Tag Archive | anxiety

Moving on up through the tears

There has been a distinct lack of post from me lately and it probably won’t come as a surprise to some of you the reasons for this, but it hasn’t stopped me beating myself up about it. Yes! I know it is not helpful to anyone, me being so hard on myself, but as ‘Blame Honey for everything’ seems to be a common theme at the moment. I guess if I can’t beat them, I might as well join them. This way maybe I won’t feel the painful sting left by the unending feeling of desperation and isolation.

Last weekend was a difficult weekend.

NO WAIT! Last weekend was a complete mess! Decisions were made that I have resisted for so long, and as I sank deeper into the dark pit of failed attempts at trying to therapeutically parent an angry and emotional, vulnerable teenager, relationships and emotional health crashed and burned along with it.

I guess you would say…… We hit rock bottom! (I certainly did anyway).

hittherocks

Calling the police on your child was never going to be an experience that I could or would relish. After Waxy’s early life experiences, he is understandably anxious (and angry) with the ‘boys and girls in blue’, and for a very long time I have used this knowledge as justification for not drawing a line in the sand sooner – Some would say I was being too soft and making excuse for his actions, and in some ways they were right and I wish it was as simple as that, but as many of you will know:

Nothing is ever simple when it comes to living on ‘Planet Adoption’.

So if in the past I have been a repeat offender and tried to manage the consequences and restitutions ‘in house’, which has almost certainly backfired, what was different about the weekend this time that prompted me to change my mind and report Waxy to the police for criminal damage?

Was it, just simply I reached the end of a very long and crumpled straw and felt I was left with no other option?

Was it because this time it wasn’t just myself or an inanimate object of some kind that was at risk of harm? He had lost control and Buzz, Beedog and Waxy himself were all at risk of serious harm.

Or, was it the fact that this time Waxy had lost so much control that he was displaying everything for the world (okay neighbourhood, which he would never usually do) to see, and I no longer felt safe in my own home?

I could hypothesise and dissect the ins and outs of the events of last weekend but it wouldn’t help anyone.

Nor would be having a VERY long rant about Post Adoption Support, or should I say the lack of it (5 minute phone call, 5 days after the incident happened and complete disinterest from PASW about the impact the weekend had on Buzzbee or myself – she just wanted to tell me how she had had a lovely long and pleasant chat with Waxy and he only did what he did because he felt I was being too strict – Hmmmm so wanting to treat my sons to a day out with Nando’s for supper is being too strict is it?).

Anyway, this weeks’ WASO theme is ‘Moving on up’ and I suppose through all my waffling, I am trying to come to some kind of rational conclusion as to the fact that I cannot change what has happened in the past, and while it WILL this time take me some time to bounce back, we have hit the bottom so there is only one way we can now go and I need to move on and move up (and not move out as I was ready to do Sunday).

How I am going to do this?

I really don’t know at the moment.

I guess for now, all I can do is wait out the storm and not beat myself up so much for events and choices that are not in my control, and pray that one day our family’s equilibrium will be once again be restored.

lifeisabike

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Unprofessional

I am going to apologise in advance for any potential offence I may cause or personal ranting that I may do in the course of writing this weeks’ #WASO, but after stewing on things for the last few days, I really need to get this off my chest.

There are several people who have known me and shall we say, they have seen more of my ‘passionate’ side than I probably would like them to have. It is definitely something I am working on, but it isn’t a personality trait that I have always had. Okay, I am not ashamed to admit, I used to be a bit of a doormat. I would have done anything for a quiet life, or not to encourage conflict. I guess that is why my sister STILL thinks she can be a pain in the backside and I won’t say a word (tough luck girlie, the old Honey is gone).

It would be easy for me now to put the blame at Adoption’s door and say that my need to advocate for Buzz and Waxy to get their needs met, as well as trying to keep my family together and happy, has turned me into someone who I am not always very proud of, when handling situations with professionals or individuals who have come into our lives for whatever reason.

