I probably spelled that wrong….. (just so you know, I did….I spelled it Jerri….but then I asked Sun for the proper spelling…and I fixed it 🙂
I can tell it is really important for me to be writing today, because I decided to do it awhile ago and everything keeps getting in my way of sitting down and actually doing it. Sooooo many life changes have been happening this year! I think I will blog about some of them later. Today, I wanted to document something cool that has happened.
So my little daughter, Sun, is off at BYU I this semester. She graduated from high school, had an eventful summer of college decisions, and eventually landed at the I. She called earlier this week because she was having her second week away from home meltdown. She didn’t have one when she left. She didn’t have one the first week. It hit this week.
For you to understand the significance, you will need a little background. My dear, sweet daughter does not like to think about or deal with her emotions. She has plenty….more than the boys, so much more than the boys. But she is super stubborn, especially when it comes to knowing how she is feeling and acknowledging that. (She is more work for me than the boys too….as far as getting her to talk about her emotions.)
For the last seven years, we have been working with her. I recognized that she has this pattern of behavior: When she feels overwhelmed, she just quits working and finds some way to distract herself from her responsibilities. She keeps ignoring the piling work until it is so overwhelming or the deadline is so close that she just completely implodes and has a breakdown. She doesn’t usually ask for help until I press her so hard that she finally admits to me where she is and what she is struggling with. When she was younger, I rescued her. As she has gotten older, I have reminded her of the pattern, tried to help her plan for the pattern, and encouraged her to ask for help before the problems are so overwhelming that she cannot manage them. Every year, for the past seven years, we have been adjusting the process and her responses, recognizing the triggers, and dealing with some major catastrophe, usually school related. If the truth were told, there was a question of whether or not she was actually going to finish the work for graduation. But she did it! And she didn’t need the safety net that we put into place!! YEA SUN!!
As part of this process, at one point in her junior year, I think, I was completely exacerbated in trying to help her. I prayed silently for insight. I was pulling out all of my hair trying to get her to talk to me about what she was thinking and feeling. “I don’t know” she would say. OK….I relate to that. When I was her age, whenever an authority figure starting berating me, my emotional functioning would completely shut down and so would my brain. I think I just turned everything off. I really could not think. NO thoughts…..zero. So I understood what she was saying.
And THAT was the birth of Gerry…..
My daughter is visually oriented. She learns through music and what she can see. I recognized that she needed a go-between in her head between her conscious mind and her emotions that she could SEE. I told her to create a little person in her brain….Is it a boy or a girl? She told me. What does he look like? She told me. What is his name? She told me. What does he do? She told me. He doesn’t talk. He holds note cards. Sun can ask Gerry questions and he puts the answers on the note cards….in her head! She can say, what am I feeling? Why am I feeling that way? What should I do instead? Gerry is a non-threatening tool she can use to identify what is going on inside of her without having to come up with it on her own or feeling pressure when she needs to recognize what is happening. It was a painful process the first time we used Gerry. Sun thought I was weird and she did not want to participate. But when she would close her eyes and look at Gerry and think and relax….Gerry always came up with the answer. Sometimes that surprised her….that Gerry knew. Gerry ALWAYS knows. Because Gerry is really just Sun…..she just didn’t have enough confidence in herself to identify the problem. But she has learned that she can trust Gerry. Gerry loves her and wants her to be happy. But most importantly, Gerry is not afraid. And Gerry can just tell her without any drama or pressure….and Gerry answers when she is ready for the answer.
This week Sun called to say, Mom, I am doing it again. I am overwhelmed. I have recognized that I am not doing my work. I am avoiding my homework. Well, you did just make a major move, change all your people, your environment, your schedule, your food, how you spend your time……I can see how you might be overwhelmed. But you are calling me during week two!!! You are asking for help!!! That is HUGE for my little girl! HUGE!!! She doesn’t usually ask for help until December. What are you going to do about that Sun? No one is there to bail her out. No one is in Idaho with her. She has to do it! She can do it! She is ready to do it! She was sharing her process with me of how she was recognizing that she is doing it again. I won’t go into all of the details, but she said, “Mom, I saw Gerry. On his note card, it said, “STOP SELF-DESTRUCTING”! I wanted to start crying! We talked through her strategies….strategies for success….the behaviors we have put into place and practiced at home. She is doing them! She is doing them without me! Way to go Sun!!! I knew you could do it! Gerry knew you could do it!!! Keep going!! Every day, waking up, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway! One day at a time!!
Often when we are trying to help someone else, we have to try and put ourselves in their place and see things from their perspective. What would help them? What do they need? When we do not think or learn like they do, our efforts to help them can be completely frustrating because they cannot do it like we do. And we cannot always think about it the way they do. We need help. We need a go-between. Thankfully, for all of us, our Father in Heaven knows each one of us. He can help us to adjust our words or our behaviors so that communication flows more clearly and easily between two people who are completely different. But we have to ask for the help. I am always amazed at the help I receive in such matters, when I ask. With my sweet daughter? Sooooo grateful for Gerry! I don’t think I could have ever come up with that!