Tag Archives: Domestic Abuse

Middle Son Observes Life

A few days ago my middle son came up to me out of nowhere and said ¨We have had a hard life.¨

I asked him what he meant. He said ¨well, with our dad hitting you all the time.¨

I told him we have a good life now, I gave him a lot of examples. I told him his father didn´t have to be that way, he could have gotten help from doctors.

I told him I should not have stayed one minute when his father started hitting me, but that I knew he could get help and I had hoped he would.

He used to never talk about his father or his feelings or his opinions at all. I hope getting off dairy brings back my little thinker.

I did not remind him that his father used to hit him, too.

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

My therapist went over the basics of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with me today. She says it entails talking about incidents that cause symptoms. Like discussing the trauma behind my PTSD.

Well, that is not the sort of therapy I want. She damn well knows it.

I don’t want to talk about what happened to me. I rarely do so. I could use the word “never” and be accurate for ninety percent of my history. She mentions that she doesn’t expect me to start from the beginning and tell her everything, but she says that I throw out bits that shock her. Things that I am nonchalant about, like living on the streets as a child, and she has no idea where it comes from. I tell her I can tell her anything about being a kid, anything, it’s wide open, just not about being battered. She told me my walls are up too high. What walls? Sarcasm, sorry. Truthfully I crack jokes all the way through my sessions, she can’t treat me for laughing.

So I gave her one today. One incident that bothers me so much that I cannot forgive it. But it was nothing done to me, it was when I tried to grab my son to keep him from pushing his sister over and instead knocked him down. He was three. I can still see him crying after, in my mind. Middle Child has the worst PTSD of us all and he was barely three when his mother made him fall down. What if the reason he has PTSD is not because of his father’s actions, but because of his mother’s? Because of his mother’s PTSD, or because of this incident? What if I broke my son? What if the years of his mother being hypervigilant, afraid of punishment for laughter or noise or mischief or mess is what has really damaged him? What if it is me, short tempered and shushing and terrified in those first few years, who has broken him? What if it is the fear he drank with my milk, my fear, that poisoned his development?

The therapist asked me how I could think that, when it was the father who was abusive. She used words like accident and dismissed the incident. I told her most fathers are abusive, right? It is what is expected of fathers, that they should hurt their families or their wives. But to be hurt by your mother, that must hurt more than anything. That would be scarring. Fathers who beat and scream at their loved ones are everywhere, as common as pennies. But mothers who hurt their children are rare. She asks me how I know. I tell her to pull up any public conviction record in any community involving violence. I am more than right. It worsens statistically when you look at sexual abuse. Where I used to live there were 246 offenders, and only one was female.

The therapist and I do not agree. She thinks it is a common and forgivable incident, an accident, and I see it as a crime. I chose to try to grab him and I instead knocked him over. I could have let him go and tried to distract him with a noise. I could have done something else instead of reaching for him when I wasn’t sure I could catch him. He never thought his mother would hurt him.

The teacher said he is always happy in class. I try to remember that when I blame myself. I try to remember that he used to have four hour tantrums and now he has at most ten minutes. I remember that he tells me that he loves me, that he is learning what he needs to learn about his emotions lately.

I don’t want to talk about these things. It does not seem to get easier. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to remember on purpose when accidentally remembering is so painful, and I don’t want my children to remember, either.

Maybe I might need ACT, but I cannot find any studies on ACT being done with children, never mind young children. I might have to rethink this and perhaps the kids can keep their therapist if we stick with CBT. For that matter, maybe I don’t need ACT. I work and I keep the kids clean and fed and the laundry never overflows the basket. I function. So many with PTSD do not function. I am fine, right?

She said the clinic is undergoing training on CBT for trauma in children right now. She said it requires that they remember. I can’t win for losing.

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Sometimes Plans Can Backfire On You

The skills therapist is mulling over sending my boys to a new hire in his organization, who specializes in trauma. Because she is more familiar with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

They have been seeing him for over a year.

I would hate for them to lose him.

I have asked him to think about teaching them these skills himself.

