Tag Archive | shame

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

Advertisements

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.

 

Oops I did it again

No, I am not about to start singing or break into a ‘interesting’ dance routine (unless you include the ‘dance of attunement’ that I find myself trying to do every day while parenting my boys) but I thought this was an apt title for this post.

For as long as I can remember, since Beeswax and Buzzbee were placed with us, things have had a habit of ‘disappearing’ and more often than not these items were mine.

For quite some time, although some of the hiding places were genius, I found it very difficult to accept someone stealing from me, even if it was as innocent as my favourite bar of chocolate. We knew who the culprit was and we made several attempts to deal/manage with the situation using traditional approaches with ‘consequences, which were a total failure and often made things worse. So we tried approaches that were less likely to send him spiralling into a toxic state of shame.

We tried every suggestion anyone was willing to offer us to try and alleviate the problem –

  • We provided a snack box which lived in his bedroom with all his favourite ‘goodies’ – he never touched it
  • We kept the fruit bowl full on the dining room table which he could take from whenever he wanted – again he didn’t go for it
  • We put locks on the cupboard doors and a chime sensor so he couldn’t sneak down in the middle of the night – He managed to get hold of a duplicate key (still don’t know how) and used a magnet to fool the sensor.
  • We put a piece of paper on the wall with a squirrel stamp and made it a challenge. If he left a squirrel stamp it was not for him to tell us what he took, but for us to ‘work it out’ – Worked for a couple of days, but then ‘squirrelling’ escalated to more precious items but no stamps

We tried so many more tricks, but nothing seemed to help until one day, after a very emotion filled session with Jemima talking about how bad I felt that he still found it so hard to trust that if he were to ask for something instead of taking it, that we wouldn’t say No, we explored whether the reason he took my things was because he was angry with birth mum and he was adamant that this wasn’t the case, but that he stole from me because he ‘needed to know he could still do it and obviously if he took sweets he was going to eat them’. He insisted that he never felt bad about taking anything but he was able to accept Jemima and my hypothesis that the way he was reacting to being found out was ‘possibly’ a sign that he did actually feel  a little bit bad about it or that he thought I would hate him.  We asked him if he had any suggestions on how Bumble and I could help him and I remember vividly his response “You can’t catch me so you can’t stop me. It is always too late the deed has been done”.

He was right but we couldn’t let it carry on. He had now started stealing from my parents, school and his brother (although we rarely could prove it until it was ‘too late’).  How could we stop this without him escalating into a shame filled rage? There was big part of me that just wanted my belongings back or at least to know that the goodies that were ‘disappearing’ were not me forgetfully consuming them myself and forgetting to replenish.

So Bumble and I decided we would have an amnesty. We placed a box in the bedrooms and explained to the boys that daddy and I were missing some things and we needed them back. We told both boys (even though we knew only one of them had the items) that the boxes will be left in their rooms until the morning and they could put anything that they had that they knew they shouldn’t have in it. I would take the boxes out of the rooms in the morning and nothing would be said about the contents of the box, however if I then go into their rooms and find anything; we may need to talk about it. We called them the ‘Oops’ boxes and to my delight they seemed to work. Ok there was one time when he thought he had got one over on me by hiding all the sweet wrappers in his hollow curtain pole – sadly for him, his mum is a complete klutz and pulled it down trying to put its end stopper back on.

For quite some time the boxes were used on a weekly basis and rarely was there a need to revisit any misdemeanours.  Gradually the boxes in the bedrooms turned into an ‘Oops’ basket that occasionally (usually at times of heightened anxiety and stress) appears on the top of the landing for an evening and any member of the family can place items that are not where they should be, in it.

In this case, “thinking inside of the box” figuratively speaking has been a success for the hive.

This post was written as part of The Adoption Social’s fantastic new linky ‘The Things That We Do’.

oops box

The Things We Do

Blame it on the Boggarts

Oh dear it appears the Hive has a serious infestation of ‘mischievous/naughty Boggarts’. Or at least they appear to be getting the blame for several misdemeanours lately.

Have you seen this guy?

Have you seen this guy?

Buzzbee: “I didn’t cut holes in the drapes on your bed or try to fix it by cutting a patches the same size out of daddy’s Pyjamas” “I think the Boggart was experimenting with the scissors he found in daddy’s drawers and then realised he had made a mistake and tried to fix it before you found out”

Boys: “We did as you asked; we put all my dirty washing in the washing basket. But, the Boggarts are trying to cause trouble. They must be taking all of it back out of the basket and shoving it under our beds and in the corners of our rooms”

Beeswax: “The last time I looked all my clothes were put away neatly in the wardrobe and drawers!” “Maybe the Boggarts took them all back out, screwed them up and then shoved them back in just to make you cross because they were mad at you for not letting them have fun”

Beeswax: “I did not wee on the landing carpet! And it wasn’t the Boggarts either!” “The cats were angry with you after our argument about homework and did it”

Beeswax: “I did not break Buzzbee’s toys” “Buzzbee was annoying me and the Boggarts probably decided it would teach him a lesson”

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how Bee-dog got past the stairgate and got upstairs to chase the cats!” “Maybe the Boggarts forgot and ‘accidently’ left the stairgate open. They have a lot on their mind at the moment and keep forgetting to do things”

Beeswax: “I didn’t mean to kick holes in the doors or walls! I was trying to kick the Boggarts. I am fed up with them always trying to get us in trouble”

Ok, so just with these few statements it is obvious that what I am really talking about, is my boys ‘crazy lying’ and their inability to take responsibility for their actions/mistakes.
I would be lying if I said that their ‘crazy lying’ doesn’t drive me around the bend and there are days when I simply cannot tolerate it or have no idea how to deal with it and I am pretty sure I am not alone in feeling like this. Then there are those days where I truly amaze myself and manage to turn it back onto those naughty little imps (the Boggarts not my boys) and use it as an opportunity to reflect about what might really be going on.