While the ‘adoption’ process was not the spark that originally ignited the passion (that would be a very difficult story to tell), over the last 8 years its repeated fanning has certainly kept the flames flickering along, and every now and then someone or something comes along and gives the flames a few prods, turning flickering flames into a raging inferno of frustration and tears, and more often than not my own fight and flight responses kick into gear and I have to run (okay walk out) from the situation because I know I have or am about to make a complete fool out of myself and at that point I am certainly not helping my sons one iota.

Okay so why am I telling you this again? Oh right yes! I know why it was.

I have lost count of how many times I have heard so called ‘professionals’ comment or directly tell me that I am being ‘unprofessional’ when I have struggled to keep my composure while trying to advocate for my boys in a room full of people who just ‘DON’T GET IT’, and each time I have just wanted to scream “I am not a professional. I am their mum”.

Anyway, I still haven’t got to the reason for writing this and I honestly do apologise for rambling.

On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to attend my second DDP Network Southwest study day. I had enjoyed the previous study day and was looking forward to another enjoyable and informative session surrounded by professionals and a couple of adopters/foster carers in an inclusive environment where no one person’s job or role was any less important than another’s. In fact unlike several conferences I have attended over the years, at the study days, your role is practically anonymous. No name badges. No job titles. No badges labelling you to a specific classification of involvement with fostering or adoption.

Bliss!

However this time my experience was not so positive and not because of the content of the study day or the presentations or the professionals who had work tirelessly and voluntarily to put the day together.

No! My experience was marred by 4 very rude so-called professionals, who were sat directly in front of me throughout the day and whose behaviour I feel was more than a little unprofessional (and a professional sat beside me agreed also). No that is wrong they weren’t a little bit unprofessional – they were downright and completely unprofessional countless times throughout the day and, if my memory serves me correctly, 2 of these professionals were on my table at the last study day and I ‘may’ have spoken my mind to them then about their negative attitude towards adoptive parents who may be having a tough time.

meeting-clipart-clip-art-meeting-340741The main discussion point and presentation for this study day was based around NVR and the principals applied to it, and while there were several people in the room who were clearly anxious about some of the conflicting and counter-intuitive advice that was being discussed, the questions were largely productive and created insightful discussions (some were definitely being a little closed minded but hey, I can’t judge, I can be a little set in my ways and adopt a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ stance at times), but the ‘unfantastic four’ weren’t following the flock, they were rarely challenging viewpoints or airing their concerns about conflicts in method ideas in an open forum. No they were leaning on and calling across each other, like naughty school kids, sniggering and making inappropriate comments, at inappropriate times, at levels that were audible to everyone surrounding them, and on the odd occasion that they did raise a comment openly, the theme of their comments was always the same “sort out the parents because they are the problem not the children.”

I have to confess on one occasion, I allowed myself to be affected by one particular professional from this group (I wish I knew what her role was), who spoke about parents with such repulsion and dismissiveness of the impact of child to parent violence, and later making a comment about how adopters are far too emotional and have no place attending events that are designed for professionals. While I may have shed a few tears over the first comment and it had done nothing for my view point that professionals cannot be trusted and will screw you if you dare to ask for help. Their wonderful comment about adopters having no place attending this event on the other hand I could quite smugly say ‘’As someone who has completed her DDP level 1 training, I have as much of a right as you have to be here today”.

While I am not always the biggest fan of certain professional bodies, especially when they love to suggest that my meltdowns are ‘unprofessional’, until this week I don’t think I have ever encountered professionals that I would suggest had conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner and further compounded the negative reputation that professionals involved with looked after and adoption services already receive at times.

But before I start sounding like a ‘Negative Nelly’ or ‘Moaning Minnie’ myself, I have to say a huge congratulation to Jemima (our previous DDP therapist) and the members of DDP UK for arranging another wonderful study day.

 

 

Return of the ‘Oops box’

This is getting to become a bit of a bad habit for me, but I have yet again found myself in the position of putting a planned #WASO post on the backburner in favour of a post that has dominated my mind and…… well, quite frankly most of the last week.

