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2007-08-10 - 9:12 p.m.

There are some things I have never dared to write about. I have kept the most personal and difficult issues out of my journal.

However tonight after an incredibly tough moment with one of my girls, I called my supportive boyfriend whom I haven't spent time with in a few days as he is respectful of my need for space to job and house hunt and the fact I need to do those things alone, and I asked him to come join the older kids and I watching the 4th Harry Potter Movie. I told him I am stressed and could use his support after a tough bedtime. He said He is concerned that I am in denial as to how much stress I am under, and seemed relieved I am asking for support and company to have relaxing time.

The tough night was precipitated like most: I had to comb out tangles.

Either hair combing or tooth brushing are the typical triggers.

They both require me physically assisting the girls. I do so in the manner I have been trained and trained my staff for YEARS before I had children: Least restrictive prompting first... light touch of hand to shoulder, gradiated to hand over hand, encouraging independence... all the way up to physical restraint to control the wild visceral type of instinctive fearful response which the most serverely emotionally disturbed or developmentally disabled react with when they are extremely tactially defensive.

In my work I prided myself on the fact that I was the staff with the extreme gift of patience in working with the most severe and challenging individuals with the most aggressive behaviors.

I was the staff who was able to break through with the individual who bit his calloused hand and bit care workers. After a few weeks of working with me he stopped- for the first time in years.

I was the staff who could restrain and then calm the 220 lb man with the wild eyes of mental illness and make him feel safe so he didn't have to fight anymore-- when no one else could. This huge man would intimidate all our staff but if little petite I walked into the room, he suddenly calmed and relaxed. All because the first time he lost it when I was around I firmly and securely held him without fear or flinching, followed the behavioral plan and SCIP technique with the three OTHER staff who each pinned down an extremity- but I WAS the lead staff in that moment and looked him in the eye and firmly told him that it was not acceptable to ..... (fill in the blank HIT SPIT KICK whatever he was doing ) and then I also reassured him " We will help you control yourself and help you until you are ready to do it yourself."

HE was relieved and I also reassured him that we WOULD NOT HURT HIM.

So it is not usually a big challenge for me to work through the behavior of my - let me name it what it is- emotionally disturbed child who has been a victim of such brutal abuse at the hand of her father smacking her in the head over and over again EVEN THOUGH she is MY DAUGHTER.

I guess I have felt it optimal that I be the one to help her through this.

But it REALLY upsets the older children when they hear her scream things at me that are just not from her present experience and from the present moment. They are so upset to hear her scream "Mommy stop hitting me" when I have never hit her. They get so upset to hear her say " YOU hit me in the face"

I explained to them the phenomena of transference

I have called counselors to make appointments but then never called back. I brought her to the family Dr. on the occassion when she had been upset and scratched her wrists to ensure she wasn't in need of more agressive psycological care-- and the Dr. thought she seemed OK enough but would benefit from Cognitive Therapy. Having implemented such programs for years I just continued to do that at home... in part because not one of the three practitioners I called ever called back, and in part because I then just didn't follow up- I guess as she seemed to be doing OK.

However with yesterday's
"I hate you" and worst of all Saying to her younger sister "I am going to kill Mommy" I am now concerned there is more going on with her than being emotionally disturbed. I see symptoms of severe mental illness in my daughter, and I am grappling with what will be the best for her.

I know that to have her LABELED may be damaging--- as the teachers at school will UNDOUBTEDLY suddenly look at her differently.

Yet I will not neglect meeting her needs.

So I have to find a Dr. for her.

Its time.

I have thought that she has made some important headway. About a month ago during an incident she finally broke down and hysterically cried and started to scream "Daddy didn't hit me!! Daddy didn't hit me! HE NEVER HIT ME"

This was after one of those episodes in which I had put her in time out and she was kicking and fighting and I worked through with deflection and then she said "Stop hitting me" when I had only touched her in deflecting her blows, over and over, patiently until she stopped.

I had NEVER corrected her when she said these things, but quietly let her work through the issue and then said when she was done firmly "I have not hit you and never will. "

I have never corrected her memory and have NEVER told her ANYTHING ABOUT HER FATHER HAVING HIT HER.

So it was with some relief that I heard her finally address that painful memory.

I felt like it was a breakthrough.

I felt like it happened as she finally must have felt SAFE ENOUGH to work through that issue at some level.



IT WAS WORTH $40,000 in debt for this year of healing at home.

Some look at me like I am insane for holding out here for so long.
I think it was SO IMPORTANT for the health and healing of my family. I think it was ESSENTIAL for the girls well being.

The girls needed to learn IN THIS ENVIRONMENT where I was so de-valued that I indeed am an authority figure WHEN I AM GENTLE AND LOVING AND USE TIME OUT. They needed to see me respected HERE. They needed to learn to respond to NORMAL limits. They needed to learn HEALTHY BOUNDARIES but most of all they needed to experience UNWAVERING LOVE IN THEIR HOME.

So I looked up transference to show the older kids what those outbursts are all about in their younger sister. They worry so much that I will lose custody based on these things the little girls say. I reassure them than any expert in the area of childhood abuse will recognize the signs of being abused and understand the phenomena of Transference.

This short description was a helpful one in understanding it-- for both Katerina and Soren and for me:

"Transference/countertrans... in disturbed children in therapuetic unit?
what is meant by transference?how do i best describe it in my essay.why do the kids transfer their anger onto staff caring for them?

Transference is the displacement of one's unresolved conflicts, dependencies, and aggressions onto a substitute object (like a counselor or mental health worker in a therapeutic unit). So, it is very possible for a child who was abused by his parents to exhibit transference by becoming angry or hostile with a counselor on the unit. Transference is an important construct of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy (actually 2 different things). For treatment to be successful, the patient (or child) must experience and express these unresolved or unconscious experiences and sometimes, the safest place to do this is with a counselor at a hospital or in therapy.
Countertransference is when you do the same to the client. So you may take out your unconscious issues on the child. "

After a whole year of so graciously and capably helping my daughter with this, tonight I did something I never have done before. It was that counter transference. I am not perfect, and so I am not too hard on myself - but for the first time I blurted out "It was not me that hit you, IT was DA DA"

When my one daughter cries and gets upset she cried "DA DA, I want DA DA"

I usually am never emotionally reactive but for some reason tonight as I am overtired that got me angry. After a year of this difficult but important time of healing, I got angry for the very first time at the transference of her hurt and anger on to me. It only was for a moment-- but in that moment I said "IT was DA DA that hit you, not me . I love you and never will hit you."

I also reassured her that DA DA does love her and that I hope he never does hit her again.

She eventually did stop crying, calmed and wanted a hug from me. That in itself is a breakthrough as it is only in recent months that she would even ALLOW any physical affection from me. She had displaced so much anger onto me.

I am happy she is indeed healing.

I am happy we ALL are healing.

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