Boys: “We didn’t make all this mess! We put all the DVDs and computer games back in their boxes and put them away like you told us too.”
Honey: “I guess the Boggarts have been up to their mischief again, maybe they thought I would believe that you didn’t really do what I had asked first time and so could get away with taking them all back out. Oh well, if you work together you can get it all put away again properly”

Boys: “We did make our beds and tidy our bedrooms today! It was tidy when we left them”
Honey: “Oh I get it. Those naughty Boggarts have come in your rooms when you were not looking and undid all your hard work. I am really sorry they did that but I now need you to re-make your beds and re-tidy your rooms”

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how the toilet roll got so wet; I didn’t drop it in the toilet”
Honey: “I guess it was an accident. If it wasn’t you maybe one of the boggarts dropped it after using the toilet and left it because he thought he might get in trouble if he was found out”

Buzzbee: “Yes I did go to the toilet but I never smeared anything on the walls and mirror”
Honey: “Oh dear that poor Boggart is having a really tough time in the bathroom lately. I guess when he tried to wipe his bottom he didn’t quite get it right and managed to get poop on his fingers and then didn’t know what to do so wiped it on the wall. Do you know what? I think it would be really nice if you helped him out by getting a cloth and giving the walls a clean for him”

Boys: “We didn’t leave all our toys all over the place! We picked them all up off the floor, like you told us too”
Honey: “Are you telling me that the Boggarts made this mess? Oh well can you both please pick them all up and put them away again before Bee-dog chews them up or worse still chokes on one of them. If you see the Boggarts before I do can you remind them how important it is to keep toys out of the reach of the puppy. I know how upset you get when she does damage your toys.”

Beeswax: “I didn’t steal sweets from the larder and then hide the empty wrappers inside my curtain pole, why would I do that?”
Honey: “Wow, those Boggarts are getting sneakier and how clever of them to think of hiding the evidence in your curtain pole. I wonder why they felt the need to take the sweets without asking first and then leave you to take the blame for it. I guess they were afraid if they asked for them I would say ‘no’”

Buzzbee: “I didn’t throw water all over bathroom floor when I had my bath”
Honey: “Well if it wasn’t you I will have to remind the Boggarts that while it is ok to have fun in the bath and splash around. They need to be careful not to let the water get on the floor as it will make the floor slippery and you could hurt yourself when you get out of the bath”

Boys: “We don’t know who keeps using mummy’s toiletries or make-up or who keeps emptying all the shampoo bottles in the bathroom”
Honey: “Do you think maybe the Boggarts were trying to make weird science experiments. I wonder if they realise how sad this makes mummy sometimes when her personal items are used without asking first. Maybe we can find some samples that they can use instead”

Beeswax: “I do not start making humming, tapping or bumping noises in the night just after you both go to bed!”
Honey: “Ok well if that is the case maybe it is the Boggarts and if so I need to have a chat with them and reassure them that they do not need to make so much noise just to get my attention. I know they are there and I will never forget them”

Beeswax: “I don’t keep making noises outside Buzzbee’s bedroom at night, trying convincing him that ‘bad guys’ are trying to get in his room and hurt him”
Honey: “I think I need to sit down with the Boggarts because it is not Ok to do this to Buzz. I need to try and understand why they want Buzzbee to feel so frightened. Maybe they are feeling pretty scared themselves but don’t know how to talk about it and in an odd way, making Buzz feel bad helps the Boggarts feel a little better. “

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how the Wii nunchuck cable got chewed while I was playing a game?”
Honey: “Maybe while you were playing, the Boggarts was concentrating hard or getting a little anxious and started sucking or chewing it without noticing he was doing it. Remind me next time you are playing to make sure I let you take a lollypop or something with you and then maybe if the Boggart feels the need to chew something he will enjoy that more”

Now, some of you may say that I am enabling them to continue with this level of dissociation from their actions and, I will admit there have definitely been days where I have wished that I had been more direct with them both but if I have learnt one thing about my boys – it is confrontation will inevitably result in a complete meltdown and the opportunity to explore what the behaviour was about will have been lost completely.
I guess you could say that during some of their more ludicrous ‘crazy lying’ sessions I adjust my affect to them and join them in their fantasy as a tool to help them make sense of what is happening without sending them to ‘planet shame’ Although sometimes I do need to watch my sarcasm (that is what I get living with a pre-teen), the tone of the dialogue, always remains open and is usually playful.

Watch out. There are Boggarts about.

Watch out. There are Boggarts about.