Tag Archive | Fear

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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“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

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.

 

Fear and Trust

Over the past few weeks I have come across several heartfelt, and incredibly amazing and courageous blog posts talking about struggling with trust, privacy and security issues, support networks and some truly incredible adopters who have had the bravery to open up about the impact parenting their children (and everything that comes in conjunction with this) has had on their own mental health.

I am in awe of their bravery! Especially because in each post that I have read, I have not only been able to empathise with the author, but because each one of them has stirred up emotions and memories that on a daily basis I am fighting to try to supress. Some would say “if they affect you so much, why would you continue to read these posts?”

The posts and the authors are not the problem – my secondary trauma and my fear of being overwhelmed by my emotions is the problem (I actually find reading the posts quite comforting, despite the emotions it brings to the surface – for a few short moments I do not feel so isolated).

I am not sure where I am going with this post – I started out thinking about how for every story/post that had been shared, there was an element of it I could identify with.  But as I am sat here writing this 2 words keep rearing their ugly heads – Fear and Trust, and the shame of my own awareness of the implications and how much impact I have allowed these 2 little words to have on my family’s happiness.

FEAR!!!!!!

I never imagined that I would allow this word to engulf and manipulate my life as much as it has over the past few years.    It is certainly not something I planned and I definitely do not want to be trapped in this endless cycle of fear and anxiety.

Did I bring it on myself?

Almost definitely!  I made the choices I did and now I am living with the consequences of those choices.

Do I deserve to feel like this?

At the moment I cannot answer this honestly.  No of course I don’t deserve to feel like this and nor should anyone else, but if I hadn’t been so naive, trusting and open with certain people, my already vulnerable self-esteem wouldn’t have taken such a huge battering  – so maybe Yes! I do deserve it.

TRUST!!!!!

Being the other word that dominates our household and my interactions with professionals, friends, family etc.

So why have these 2 words become such huge barriers in our home and our lives?

When we started the adoption process I made a conscious decision to not allow the walls I had built up around myself to get in the way of being open and honest with our SW and any professionals involved in the adoption process – I lapped up the spiel about not suffering in silence if our children’s early history was having an impact in anyway (school, home, personal, etc.) and as Bumble and I had a wonderful SW (Shamrock) who we got on really well with. I fell into the trap and have paid the price ever since.

Knowing your children for some time before they move in with you cannot only be a blessing but also a curse – looking back over the years we only had a very brief ‘honeymoon’ period (especially with Beeswax).  We hit the ground running the moment the boys moved in and found ourselves having to wade through all that this meant and, like many parents, we made mistakes or misinterpreted situations.  And that is how we I ended up trapped in this negative mind-set which stops me doing what I really need to do.

Until Beeswax, along with Buzzbee moved in, I don’t think anyone other than their foster carer really had a clue as to the true impact both their early years history had had on Waxy.  On paper we were everything he wanted, but for him the reality was far more terrifying and he needed to take any and as many measures as he could to prevent himself from ever getting too close to either of us.

Before I go any further I am not about to turn this into a “it’s all Beeswax’s fault” diatribe – Yes, his trauma and actions were the catalyst that brought about several of the issues, but he is a vulnerable child and we are adults and should have had more common sense.

Splitting was and still is his favourite weapon of attack and 9/10 professionals and busy bodies (of whom I really should say ‘their heart was in the right place and they were only looking out for him’) fell into his trap.  My crime was pointing this out to them in an attempt to prevent some of the conflict that Bumble and I were witnessing.  The reward for this was that I was treated as if I was the problem and he was a ‘poor, innocent young boy whose mother was cold and overly controlling towards him’.

So my first mistake – believing that the professionals understood the impact of working/parenting a child with a traumatic and complex attachment history.

My second was believing that when people are telling you “you are doing an incredible job” that they are being honest with you and not telling you what they think you want to hear to keep you quiet.

When things got difficult, we did what we thought was the right thing to do and spoke to Shamrock and Clover (boys’ SW) about our concerns – hey, that is what they drummed into us during our preparation after all.

To our knowledge, both SWs were supporting us and understood where we were coming from.  From where Bumble and I were sitting they were backing us all the way and truly understood how hard we were trying to do what was best for both boys.

