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Sympathy

I need to thank one of my kids for so adequately testing me the other day. Maybe I will when she turns 30. lol

I went to see a 16-year-old who by all accounts would be described as "oppositional," "defiant" and "verbally aggressive." I would agree with these statements (though I would like to remove the stigma from them and view them as understandable responses she has based on previous experiences).

She was not happy to speak to me. lol

I came because I heard from an older relative that she was expressing suicidal thoughts. She currently lives in a group home. I realized no one had been in communication with her about the plans for her foster/adoptive placement. So my intentions were to inform her, (hopefully) calm any fears she had and to avoid her feeling left out of the process.

She did not care.

She was angry. Enraged, really. For at least the first 15 minutes everything I said felt like a new landmine I was stepping on. Even neutral statements were met with increased aggression and tension. We were not in secluded space so there was an added layer of stress as other people walked past. I felt tense on her behalf as I did not want her business "out" (which in hindsight is silly. I assume these girls talk to each other and all are in the system so it's not like she stands out in this area). Admittedly, I also had to quiet some feelings of embarrassment at being "screamed on" while others could see. I also felt my own frustration and stress continue to increase with no letting up. A knot formed in a chest and I also admit I felt resentment of her anger that didn't feel warranted towards me (though I am part of the system that is letting her down).

Luckily despite my resentment I remembered the basic concept that aggression added to aggression can only lead to more aggression. And she was teetering on the edge. Had I tried getting angry, demanding she calm down, raising my voice there's a good chance she would have gotten physical. So I checked myself, kept my voice low and steady, remained calm and stated facts.

The facts were fine, but again, even neutral words were met with more aggression. The conversation changed when I started sympathizing with her.

"This sounds very frustrating."

The first sign things were going well was she stopped increasing in anger.

"I hear you. This must be confusing and I can see why you would be angry about it."

Then her face softened a bit and she was able to look directly at me (previously she was staring away making no eye contact.)

"Well, let's make a plan then. I can only speak for myself, but here is what I can do... And I will get back to you once I have gotten more information."

Now we had aligned and were making plans together.

My knot left. She calmed and even made a joke. This child that began the conversation yelling, raging and pissed ending it by calmly saying "thank you." If you don't get the magnitude of that change, I'm not sure I have better words to explain it. If you think, it was more important to try to force compliance and obedience out of a child that was *that* disregulated, then you are missing a point so much larger than that.

She taught me so much in that 30-45 minutes. My own capacity and beyond that the reminder that sympathy is a very powerful thing (along with empathy). I care so much more about her feeling heard and us developing an alliance than I do with "correcting" her (understandable) rage at me.

Rearing

One thing working in adoption has done is made me hyper-aware of my beliefs about best/better/worse parenting choices. I feel I've always been pretty thoughtful about these things, but having to think about it all the time to assess families and give advice to families in crisis has formed my ideology that much more solidly.

The main thing I've realized is that traumatized kids need what all kids need. The difference is you can still produce fairly well-adjusted people doing harmful shit to non-traumatized children. And children with traumatic pasts take a longer time to get the "desired results" (adaptive behaviors) parents want, but if parents do the right things all children will get there.

Also, seriously, we are all- I mean, ALL people struggling with so much baggage. Parents (foster care, adoptive and biological) are unable to do the things (all) kids need because their own shit gets in the way. There is so much healing needed. When I look at the families that don't "make it" (meaning the parents end up deciding not to adopt. yes, people actually do that. sadly more likely than you would expect or want to believe) there is a mixture of reasons, but it is often because no one ever did it for them. They can't help the children heal because they have their own wounds that need healing.

So what is needed? Simply put, attachment parenting and positive discipline. All the advice we end up giving, the only things that work for our kids, is attachment parenting and positive discipline. Turning away from punishment, moving towards many things that some traditional parents would label "spoiling." Hasn't Ferber himself discredited his own "cry it out" madness? And the studies all indicate spanking, time out and the like does not work. Sorry, it's the studies saying it, not me. Well, it's both me and the studies.

My notion of child abuse has greatly widened since starting this work. There's a lot of emotionally abusive, neglectful stuff that would not get one a CPS case that I think should disqualify people from being allowed to parent. And then we get all the emotionally stunted, bruised, attachment-challenged folks raising children who will become the same. I should be used to people not listening to me by now. But there is something so terribly frustrating about having the answers, knowing what people need to do to make their lives and (more importantly) their children's lives better and having them respond with "whatever! I do what I want!" And all you can do is watch as the latest era of wounded people gets produced.

