I’m standing in line while reading a magazine. It’s swimsuit fitting day for my son’s local swim team. He is standing behind me. I am admiring some beautiful turquoise hardwood floors when I hear a deer snort behind me. It startles me and blows my bobbed hair up. I turn quickly to see the deer who has joined the swim team. No deer. Just my son. He snorts a few more time until we snake our way up to the front of the line.
I was confused. “This wasn’t his first rodeo,” as he likes to say. He has been on the same summer swim team for years. He has done the swimsuit try on for years. Don’t these things get less intimidating and more comfortable the more you do them?
Later that evening at Positive Adoption, the support group, I tell my friend and psychologist what happened. She said he was in sensory overload. Too many stimuli.
I thought about some of the stimuli and how all added together it was overload for him. We were under a concrete porch. Check. Little kids making noise and wrestling all over the place. Check. Strange adults talking. Check. The swimsuit vendor who can tell your size just by glancing at you. Check. Being handed a spandex suit and asked to put it on right there over your old suit. Check. (He refused to do this and hightailed it for the bathroom.)
I probably would have said things like, “I don’t like trying on suits in front of people!” but he said nothing. He just snorted on my neck.
This got me thinking, how often do we misinterpret communication whether it is verbal or not? I do all the time. Imagine not knowing how to communicate. Imagine feeling overloaded and not knowing how to say, “I hate this, it stinks!” or that you should communicate your anxiety. Many adopted children live in a maze with no exit. In a society that speaks, yet they have no words to express their phobias. What would our adopted children tell us if they could communicate?
Birthed out of that line of thinking, I’m writing a short series on five things your adopted child would like to tell you. I’m starting the series today with an intro and list of the five things. I will delve more deeply into each one in subsequent posts.
- I am in sensory overload. I’m overwhelmed and I am about to blow a gasket.
- I’m not always misbehaving to make you mad. Most of the time it is because I do not have the skill to self-regulate and I maintain my control by keeping you out of control.
- You are not responsible for the trauma that happened to me before I came into your family, but I will act like it. If you let guilt rule the home, we will both be miserable and neither of us will experience any healing.
- If you feel what I feel all the time, we will become codependent and I will rule your emotions like an out-of-control terrorist.
- I do want to be loved and accepted. It is my deepest desire, just like anyone else on the planet, but I don’t know how to get there. Will you help me?
Join me for the series and if any of these speak to you, leave a comment, I love to hear people’s stories! If you are struggling with one of these and you have gotten sucked into a codependent relationship with your child or you are wearing a burden of guilt, you are not alone. This is a journey we can make together, hand in hand, side by side. Two are better than one!
P.S. My son now has a Tangle. He can fiddle with it when he is out in public! I will let you know if it helps relieve some of his stress. You can find more info here.