All posts tagged fear

Dear Teacher

Published October 11, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Dear Teacher,

I want to tell you about my girl, she grew up in an environment where the adults couldn’t be trusted, but you know this because I told you. She learnt that the best way to keep herself safe was to always be ‘OK’, remember, just like when I told you how she likes to always appear ‘ok’ even though she isnt?? She learnt that from a very early age ‘smiling’ all the time kept her safe, when she smiled no one bothered her, but when she cried, or needed a nappy change or even just some food, the adults weren’t always too happy about this. So she smiled, it was the safest way to be, you know, just like I told you.

The thing is, her smile switch gets stuck when she feels scared, the same as it did when she was small. She cant turn it off, she doesn’t even know how to. She really wants to, she finds it so frustrating to not be able to frown, cry, ask for help. She really wishes people would help her, but she just cant let herself be anything less than ‘ok’. Her ‘smile switch’ gets stuck when she’s at school. Remember when I said I needed you to help her even when she looked ok?

You’ll have noticed the lack of anything other than ‘happy’ from her I’m sure. You probably think its strange that a child that received so much support in Primary school is seemingly happy and settled after only a few weeks in high school with very little support. You may have even noticed how little she needs, how helpful she is, and of course the smile she wears, every day, without fail. I’m sure you will have, because these are all the things I told you about before she came to your school.

When she’s at home her ‘smile switch’ gets un-stuck, she no longer feels terrified, she feels safe. She tells me about her day sometimes, how scared she has felt and how hard it was. She tells me its her fault that no one helps her, she tells me that she thinks she is stupid for not telling you that she needs help. She tells me about the times that she really tries her hardest to show you, but all she can manage to do is to tell you, smile intact, that she has a headache. She tells me how disappointed she feels when you still don’t realise that she needs your help. Then, she shows me the only other emotion she’s learnt. Anger. She learnt this one early on too. She saw the adults around her get angry a lot. She learnt all about fear and anger, in fact they’re probably the only 2 emotions she is really familiar with. She’s just as good at showing ‘anger’ as she is at showing ‘happy’.

So I’m wondering why, when I gave you all of this information about her, when I told you all about the signs to watch out for, the smile, the helping, the facade. Why is it that you are still unable to believe me when I tell you that she is feeling un-safe in school? Why is it that you are still not supporting her? Why is it that you are even sometimes careless about the things you say to her or the work you set for her? Why is this so difficult for you to understand?

Perhaps its because you don’t live with a child that has lived a life similar to the that which my girl has lived, perhaps its that you have never even met as child as scared as mine, or perhaps its just that it is too hard for you to think about, too hard to consider that you don’t know how to help her and support her, maybe its just too hard to believe that I know her best. Well you don’t need to worry. Because I’m here to tell you everything you need to know about my girl so that you can help her feel safe in your school. I know my girl better than anyone so your rather lucky to have my insight, but I seem to remember telling you all that before as well, do you remember? It was just before you promised that we could work together to support her. I’m so glad we had all those meetings. I’m so glad that I trusted you to support my girl just liked you promised you would.

Kindest Regards,

Pissed off Parent!


Broken words…….

Published September 20, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Me: middle girl did you have tears in your eyes when you was holding nanny’s bunny?

Middle girl: yes, when it’s claws were sharp they scratched me.

Me: why didnt you say, we could have moved the bunny?

Middle girl: I did try but my words didn’t work…


The Talk, in School.

Published June 26, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Do you remember a while ago I had The Talk with big girl, well recently she had the same talk in school and last night I discovered just how hard she’d found it.

Lets start by going back a bit so you can fully understand.

4.5 weeks ago the anxiety began when I was approached on the playground by 2 teachers, who in front of the girls, spoke to me about how sports day was coming up after half term and I might want to consider keeping the girls off if they didn’t want to take part.

3.5 weeks ago, more anxiety because sports day was imminent.

