A Little More Backstory

I have been a single parent for 2 years – ever since the life altering moment when my now ex decided he just “couldn’t do this anymore” and walked out after the children had gone to bed. What he meant of course was that he couldn’t be with me anymore. At the time I was blindsided, I didn’t see it coming. I was getting treatment for my illness and was actually breaking ground and getting better. His leaving was a huge shock at the time, but eventually I have come to understand why he had to leave me.

However, he fucked up royally by leaving me to deal with the aftermath of his decision. I (still to this day) have to field the endless questions of why daddy left without saying goodbye, the nightmares, the fears that I’ll disappear in the middle of the night. Some of the residual effects are still present in the both of my children and that pains me deeply.

For the first couple of months after he left, he didn’t call them or see them – I could have fucking eviscerated him. How does a person who adored his children from day they were born – who had an integral part in taking care of them; was so present in their lives – go from everything to nothing?

I get that he couldn’t deal with me anymore. I know that I’m a shit person to live with because of my flaws and the fucking dark clouds of bipolar that shrouds me at times. I also get the fact he probably felt guilty for abandoning the kids without warning. He maybe even felt a little guilty for hurting me. But that doesn’t excuse cutting off all contact with them for any length of time.

If it was only me in this equation, I would have said “Whatever. I’m well shot of this pillock.” and forget I ever knew him. But it was my children whose needs I had to think about. And I know that they want and need him in their lives. And honestly before all of this he was the best dad in the world. He really was.

Things have gotten better now, he calls them (from time to time) and has them stay once a week. It’s not really enough for them because deep down they miss him fiercely, miss having his constant presence in their lives. But at least he’s there for them in some capacity.

One of the things that still bother me is the fact that he’s never had to deal with the fallout from his leaving out of the blue. He left it all to me to clean up. I keep trying to explain to him, that he needs to acknowledge to them what he did wrong – to explain that it wasn’t their fault he left. However, because he doesn’t have to see the tears, the worry, the struggles they have – he thinks that everything is ok so he can just sweep it under the rug and forget it happened.

For someone so brave (he works in emergency services), he really can be gutless. He goes into shutdown over anything that forces him to admit to his imperfections, to acknowledge mistakes he has made, to look deeper into his heart and soul. He runs, runs like the wind, instead of confronting and dealing with emotional situations. Life gets tough and he’s checking for the exit, finding a loophole in the contract, eager to find a way out. He doesn’t deal – he runs.

I get that more than he understands – I spent most of my life running. But I stopped running. I had children and realised that I can’t run anymore. I have to face who I am, how I feel, all of the things I don’t like about myself, about my situation. I have to stand strong for them. Always for them.

Round and Round the Carousel of Hell.

I’ve been a lot more anxious recently. So much so that my psych has temporarily increased my meds dosage to help me get by and sleep at night. At least this time I know and understand what my trigger is – my 8 year old son. I mentioned a few posts ago that he’s recently been diagnosed with an overlap of ASD & ADHD, and that at least I know what I am working with now.

However recently his behaviour has been going backwards at home and most noticeably at school. He’s been devolving into very toddler like temper tantrums of crying and shouting and banging his head. He’d not done these things to this extent since the first half of the year. It coincides with his finishing up at a program held at another school last term. He spent 2 days a week for 2 school terms at the other school where they focussed on behaviour and social and emotional skills. It was a small group of six kids. There were 2 teachers plus a handful of helpers, so he had lots of one on one attention on those days.

During that time he’d really matured, and stopped having these ‘meltdowns’. But since the program ended he’s started to slip. I think it’s because at his school he doesn’t have someone dedicated to bringing back his focus when he loses it. It’s not possible for the teacher to give her undivided attention to him. So his excessive energy gets him out of control, he can’t come back down and it’s hell for him, his teacher and the rest of the class. And it’s showing at home too.

We go back to the paediatrician in 3 weeks time, and hopefully she will have a strategy in place to help him deal with the ADHD (and as an extension hopefully also the ASD). But until then, having a diagnosis isn’t helping as much as I imagined it would.

