Love and Helplessness

We are discovering that in Nina's mind, she has to be helpless in order to be loved. It is a crazy concept, but we suspect that by being "helpless" she got attention, and therefore, felt loved.

From the time I took Nina out of the orphanage I have heard her say the words "I can't." First in Ukrainian, and now in English. We always thought that this was because she was told that all her life. However, these last couple of days we have began to wonder if the "I can't" and "You Can't" mentality was a vicious cycle encouraged by the workers, as well as Nina. Actually, we are wondering if Nina acted helpless in order to be held, in order to feel some human contact and affection.

Ellie and Nichole have chickenpox. Andy and I spend a lot of time holding them and giving them extra attention. Nina has quickly caught up on that, and she is distressed at the fact that she is not sick. She has a few mosquito bites and she insists on pointing them out, while occasionally lifting her shirt to see if her shingles have miraculously come back.

Since Nina got home, most "medical" attention and needs have centered around her. It has not been all fun, but I suppose it has been all about her. Having that attention shifted is rocking her world.

Here are a few examples of behaviors over the last couple of days.

-She is no longer climbing up and down the couch on her own. "I can't!" She says. She will even try to come up with all sorts of excuses to have us lift her from the couch and put her down. For example, "I have to go potty! Real bad!" "Okay Nina, come down the couch and I will take you." She pauses for a while, answers with some resignation, "No, I don't have to!"

-Her mosquito bites. If she sees them, she might all of a sudden cry...if we are in sight. If we quickly walk out the room, she stops, in a snap. She might crawl to where we are and try again.

-Last night, she was up 3 times in the middle of the night, crying. No reason, but somehow she was on the floor and of course I lifted her back in the bed and gave her a kiss. I think after the success the first time around, she did it again.

We keep telling Nina if she wants to be held that she can ask us. We even try to hold her and love on her. Somehow, it is seeing her sisters "weaker" that makes her feel she needs to be weaker as well in order to be loved.

It is sad to know that her concept of love has always been so conditional, and so tilted. It reminds me that she does not know love quite yet, she is learning. She is learning how to love and how to receive love. I am afraid that this is what would keep her from conquering some of her mobility issues. It makes me wonder if this is why deep down maybe she has no interest in walking.

Today, we have made a big deal out of all she can do. She is doing a little better, but still will not climb on the couch on her own.

These are just thoughts. I am reminded that we are getting to know each other, learning to live together. Mostly, we are learning to love.