Hair stuff

So the transitioning is coming along well. Not great, but well. I've tried a few diff styles. Pin curls are out! Just did not work at all. I kinda sorta tried a braid out. I think I'll wear those when my hair grows out a bit more. For now, nope. I did like the bantu knot out I tried though. The only issues I had were that I think my hair at this length is not too great for them. Also they only lasted one day each time AND made it hard to do other styles afterwards without re-washing.The only lasting one day thing might be the setting lotion I used though. I've been using Organic Root Stimulator's setting lotion. I don't think it's compatible with my hair. Considering trying Lottabody's since so many people on the blogs are swearing by it. Eventually I'm hoping to get some individual braids and make that my main transition style. I know many folks don't recommend them, but I think I can make them work. And twist outs are not quite working because my hair is mostly relaxed. So I'm gonna try a twist out roller set and hope that works how I want it do.

I've falling in love with Shea Moisture's products. I think it might become the line I use regularly. A bit pricey, but my hair has not responded to *anything* the way it has to those products. If I keep getting the results I've been getting (softness, shine, elasticity) they will definitely be my staple.

What's been the most interesting is seeing the different kinds of people that are natural and discovering that some people go natural as a sign of superiority. I do understand it, but it was just not a thought I'd even considered until I realized what I was seeing. I see a lot of women that are clearly doing it to exert their superior knowledge about hair and overall intelligence. And I do think there is intelligence in it, but the fact that people are doing it to be "better" than others is disturbing. And then you see them become hyper-vigilant about other shit that might be seen as unintelligent or even Black. Like they "correct" their grammar and speak in these affected ways and talk about shit that you can tell is a sign they are trynna compensate for something. It all reads like "I may be nappy, but I'm still smart" or "my hair may look this way, but don't lump me with THOSE Blacks." The politics of it are both fascinating and frightening.

Hair journeysCollapse )

1000 series: Sisterhood



I figure it's been eons since I made a 1000 series post. Now's a decent time to make one.

For the group I run we have every participant complete an anonymous evaluation after every session. What you see above is a shot of one of the evals I received for the last session of the cycle I completed last Thursday.

During one of the last exercises we asked them to state something they'd gotten from the group. I was expecting them to say anything from "I learned about the female condom" to "how to talk to my man about using protection" to "I learned you can pass STDs to your unborn child." Instead EVERY participant (excluding one person who had to leave early) said this was the first time they'd felt a sense of community with other women. That they'd had few or no female friends in the past because they viewed other women as "catty," "conniving," "shady," (you know, the usual bull we get taught). That this group helped them to foster connections with other women and a sense of sisterhood.

I know "developing sisterhood" is not a "measurable," nor "billable" item. I know it is not directly related to preventing the spread of HIV nor STDs/STIs as far as my funder is concerned. But I can think of few things I'm more proud of whether relating to the group or my entire career thus far.

Black Sex and the City

Found this old chat between Tari and I about who would be who if our lives was Sex and the City. Craaaaaaackin up 'cause I kept calling "Samantha" the "old broad."

Atarah:
9:33 PM i think my movie of choice for when i win the bet will be sex and the city
 me: still not loving that mess
  but whatever works for y'all
 Atarah: did u even watch the daggone movie?
9:34 PM u are samantha!
 me: no!
  i reFUSE!
  wtf?
  isn't that the old broad??
 Atarah: lol yeah but shes the most fun
  linda is charlotte
  dani is miranda
 me: and which are you heffa? the crooked nose witch?Who"s on first?Collapse )

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Here, baby. There, mama

So going back about 8 or so years I began contemplating going natural before every perm. Basically once I get new growth I have an internal heart-to-heart and think "maybe this time I won't perm." This is usually ended by me having a hard time dealing with my hair's natural state. Then I say "fuck it" and get the perm.

This time my pre-perm contemplation was met with a conversation with Q where she said "I'm thinking of going natural again." I think it's mainly that simple statement from her that has been my biggest motivator this time. (And she was inspired by two other friends that went natural.)

What's separating this time from every other time I've considered going natural is that I'm actually looking up info and trying to find out tips and products and expectations about how I can do this. I've definitely never done that before. So I've been hitting up a few blogs (SeeMyHealthyHairGrow, LuvNaturals, CurlyNikki and others). And been watching a lot of youtube clips with tutorials and tips. I've found several people talking about it that both make it seem doable and have hair types that are similar to mine. In addition they have styles that I can see me having. So this idea just might keep this time.

I'm definitely not doing a "big chop" so I'm focusing on info about a longer transition while trying to minimize breakage. I did a hot oil treatment last night that I think helped. It's kind of hard to tell because the state my hair was in immediately after felt more fragile and almost brittle. But when I blew it out this morning it felt stronger and even thicker.