Tonight Middle Child was tired and became upset over a minor misunderstanding on movie privileges, and I was able to massage it out of him while joking around and telling him stories about when he was a baby.

That was lucky. It doesn’t always work.

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The Updated Plan – going into 2016

Today I met with the social worker, who I requested monitor my oldest child (read: advocate for) as he navigates through the school system and various therapies. It could be that one day I need her for Middle Child, too. I hope not.

I have new plans. I am always planning. So I gave her the new plans while I cooked dinner for the littles.

We are working on ACT therapy (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) this winter, and perhaps for the next year, and I wish someone had told me about this a year or two ago.

We are working on identifying emotion in ourselves and in others. Also walking away from negativity, or taking a moment away to calm ourselves if need be. I am working on this with them, too, but I remind the psychologist, therapist, and psychiatrist of this goal whenever we meet. I probably mentioned this in the last post.

I have enrolled my own therapist to teach me what the children are learning so I can be consistent with their therapist and teach them to apply ACT in their daily lives.

For parenting we are are going to order a book on the Nurtured Heart technique, which I have somehow never heard of until this week. I hope it is something new, rather than an adaption of something I am already doing. Because I want a cure.

The dog. We are eleven months away from losing our spot on the pre-wait wait list. Yes, there is such a thing. I meant to write wait two times. That is the sort of list it is. I am going to negotiate closer to the Day, because I don’t need an Autistic Service Dog to tether my child. I would rather a service dog track him than try to keep him rooted. Because he is almost as tall as me, and that could very well break a dog. So if he were evaluated now he could lose the spot for his size, anyway. Maybe if I explain that I don’t need such a consideration we can stay on longer and get a dog through a reputable organization. Of which there is exactly one in my state. I cannot afford the training if it is out of state.

If I cannot get a service dog I am going to make one. Because if there is one thing I have been very successful at in life it has been training puppies to be very good adult canine citizens. I don’t know how throwing children into dog training will help or harm, but I think for the children it will only help. Maybe we can get involved in the dog world, too, and meet more nice people. I have always used a modified Barbara Woodhouse basic training with great success, and of course I would supplant that at the appropriate age with a professional who can certify in service. I know of two agencies here who do this, and one is highly recommended by a friend. The issue is time commitment. I would have to pay a neighbor to let the dog out during the day until it became old enough to handle a long wait. I could also get a failed service dog and skip the puppy stage, or adopt a well trained adult and hope it catches on. But those last two would result in a therapy dog, rather than a service dog, and that would limit us in where we can take the dog, as it would be a pet. I know I can pay some two bit huckster online and get paperwork and a vest but I am honest and I refuse to do so. If the dog is not qualified for service, I won’t use it for service.

I am beyond frustrated that there are not service dogs available for children with PTSD, as such a dog would be of service to both boys.

For education we are going to work on fostering independence and executive functioning. I think the independence part will come easily, if I can stop myself from buttering everyone’s toast. The executive functioning bit is going to be super tricky. I don’t know how to teach someone to see what they don’t notice. I have one book that has proved useless on this and so I am ordering another in the hope that it has some practical advice.

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Zoloft And Conferences

So the boys had their conferences this past week.

Middle Child was first. Despite the violence of the prior five days (thank you, Zoloft), his conference went well. We had it in private, even, and there were no negatives. He is active in self-regulation in the classroom, segregating himself from the group during most floor times and wearing the noise muffling headset quite often.

What surprised me was that he was well liked, and despite his distaste for homework he scored above average on all of it.

She said he is always smiling, always happy.

Much better than the last school, which was destroying his self esteem.

Oldest son had his conference the next day. He is lucky enough to be in a class that contains a half dozen other kids who are super bright and also very strong readers. The teacher said that he has his moments of not wanting to do his classwork, but that he is capable and comes around. I was a bit surprised, and asked her about his math homework from the night before, because he had me walk him through it. She told me that he knows it. She said he has no issues with retaining what he learns. Which was nice to hear and not what I expected. Compare this to last year, when he would lay on a chair and moan and kick during math class. No behaviours like that at this school. He has begun attending a social skills group daily, with five other students, and that makes me immensely happy. Because it is in his IEP and his teacher is trying to comply with it. So many schools do not even try, do not even read it, so you can see why this makes me seriously warm and fuzzy inside.