2 years ago I wrote a post about managing Waxy’s ‘squirrelling’ and ‘itchy fingers’ and the positive impact our ‘Oops Box’ had in reducing his shame level.

In the past 2 years, we have needed to use the box less and less.

We have in fact for sometime not felt the need to bring the box out at all …… well, not until a couple of weeks ago anyway.

Bumble and I (as well as my parents) had begun to notice that minor items were disappearing and so were small amounts of coins. The insignificance of some of the items at first had Bumble and I convinced that we had simply misplaced or lost them ourselves, but when my parents cautiously approached the topic of container filed loose change they found concealed behind Waxy’s bed while my dad was measuring it before he began planning how to convert it into a more teenager friendly and functional bed for Waxy.

Waxy does not have loose change. He has a ‘go henry’ card.  We agreed with him some time ago that the card would be a safer option than change, as there had been accusations in the past from peers and he had no proof as to how he had obtained the money in his possession.

My parents’ discomfort wasn’t because of the money they had found (they are used to the ‘squirrel’ moment too).Their discomfort was because they knew that had to confess to have had their suspicions that he was up to his old tricks after our stay over the Christmas holidays, but they had wanted to believe that it was their carelessness, rather than imagine that their grandson would ‘steal’ from them!

I have to confess, I was mortified but we agreed to bide our time and resurrect the ‘oops box’ in the hope that it would give him an opportunity to ‘make it right’ without him being overwhelmed with shame.  We also spoke to school and explain how we planned to manage it, only to be informed that they have also had their suspicions but had been taking a more direct approach with him – Great now I know why he is so confrontational at home at the moment! So helpful!

However, our plans have not exactly gone to plan and have come to a head before we could “bring out the box” – Waxy was caught red-handed trying to sneak money he had “found” in Bumble’s car up to his bedroom secreted in the washing basket.

DSCN0106Unfortunately for him, he was using a washing basket with holes in and the sound of several heavy coins crashing onto the laminate floor, was not a sound he could muffle easily.

 

Waxy’s heckles shot up before either Bumble and I could respond. Waxy was arming himself for a fight. He was convinced he was going to be for the high jump and while Bumble and I had no intention at that point of talking to him about it, other than to ask him to pass us the money that had fallen on the floor. I know I failed miserably at not looking disappointed that he had chosen to steal from his dad, and that alone was enough to kick off his shame response.

We have since discussed the return of these ‘impulses’ with him and the consequences this will have for the immediate future (not putting temptation in his way, closer supervision and of course the return of the ‘Oops box’).

I have to believe that we have caught him early this time and that with the knowledge of this issue is out there now and hasn’t changed how much we love him, will mean that this will be just another blip on the bumpy trauma path through adolescence.

 

 

“Goodnight! Sleep tight”

For as long as I have known Buzz, he has always gone through a short period of time, each year, where has struggled to settle to bed at night. Bumble and I have always felt that this was linked to seasonal light changes – nights getting darker quicker.

In fact, although it took us a couple of years for the penny to drop, Buzzbee has ALWAYS struggled with the transition of light to dark. We have had many tricky car journeys where he has transformed from a calm and relaxed passenger into………. A helium filled Tasmanian Devil!

But I digress. Over the years we have tried everything we can think of to ‘reset’ Buzz’s bedtime habits and get him back into his bedtime routine. Usually we would be talking 3 or 4 weeks of exhausting and loooooong evenings sat at the top of the stairs, returning him to his room and trying to prevent the boys having the opportunity to communicate (I won’t even go into the lengths Waxy used to go to to ensure Buzz was high as a kite so that he didn’t have to get ready for bed).   Bumble and I found these ‘Phases’ stressful and they left us feeling confused and lost for ideas (traditional and unconventional).

While the Bumble and I often despaired about the longevity of Buzz’s seasonal bedtime Olympics, we clung to the knowledge that bedtime WILL return to normal eventually and we would be able to once again have ‘adult time’ evenings.

