need shots and fillings and even surgeries. But, more importantly, they need to feel secure and safe in their parent's love and protection. As much as I am able, I want to give my children that security by being there for them and advocating for them for as long as they need me. And one day (when she is ready), I expect that my little Grace will walk into a dentist's office and ask me to stay in the waiting area so that she can get her teeth cleaned all by herself.

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No Greater Love said...

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO thankful to have you in my life, and that I get to watch you parent first-hand. :) It is one of the biggest blessings ever.

Brad and Renae said...

Oh Sarah - my heart aches for you in this. I can't even imagine. Joshua has a great pediatric dentist -- He is fabulous, has open chairs, where moma's sit on the side -- and he has multiple large screen Mickey Mouse videos playing around the room, so most kids get to focus on that instead of what he's doing in their mouth -- Joshua was scared to death to go the first time, because of the unknown, and now it's no big deal. They also end with a trip to the treasure box - which is great fun. I pray you find a kid-friendly dentist that knows how to love on children in a deep way. I also have a really hard time at the doctor's office with Joshua when he gets his flu shot - he LOVES his doctor, but really hates shots. This breaks my heart - so I can't imagine what it might be like with children from the hard places. All I can say is, "my heart aches"... I'm so very sorry. If you find any good tips for our children, let us know. I have some fears of my own - and read Max Lucado's Fearless - has helped me tremendously. Have a great weekend, Renae.

The Byrd's Nest said...

Oh dear...that happened to us in Puebla. They insisted Lottie come back by herself. No way. Even if she was able. No way.

Lottie is so fearful and all of the tension of the wedding and being back in Texas is..well...let's just say she is a chaotic mess:) I feel so bad for her, my heart is broken.

You are such a wonderful Mom my friend:)

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