Let me skip several months forward and to the point where my world was turned upside down and my own personal history plus my relationship with Beeswax was thrown to the wolves.  All the supposed support we believed we had was a big, fat lie.

The truth was:

  • People I trusted and considered to be close friends (along with professionals)were making allegations left right and centre about my parenting and my mental health.
  • A new SW had come into our lives and had put 2+2 together and come up with “Honey is an unfit mother”. (In the cold light of day – years later, I can see how with everything that was being presented to her, she really thought she was acting in the best interests of the boys. The problem I had was she never attempted to understand the heart-breaking situation we found ourselves in or at least allow us the courtesy of addressing some of her (and others’) concerns with us.  She simply just blamed it all on me and my inability to cope with my traumatised eldest son who was physically and mentally attacking both Buzzbee and I on a daily hourly basis (that sounds so bitter and self-pitying, but it is how I truly felt then and do now).
  • And then there was the fact that we found out that the one professional I thought I could trust had been keeping secrets from us (Ok maybe that is not fair to Shamrock. She was in an impossible position and deep down I have to believe that she wasn’t allowed to tell us what was going on). Yes, I feel she let us down and now, despite her still being involved in our lives, I find it very hard not to find myself being very guarded when talking to her.

And this was simply the tip of the iceberg.

Was I wrong to believe that by confiding in people I thought I could trust that they would support us and not condemn us? Sadly I do regret ever opening up and allow others to know how – tired, anxious, low, tearful, overwhelmed I had become.  I should have done what I had done for so many years before and kept my wall firmly up and weathered the storm.

Did we fight them tooth and nail to change their perceptions? Hell yeah!

Did we change their minds? Well, when it comes to the social workers, I would say we did, and I suppose the fact that they finally backed off and allowed us to formally adopt the boys is evidence of this! I am not sure I can confidently say this in respect to school staff or members of our village community.

Should I have done things differently in the first place to prevent this happening? Ok unless I had a crystal ball, I have to say “how could I possibly ever answer that?”

Do I think that I am now letting my mistrust of professionals prevent me from fighting for my boys needs as hard as I would have before the ‘bombshell’ hit?  Definitely! There is always that voice at the back of my mind saying “be careful what you tell them”, “It’s not worth the heartache – I can weather the storm” (and so many more unhelpful internal dialogues).

Do I think that I am letting myself and everyone else down by being so defensive and trying to hide away from my own emotions?  Well, reading this back it sounds quite ridiculous that I have allowed myself for so long now to be ruled by the fear of honesty. So I guess the answer is YES! But the truth is, even today (as I contemplate deleting this post before it is even uploaded) the fear of opening up to someone again is preventing me from getting the emotional support I know I need to get if I am ever to be able to move past this point, forgive myself and put it to bed once and for all, rather than ‘going through the motions’ and attempting to ‘fake it until I make it’.

And, I will eventually make it!!!!!!

Resolutions – No Turning Back

The week sees the first ‘The Adoption Social’ #WASO for 2014 and so they have aptly chosen the theme of ‘Resolutions’.

Like clockwork every year, I end up having the same conversation several times with several people and the dialogue never really changes.

Friend: Happy New Year! Soooo! Have you made any New Years’ resolutions?

Me: Yes!

Friend: Well, don’t keep me in suspense. What are they?

Me: Like last year and the year before, and the year before that. I resolve to not make any ridiculous New Year’s resolutions which I know very well I will not keep.

The conversation usually very quickly moves to their long list of resolutions about going to the gym more or finally sticking to a diet. The best one I have heard this year has to actually come from my dad – he is talking about taking up Yoga (if you knew my dad you would know that he is more likely to start avidly supporting Manchester United before he would manage to seriously take up Yoga).

Anyway, this year I am breaking with my own tradition and have made a private, personal New Year’s resolution (although now it is going to be written here it is not so private. So, step 1 is already complete).

This year I will try to stop letting my fear of the past stop me from opening up and accepting people’s support, without all the negative, self-destructive thoughts about the implications of this support sending me running for the hills and so falling into an even deeper hole of despair (although I am not sure I can fall any further. I have already reached the bottom of the well).

OK so that is the easy bit. I have said it! Now can I truly stick to it?

Honestly! I don’t know.  But, what I do know is I am the only one standing in the way of me feeling like my old self again.