I suppose you could say, every year we experienced our own bedtime routine ‘groundhog day’.

Over the past 8 months everyday has been “groundhog day” with Buzz and his bedtime struggles. Currently Bumble and I count it as a ‘win’ at bedtime if we manage to settle Buzz to sleep by 10pm.

Buzz fights sleep and he will go to great lengths to drag us into a battle of wills, irrespective of the fact that he will openly tell us he is “knackered”. He was embarking on a path of self-destruction and always felt bad about himself the next morning, but appeared to not be able to help himself each night and the cycle of chaos would begin again.

In the past couple of months, we have found a couple of tricks that help him finally drop off, but they have only been successful if we have first endured his marathon sleep avoidance mania – Bumble and I were confused as to why he still needed to go completely ‘bonkers’ before he would allow us to ‘sausage roll’ (swaddle snuggly) him in his quilt and blanket and if necessary use deep pressure back rubbing until Buzz begins to gently ‘coo’, which is his cue that he has begun to self-sooth.

I don’t know why it had never dawned on us before, but being swaddled makes Buzz feel safe and secure.

So, why couldn’t he allow us to do this from the very beginning of his bedtime routine?

Buzz has always had a fascination for building dens or creating hideaways and occasionally went through spells of sleeping in his pop-up play tent or under a pretty fantastic, blanket construction. But each were always short-lived. However looking back over the last couple of years, the signs have been there all the time.dogbed

  • Buzz sleeps with hundreds of soft toys on his bed and my parents used to joke about the fact there were so many teddies that it was hard to imagine how Buzz could even manage to get into bed let alone sleep in it.
  • Buzz ALWAYS insists on his bed having at least 2 sides against a wall and ALWAYS he has to have his head facing the door.
  • Buzz ALWAYS went to sleep quicker in our bedroom – we have a 4 poster bed with drapes. Although there are other reasons too.

Finally:-

  • When we go camping and he has to sleep in a tent pod and when we sleep at my parent’s caravan, he falls asleep with very little fuss – both pretty compact and contained.

However, while staying at my parent’s house this Christmas, our suspicions were confirmed by Buzzbee while we all ate our Christmas lunch, but we didn’t fully understand the depth of his anxiety until an overnight stay in a premier lodge while visiting Bumble’s family – I could quite easily write an entire post just about this one night, and maybe I will later in the week.

The boys have slept at my parents on numerous occasions and while Buzz has been a little more challenging to settle and is quite vocal in his sleep, not to mention being unbelievably restless all night, he has eventually fallen asleep.

However, this year Buzz took the sleeping arrangements into his own hands and chose to create his own space in the bedroom with the help of the puppies’ playpen* and a large red blanket.bedtime1

* Before I go any further. I feel the need to let readers know that it was Buzzbee’s idea and choice to sleep surrounded by the puppy play pen, and he had full control over whether he stayed inside it or removed it. Our only rule was that he was not allowed to lock himself in the pen.

Settling any child on Christmas eve can be a challenge for any parent, let alone a parent who is trying to settle a child who is experiencing sleep difficulties.   With the support from my parents we kept to the boys’ routine and settled the boys into their beds, fully prepared for Buzzbee’s bedtime games, but after 30 minutes of listening out for sound or signs of movement. We cautiously popped our head around the bedroom door, expecting to hear a little voice excitedly begin chattering to us. Instead, all we could hear was gentle breathing and cooing. BUZZBEE WAS ASLEEP!!!!! And, not only did he fall asleep rapidly and without fussing, but he was sound asleep and relaxed – Buzzbee has always slept with his fists tightly clenched and tightly scrunched up in a ball. The young man snoozing in front of us, was snoozing peacefully with his whole body open wide (my dad joked that he looked like he was ready for a pinup photoshoot).

