Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Attachment Problem of My Own

She's opening herself up again.

School has been out for a month and a half.  She went through her usual summer tantrumming cycle, let out a lot of anger and ugliness at the fact that she's not in control here like she's been allowed to be at school (especially with her friends), and has finally gotten used to being around me and the family twenty-four hours a day.  And all of a sudden, Miss M has started to care what I think about her again.

She's opening herself up to me.

The horrible detached snottiness that started up sometime during the winter or early spring has all but vanished.  Her flippant premature-teenaged attitude of "I don't care what you want or say or think" is gone, and in its place is a wide-eyed, scared little girl, terrified of rejection.  Terrified of me.

She's actually been apologizing when her behavior has left something to be desired, and the last two times we've sent her to the tantrum chair, she's decided not to throw a tantrum at all.  She's just sat there quietly.  Weird.  And strangely cool.

When I've reprimanded her for being rude...or careless...or for waking up the baby...her chin begins to quiver and her eyes fill with tears.  Yesterday, I found her crying on the stairs and had to reassure her that even though I get frustrated, I still love her.

She's been asking to hold my hand.  She's been attacking me from behind with random hugs.  She's actually been trying to do what we ask of her, often with a pleasant attitude.  And she's been drawing me pictures and leaving love notes for me.  She's allowing herself to be vulnerable.  Right now, she wants to attach.

But this isn't the first time this has happened.  And I know it won't last.

This happens on and off throughout the year, usually when she's coming down from a particularly bad spell.  I think it's her way of asking "Do you still love me?  Can I still be your little girl?".  It's when most of the bonding and healing in her heart takes place, when she's closer than ever to being the child God created her to be.  But it's also the time that I struggle the most.

You see, I have an attachment problem of my own.  There are only so many times a human being can be rejected before they begin constructing walls to protect themselves, and when it comes to Miss M, I am hundreds of instances over my limit.  My walls are a mile high at best.  She and I have something in common.

After nearly five years of pouring myself out for this child over and over again, I'm empty.  My compassion is gone.  I have little to no real desire to connect with Miss M on a deeper level anymore.  I can't stand the thought of cuddling with her or covering her face in mommy-kisses, I physically recoil at her unexpected touches, and I often resent the time spent with her when I could be with one of my other kids.  My husband feels exactly the same way.  Truth is, we don't need her.  We have four other children that soak in our love like sponges, none of whom will turn around in a few weeks and punish us for loving them.

As strange as it sounds, I'm better at mothering Miss M when she's throwing tantrums all the time.  I'm used to it.  It's comfortable.  I've learned how to detach myself from the screaming and fit-throwing, and usually even from the disrespect, and I've gotten really good at relying on God to reassure her at the end of each tantrum.  To hug her, hold her, tell her I love her, pat her on the back and move on.  But I never actually have to bond with her.  I kind of just....manage her.

We're walking right now in a territory that is completely uncomfortable for both of us.  She's stopped fighting, at least for now, and is showing what I've always known to be true: she needs me desperately.

So I ask for your help.  Please pray for me.  Pray that I will have the desire and the courage to form a lasting mother-child bond with her, even though she will undoubtedly throw it back in my face.  Pray that I don't give up when she hurts me again.  Pray that I will remember to rely on the Holy Spirit to parent her every moment of every day instead of only in the short bursts I'm accustomed to.  She needs me to be fully engaged - fully loving, fully forgiving - in order to have a chance at healing.  So please pray with us.

I truly do care about my daughter's future.  I want her to heal.  I just can't do it alone. 


  1. lisa. i. am. praying. you are not alone. you are trying to do something so very unnatural. press on. wish i could be there to give you a huge hug. and maybe a doughnut:) love you friend!

  2. You are speaking my life here. I know this post is older, but it has resounding effects for me still. It's so nice to know I'm not alone. I don't love my son either and I don't want to right now. But it's only been a year for us. Thank you for being so open and honest. I haven't had the bravery to speak these words out loud until now. You have touched me.

    1. It does get better! I love my daughter dearly...she still drives me INSANE, and frustrates me almost daily, but she has come so far. I'VE come so far. Just one day at a time, Amber, just one day at a time. You can do this! Hugs and prayers, sister. <3 Lisa

  3. I just can't across your blog. And I'm so thankful for it because it's so hard living this life and loving in a war zone.