I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been anxious, and stressed, losing my temper quickly. Unable to think straight. I’m exhausted. I’m snappy. I’ve been digging my fingernails into my palms, leaving them bruised and sore. The rubber band on my wrist hasn’t been helping me much. My wrist has dark shadows of bruising mixed with angry red welts where I’ve snapped the band so hard. But it’s not bringing the relief that it should. I’m one or two steps away from playing with knives … and I don’t want to go down that blackhole.

Hopefully the med increase will help me out. It had better because I’m getting closer and closer to the edge. I’ve told my ex that if he doesn’t help me more with the kids and what’s going on it will come to a point where I dump them on him and take off and never come back … or I end up in hospital, or dead. I love my kids with all my heart, but I can’t sustain the stress of raising them all on my own, of coping with the problems they have in addition to my own illness.

I hate that my threshold for coping under duress is so much lower than other people. But it’s just the way that I’m wired. I can’t change it, no matter how guilty I may feel about it. And I judge myself more harshly than anyone could ever judge me. And I’d never ever presume to judge anyone to the same degree of harshness I apply to myself.

And the stress of what’s going on with my kids, coupled with my inability to cope – triggers my guilt over my inability to cope. And round and round the carousel of hell goes. A never ending cycle of anxiety and self blame, triggering more anxiety and self blame.

et cetera. ad nauseam.

My Boy is an Anti-Bullying Champion.

I really admire my eight year old son’s sense of social justice. He has a very strong understanding of when things are fair or not fair, and he is passionate about sticking up for the downtrodden. When he was four years old he told me that for Christmas he didn’t want Santa to bring him any toys – instead he wanted Santa to give them to children who were poor and had nothing.

Sometimes though, I have to remind him that his execution of justice requires a little forethought and consideration.

I recall an incident that occurred last year when he was in grade one. Some bigger boys in grade six were harassing a little boy in grade prep and my beautiful boy was a witness to this bullying. So he stood up against these bigger boys to stop them. However his method of stopping them was to spit at them. *chuckles*

He knew that what these bigger boys were doing was wrong and unfair, and he stuck up for the little guy. And for his troubles he earned a reflection time.  A reflection time is basically a primary school (i.e. soft) version of a detention where they spend 10-15 minutes writing (or drawing pictures) of what they did wrong, how they felt, how the other person felt, and what they could have done that was different.

When I received the reflection time notice to sign and return to the school, I couldn’t help but feel proud that my dear little boy wasn’t afraid to stop bullies even though those bullies were 4 or 5 years older than him. At the same time I was a smidge grossed out that he actually spat at them (it’s the germaphobe in me – I detest spitting, it’s such a vile practice).

He was devastated that he got into trouble for what he saw as sticking up for a friend against bullies. Clearly I couldn’t punish him because his intentions were in the right place. Instead I had to sit him down and do my best to explain to him that it was his reaction of spitting that he was in trouble for, not the fact that he was trying to stop bullying in the school yard. We talked about healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with bullies. Hopefully he understands that: yes bullying is unacceptable and has to be stopped, but there are better ways to stop the bullying.

All in all though, I am exceptionally proud that my dear little boy has a heart of gold, and looks out for others. He’s my little Anti-Bullying Champion!

A Diagnosis for My Boy

So I’m not the only one in my family with mind problems now. Not that I’m exactly happy about this diagnosis, but it at least gives me someone else other than myself to focus on. Someone to watch out for and spend time and effort in helping to overcome difficulties that arise.

I had confirmation from the paediatrician today that my eight year old son has a combination of Aspergers and ADHD. In some ways I’m not surprised, little things about him troubled me from an early age. But he is very high functioning, so I wasn’t too concerned until he started school, and his teacher’s have worried because he’s struggled in a few areas (social, emotional, concentration, and other little things). We’ll be exploring medication options at the next visit with the paediatrician to help with the ADHD, she thinks that focussing on treating the ADHD will also relieve some of the symptoms of Aspergers that he presents with.

I don’t know a whole lot about either of these conditions, but I do know that I want to help my son in the best way that I can. I know that I’ll be doing a whole lot of research now. And researching things is something I love doing – I really should have been a scientist. Having a focus in my external life, learning about something new, will help me to stay out of my internal world for a while. And although I constantly yearn to escape into my mind, I know it’s not really a healthy way to be. But with a new focus I’ll have to stay in the land of the living, not in my dreams.