Buzzbee slept ALL night and there was not a peek from him, something we are not used too because he has always shouted and sworn loudly throughout the night for as long as I can remember, and as I said earlier, he is always thrashing around. In fact, we had 3 blissful, undisturbed night’s sleep

Okay, confession time! Buzzbee’s bed is in our bedroom at my parents and I am an incredibly light sleeper, but I have got used to his mumblings and my sleep being disrupted. So when I couldn’t hear him in the night, I jumped out of bed, panicking something was wrong and wanted to poke him to check he was still alive – My parents found this highly amusing.

Over Christmas lunch, one of my parents (can’t remember which) joked about Buzzbee’s sleeping arrangements and asked out of curiosity why he liked sleeping in the puppy pen.

“I feel safe when I am in it. Nothing and nobody can get at me, that’s why.”

He felt safe. How did I not think of it before?

Fast forward a couple of weeks and several attempts at different ideas for creating a ‘safe sleeping environment’, some of which were almost suitable and certainly helped reduce his bedtime anxiety. However, each of the ideas had one fault- they were not particularly transferable and really we needed something that would be safe and that we could take with us when visiting family or going on holiday.

After several hours of research and long discussions about what we felt we needed from a portable sleep tent, we discovered the ‘Privacy Pop’ which ticked every box not only for Bumble and I, but for Buzzbee too.

And, boy does he love it!popup

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Let them eat cake

For this weeks’ #WASO, I will be guest posting for Honey because she is …… Well, maybe once you have read my post you will have an idea why I am writing a post instead of her this week.

Oh, where are my manners? I should introduce myself. I am the infamous and extremely geeky Bumble.

Honey has just celebrated her XXth birthday – it would be more than my life is worth to reveal her age and anyway she may take away my privileges (I know she has told you I love online role-play gaming).

Honey’s Birthday is a tricky event in our household. As is Mother’s Day. Unfairly, our boys are only too happy to celebrate my Birthday and Father’s Day, but the idea of a day dedicated to their mum seems to fill Beeswax in particular with pre-verbal memories of children’s needs being sacrificed for their mother’s desires.

As a result we try not to make too much of a fuss over what should be an opportunity to thank a very special woman for all she does for the three of us. This and having her birthday on the transition from Summer Holidays, which have been tricky for the last three or so years, to the new school year has meant that she can’t really celebrate her birthday the way our family and friends do, and it has been a while since I have got Honey a Birthday Cake – bad Bumble! If I manage to remember to wrap her birthday present and have the boys sign her card in time, then I am onto a winner.

So this year I volunteered to make a Birthday Cake for Honey. Somehow I managed to convince her that it would be healthier for all if she baked the cake, and I then iced it. Buzzbee helped me choose the design and insisted it had to be a chocolate cake with pink icing. I even did a practice run a couple of days before.

The final result didn’t quite look like the picture I was working from but nevertheless it brought a much needed smile to Honey’s face. I’d like to think it was a smile of happiness and not an attempt to stifle hysterical laughter at the pink iced mountain placed in front of her.

husbands love

Every year, I watch Honey go about the day on her birthday, doing what she does and trying her hardest to avoid drawing attention to the day and making the boys’ comfort and happiness, her priority, but it is all for show and self-preservation. Honey grew up in a family that celebrate special occasions with a big fuss and I know it kills her every year to know she can’t have that anymore – we have tried so many times and it is just to distressing for all, even when we have planned an activity which is centred around the boys’ interests.   I live in hope that there will come a time in the years ahead of us that the boys can finally learn to be comfortable with celebrating their mum’s birthday and not be afraid that she will forget about their needs.

But for now, Honey will just have to seek comfort in my culinary masterpiece.   Eat our heart out, Great British Bake Off!

cakeie

“How to train your dragon”

I have a feeling the universe is angry with me this week.

Another hand grenade has been thrown into ‘the hive’ but this time it has been directed straight at me and has knocked me clean off my feet.

kaboom

Can I get back up? I am not sure but that won’t stop me trying.

