As I write this, I am listening to the sounds of Lil Sis & her therapist. She has been making small amounts of progress, so far. Today, though, she is actually engaging in the exercises to help her learn to identify emotions. This is a HUGE improvement. Up until this point, she has flatly refused to take part in anything that involved identifying or discussing feelings of any sort.
Generally speaking, she tries to pretend that she is happy all the time. I have no idea why she feels this is necessary but, for whatever reason, she will always tell you she's happy and attempt to hide her true feelings about things. Of course, pretending to be happy when you are not is a lot of work. So, what happens often is she spends so much energy keeping every other emotion inside, that she is often emotionally overwhelmed. Naturally, then, when something does finally tip the scales, she falls apart. There is a huge meltdown, followed by her withdrawing from everyone.
Because it's pretty much impossible for her to make progress if she's spending 2/3 of her time in crisis mode, her therapist and I have been brainstorming ideas on how to help her avoid triggers. I am hopeful that her biggest trigger, the CW, is in the process of being resolved. However, there was another huge issue that caused dramatic meltdowns.
Even the slightest pulling of her hair sends her into a panicky meltdown. This, of course, makes detangling and styling very difficult. Protective styles, like cornrows, help to space out the episodes, but makes each one last longer. So...what to do...?
Well, I crossed over to the dark side.
I did something that I swore I would never do.
I put a relaxer on her hair.
Now, before you break out the pitchforks & torches, let me explain my reasoning.
I never thought I'd relax her hair because I want her to be happy about who she is. I want her to know that she is beautiful, just the way she is. However, sometimes, when dealing with so many complex issues, the needs have to be prioritized. In the hierarchy of needs, feeling safe takes priority, & is precedent to, positive body image. So, even though I cringed the entire time, in order to help deal with her more immediate needs, I went ahead and straightened her hair.
So far, this has made a dramatic difference. Less tangling means less pulling...which means fewer meltdowns. There have actually been some days, recently, with no meltdowns at all...over anything. And it seems to be resulting in positive progress. As much as I hated the means to the end, the strategy seems to be working out. As for helping create positive body image, that's a battle we'll have to fight on other fronts & leave the hair issue for the future, when she's at a point that she can deal with it.