I wrote this piece a short time ago but due to fears my family hold I have not previously published it. I want to write with honesty but those around me fear that my honesty may cause people to judge our family incorrectly and may even lead to more difficult times for us. For me the thing I’ve always wanted to do with this blog is reach out to people, share experiences and show people they are not necessarily alone and also enlighten people about the difficulties my family sometimes face. That is why I have chosen to share this piece, to say it as it is sometimes and to be honest. If you have not read anything from my blog before and this is a first, please take the time to see how much I truly love my children by reading this or/and this.
I’m going to tell you about my weekend, last weekend. I don’t really want to but I feel I need to be honest. Honest for all the other adoptive parents out there that maybe make mistakes too, do ghastly things they never though capable of, pushed to their limits in circumstances which would be considered extreme to most. Or maybe it’s just us, I don’t think so but even if it is I hope you can see that the situation shocked me to my core and I hope will never be repeated.
My first confession is this; there is something about boys that I don’t get along with. It’s that languid can’t be bothered to do it properly approach to cleanliness. Stig winds me right up with not changing his pants, wearing clothes from the top of his washing basket instead of his cupboard because it’s closer, putting things on inside out and back to front, odd socks, no socks and more. Now I know you adoptive parents out there will be thinking how awful, that’s probably linked to self esteem issues and early life experiences and maybe you’re right but I’m sorry it still winds me up.
So Saturday morning when the boy appears having fallen at every single hurdle I’ve just listed, unkempt, unclean, back to front and inside out, my blood simmered ever so slightly. I felt annoyed. This is the point where I should have said to myself “hmm Sarah you are really quite annoyed at such an insignificant thing in the great scheme of things. Are you maybe tired? Yes. Are you maybe feeling a little worn down by the constant confrontations you deal with in your family? Yes. Should you back away from the child then? Yes….Only I didn’t.
Cue mega rant which started with something like “I’m tired of saying….”including “how many times….”, there was also, “how can I trust you to do…… when you can’t even get yourself dressed properly.” and finishing with “go and sort yourself out”. Cut to one angry boy bashing and kicking his way down the hall way, no mercy to anything in his way.
What I saw at that point was a defiant badly behaved child, what I should have seen was a little boy cross with himself for messing up.
From that point it escalated quickly, when asked sternly not to bash and kick, and then threatened with a consequence the destructive behaviour increased. Mr H was also there and together we were tackling him, definitely over whelming him, probably frightening him, pushing him to need to take control. So he started bashing the hell out of his bedroom, throwing things, launching his Lego and ripping at books. He was also by now using some colourful language to ask us to leave him alone. Feeling my emotions soaring I did choose to walk away at this point to calm myself.
The next thing I hear is the loudest banging against his bedroom door, lovely old original Victorian doors (just saying) and I’m back in the throng of it straight away, scared he’s actually going to go through his door. He’s using a belt with a metal buckle to repeatedly lash at the door. I then hear more commotion of destruction from beyond the door and the next thing a breaking into lots of little pieces sound. Forcing the door open I find a cup has been smashed all over his floor.
Now fearing for him I grab, yes grab, not suggest to him what is about to happen and calmly carry it out, I grab him. Yanking, yes yanking him from his room and try to position him in what I know to be a safe restraining position. This boy is strong especially with his demon anger pulsing through him and we struggle to get into the position and roll over with me on top. Mr H now tries to take over and as I move away Stig repeated chants “bitch”. I’m not pleasant in return and neither is Mr H, by now there is a lot of negative energy surrounding us.
I retreat downstairs to lick my wounds, trembling in every fibre of my being. But not for long, again there is commotion upstairs and I run to help. Stig has grabbed shards of the broken cup and stuffed them in his mouth. Mr H is clasping his face tightly forcing his mouth open and reaching inside with the other. All removed and no seeming harm done I kneel down before my son, angered to the very core and screeching “why would you do that?”
He screams, he’s set free and rolls into a ball, his sobbing breathlessness turns to hyper ventilating. MR H and I sit. One touch from me and he screams again, I decide I should leave. I don’t see him for over two hours.
Away from him my own anger grows furiously, poisoning every part of my being; I feel utter hatred for him. I’m consumed with loathing seemingly for him but actually transference from myself. I try to resist the devouring sadness that my breaking heart is engulfing me in but I can’t. I end up back in bed, my safe haven, my spot for when all else fails here you are safe.
He remains in his bedroom with his Lego, mostly from choice but also from uncertainty. Mr H is much better at recovery than me and he finds the calm adult within to converse with Stig. He weeps in his daddy’s arms, he is sorry. With relative calm restored daddy takes the boys for some fresh air, a distraction and an attempt to push the reset button. I remain at home nursing my almighty heartache.
Once home Stig asks if he can talk to me, he approaches me, with his wise old head he wants to sort things with me. I on the other hand am reluctant, not sure if I have calmed sufficiently and worried I could make things worse. I agree knowing I need to try to appear ready to move on even if I’m not, faking it for him. As soon as I see him my heart melts he comes into my arms and together we sob. I cling to him for dear life as “I’m so sorry” tumbles repeatedly between the tears. He pulls away and smiles a weak but honest attempt to say it’s ok and then he says “no mummy it was my fault”. “No my love it was not”.
We’ve spent the days since restoring normality, it actually happened fairly quickly but I didn’t want to fly without a safety net so extra precautions for consolidation were taken. Plenty of keeping him close, reassurance of love and heaps of patience with the reinstated skittish behaviour and chaotic mind. My main concern initially was that Stig had caught his eye in the struggle and that he was going to have a shiner, a black mark of a reminder for him and us and for others to question. It luckily was not as bad as it seemed and he actually went and ran into a football post on Sunday creating a bigger bruise on the other side of his face.
Tonight for the first time we sat and talked it through with him, Mr H and I had already had our own discussion. We talked about how sad the weekend had been for everyone but how pleased we were that he seemed to have come through it. We hoped that was because no matter what happens he knows he is loved and that he belongs here. We talked about a need for safety and also a need for mummy and daddy to stay calm and a hope to never repeat this sickening event. We’ve offered him the garden as place to go when angry, trusting that he won’t leave. We’ve found a trigger word for him to say to let us know he’s moving into an angry place. We talked openly and hope that the reflection helps us all to move on.
I’ve also done my bit of reading around anger and reminded myself that anger is what they call a secondary emotion, one that emerges because a person feels something else, maybe hurt, shame or sadness, but anger is how this emotion reveals it’s self. This is the thought I want to cling to, hold dear in all aspects of parenting both my boys, keep at the front of my mind in all dealings. Hopefully then I can avoid the utter feelings of failure that engulfed me last weekend.
I think I might still be wallowing in that mire of loathing if it hadn’t been for my twitter support group, you know who you are. As normality has restored I have been left still feeling angry, this time about the sheer loneliness this whole episode exposes you too. When you think you might have given your child a black eye during a struggle, who do you tell? Who do you turn to for support? Who will understand and not judge? Not embed your shame. I’m lucky to have found through this wonderful world of social media those who can reassure and comfort. I wonder how many families out there are not as lucky as I, I wonder who else has weekends like mine and doesn’t know who to tell?