Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 4
Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 4. Hahaha, I am only on chapter 3 LOL. There are 24 chapters in this book. Sorry, not sorry. Here is the quote that I’m starting with “Parker insisted we listen to his constant chatter, becoming frustrated if we didn’t listen to every detail of a book he wanted to describe. He asked silly questions, he knew the answers to and insisted that I answer each time. When I didn’t, he either tried to pull me into an argument or threw himself on the floor in hour-long temper tantrums and wailing meltdowns. If I sent him to his room, he threw and kicked things, screaming at the top of his lungs, sometimes for hours. I thought the screaming would never stop”
The Constant Talking
It became a running joke as to if one child had hit the word count of the day. We learned quickly to selectively here and nod our heads a lot. This kept the peace and didn’t cause chaos. Every once in a while, something would perk my ears up. I had tuned into hearing things said to others and then confronting her…what happens…confabulation. Though I was aware of what was going on, occasionally it would still pee in my wheaties and, sadly, I would react.
I Can’t Control the Actions but I Can Control My Reactions
I need that tattooed on my forearm and have a pillow with needle point of that statement for me to see all the time. Reacting was awful. It came out as yelling, saying things that I mean but probably shouldn’t say. Shame was involved because I am the adult, she is the wounded child. This stuff happened, daily and after 16 years, it has still stayed with me.
The chaos that would ensue was breaking things, self-harm, almost black out type of rages. I know this is the past coming up and dealing with it. Therapy was not helping, medication wasn’t helping. We tried to make sure there was always water and protein to help stimulate and calm the brain.
What I have sense learned is that it didn’t just affect the child, it affected all of my children, they just chose to be silent and not use their voices to express their fears and sadness of what was going on that was out of their control.
That hurts a mama’s heart. They were trying to protect me and not add more stress to me or their dad. My kids are resilient and amazing. Our family was not equipped to handle the mental illness of this child but there was NO help, NO advice, NO support.
“My success in parenting Parker did not depend on his behavior. It came down to mine” …. ” My success was based on my choices, which I could control rather than his behaviors which I could not.”
I need to marinate on this because it is so accurate. There is a tendency to own all the choices my kids have made and live in the shame storm. Shame meaning I am bad. Guilt meaning I have done something bad. I, personally, lived in the shame storm but I couldn’t figure out why I was there and how to get out.
I will, forever, apologize to my kids for failing them (in my eyes, not theirs). I should have always chosen to control my behavior. There were times that I did control it, ignore it, walk away from it, selectively hear it, do spot damage control, and other methods. Then, there were times I would yell, break down, beg for help, feel horrible because I am not the nuclear family this child wanted. I was punished for what I wasn’t and would never be. I was punished for choosing this child to be a part of my family.
Learning as We Go
“I wish I had better understood their young emotional age. Much of my frustration came from comparing them to other children of the same chronological age (or even sometimes much younger). I would look at my kid and think, ‘This child SHOULD be able to do what I’ve asked,’ or, ‘They SHOULD be able to play by themselves for one minute.’ I had to learn to let go of “should” because many times the kids simply couldn’t do what I expected.”
Never never never compare your children, born in the heart, to other children that come from their nuclear family. Never. That is a recipe for disaster. When things escalate, I literally think oh, I’m now parenting a 9 yr old (when in actuality, they are 18). Children who have come from trauma tend to look their physical age and on a good day mostly hover around that age. When they are escalated, they go 1/2 their age (going from 18 to 9). When things are beyond coming back from, you are in the level of when their abuse started (for the example provided, that would be 2.5 yrs old).
Breaking it Down
So, your 18 yr is having a moment because they couldn’t remember after being told numerous times to feed an animal. They throw a fit because you start asking more sternly and that shoots them to 8 and 8 year old behaviors (stomping, slamming doors, etc). You tell them to stop doing those things and get on with the task at hand. Mistake. Now we are parenting an 18 yr old 2.5 yr old. Literally, time-out or time-in is all that works.
We have to get in some protein and water to get the brain back to the higher executive functioning in their thinking. We do this because, at this moment, they are working off the lower part of their brain. That’s not we want and we certainly don’t want them to work off the lower part and then because I’m frustrated working on the lower part of my brain.
It always ends in tears and apologies.