I Am Stunned

Wow, I am having a jaw-dropping experience at my house and it is a long story.  Sorry.
 
For 16 years (and counting), I have had to wake up my child from the death-grip of sleep; then wait 10 minutes and do it again;  then wait 10 more minutes and do it again; and so on.  To correct this frustrating habit, I have done any number of desperate things: rubbed his back, waved food under his nose, reminded him of rewards, talked ad nauseam about it in therapy, made agreements, bargained, physically roused him, threatened him, yelled at him, poured water on him (not proud), dragged him, pled with him, threw my hands up and simply shut the door–done, you win.
Some of these approaches worked for a morning or two, but never longer than three days in a row.  And, honestly, some of these things bordered on child abuse, damaged our relationship, and made our mornings together seriously unpleasant for 5,840 days (sans weekends and school breaks) of our lives.
Two weeks ago, I had a very calm, very serious moment with him. I reminded him that he would be 18 in two weeks, at which time I would be done having bad mornings.  While I was at it, I let him know that I was also done with breaking rules, lying, general opposition, and passive aggressive disrespect. I was on a roll. Yep, I did what I always tell YOU not to do.
To my surprise, my son started to cry.  Really cry.  It was heart breaking.  I was sure I had scared him to death and that his tears were about thinking he was about to be homeless (which I would never do to him.)  I told him I wasn’t going to say more and asked him if he needed anything. Again, to my surprise, this 5’10” tear-faced boy with a beard asked, “Can I have a hug?”
When I opened my arms, he threw his whole body into me, weeping for 10 minutes more.  Finally, he sat back with a big grin saying, “That was the first time I have really hugged you.”
I know. It felt really good (and it really did.)
 
After that he tells me he feels ashamed of himself because he can’t stop thinking about killing me in my sleep and other things he couldn’t bring himself to speak.  He was genuinely scared of his own mind and he told me he has been having these thoughts for years.
 
Years? Yikes!
I tell him I understand, thanked him for trusting me with them, and empathized with how hard it must have been for him to hold in these thoughts like poison secrets inside his mind.  I tell him I love him with all my heart. He tells me how he has hated me and my husband for what he calls “nothing really.” He tells me about grudges he has been holding from years ago.  He tells me he never does what I want because he is angry (duh) and these scary thoughts make him closed off and shut down.
Good talk.
For two weeks he is a changed person.  Gets himself up early. Does his chores, mostly well.  Zips his pants, brushes his teeth, puts on deodorant without reminders.  Asks permission.  Has broken no house rules. Is pleasant. Smiles. Gives hugs. He says the gruesome thoughts are completely gone and he can’t believe it.  He thinks all of his shenanigans were related to them.
Too good to be true, right?  I am waiting for the next shoe to drop. Until then, I am one amazed and happy mamma.
 
Note to self: get a lock for my bedroom door.
The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

He was brave to tell me and I am brave not to flip out.
Next Trust-based Parent Course is planned for March 28th and April 4th.  Save the date.
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Comments

  1. Hello

    I am an adopted mum from England, and I really appreciate reading your blog. It is very inspiring and has certainly helped me to curb my temper, which suddenly appeared when I became a mum. I feel calmer, happier as does our household. We have a long way to go yet, but thanks.

    Esther

    >

    • I am glad this blog helps. I also found my temper after becoming a mom. I might have had it before, but nothing like the intensity that came with parenting. I had to get lots of help for it. Take Care Esther; it gets better.

  2. Hello

    I am an adopted mum from England, and I really appreciate reading your blog. It is very inspiring and has certainly helped me to curb my temper, which suddenly appeared when I became a mum. I feel calmer, happier as does our household. We have a long way to go yet, but thanks.

    Esther

    >

    • I am glad this blog helps. I also found my temper after becoming a mom. I might have had it before, but nothing like the intensity that came with parenting. I had to get lots of help for it. Take Care Esther; it gets better.

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