“Do you ever feel like you’re in the Twilight Zone? Actually IN it?”
That was the question the girl’s Dad posed to me yesterday after returning from a meeting with Dylan’s therapist and her Mom. The therapist had said to me the week before that she didn’t know if she was the right person for her, if her style of ‘talk therapy’ was moving the needle forward. She said perhaps CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) could benefit Dylan. She also said that while she doesn’t like to diagnose children, if she did, she’d say Dylan was narcissistic. She used all of those words which I conveyed to Dylan’s Dad, who then set up an in person meeting. Apparently, though, once he got there, she backpedaled. She said that they’d had the absolute BEST session after I left and that they really made a breakthrough. So much so, that Dylan believes she no longer needs to see the therapist because she’s so much better and the therapist said maybe she’s right. This, after three months of seeing her, but now not wanting to make a diagnoses.
Dylan is one expert manipulator. She really believes everything she’s saying, despite not being able to connect to her emotions. Because the TRUTH is that nothing has changed. Her behavior, eating habits and patterns, panic attacks, anxiety and control issues, lack of accountability… none of it has changed. But Dylan’s Mom informed us that everything is perfect at her house. No anxiety, no food issues. She said she’s even empathetic to her sister, when she knows she could be selfish, she chooses empathy. The best part is when you ask Jennifer. She is still young enough to just tell the truth, which is that Dylan and her Mom are full of shit. I mean, Jennifer doesn’t say that, she’s just honest. “Yes, Dylan is the same at Mommy’s, they fight all the time.” She still picks her fingers until they bleed, spreads her food all over her plate with her hands, and doesn’t accept responsibility for any of her actions. For example: She forgot homework one night, made herself to be the victim, cried to her Mom, who, btw, is President of the school board, then the next day told us that the teacher gave her a break because she’s such an excellent student, loves school and is the best in the class, so she didn’t get penalized for not turning in her homework, but got a 98% instead. I never know what to believe, exactly, but I do know that Dylan never thinks anything is her fault – even when everyone around her knows that it is. She has a way of making everyone feel badly – especially when she pulls the divorce card. YES, its tough that her parents are divorced (as it is for every other child of divorce or separation,) but that doesn’t mean you get to forget your homework and receive a get-out-of-jail-free card every time.
Finally, the therapist and their Mom said maybe Dylan was crying out for love from her Dad, and that’s why she is mean to animals. Its a cry for help. For her Dad. Who tells her ALL THE TIME that she’s smart, he believes in her, she’s funny and beautiful, and who spends one on one time with her. No hugs and kisses are going to fix Dylan’s issues. Not to mention what it does to Jennifer for us to be in a constant conversation about Dylan’s needs, and having Dylan suck the energy out of every room she’s in because she’s unable to be with her own thoughts.
The bottom line is that if her Mom is telling the truth (which we know she isn’t because she blatantly lied about something else we all know is true, but she can’t see it because hello, she and her daughter have the same personality disorder,) then its our house that needs help. We have the freedom and flexibility to do what we need. Dylan can go back and see one of the two psychiatrists in Manhattan who weren’t wishy washy with her diagnoses and who told Dylan’s parents, straight up, what kind of work was going to have to be done to get her to a better place. She needs to learn actual skills, because she may never feel the emotions – she has to learn ‘as if’. We can also set up another round of positive reinforcement prizes for behavior, as well as consequences (again.) For instance, Dylan has a habit of throwing her clothes in the back of the closet instead of the hamper. Every time. Sometimes I find clothes up on bookshelves or under toys. This week we told her that if she can’t get her clothes in the hamper, they don’t get washed. This is a big one for her because she is obsessive about cleanliness (even though she’s messy.) She showers and changes multiple times a day. And sure, this can be normal behavior for a tween, but this is one of a thousand things. I want to encourage her to eat with a fork every time, that would be progress.
We also need to work on getting Jennifer to fall asleep on her own. She’s almost nine, but she can’t/won’t fall asleep unless her Dad is also upstairs in the room next to hers with the door open, the lights on, etc. It has put a damper on our evening/alone time, as one can imagine. She is full of fear and anxiety, like her sister and mother, but at least she’s aware of the feelings. She’s also empathetic and has the ability to see the needs and desires of others. But seriously, she can’t fall asleep and starts yelling every two minutes “Dad! Dad, where are you, when are you coming upstairs?” God forbid we close our bedroom door, two seconds later she’s knocking telling us to open it.
Anyhow. Their Dad felt like with the therapist backpedaling her diagnoses, saying now everything is fine and that maaaaaybe Dylan has a little anxiety (um, two weeks ago she had such a bad panic attack that she was slamming her fists on the table, puffing her chest out at us, and screaming,) and their Mom saying everything is perfectly fine at her house, that maybe we ARE in the Twilight Zone.
I think we may have to start filming everything. I talked about it before, setting up nanny cams. People who are narcissistic, manipulative, full of anxiety and fear, have a way of making YOU feel like the crazy person.