3 weeks ago it was Sports day, which went relatively smoothly like it always has. That same week big girl came home with a letter advising that the school nurse would be visiting the following Monday to talk to them about puberty.
Later that week big girl came home with another letter advising that a steel band would also be coming to visit them the following week, and finally another notification of a planned trip to a local Caribbean restaurant to sample some of their foods.

2 weeks ago the Puberty talk took place, the Steel Band Played and they visited a Caribbean restaurant.

1 week ago Baby girl was told about her class assembly that was talking place the following week.

This week, Big girl was told about her class assembly that took place today and baby girl had her class assembly on Tuesday. Yesterday Middle girl came home and told me she will be having her class assembly (its 2 weeks away).

The last 4.5 weeks have been horrendously stressful for the girls which effects me and Mr FO5 also, with a constant stream of ‘stuff’ going on that’s set to continue until the end of term I fear.

Stress effects the entire family.

Stress effects the entire family.

So I didn’t notice the trigger, I wasn’t able to see specifically where it was coming from, sports day had passed, everything else went by seemingly uneventful, yet the difficult behaviors continued. I knew big girl was struggling the most, she wasn’t sleeping, her moods were awful and she was having regular tantrums at home. I asked and asked over and over what was worrying her, she just said ‘nothing’. Her sisters were anxious, there was a lot of things going on in school for them too but they were acutely aware of Big girls mood and it was sucking them in. I had 3 tired, grumpy, stroppy girls and no one could tell me why.

Last night after yet another foot stomping book throwing tantrum from big girl I cracked, I shouted, in fact I screamed, a lot, and sent her to bed, it was half past 5, I was emotionally exhausted and feeling every bit of her trauma. I calmed down and went up to her half an hour later. She was sad. I was sad. Eventually those all important words emerged, through her tears and from her frightened little mouth. ‘You know when the nurse came and I told you I didn’t have any questions after our talk, well, the nurse said my period will start at the same time my mom’s did when she was my age??’.

So much worry for someone so young.

So much worry for someone so young.

At a time that she was already feeling uncomfortable, emotional, worried and apprehensive she was made to think of her birth mom. She was made to wonder if it meant that she was going to be just like her birth mom in other ways too. She was left wondering how she’d ever be able to find out when her period would come because she wasn’t able to ask her birth mom. She was left feeling alone and isolated with her thoughts.

Big girl spends most of her time in school feeling lonely and she’s ashamed of her loneliness. She’s convinced that the children hate her and don’t want to be her friend because she’s a bad person, She doesn’t feel loved, liked or cared about in school and she brings that feeling home with her.

My poor poor big girl, she held it inside for 2 weeks, so scared, so afraid and helpless that she felt she had no one in the whole world she could talk to about this, not even me.

I’ve linked this post up at The Weekly Adoption Shoutout (#WASO) over at The Adoption Social

I Doubted Myself

Published August 25, 2013 by thefamilyof5

You know those moments when you doubt yourself, you wonder if actually it’s all just in your head. Are the issues the girls have just a figment of my imagination, a product of my overprotectiveness?? (yes, I made that word up).
Well today I had one of those moments. The weather had forced us to change our plans so we decided a trip to the cinema and lunch would be a better idea. Smurfs 2 was on, I remembered an adopter friend warning me about the storyline and how it may trigger some fears in ‘adopted children’ with a history of loss , but I also recalled another adopter telling me they’d been to see it and their child had loved it. ‘maybe it’s me just being over protective’ I thought, ‘it’ll promote resilliance, they’ll be fine, I can’t keep protecting them’ I told myself.

So we went.

I cried at several points in the film, well I fought back tears and lump in my throat I should say. It was a film with a strong storyline line about ‘loss’ ‘identity’ ‘belonging’ ‘being part of a family’.
It was also very funny, and we all laughed, a lot.