This is the honeymoon conference, though. The one after Christmas will be the real deal in my book.

Zoloft has been a magic pill for Oldest Child and a curse for Middle Child. I was seriously triggered by Middle Child’s temper and his violence, and it was a rough week especially considering that I was ill, Oldest Child was ill, and there was little sleep to be had. I tried waiting for his psychiatric nurse to return from vacation before making any move, but after I got a teacher’s note about hitting and kicking students for the third day in a row I yanked him off of it and side effects be damned. Luckily there were not any.  I got a note in response to my update to the psychiatric nurse telling me to take him off of the meds the next day. It is so nice to have no report from the teacher every day since, I cannot tell you how it relaxes me to find nothing written in his folder at the end of the day.

Today we went to gymnastics for middle child and after that no one wanted to do much of anything, the children did not even want to go to the store, so we stayed in and I promptly fell asleep and missed an entire afternoon of cleaning. So nothing is done save the morning’s baking and laundry, and tomorrow I have to do it all. I needed the sleep though, have needed it for over a week since we got sick.

There was no fighting in my house today. Everyone behaved well, even with emotionally charged disagreements. This is a huge deal, that most days are now like this. It used to be quite the opposite and I could not leave them for a minute. I am so lucky to be in a space big enough for them to get away from each other and manage their emotions. I am so lucky to have a good medical team for them and a school that is accommodating. Cutting down on the stress for PTSD kids is a very helpful thing.

Middle Child is still not drinking milk or eating milk products, and as best as I can tell it is helping him. I caught him yesterday at snack at daycare about to take a drink from a glass full of a white liquid and asked him to tell me what it was first. MILK! Oops for the daycare! Hopefully they improve on this..

We are working on identifying emotions and emotional needs (perpetually we work on this), walking away from angry people, and listening to our gut. I especially want my Oldest Son to quit situations where people are angry, since he doesn’t pick up on escalating emotions. I want him to remove himself as soon as he observes anger in another. Remaining present and oblivious makes him a target.

The current obsessions in our house are Minecraft coding, monsters, autumn leaves, and bagels.

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The Pumpkin Farm

Today we went to gymnastics (Middle Child’s class), came back for lunch. Went to complete a little crafting at a craft show, came back for snack. Went to the pumpkin farm, came back for dinner.

Keeping them out of the house has actually been far easier than I anticipated (no complaints, no fits), but keeping Oldest Child away from Middle Child during computer turns has been impossible. Tomorrow he will be banned from the living room during his brother’s computer time and will have to sit in the kitchen instead. He tried to stay away and could not, he freely admits. He has been scheming how to get onto the computer since he was thirteen months old, so I suppose it is a deeply ingrained habit. The computer is his sun.

Middle Child started his Zoloft today and did better than usual this morning but did exhibit some aggressive frustration when his brother tried to railroad him on the hay bale slide at the pumpkin farm. I put him in time out immediately. He felt bad enough that he apologized to his brother on his own before the time out was finished and argued not at all with me about taking a time out. His brother refused to accept a simple apology, and requested a formal apology card due to the severity of the crime. Middle Child requested paper and a pen, which of course I neglected to anticipate a need for during a pumpkin farm outing. So he instead tried multiple apologies, which his brother did not accept but did allow as acceptable. Later I watched him replicate the scene by himself, as victim, to see what it felt like. So now he knows that people cannot breathe properly with their face down in a pool of corn, and that I meant it truly when I said he can never, ever hold anyone’s face down in anything for any amount of time without risking a horrible consequence. I am grateful that I am vigilant around him.

The pumpkin farm staff knows us. The owner came up and said “Back again this year, eh?” “Every week!” I told him. It’s an exchange we usually have on the second visit each year, so I must be making an impression, if we can have this conversation in the first hour of arrival on the first opening day.

