I woke up last night–okay, let me rephrase–Trevor woke me up last night at 2:00 with a bad dream. I quickly got him back to bed, tucked in tight, listening to Christmas music (his choice–good boy!), and went back to bed.
I was still awake at 3:30 when Jay Henry came in after having a nightmare.
I simply could not turn my brain off.
I truly feel like I’m failing Emebet. In every way possible. We make it through each day. But we are not moving forward. Every word, behavior, action, gesture and complaint from her cause me to react poorly. Even if it’s nothing extreme or purposeful, my immediate response and feeling is dislike. I do not like her. I do not like her being here. And I make her know it. This is not always the case, but often.
This has created a huge conflict in me. Why in the world do I act this way? How can my love for my biological kids be real and genuine, if I can treat another child so differently and with contempt? Why, when I am constantly praying and asking God to change our circumstances, do I go right back to these wordly, selfish actions? I know that my actions towards her cause her behaviors. I have no doubt about it. But it seems impossible to change my feelings. And we all know that it is so hard to act one way when you feel the exact opposite. I have always worn my emotions on my sleeve, and Kent can clearly verify that I cannot hide anything.
But last night, as I lay awake, praying for God to change this in me, my thought process changed a little. I turned the tables, and played my own devil’s advocate for our situation. If I were the one in a new home with new people and a family that was already established, and I was treated the way that I treat her, how could I possibly feel loved, cherished, important, or equal?
I absolutely wouldn’t. I would feel sorrow. Pain. Loss. And I, like her, would respond with defiance and anger. She is acting exactly like I am.
We are both experiencing pain. We have both experienced loss. We are both living in the midst of sorrow. And neither one of us is handling it well.
Immediately upon returning home, we were convinced that she needed rules and structure, which we quickly put in place. In doing so, I think we skipped over the part where we needed to love, love, love. Unconditionally and without reserve. No rules. No expectations of her. We seem to still be in that place. Expecting so much (partly because she is so capable). Giving so little.
My thoughts then went beyond that.
Most of you know what a scary beginning we had with Masyn. Almost losing your child creates gratitude that is huge. Deep down, she holds a special place that no one else can, because I know how close we came to not having her. She is my precious, precious girl who causes tears often because I am overwhelmed with love for her. Completely overwhelmed. It is really hard, then, to add in a child who creates the exact opposite feelings.
So after putting myself in Eme’s place last night, I put Masyn in Eme’s place and tried to imagine her losing us, her family. I then imagined the pain, terror, and uncertainty that she would face being relocated to another country where she didn’t speak the language, and never seeing her sweet brothers again.
And then I tried to invision her being placed in a home where she had a new mom who disliked her, and couldn’t see her for the amazing little girl that she is. And where she was yelled at all the time just because she was different than their existing daughter. And where she was not loved on in the midst of her grief and adjustment, but was told to stop crying because it was annoying.
This completely broke my heart. I would be devastated to know that my daughter were in such a place. I would be heartbroken that this little girl, who was so amazingly special to us, was being treated indifferently in what was supposed to be her new “family.”
I spent much of the rest of my “awake” time asking God to forgive me–yet-again–and to help me, every moment, shower Eme with love. I want to create an environment of security for her. I want her to know that she is loved, just like the others. That she is special. That we want her here. I want my behaviors towards her to be so different than what they have been. Mostly, I want my heart to want her here. I don’t want it to be fake. I want it to be genuine.
Today has been good. Her behaviors are still present, but my reaction to them is different. I am calm and loving in my responses. I am hugging and kissing on her any time I get the chance. I am trying to look at her through different eyes.
I know our struggles aren’t magically over by any means. But getting back to that place of surrender is key. God can’t change me when I’m being stubborn and closed-minded, and I have been living in that place. Bitterness has crept in and taken up residence. Last night, lying in my bed while the rest of the house slept, I wrestled with God, and He returned me to the place where He needs and wants me to be. Completely dependent. Completely reliant.
Kent and Lindy have been married for 10 years and have three biological children (two sons ages 8 and 6 and a daughter who is four) and our newest addition, Eme, who is 2