I know that what I am asking of myself is not going to be easy but:-

  • I have to stop letting the past hold me back from being the mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister & friend, I should be. This scares me more than anything because I know to do this I am going to have to first find the courage to ask for the support I need to finally revisit and put the past to bed once and for all.
  • I have to accept that everyone has an opinion and I shouldn’t allow other people’s ill-informed, negative views of me as a mum/individual to damage my confidence and self-esteem.
  • I need to be kinder to myself. If I am having a tough day with the boys and I succumb to their ‘button pushing’ attempts and I respond in a less than therapeutic manner, I have to stop beating myself up over it and remember I am a human being and parenting 2 extremely frightened, traumatised (and currently testosterone fuelled) boys takes a lot out of you.

This list could go on forever and there is a big part of my avoidant personality that is saying “finish it in full and then throw it away before anyone sees it and holds you to your promises”, but I can’t!

I can’t keep being a ‘hypocrite’.

I am expecting my sons to do what I cannot do myself.  I spend my days trying to help my boys learn to trust me when they have been so hurt/let down by adults in their past. I am constantly trying to encourage them to open up and not keep all their fears, worries or problems all bottled up. But that is exactly what I do.

What kind of message am I sending to them?

I can hear Beeswax right now. – “Mummy would love us to learn to trust her to help us with our problems, but she gets to just bottle everything up and not let anyone help her just because people have hurt her and betrayed her trust recently and in the past. How is that fair?”

It would be easy for me to sit here at my laptop tapping away on the keyboard, writing lots but not really ever saying anything and over-analysing everything I have written worrying that it sounds too ‘wet’ or ‘pathetically self-indulgent’, and allow those negative thoughts to take over again and delete this entire post without anyone ever seeing it and so freeing myself from the commitment/promise of my own New Year’s resolution.

But, this year I need it to be different. Up until now the boys have not really noticed anything. They still have had their ‘bossy boots’ mummy who has:-

  • Fed them when they were hungry
  • Tucked them in at night when they ask for it
  • Hugged them when they are sad (or mad)
  • Been there waiting for them to come out of school with a non-judgemental smile (I am getting quite good at that one).
  • Played silly games and tells the ‘worst’ jokes on the planet.
  • Etc……..

But, there are chinks showing in my amour and the boys are starting to notice and so are others (including some I wish hadn’t) and I need to fix that before it becomes a problem. I want to say that I am doing this purely for myself and not because I hate that I am not the mum and wife that Bumble and the boys deserve at the moment.

I don’t have a magic wand and neither will the person(s)/agency who I seek support from. It will take time (if I can muster the courage) and in the meantime I need to start being nicer to myself and practise what I preach all the time to the boys.  I need to stop looking at all my mistakes and celebrate my achievement and start enjoying life again – although I still need to make sure that my family is my first priority and that I am still being the best mum, wife, daughter -that I possibly can be for them.

I suppose what I am trying to say as I come to the end of this #WASO post is…. This year my resolution is to start taking better care of myself so that I can be the person I want to be and start to  feel a little more like ‘Tigger’ rather than ‘Eeyore’.

eeyore

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Don’t you want me baby?

This weeks’ #WASO theme of ‘rejection’ is a difficult topic for me. At the best of times, I struggle not to take it personally when the boys try their hardest to keep me at bay but, when it comes to the damage that has been caused by previous professionals believing that the relational, attachment and behavioural difficulties with Beeswax were down to my responses to him, and that I was using his previous history as an excuse to keep him at bay….. (enough!!!)

Over the past couple of months there have been some significant and memorable changes in the hive. Some have been happy and some bittersweet.

At the moment so many people are expecting us to be bathing in the light of the finalisation of the adoption order and being the happiest we have ever been, but there is a part of me that still doesn’t seem to be able to quite reach the dizzy heights that maybe I should be striving for.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon and couldn’t imagine anything more amazing than being able to say they are “Our Sons” and our celebration party recently was more than I could have ever possibly wished for or imagined happening.

So what is holding me back? Or should I say ‘why don’t I feel able to fully commit to the excitement of it all being finalised and legal’?

After a couple very difficult weeks with Waxy, I have found myself reading back over entries in my old diary desperately searching for an answer and torturing myself with the knowledge of how much blame I put on myself for the relational difficulties between Beeswax and I.

