One of my daughter’s middle names is Ariella. As she started to transition to the mid 2-year-old stage I started seeing some very similar traits that I had seen before – in my oldest daughter. At 2 – normal toddler. Then as she started to progress towards three some not so normal things. Emotionally, socially – just not typical – extra sensitivities. I kept a close watch but it didn’t go away but progressed. Thus what followed was a very trying period of life as I had to mourn my vision and embrace reality. It was quite a struggle – it took a couple years to be honest to come to a place of true acceptance and to implore God to help me to be what she needed without expectation that it was her that needed to change. I had my phase of anger, disappointment, questioning and wrestling my mind and will to align with what became obvious was the path that would have to be walked. It wasn’t going to disappear. He wasn’t going to take away the difficulty and perform a sudden miracle so I had to change, willingly and with a heart posture of surrender to who He required me to become. This time it was like 'here we go again' but being as I had been through this before it wasn't as major a transition.
This weekend a simple change in protocol to how we move when out and about sent my oldest daughter into a full out panic. It was crazy. She calmed down to a point but there was genuine fear to which I don’t know the root other than what I already knew and one of the reasons I changed things up. Her tendency to latch onto someone else because of HER fear or anxiety. If you have ever been on the giving end of being in a toxic kind of relationship – whether romantic or friendship – not because you needed it but the other person needed to cling to you to the point where it became suffocating. Instead of stepping out on their own in independence they always need to hold onto someone. Clingy is a term used. It eventually comes to a point where you become drained and a bit handicapped like a host being fed off of by a parasite. The parasite is just taking what it needs to survive and live but it does not realize that it is depleting you. You are aware of the heightened sensitivity of them – they are more sensitive, not as strong or independent, needs more encouragement, more hand-holding, etc. so you make yourself available but then it becomes a sort of dance like you are stuck in this web that is preventing you from moving forward. You try to pull them forward but they don’t want that – they are okay with things as they are but you want to move and grow. If you are like me it comes to the point where I am going to move forward and if you do not that is fine but this is where we have to part ways because I will allow nothing or no one to hold me back or stagnate me. If it’s not feeding me or increasing me in some manner I have to eventually move on. Nothing against anyone but we all have our lives to live at whatever levels we desire. I’m going to live mine unapologetically and you should live yours. If we can’t do it in the same place and space then a shift has to occur. That’s me as a 43-year-old adult. It was a process to get to that point and that process is lived experience with determination to continue to grow in wisdom and growing is not painless. It's different when you have a child like that because you need to acknowledge and navigate their issues but also pull them higher keeping in mind who they need to be in order to be successful moving forward and into the future. You have to nurture and build their self-esteem and inner strength so they can move confidently and positively in the world. I’ve seen the other side of that not happening in so many instances. It. is. not. pretty. So I took away her crutch and as suspected, she had become unhealthily dependent on it. We weren’t going back because I'm me and I also didn’t want the younger ones mirroring that behavior which they already had started to do. They were old enough now for a touch more responsibility and independence and something that I had developed to help them, set her back tremendously. It was jaw-dropping just how much. So in my investigative autopsy of the situation with the Lord that evening came the answer. Bring back Ana-Quat. Ana-Quat is one of the first gifts that I gave to my daughter and the purpose was for her to have something to hold onto as a constant safety net in the environment of back and forth that we were still involved in. At a certain point she, on her own, put her down and was just in her room untouched. I took it as she didn’t need her anymore so cool. But now she needed something again to help her not stay off the rails so I took her out and told her that if she is feeling scared or anxious that’s what Ana-Quat was there for and she can hug her and hold onto her. So Ana-Quat now once again goes everywhere with her.
My other daughter who also showed similar signs of anxiety, stress and unstable emotional and social self-esteem levels not typical came the idea – she needs an ‘Ana-Quat’. Something different looking – Ana-Quat is actually a cat so I thought the lop-eared build-a-bear rabbit would be good for her. I found one on Facebook Marketplace and got it within hours. I had a bag of build-a-bear clothes from last year that I had never dispersed to the children because in the one room there was already a whole wardrobe but in this case it was perfect because I could let that be the whole wardrobe of this new companion. We got home and with everyone in bed I chose a funky outfit and dressed her while thinking of name options to present. Ri-ri for her middle name Ariella, Quin, and Lulu were the ones I came up with. And for extra look-at-God!, there was a pink coat in the mix – my daughter’s winter coat is pink. I carried her in and turned on the light and explained why I was giving it to her and presented the Riri and Lulu choices and asked what she wanted to call her to which she responded ‘Ri-ri’. I showed her the coat that was just like hers and told her she could carry her with her everywhere she went just like my oldest has Ana-Quat and gave examples of where she could take her so that whenever she was feeling scared or anxious, she could hug and hold onto Ri-ri. So now whenever she’s walking around like a turtle trying to disappear into her shell I can tell her Ri-ri’s there so she doesn’t feel so scared. Just need to get a back-up for when Ri-Ri needs a bath.
The decision was mine. I could either take the path of anger and frustration, or choose the path of empathy and supply avenues of healthy support.
I could either take the way of anger and frustration of why isn’t she just getting it together or I can supply avenues of support that are healthy and chose to give her the time for healing to take place and make our environment an environment of peace versus turmoil. So I have learned to ask God what can I do versus asking Him to change or fix them. If I provide the patient, safe, supportive space then I expect God to do what I can’t and bring the healing that only He can do. Will I always come at it from that standpoint? Chups, please! Absolutely not but I have learned to step back and regroup when I am getting off the path. I asked God why He keeps bringing the same thing to me like what is it about me attracting this – it’s not like I’m seeking it out or desiring it – actually quite the opposite. But one day He showed me that they were me. The way I am now was not the way I was born. They were me when I was a child – misunderstood, unsupported, demanded expectation to change and conform – be ‘normal’. Nobody wants to deal with or take time for the different one and for a child to feel alone and unsupported, it led me into depression. But I didn't want to die, I believed I had value even if no one saw it. So I ran after God for deliverance and once He delivered me I was forever linked. I clung to Him – He and I against the world. From that point on I didn't care what anyone thought. I stood up for myself, I spoke up for myself. I became a different person. I no longer thought there was something wrong with me but maybe it was actually everyone else that just doesn't get it or see what I see. I know that God has set me apart - there is a reason why others don't see what I see - perhaps I am the one to bring light to those areas, a different perspective. Once I understood and saw how God actually made me specifically the way I am and purposefully puts me in environments and situations where who I am gets ignited and is a key to free someone else. It creates a fire in me to break down doors, climb through windows and smash the ceilings of limitation that people, society or whomever tries to place on others to hold them back or down, even if not purposefully. It's interesting to see how conformist human nature really is and some are just so used to a way of being that any other solution or perspective just doesn't occur to them or requires too much they aren't willing to invest if it doesn't directly affect them. Everything I went through created a warrior and that's what they needed. I pray that He be with my children in an even greater way but not out of need the way it was for me but because as it is for me now, I just don't know any other way of being.