A Lost Weekend

lost weekendI 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?

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57 Comments

  1. grettaschifano March 25, 2013 / 2:00 pm

    As an adopter, I found this very moving to read. Your bravery and honesty are inspirational. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Katherine March 25, 2013 / 2:19 pm

    Powerful, moving stuff, Sarah. Respect is due to you all – you, Mr H and Stig – thank you so much for sharing.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 2:21 pm

      Thank you, the boy requires the most respect, he pulls back with such strength.

  3. Suzanne March 25, 2013 / 2:27 pm

    Wow, that’s all I can say. I am so glad that you shared this Sarah, it’s important for everyone, not just you, but your readers, to see that you’re a normal human being, not a super-human mother. I have had some almighty rows like this with my daughter and have come away feeling hatred for myself, her and utter shame at the whole thing. I’ve shared a bit on my blog but I find it hard, mostly because family read it. Your blog should be a place where you can share. I think that this post just shows that you are a true family, warts and all, one who do things out of love and aren’t afraid to share it. Thank you x

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 2:34 pm

      Thank you Suzanne, I’m no super mum that’s for sure, I love a lot and feel deeply all things, and that is how we come to be the way we are. My family are the ones who know mostly what goes on because I need to be able to speak to someone. Thank you for being supportive. x

  4. Amanda Boorman March 25, 2013 / 2:45 pm

    I love you guys…I properly do!! We have been there and your honesty, bravery and kindness brings tears to my eyes. Because you have the guts to face and work through the angry times shows you have the humanity to teach us all. Don’t know what else I can say as I’m a little bit lost for words….but all respect to you and yours xxxx

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 2:51 pm

      Thank you Amanda for understanding and being there. Tea and cake soon. xxx

  5. Asturian Diary March 25, 2013 / 2:59 pm

    A wonderful post. So honest, so brave and so well written. Well done. And so big-hearted of you to share.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 3:04 pm

      Thank you, being honest is what writes it really, I don’t know how to hold back, maybe that’s not always good. xx

  6. Kerry Fisher March 25, 2013 / 3:01 pm

    Hi there

    I admire you so much! This brought tears to my eyes and I just say this one thing….’Don’t be so hard on yourself’. We all do our best as parents, sometimes we fall way, way short of our high standards, I know I do. It’s just that most people are not brave enough to tell the world! I also have experienced great rage over similar things…I think it’s the day to day monotony of saying the same thing over and over again and feeling like it falls into a big black hole. I have also had times where my loss of control has led to great shame that I, the adult, behaved like a tantrumming toddler. But one loss of temper does not negate all the time you put in, in more constructive, loving ways. I think your boys are sooooo lucky to have you.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 3:10 pm

      Kerry thank you so much, we are so lucky to have each other. You are right the shame is almost more damaging that the event, it can eat away at you if you allow it. We’ve recovered well. xx

  7. Zoe Lawrie March 25, 2013 / 3:16 pm

    I’ve read but never posted until now. I had to say that you’re not alone in your feelings – both during and in the aftermath. I’ve got huge respect for you and to be honest, it’s only grown now. I hope the support you get for writing this, only proves that it’s all part of family life and the good times will always, always outweigh the bad.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 3:24 pm

      Thanks Zoe, it’s good to know I’m not alone and I appreciate you taking the time to comment.We do have lots of really good times to hold us together. xx

  8. Helen Braid March 25, 2013 / 3:21 pm

    Oh Sarah, what brave, honest words. You are a very strong and caring lady – your boys are VERY lucky to have you as their Mum xxx

  9. Twoplusmunchies March 25, 2013 / 3:29 pm

    Oh my god, I have been there and worn the t-shirt so often. I know I get very angry With Munch and say and have completely done the wrong thing and made things a hundred times worse, afterwards I’m never going to do it again, ya right!!!
    Thanks for sharing x

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 5:25 pm

      Thank you for being so honest and sharing with me too. xx

  10. Mrs TeePot (@TeePotTweets) March 25, 2013 / 3:31 pm

    I think you are incredibly brave to share this and I’m so glad that you got the support you needed. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to go through that, for all involved, but well done for coming through the other side.

  11. Lindsay March 25, 2013 / 3:36 pm

    Your honesty and insight into emotion is beautiful. Even in our darkest moments and days we are never alone…
    I was there a couple weeks ago, battling a screaming, wriggling 4 year old who started to melt down at small things. Who keeps hiding under his bed. It came to a head one night over a timeout last week where for an hour and half he bit and kicked and punched me, threw chairs and overturned our kitchen table as I blocked him in our kitchen. It was messy and ugly. At the end, we were both exhausted and sweaty and sad. But, we learned. We are closer, I feel and I think he knows he is safer because despite it all he is still here and loved.
    I hate that it seems to come to these epic moments and cathartic releases with ‘these’ kids. But I think in a way we are lucky because our kids, and us too, are so much more aware of our emotions and ourselves and how can that be bad?
    Thanks so much for sharing such an intimate time. It does help the rest of us to know that we aren’t crazy and alone:)