We have come so far as a family and I have much more self-awareness of my own triggers and reactions. While reading my diary it occurred to me that there is one area that has barely changed and I fear never will – and that scares me.

Waxy’s need to reject me the moment he senses we have had a glimmer of an emotional connection.  It scares me that I will never be good enough for him.  No matter how much he openly declares that he hates his birth mother and “never wants to set eyes on her ever again”. I have accepted that there is a very strong primal connection between them and that it controls his relationship with me. Although we know very little about his early years’ experience or his relationship with birth mum, every day he is home I feel the impact of his early years loss and his feelings of rejection and I am often left feeling that it doesn’t matter what I do or say, I can never win, because he simply cannot trust that I wouldn’t let him down if he allowed himself to get close to me. As a result, over the years, he and I have slowly become more and more disconnected on the surface as we both slip into self-protection mode (subconsciously both boys will always show me when they really need me to be their mum).

I wrote a post recently about how while both boys used to stay with Bumble and I on respite, Waxy was unconsciously claiming us and that he had a strong desire to have a forever family but the realities of this have proven to be very painful for him and all around him.

I have always tried to explain to onlookers who are unable to understand the dynamics in our relationship that I am living with 2 real life push-me-pull-you’s and that I accepted a long time ago that this may always be the way my sons relate to me.

But, who am I trying to kid? It kills me every time the boys feel the need to push me away and keep me at arm’s length.  I constantly strive to not take it personally but fail every time.

If I am lucky I manage to avoid letting the boys see it affecting me, but, being someone who is known for wearing her heart on her sleeve, I pretty much suck at doing this.

Enough of that Honey!  I am not sitting here writing a post that sounds like a pity party for one.

As the boy’s primary carer it is difficult when they feel the need to reject my attempts to create a relationship with them and it is bloody hard sometimes but I do ‘get it’, well I hope I ‘get it’ which in turn helps me to depersonalise it when I am strong enough.

Several readers will know that Beeswax attends a specialist EBD boarding school during the week and this decision was made as a result of his bravery in admitting that the intimacy of living in a family 24/7 was too hard for him.

His fear of abandonment meant that he went to great lengths to make sure that he couldn’t begin to feel something for me or believe that I wanted to love him.  He is so hurt and angry that allowing himself to feel safe enough to contemplate trusting another mum is still too much for him to handle.

It is easy for me to say that I hope that I will never let them down, but I have no right to expect my boys to trust me, but I won’t stop trying to gain that trust.

It is funny really, but if I think hard enough about it. There has been so many times over the years where, although it would kill Beeswax to admit it, he has shown me that he loves me in his own weird way.

I read a quote recently that went something along the lines of – “Rejection is difficult to deal with, especially if you are singled out as the recipient of your child’s rage. But, there is every reason to hope that a strong attachment will happen. And you must remember, falling in love is a process, not an event. Tolerance usually precedes acceptance. One day you are ‘persona non grata’ and the object of your child’s rage and then you are mummy dearest”.

(I only wish I could remember where I read it or who wrote it so I could credit them for this)

"That's close enough"

“That’s close enough”

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

“Mummy, I’m hungry!”

This week’s  WASO (weekly adoption shout out) theme is Food and I have spent the last couple of days thinking about what angle I could take. Did I want something warm and fuzzy with a hint of laughter?  Or, did I want something very factual and serious? I decided just to start typing about how Beeswax and Buzzbee’s relationship with food is diametrically opposed and see where my words took me and hope that I don’t waffle on too much.

Buzzbee is the easiest to start with.  He is an extreme fusspot with his food and goes through phases where he will obsess over a specific meal and insist on it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (sometimes snack time too), but we have never really viewed this as much more than age appropriate. Buzz’s issues with food will primarily rear its head after he has been poorly.  He becomes convinced that it was the food that has made him ill, so he will refuse to eat (and sometimes drink). Early in our placement Bumble and I would spend hours/days worrying about what we were doing wrong, getting into a position where it had become a battle of wills and at the same time trying to stop Beeswax from taking off into orbit (due to his anxieties around food being triggered).  Nowadays we are far more relaxed about this and tend to weather the storm as best as we can. When he has been ill, I pick up his favourite food from the supermarket and drop all expectations of a structured meal time for him and usually within a day or two he is munching away and back into his usual eating habits. Oh and 70% of the time he refers to food as “num nums”