I don’t want to go into details at the moment. I honestly don’t think I have the strength. Maybe a little while down the line I will be able to do it but not until I can make sense of it myself.

And then add to an already stressful and distressing time, my blasted car breaking down on the afternoon that Buzzbee and I were planning to leave to go down to my parents’ caravan for a couple of days and prepare it for the people who would be renting it this weekend.

car

What do you get? A mummy who is not firing on all cylinders but still needs to therapeutically parent her youngest son.

In an attempt to put some distance between the mess and the chaos which has been caused by individuals who should by now know better but are STILL failing to ‘GET IT’, Buzzbee and I continued with our plan to go down to the caravan but for one night instead of two.

We were determined to continue with our plan to have some fun and chill out, and Buzzbee made sure we made the most of it and filled every micro moment with activities and chatter – I just followed his lead to the point of exhaustion (mine not his).

In an attempt to slow Buzz down in the evening, he suggested ‘camping out’ in the living area of the caravan (a choice of 3 bedrooms not good enough for him), and watch a movie together. Buzzbee chose ‘How to train your dragon’ but 30 minutes in crashed completely while still snuggled into my side *warm, fuzzy mummy gushing feelings*. I continued to watch the film (nothing better on the T.V and I certainly didn’t want to wake Buzz by moving him before he was completely asleep).

dragon training

Maybe it was the lack of sleep over the past few nights or simply because I had been so busy all day, I had not had time to worry about the hand grenade, but I began thinking about all the goings on at home and yes the tears began to flow but only for a short while. Something in the film caught my attention and tickled my funny bone without even knowing it.

I began thinking. Maybe I could make a ‘How to train an adoptive mummy dragon’ instruction manual for Beeswax’s school and all the so called professionals who don’t ‘get it’ and would rather blame the parents instead of looking at the impact of the trauma that their child has experienced.

It is a common joke in our home that Bumble married a dragon (my Chinese zodiac sign) and this is probably what had sparked my amusement. But – I wonder, what if someone was to write a manual?

Would it highlight some key pieces of advice to help the reader have a better understanding of how to get the best out of the ‘dragon’ they need to work with?

Maybe, it would look a little like this! *tongue in cheek*

“How to train your adoptive mummy dragon”

  1. If through lack of understanding, you greet a dragon with anger and spears, you should expect a frosty reception – or is that a fiery reception?
  2. Dragons often feel misjudged and condemned and respond out of fear – they find it hard to show you their true personalities and strengths
  3. You should follow a dragon rider’s example and greet her with kindness, understanding and dead fish (okay maybe chocolate would work better).
  4. You have to earn a dragon’s trust. They do not take kindly to Berk Vikings bad mouthing them to other Berks.
  5. Every dragon has a soft spot – her children. Have faith in her detailed understanding of her children.
  6. All dragons are different – treat them as individuals. If you work with you dragon closely you will soon learn how to get the best out of her.

Okay back in the real world again.  By now you will probably have guessed that Waxy’s school are again at the centre of my distress. At the moment I have 2 choices – continue to let them drag me down and push me over the edge. Or, find a glimmer of hope and amusement, and cling onto it for as long as it takes for me to regain my strength and resilience (or at least write this #WASO post).

Stitches for the heart

mend their heart

*Advanced warning – I tried to keep this post short but failed miserable. I am SO sorry!*

All this week The Adoption Social have been featuring articles and anonymous blog posts covering the ‘sore point’ topic of ‘Child to Parent Violence’. A topic that I wish to god wasn’t always at the forefront of the family dynamics in my family, and one which has had me agonising for a while now, whether I should or shouldn’t write a post myself, or whether I should ask for it to be posted anonymously or stop hiding from the truth and post it on here.

Stop hiding it is!

Sitting here I am trying to work out how to begin this post and even more so, what do I feel I need to write? How far am I going to go with this? Am I ready to do this? – If you haven’t worked it out yet. Just thinking about writing a #WASO post about my experience of CPV is triggering a secondary trauma reaction of fear and shame.