Right now I'm just trying to get to know my hair and learn about it's needs and what products work best with it. Which will help me even if I end up getting a perm again. But I do have a strong motivator to not relax again, which is I know whenever I have children I will not relax their hair. And it would feel hypocritical to to do that my hair, but not to theirs. I dunno how Malaak Rock does it.

Mar. 23rd, 2011

This weekend I went to see The Boy again. It was great (per usual). I stayed Friday to Monday. Both Monday and Friday were mainly us chillin laying about. Saturday we went to Richmond *cue Jonathan pointing to the sky* to see a roller derby game, which was pretty cool. The Richmond A and B teams both won. We met up with his friend Katie, who is trying out for the team. He also took me to two places he likes Pierce's Pit (for BBQ) on the way to Richmond and a spot called Croaker's when we got there. Both had great food. And both apparently blew up since he's last been there and had heavy traffic.

Crashing, natural hair and Jon smelling stuffCollapse )

Love quanta

I had to post this because it's so corny, SO nerdy and so us.

J: [in response to a text I sent]: Aw yay! thank you lovealoo! I love you!
E: I love you more!
J: Not possible!
E: It's true. I checked!
J: My heart is bigger than yours, thus I can love you more than you can love me thus you cannot love me more. QED
E: The notion of love coming from the heart was disproved eons ago. Love is an emotion and emotions are psychological processes. I am the psych expert between us and understand such things more. Ipso facto I love you more.
J: But the psyche is seated in the brain and my brain is bigger than yours. Thus, I still love you more. Precision!
E: It has been scientifically proven that brain size has nothing to do with brain capacity whether relating to intelligence or emotional competencies. Therefore my previous theory about my knowledge of psychology remains. Bam roasted.
J: I hate/love you so much right now.
E: I hate/love you more! =p!!



Also he's a size-queen.

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Town and Country Mouse

Jon left this morning and drove back to Virginia, culminating the end of the best Christmas present I have ever received and likely will ever receive. It was a journey and connection that cannot be matched.

He'd proposed months ago to take me to Savannah, my grandmother's birthplace. And then the mere idea of this trip was amazing. The actuality of it was even better than I'd imagined. We eventually decided on what became a road trip along the east coast with the main locations being Richmond, Va, Atlanta, Ga, Chesapeake, Va and the home of my grandmother.

Just a bit of background info, my gramma was born and raised in Savannah. She moved to NYC at about age 25, which was around 1934, I believe. She often spoke of Savannah, which for me seemed like a rustic, old fashioned town as told to me from my gramma's early 1900's perspective. She would talk about doing homework by a kerosene lamp. Most of my sense of propriety, pride, manners and sense of culture came from my gramma. A tough old Southern biddy who boasted about having good posture (as a child) and being a football player. lol This woman meant the world to me so going back to where she was raised inturn meant the world to me and felt like a homecoming of sorts eventhough I'd never been there before.

The trip began on 12/22. Really on 12/21 for me 'cause I had to take an Amtrak that left at 3 am. I arrived in Richmond the morning of 12/22. We drove around a tiny bit, but really Richmond was meeting place. Our first true destination was...

Atlanta, Ga. My first time there. We met up with Linda (with apple crisp made by Jon's mother). The three of us went to an Ethiopian restaurant and had a nice meal. It was Jon and Linda's first time meeting. It was a nice easy night with good conversation, laughs and good music. Linda graciously let us stay at her place the night. I have pics of us with her, but I need Linda to give the ok first.

Next stop was SavannahCollapse )

Little boxCollapse )

CheapeakeCollapse )

Eastern SeashoreCollapse )

It is finished

So before I even start this entry, lemme say to Linda this NOT the entry about my trip. lol! Sorry! I just want to document this madness first and this is easier to write up than the trip entry. But that one is coming soon!!

So I have written entries about Mike(musikmanmike) living with me, but I made them in highly filtered (like I think only 4 people) entries 'cause I initially felt like the issues we had were relatively minor and cause I didn't want to portray a negative image of him. Like I didn't want anyone to read my shit about him and get a bad idea of who he is. But given how he left and the culmination of shit that has occurred in his four months staying with me I no longer feel a need to protect his image. And again given the nature of how he left I'm truly done with him. So particularly for those of you living in NYC, if you were ever thinking of asking me how he's doing you'll know that I don't know nor do I care and you'll understand why both are true once this entry is done.

Lemme do a recap for the majority of you who have missed this madness.

SeptCollapse )

Oct-NovCollapse )

Dec and presentCollapse )

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