Beeswax and food is a whole different kettle of fish. It is hard to know how to pinpoint the key issues for him.  Waxy’s anxiety around food (or rather the lack of it) has been a central part of him for as long as we have known him.  Beeswax feels the need to control every element of food – quite honestly I could fill several posts just talking about Waxy and food. Before they were taken into care, Beeswax had to find food for himself and his brother. Unsurprisingly the fear of going hungry is ever present. Waxy came into care with no apparent awareness of when he was full and to this day if we do not monitor him he would eat for eating sake and on the very rare occasion that he doesn’t eat everything barring the plate the food is on, it is usually because he has bolted his food down faster than a Formula 1 race car and has made himself feel sick. We have always made sure that food is always available but he still feels the need to steal food (or squirrelling as we call it to decriminalise it for him). He has to know that he is getting exactly the same as Buzzbee and when he comes home from school at the weekends he will spend hours obsessing about what ‘treats’ Buzz may have had.  When we went on picnics, he used to get himself into a state worrying that others would get more than him and he won’t have enough to eat.

I could go on further and to be honest I haven’t even skimmed the top off how Waxy and food can take over the whole day if we allowed it to.

Actually a perfect example of how much importance Beeswax put on food was last night’s “Britain’s Got Talent Final” and the drama with a violinist throwing eggs at Simon Cowell.  This morning both boys were sat watching it while eating their breakfast and where most people were simply shocked by what they were seeing, Waxy very nearly spontaneously combusted and to put it mildly, the air in our lounge was ‘bluer than a summer’s sky’ because Waxy was outraged that the eggs had been wasted! It was certainly a very extreme reaction but it was not the first time during the series that one or the other had an opinion about the use of food in the acts. They have both been very vocal about the wastage of fruit (watching a pineapple being sliced in half with a sword or an apple shot with an arrow) whilst seemingly oblivious to any danger to Ant and Dec underneath the fruit! They have also very loudly questioned what would happen with the food afterward and said things like ‘if that was me I would eat every last scrap before I would listen to the judges or leave the stage’.

Over the years since the boys were placed with us we have tried and tested several different ideas to help the boys and one or two have not really gone how we would have liked them to and some have become a godsend to us.

So what have we tried? Did it help? Do we still use? Here are a few examples:

  • Waxy squirrelled food so we put locks on the larder door and provided unlimited supply of fruit with only one rule ‘No fruit 30 minutes before meals’ and I put a snack box in his room.

Sadly this was not one of our more successful ideas. Waxy never touched the fruit or his snack box (he said it is too easy) and at some point he found a way to get his hands on a key for the larder and had been for some time still getting into the larder. Despite the genuine fear of hunger, part of the issue with Waxy is proving to himself that he could fend for himself if he needed to.

  • As picnics were a source of anxiety for Beeswax and to a degree Buzzbee we started giving them both separate picnic boxes with their food and drinks in anytime we had a picnic.

This was definitely one of our better decisions and one we still use to this day and currently on a good day the boys are managing to pace themselves and not shovelling it all down faster than our cats can run when Beedog is in hot pursuit.

  • Neither Bumble or my family live close by so the boys have had to get used to travelling quite a bit and so I have had to think carefully about how we manage this for the boys. Very similar to the picnic snack boxes, I make each boy a travel box with enough of their favourite snacks to last them the journey.

Like the picnic boxes this has been invaluable to us all (boys are not afraid of not being fed and  Bumble and I keep our sanity). Although giving them food in the car has backfired on us a couple of times and turned into an opportunity for them to have a food fight in the backseat. As the boys have relaxed more and they have got used to the journey lengths, we have put one rule in about the snack boxes. If they eat it all at once, then they will have to wait until we reach our destination or stop for a break before they can have anything else.

  • I never go anywhere without having some kind of snack with me either in my handbag or in the car and I never let them go into a supermarket hungry.

This has been by far my biggest saving grace and got me out of many difficult situations (irrespective of the dirty looks I am being given by people for giving treats to children who are behaving really badly).

On a personal learning curve (and really it isn’t rocket science just a dizzy Honey) I have learnt the hard way that chocolate and handbags do not mix – particularly in hot weather!