We left the cinema and seated ourselves in the neighbouring Mexican restaurant. I busied myself with menu’s and finding out what everyone was going to eat and drink and ordering our food. Whilst I was sorting out the food order I became aware that baby girl, who was sat beside me, was becoming increasingly hyper. Once I ordered the food I turned to baby girl and suggested she calmed down.
She wasn’t able to look at me, her muscles tense, her body flinching, she wasn’t really there.
I held her hand and asked her to look at me, I softly stroked her hand and asked her what was the matter, she was wriggly and fidgety and was still unable to look at me. I lifted her chin and looked in to her eyes, she looked sad and scared. I asked her again what was the matter. She cried. She cried a lot, she cuddled me and clung to me and cried some more.
Eventually I asked her again ‘what’s the matter?’
‘I don’t know’ she sobbed.
And she probably didnt.

I really could kick myself, I should have known better, I should have trusted my instincts. It was only a few weeks ago that I linked a downturn in the girls behaviour with a different TV channel. We’d change the channel on the TV in the playroom from Cbeebies, which is aimed at toddlers and pre school children, to the channel aimed at children a little older, Cbbc which amongst other things, does have its own ‘news’ feature, which is real life news presented in a easy to understand child friendly manor, but it’s still REAL news with war, death, accidents, fires etc. Their behaviour became increasingly worse, they were constantly bickering, impatient and irritated with each other. We reverted back to Cbeebies after a couple of weeks and the calm descended upon the playroom once more.

They don’t need to be reminded that the world around them is scary. For now they just need to feel safe.

I may sometimes protect my girls from the world around them, and I may sometimes make choices that seem odd, maybe even controlling, to others, but never again will I doubt myself.

My girls are not emotionally strong enough to cope with the real world and all its diversity. They don’t yet feel safe and secure, they’re not sure who they really are and where they came from, they don’t know why bad things happened to them in the past and I don’t think they always feel like they ‘belong’ anywhere.

They smile, they hide, they comply.
They rarely show their emotions because it’s just too much, they feel too vulnerable.
They still need me to protect them, to wrap them in cotton wool and tell them stories of fairies and princesses and happy ever afters. They don’t need to hear about death, destruction and loss. They’ve felt the real world before, and it was scary. They’ve felt emotions before, they were scary too.

When they feel safe and secure they’ll be ready to deal with their complex emotions, they’ll be ready face the world and all its diversitys, and I’ll be ready and waiting to help them.


This feels like a good time to tell you about some decisions we’re currently making/considering.
We received a letter from camhs, it was kind of a reveiw about their veiws on the last few meetings we’ve had with them. It became clear in this letter that they don’t really understand the girls and they don’t really understand us as a family and our needs. So we’ve had some discussions with the placing authority and have expressed our concerns about CAMHS and how we don’t really feel like the girls are benefitting from seeing them and how we feel that we’re no further along as a family than we were 18 months ago when we first started with CAMHS. So they’ve offered to fund some commissioned therapy and life story work for the girls with an alternative service/therapist. This is great news, this will be someone that will look deep in to the girls past and help them and us, make sense of it and help us to move forward as a family.

Perhaps then, they’ll be ready to watch Annie 🙂 or maybe I’m just being optimistic!

Watch this space………….

She needed my cuddles.

Published August 8, 2013 by thefamilyof5


I love it when they NEED me. It doesn’t happen often sadly but when it does, I enjoy every nano second.

Baby girl got a little overwhelmed in the park yesterday, after a bump we had giggles, strops and then she finally let down her barriers a few minutes later cried and fell in to my arms. I don’t think the tears were for the bump, although I’m not denying it would have hurt a bit at least, but I think the sudden rush of emotions took her by surprise. Pain, fear, embarrassment, panic, hopelessness, and probably more.

Her sister came to cheer her up by giving her a caterpillar to hold. Her smile returned, her confidence did not. She clung to me for most of the day after that, unsure, exhausted and wanting to be held.  I enjoyed being needed.

Baby girls 1st play-date

Published February 19, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Today was all about play-dates, and this is all about baby girls 1st play date.