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 5:29 pm

      Thanks Lindsay, you do become exhausted and very sweaty. I think you are right on two fronts, it does in lots of ways make you closer because we all survive and go back to normal, which reassures stability and permanence. Also we do have to turn our hearts inside out reflecting on these situations and we all know our emotional capabilities and limitations so much more. Thank you for sharing with me your hard time, you are not alone. xxx

  12. Older Mum (@Older_Mum) March 25, 2013 / 4:30 pm

    I am so glad that you posted this – for you – and the support you will receive, are receiving. I think you handled a very difficult situation very, very well, and at the end of the day, it’s not very nice if he’s picking out dirty clothes to wear – any mum would complain about that, then unfortunately he kicked off in a huge way. And you did the right thing in trying to physically contain his very big emotions, especially as he was causing physical damage and was clearly out of control. The most important part is the reparation which was just so heartfelt and lovely – and that he knows, even after all that, that he is still loved – that’s what he will end remembering the most – that he has parents who love him and say sorry to him too when he has really acted out, and it is that which will help to tame the anger over time. You are doing so well – you are a fabulous mum. Never forget that. Ever. XXX.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 5:32 pm

      Thank you my love, I hope most of all my love for him comes through even though he drives me slightly insane at times. It is all part of the dynamics of our family life. xx

  13. Don't We Look Alike? March 25, 2013 / 5:22 pm

    Thanks for your honest sharing. Sigh. Kids sure know how to push our buttons–and we know how to push theirs!

  14. Sally March 25, 2013 / 5:45 pm

    We have absolutely been to the place you describe and it is hideous. Something comes out of me that I never knew was there and it is both frightening and shameful. It is important that we share these experiences because very few people understand what it is like parenting traumatised children and without better understanding there will never be effective support. And you are absolutely right, it isn’t the dirty clothes, or the stolen biscuits, these events are merely the last straw, it is the day-to-day relentless stress which mounts up and will out somehow.
    You are very brave to share this, and thanks from me for doing so. (I am obviously not the only fish wife out there!) xx

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 5:54 pm

      I shared because I want people to know about the difficulties we face as adoptive parents, it is important to give people an insight and hopefully more understanding and as you say support will be given. I know I’m not alone I want others to know too. We can always be fish wives together. xx

  15. Stix March 25, 2013 / 5:59 pm

    Big hugs and lots of love.
    You needn’t feel sick my love, many of us have been there or in similar situations, but haven’t shared it, or have but less eloquently. I’m grateful to you for sharing this and showing others the harder side of parenting our children xx

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you for your support I really appreciate you being there. xx

  16. thefamilyof5 March 25, 2013 / 6:06 pm

    What a wonderfully written and honest post, please don’t ever feel you should be ashamed, your a great mum trying her very best to parent a traumatised child x

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 6:42 pm

      Thank you, I’m glad people understand, getting over the guilt can be really hard. xx

  17. sarahmo3w March 25, 2013 / 6:35 pm

    That is such a moving post and to me you did the right thing in sharing it. I certainly don’t think any less of you for it. I know my eldest has pushed me pretty hard and I over-react when I need to stay calm. X

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you Sarah. I’m relieved that people seem very supportive for the post, as parents we are often pushed to our limits. xx

  18. seasidehillsfamily March 25, 2013 / 6:55 pm

    Very honest. You sound like a fab mum. Thank you for sharing xx

  19. Doonhamer Geordie March 25, 2013 / 7:57 pm

    Thank you for being so honest. So much of what you write resonates with us. You are not alone in your feelings. We understand. Really we do!

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 10:40 pm

      Thank you, that is what I hoped that others would understand and know they were not alone. Thank you.

  20. adoptandkeepcalm March 25, 2013 / 8:07 pm

    I too have over reacted to minor things, which are actually just the trigger not the cause. At the moment J is rarely violent, but I have still yelled at him – which obviously didn’t help the situation at all. I try to keep calm, but sometimes I fail!
    It was a very moving post – thanks for sharing.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 10:47 pm

      Thank you. It’s so easily done in the moment, forgetting what may happen down the line. We all struggle at times.

  21. Lilandrael March 25, 2013 / 8:48 pm

    You are so brave for your complete and utter honesty in your post. I have also been in situations like this with my eldest child and have felt so devastated in the aftermath. The fact that you all talked it through afterwards and reassured each other of the love you all share is great, and I’m so glad that you have had the support of people online, to get you through.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 10:50 pm

      Thank you, the recovery part is most important and putting things back together. We are quite good at that bit, just sometimes wish we didn’t need to be. x

  22. Daisy_Bop March 25, 2013 / 9:35 pm

    You and your honesty are inspirational….parenting traumatised kids is tough…very tough…and you are not the only one to have got it badly wrong on occasion. I once wrapped my then 5 year old in brown tape…not my best moment, but we survived….