  • Fear of repercussions, on the grounds that the last time I was completely honest about what was going on behind closed doors. I was not only confronted with a barrage of accusations and blame, but I was also left humiliated by the people who I thought I could trust and as a result of their ill-informed, prejudicial judgement and narrow-mindedness, I very nearly lost both my boys.
  • As for the Shame. Well, I don’t know what to say here or how to describe it, other than to say. For a long time I was ashamed of myself for allowing Waxy to be able to reach such a dark, fearful point, that his ‘fight and flight’ responses would kick into action and he would come out fighting like a ‘terrified, wounded animal’. I am even more ashamed to admit that in turn Beeswax’s trauma and response systems, took me to a place in my thoughts and parenting that I NEVER in my wildest dreams imagined I could go. Then there is the shame of knowing that I had failed my boys, by failing to protect myself (and I am not only talking about the CPV). Okay in truth I cannot remember a day in the past 5 years I have not been left feeling wracked with guilt and shame for the situation our family was in.

As you can see I am already beginning to waffle – but then if you are a regular reader you will already know that this can often be my default mode when my brain has gone into overdrive (usually at stressful times).

I don’t want this post to become a post about blame or (as I fear to some it may come across as) self-pity, and no matter what I write here I do not want anyone to think that we regret our decision to welcome Waxy and Buzz into our home and hearts for one minute – they are my world (sometimes too much as I am often being told).

The early history of both Waxy and Buzz makes for heart-breaking reading and when thinking about how the boys (Waxy in particular) are responding to their need to be parented, I have tried to remind myself of the feelings it stirs up emotionally for myself thinking about their history and while I have met members of their birth family, I never personally went through it and it is not surprising that they (He) responds the way he often does.

But, of course this cannot be used as an excuse to dismiss his actions, and trust me in our household it hasn’t been, although over time, rather than becoming more open with the volume and results of the boys’ rage, I have sadly in fact become considerable more reserved cautious about who I talk to about it.

I don’t think it would help talking about the first time I received a fat lip or when or why it happened and as for cuts, bumps and bruises, it would be easier to count on my fingers how many times I have successfully managed to go a week without a mark on me.

Over the years I have questioned whether already knowing the boys before placement meant that we were denied the customary ‘honeymoon’ period that we had hear so much about or if in fact, this had had absolutely no impact on them and the reality of moving into a permanent placement and having parents that wanted to take care of them was just too unbearable for Waxy to cope with.

No matter what the trigger was, the fact was, very early on in the boys’ placement, Waxy’s aggression and difficulties to regulate his anger towards members of the family (primarily Me), walls, doors, windows…….., were already reaching a level that was raising questions for us how to support him while keeping ourselves safe at the same time.

Over the months we tried everything we could think of from using PACE to safe holding to show him that we wouldn’t give up on him and he was ‘here to stay’ no matter how many times he hurt me.

We were very open with the boys’ social worker as well as our own and welcomed any advice they wished to offer, however sadly, they NEVER got to see them in action and Waxy certainly never let ANYONE outside of our tiny family unit witness his rage. So despite seeing the visible bruises and scars, I never felt that they really took the situation seriously and with every visit that I tried to raise my concerns for the impact this was having on Buzzbee on top of Beeswax re-traumatising himself every time. The moment the topic was raised they would often begin to fidget ever so slightly in their chair or would manage to change the subject.   The independent reviewing officer and school staff were even worse. I remember one time seeing them recoil in sheer horror and disgust when I voiced my concern at their dismissive attitude of the domestic abuse I was experiencing at the hands of my eldest son – Yes, hearing myself use those words was repulsive but that did not mean they were not true and at the time I could not understand why, because it was a boy rather than a man who was the perpetrator, the suggestion that I was witnessing domestic abuse was completely unacceptable to say.