His wife is from a country that I knew a few native words of. My ex had taught me a few words of the local language, years ago. Last year I told her I knew a few words, and mentioned the one my husband taught me to say to children who had big fat faces like my son. She laughed nervously and immediately clapped her hands over her daughter’s ears. So that is how I found out that the children’s father had taught me sexually explicit phrases and misinformed me of their meanings. So embarrassing. I hope she does not hold it against me, that is not the impression I am trying to make. I am one of those people who does not swear or drink or gossip. I don’t want to be known any other way.

I suppose my ex told me those words meant something else so I would not figure out that he was actually talking to his mistress on the phone, instead of the moon-faced man down the road that he told me was calling him every morning. But that was not the first time he had done this. He taught me the incorrect meanings for words in his own native tongue, too. I think so that he could continue to insult me and I would not suspect.

So, even years later he is isolating me, through his gaslighting. The farm owners are lovely people. So are their cousins. My favorite family in town, really. I don’t want them to think of me as the woman who insults women married into their family in their own language. I don’t want to be the lady that people hide their children from.

Today I did not have the hours of whining and complaining that I usually have, and I can only think it is from Zoloft. Middle child told me that he feels calm when he is upstairs by himself on my laptop, watching Minecraft videos. If he can find some channels with decent language and stick to them, he is welcome to spend his turns like that. If Middle Child can figure out how to stay calm, then I am happy for his progress.

Tomorrow we hit another farm, this time for the animals, and go shopping, too. I am tired of my kids shivering through winter and their shoes falling apart six weeks after purchase. I am going to get them some quality things, instead.

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The First Week of School

Mostly went well.

But I have been back to yelling. Which is not where I want to be. Middle son has been missing his naps because of first grade. He is not laid back and pleasant any longer, but prickly and bossy and rude. I held it together for the entire week, only to lose it on Friday and give him a piece of my mind.

He threw fits on mornings Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. The Wednesday fit reduced me to tears and Wednesday evening I told him I couldn’t take it anymore, that the fits would have to stop. He held it in on mornings Thursday and Friday and then had multiple fits on Friday evening, which wore me so thin that I can’t blame myself (though I do). Friday was also the day of the child psychologist appointments. Who, as I left with the boys, told me “I don’t know how you do it.” Which is hard to hear from a trained professional, though it does not phase me coming from laypersons.

The child psychologist said that if this medication is no longer effective that he would have to move to an anti-psychotic. My face must have look alarmed, as she immediately reassured me that this class of drugs gets a bad rap, they are simple and just help the dopamine something etc. A little over my head, as I had done no reading on it. Oldest son she wants on Zoloft, to ease the anxiety.

The baby has been pretty rude of late, too. So this morning we had a meeting at my house. I told the children we had to remember our manners, and reminded them that they used to be known for how politely they spoke. They assured me they remembered how to be polite and I informed them that any sentence delivered impolitely would be ignored by myself. I also told them that the cost of any food they request and then refuse to eat would be taken from their allowance. Because if they ask for it and get it then I expect them to eat it.

These meetings will occur once weekly. I had the first turn, where I gave out compliments of things done well and laid out what needed to change, then each child had a turn. They did not contribute anything, though, and I had hoped that they would. Maybe next time.

Middle child promptly fell asleep after the meeting. Allergy meds, and exhaustion, combined. Perhaps we don’t need to go to the beach, then, if we are so sleepy. I went through the boy’s backpacks after the meeting and found a note about middle son’s behaviour on Friday. He was only there for a few hours before I took him out of school for his appointment. The note said he was off task and laying on the floor a lot. So he was tired before I picked him up. He sleeps ten hours a night, and has a little trouble falling asleep while the sun is out. I am going to move bedtime back a half hour and see if there is an improvement. It would help if he did not wake up an hour before the alarm. It would help even more if he did not wake me up, too… all of which happened on Friday morning.

When he wakes up and has got his bearings I will talk to him about it. He is going to be disappointed but I hope the behaviour is just from being sleepy.

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