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 10:53 pm

      Thank you, I hope to offer some reassurance that we all get it wrong sometimes, get pushed to our limits. and you are right we do survive.

  23. Nh March 25, 2013 / 10:10 pm

    Thank you for those honest words…and know that you are not alone. We make mistakes, big ones and small ones, we pick up the pieces and we move forwards, always learning.

    • thepuffindiaries March 25, 2013 / 10:54 pm

      I know I get it wrong some of the time but we hopefully improve as we go along. Thank you for your support.

  24. Caz Stone March 26, 2013 / 6:04 am

    Brave. You for sharing this, your son for coming to find you to make it alright again. It must be credit to your parenting that he recovered and wanted to be with you as soon as he could once he’d found some calm. Thank you.

    • thepuffindiaries March 26, 2013 / 8:48 am

      My son is amazing at reflecting on his emotions once calm. Thank you for your kind comments.

  25. Hand-stitched Mum March 26, 2013 / 7:45 pm

    Brave of you to face your fears and post about a highly emotional event. I think your son will learn more from your human response to life’s challenges than any alternative. I’m glad you have a good support network to help you stay afloat. I hope I have the same courage and support when I go through this!

    • thepuffindiaries March 26, 2013 / 7:54 pm

      Thank you, we have recovered well and the support helps.

  26. new mummy March 27, 2013 / 7:56 am

    brilliantly written as well as very real – staying calm with the tiny triggers that are never about the root cause is hard. Often, when it is also pushing our buttons and the same old, how many times do i have to keep re-visiting this, same old here we go again moment, sometimes we are human and forget and are tired or we are facing a new reaction, wasn’t expecting that. de-escalating is a fragmented and broken road to walk along and when we are working with our emotions and our child’s sometimes it is unpredictable how it will go and they can choose not to respond easily to our calming parenting too. Catching our breath is great when our patience and feeling we havent been the grown up has been lost and we feel the guilt is hard – and yes we are learning all the time and the calming of the storm is key – and we are dealing repeatedly with the past – those rocky and missing bricks. thankyou for writing here, honestly, openly and reflectively. xx

    • thepuffindiaries March 27, 2013 / 11:31 am

      The continual little things are what gets under my skin not the big stuff. If you don’t watch those little things they are what push you over the edge, as they did here with me. Thank you fro reading and making such valuable comments. xx

  27. Mumdrah March 27, 2013 / 12:01 pm

    Being in an adoptive family brings out the very best in me. It also brings out the black, belching, screaming banshee worst in me, too.

    Those lots minutes, hours, days, weekends we spend over the edge – or recovering – cloud my mind so dreadfully. It dredges up my fear, because the line between ‘being human and fallible’ and ‘abuse’ feel oh so very slim to us in our families, because that is what stares us back in the eyes when we slip the leash of our Therapeutic Patenting skills.

    I think it is essential these posts are written. We should support each other – as #WASO does – to remove the need for ‘brave’ to post. The difficulty and the trauma experienced by parents is much neglected in the literature, the training in adopter circles. Worse, it is glossed over. Because it is traumatic. Its hard and it is heart crushing; adopting takes you into a deep dark world, and it is hard in there – harder than anyone can imagine unless they have been there.

    Much love to you Sarah. You are not alone. The venom that I feel inside sometimes shocks me, but on reflection its clear that the thing we hate is the situation – the harm and the suffering and the trauma. Mx

    • thepuffindiaries March 27, 2013 / 12:12 pm

      I agree, it took me by surprise when those around me were nervous for me to publish because I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t be honest about the situation. I know that the situation is shocking but it did happen, and it happens to others too. It should be spoken of and people should be aware that this is the reality of our family lives. Thank you for your support as always. xx

  28. Fiona Ferguson . March 30, 2013 / 5:50 pm

    Hi Sarah ,
    Reading this I was right back to those terrible times and believe me there were many . I remember once I heard an almighty crash .I ran upstairs and Amy had climbed up on a shelf unit , it crashed to the ground , books flying everywhere just missing Lauren by inches . I screamed at her ‘What the hell were you trying to do ‘ She said ‘ trying to kill myself !” Instead of scooping her up in my arms I am afraid I screamed ” next time try the roof !” My husband was horrified ,so am I still when I think how awful that must have sounded to a child . I was just so tired , worn out with day after day of relentless controlling behaviour.You are brave to talk so soon on this , better to stop the endless self berating that I often found myself doing .Your doing a great job Sarah, I am here for you as we’ll as all the other tweeters .

    • thepuffindiaries March 30, 2013 / 7:46 pm

      I wanted to talk now because I know others are going through it now. I too am horrified of the way I sometimes behave but at other times am very proud of the way we have handled something, made a good decision or how I have read my children and understood them as I know no one else can. It means a lot when you say you are there as support to me, thank you so much. x

  29. bavariansojourn April 3, 2013 / 5:29 pm

    You have my utmost admiration, and you know that this will help someone else. I agree with someone else’s comment that his wanting to sort it with you, is a credit to your parenting.

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