Not everyone dismissed what we were experiencing in our family and both of these wonderful ladies did their best to help support us and help us find a way to navigate our way through this swamp of trauma. One of these wonderful people was the boys’ previous foster carer and someone both boys had developed a bond with and in his own way, someone Waxy truly respected. The other was of course Jemima, Waxy’s DDP therapist, who not only worked so hard during sessions to engage Beeswax and help him in a shame reduced environment to explore why he responded the way he did, but she was always at the end of the phone or email if we needed her and if it hadn’t been for her vigilance I don’t believe I would have ever joined the dots together and realise that I had fallen into the ‘blocked care’ trap and that my own secondary trauma was retriggering childhood PTSD symptoms for myself.

I am not going to go into the hell that social services and Waxy’s current school put us through because it is a place I still don’t think I can go there yet, but for all their faults, Waxy’s specialist EBD school was the turning point for our family and quite honestly. Saved our family!

During one of his therapy appointments, Waxy suggested that he thought, because he found being part of a family all the time too painful but didn’t want to leave Buzzbee, that maybe if he went to boarding school during the week and only came home at weekends, it would be more manageable for him. I wasn’t keen at first – I felt that if I let him then I would have failed him but Jemima convinced me that it was worth trying and that she would continue for as long as she was allowed to work with us both to rebuild our relationship.

Has the aggression ever stopped? No! But it did reduce in intensity for a couple of years and in this time not only did this give us both time to build a relationship and learn to understand each other. The space each week also gave me the time I needed to heal myself and once again become the mum I wanted to be to both my beautiful boys.

As we entered the teens, I will not lie we are once again seeing a return of many of his old destructive coping techniques along with an increased level of his second favourite weapon – the cruel, controlling and verbally abusive tongue.

The only difference this time is at the moment I am more prepared for it and I am (at the moment) able to look beyond the behaviour and focus on what is going on underneath instead – I am able to deflect his anxiety, rather than take it on board myself or worse still take it personally.

Is it easy? Absolutely not and like many of you who may be also experiencing #CPV on a daily basis, I definitely have my days when it is all too much and I dream of my way out and wonder ‘why the hell I got myself into such a messy situation’.

As for support, well I have deliberately avoided raising it before now because although at present we are at the very early stages of making an application for the adoption support fund. Since Jemima left and Wise Owl left, post adoption support in our area has been drastically reduced and while we did have Shamrock for quite some time, because of the situation with allegations about my ability to parent the boys and her not being able to warn us about it. I lost any trust I had in her so found that even at the most difficult times, while I was able to accept her help with managing the schools. I just couldn’t bring myself to be open with her anymore about either of the boys’ behaviour – I suppose you could say “I was and still am experiencing ‘blocked care’ with the professionals who are supposed to be there to support us” – how do you sort that mess out?

I am conscious as a finish this post that I have focused on the ‘child to parent violence’ we have received at the hands of Waxy but haven’t really mentioned Buzzbee and there is a reason for this. Buzzbee rarely physically goes for Bumble or I, and on the times he has they have been because we have got caught in the crossfire, rather than Waxy’s lashing out or attacks. The other reason is Buzzbee has always been remorseful afterward, while Waxy cannot go there and has to deflect the blame back onto us for him hurting us.

Did I every expect when I started the adoption process that I would end up spending my days walking on eggshells and waking up with an overwhelming sense of dread and worry for how each day will turn out and whether I can keep my family safe and more to the point support my boys to the best of my abilities.

Of course not!

My heart may get shattered into a thousand pieces on a weekly basis but not because of the damage or harm that occurs because of the boys and their reactions to situations or request. No! My heart breaks because I see my boys in so much pain and I know that no matter how much I want to take that pain away from them. I can’t and as their mother that is far more painful than the physical blows I have been struck with over the years.

Child to Parent violence shouldn’t be dismissed by professionals and while awareness around this topic is growing, from a personal point of view there is still a long way to go and I hope that in the future professionals, families and friends will come to understand that if a parent was to find themselves in a similar position as Bumble and I have found ourselves. They do not need criticism, scorn or blame. They need your support and understanding.