Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Insecure Attachment

I can say with certainty that Seth is attached. It's been over a year and there was a lot of hard work involved, but he is definitely attached. But (there is always a but) but....it is an insecure attachment at this point. What do I mean by this and how do I know? Well, he is attached, genuinely loves us and demonstrates appropriate interactions with all family members, but he is still fearful of losing us and has a lot of anxiety.

All day long he seeks me out and needs to know I am still there. I cannot go to the restroom without him finding me and asking me something, just to hear me answer him. I can tell him exactly where I am going, have him watch me walk into the bathroom and still, 30 seconds later he has to be at the door asking me something. Same thing if I am on the phone. He knows he is not supposed to interrupt me, but he cannot help himself. He is compelled to ask me something just to get an answer so he knows that I still am available to him and that I know he is there. If I cannot or do not answer, he will crawl all over me just to be sure I KNOW he is there and have to respond physically. I think of him like a little bat, sending out little sonar bleeps all day long, pinging off of me to let him know I am there. The more anxious he is, the more bleeps he sends out. One day after he got in trouble (pretty big trouble, not the routine stop annoying your brother sort) he literally hung off of me all day long, repeating over and over 'I love you'. He knew he had upset me and it made him very, very anxious.

He shows his anxiety in other ways, too. I have mentioned before that he tends to shred his food when he eats. It took me a while to really figure out why he does this. At first I thought it might be that he needed smaller pieces to chew, or that he had trouble with certain textures. Nope, pure nervous habit. He will sit down to eat, then talk incessantly, wiggle all over in his chair, and shred his food with his fingers. I don't think he is even aware he is doing it. He doesn't do this nearly as much any more, but if he is feeling extra nervous we can bet he will shred everything on his plate and eat very little.

He also has nervous habits like picking his nose until it bleeds, or having his hands down his pants constantly. These also increase in relation to his anxiety level. When he is really anxious they become almost like nervous tics. He doesn't know he is doing it and is helpless to stop it. I can't tell you how many times we set out in the car and by the time we get somewhere his face and hands are all bloody and he doesn't even know it. You would think it would hurt, but he seems surprised when I show him the blood. He will even fight with me telling me he DID NOT do it and it's not because he is denying it. He doesn't realize he did.

Most days now we see only minor anxiety in him. He was able to handle some really big things lately with little or no ramping up. Even when he gets upset now, he calms down in a matter of minutes with very little intervention from us. Of course, what upsets him is not always logical. In fact, I laugh some days at the silly things that he gets all riled up about. I understand, though, that often the deeper emotions pop out in odd ways. He isn't really upset about the silly thing at all. It's just a safer outlet than revealing the true things that get to him.

One big thing we have worked very hard on is keeping the happy memories of his previous home alive in his heart. He had some deep hurt that we have worked on letting go, and have been developing an understanding that their home was just a stop on the way in God's plan. He now accepts that they loved him but he was meant to come to us. We talk about it a lot. He also loves to hear the story about how each child has come to us, either from my tummy, on an airplane, or picked up at a convenience store. They each have their own special story because each is their own special person!

Progress is measured in the number of moments he is calm and happy, not leaps and bounds, but it is still great progress.


Diana said...

My Joseph has finally reached this point too. There's a marked connection, but it's still fragile. We're getting there with Matthew as well. RAD still rears it's ugly head more than we'd like to admit with him, but he is definitly healing. Yeah for that!!

Dag blasted...PTSD is still alive and well, though. But, as we were able to witness yesterday, once there's some degree of attachment there, they can finally start working on it.

Deb said...

there are behaviors that Seth has that Bug has too. The drive me up the wall at times- like coming to talk to me when I am on the phone.

I am working on modifying my behaviors and helping Bug see when he is anxious. I was hoping to do alot of work this summer with Bug, but that is not going to happen due to work deadlines.

praying for you.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Huh, sounds very much like Genea. I'm so glad some of the more nerve wracking stuff has faded for Seth. They can be so hard to see!