We all have our ways of handling life’s curve balls. Some catch them and deftly fling them right back. Some duck to the right – or left – and are clipped by only the breeze as it flies on past, ruffling hairs but otherwise not stirring the deep soul. Still others, our youngest daughter among them, take the full brunt of the ball square in the solar plexus, the deep seat of her soul, perhaps remembering deep down at some cellular level the many curve balls of her first life, her life before this life. Abandonment. Abject poverty mixed with neglect. Adoption. Universal shifts in her cosmic being.
To the naked eye she continues on as before, though perhaps a bit more rigid in her body, nothing the untrained eye might pick up on. But I, mom to this sensory seeker have learned her language. The body language, the pleas that spell out danger, silent yelps that say, “hold me as close as I will let you – not as close as you think is needed – because I am feeling off balance, afraid, not in control, out of my body.
I remember the first time she spoke to me in this body lingo; they say that communication is twenty percent communication and eighty percent body language and they weren’t kidding. She was four and we had been doing something at home when things turned on end. I can’t recall exactly what preceded it but – as often happened - she was suddenly spinning out of control.
And I was once again searching in my new parental toolbox for some kernel of advice to rein her back in. Something I had read, or heard, or observed someone else do that I could pull out like a magic wand shouting, “Wa la!” Then all would be quiet and normal and we would ride off into the sunset she and I like some awesome mother-daughter team.
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Suddenly it came to me, the couch sandwich! “Put her on the couch, pile the cushions on top, and sit on her,” came the voice popping up out of some book, or email from another parent and into my head.
“Seriously,” I argued with myself, “I could hurt her, she is only four!”
“Do it,” came the internal reply.
So I plopped her on the couch, piled on the cushions and pressed gingerly on the lumpy mass, squatting, half my weight balanced above and half of it on top of her body buried underneath.
“More!” came her scream.
I released more weight.
“Harder!” she begged.
I released all my weight thinking, “Surely I will snap her in half.”
No crunching bones, no screams of pain, only the deep, now-regulated voice asking, “Harder.”
That day I learned much. I learned that she liked pressure. I learned that she had a voice and could, if I guided her, learn to ask herself for what she needed.
Six years later now she is much healed. Her soul deflects curve balls more regularly and she has learned to slow her drive back to first gear or stop when needed. To keep her sensory seeking within appropriate boundaries most of the time.
But when life transitions get to her – school ending for the summer, big sister leaving for college, vacation – I know. Outside she is appropriate almost exclusively, but her requests for “Pressure!” as she assumes a prone, stomach down position on the nearest flat, soft surface tell me otherwise. So I, or one of her sweet older sisters who also knows her needs, willingly climb on top of her to rein her back in. Show her she is safe. She is loved. She can regulate.