Baby girl had a school friend over to play today. She was very excited as this was her 1st play date. I hadn’t structured any particular activity because unlike her older sisters baby girl has a brilliant imagination and great play skills. I noticed early on that baby girl was feeling quite anxious that her friend did things differently to her, for example she might have put something away ‘wrong’ or put something in the ‘wrong’ place. Its important to point out that baby girls friend didn’t do anything ‘wrong’ it was just different to how baby girl would have done it. So I reassured her that she didn’t need to worry and it was ok to put the dolls in the box before the horse and it didn’t matter that the doll had the crown that went with a different doll and that she should just enjoy playing and worry less.
Then there was the ‘zoning out’ at the tv and not noticing her friend who was happily playing, so I reminded her that she could watch tv any time but her friend was only here to play for a short time (I didn’t turn it off because it was actually the friend that had requested a dvd and baby girl was quite adamant that I leave it on for her). Throughout the entire morning I sensed baby girl was struggling with control, her friend was quite confident and happy to just get on and play, but baby girl was more insecure with the situation and uneasy about being led. Don’t get me wrong, the play date went really well, both girls enjoyed themselves and played lovely.

It was when we got home that things started to change, she’d held it in all morning and was now starting to unravel. It began with provoking and picking arguments with her sisters. She very quickly became totally dysregulated so I pulled her close and kissed her, cuddled her, showed her eskimo kisses and told her how much I loved her but it wasn’t enough, she continued to unravel. It ended with a full blown temper tantrum because she couldn’t get her own way, in other words she couldn’t be in control, control is very important to baby girl, she wants it, but when she has it, it scares her.

I pulled her close again and we sat and read a book. It was then that I realised what a difficult place she was in, according to baby girl everything in the book was ‘dead’ or ‘dying’ ‘or had been killed’ or ‘had killed someone’. It was obvious that she was feeling totally terrified and overwhelmed.

The happiness she’d experienced that morning just wasn’t something she understood and it scared her. She understands fear, loss, chaos and that things leave, that’s what feels most familiar, so that where she feels safest.

Hopes and Dreams

Published May 31, 2012 by thefamilyof5

I’m not sure when it happened. It wasn’t a ‘light bulb’ moment, it was more of a ‘creep up on you gradually’ kind of thing. I’m talking of course about the realisation that being a Mommy wasn’t going to be what I expected, or dreamed of.

Before our girls were placed, and. even during those first few weeks, I dreamed of baking cakes, making hand puppets, reading stories, and chatting. The reality of it is, I can’t do any of these things with my girls. What starts off as fun, soon spirals in to a frenzy of craziness. As much as they crave my attention, once they have it, they find it too intense to handle. Their excitement turns to fear and the ‘fun’ soon dissipates. We spend many hours enjoying ‘intense free’ family time running about in the park where they don’t have to touch me and they don’t have to make eye contact, maybe this is why they love parks so much?!

My girls have been hurt by one mummy, so they’re not about to let it happen to them again. ‘Doing things with Mummy is just too risky’. There’s a chance I might make them love me, and they learnt early on that loving someone hurts! So they surround themselves by an impenetrable fortress and hide together, there’s safety in numbers, behind their huge walls in order to protect themselves from my love. They’ve pushed me away so many times that I’ve even managed to build my own little wall now making the task of bonding even harder.

In the mean time I have to sit back, behind their fortress and my own freshly constructed wall watching everyone else enjoy doing ‘my dreams’ with my daughters. The baking, the making, the cuddles, the stories and the chats are not for me. I cook, I clean, I clothe, I discipline, I reward, I give, give and give some more whilst everyone else reaps MY rewards.

My girls don’t trust me. They’re so filled with fear and trauma that right now there’s no room inside them for love.

I understand why this is. I know that it may not always be this way, and with plenty of time, love and patience, their broken hearts could heal.

Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier or make me feel any less inadequate.

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