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Spring Break

April 23, 2014

oh no! Where did the month of April go?

I wish I could say it has been idyllic but it hasn’t.

I was on a roll with the whole conflict and was working my head around the situation and my response to it and then WHAM! It just got real. Everything with that situation got put on the back burner. It wasn’t a priority as long as my daughter was in a good place about herself and she understood the gravity of her actions. T1 is a resilient young lady.

To say that I have had to use every tool in my tool box to control a uncontrolable situation would not be an understatement.

I have to credit my experience with WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Program) and the resultant support group that grew out of that 13 week course. Being aware of myself allows me to self-regulate and make decisions. Being out of control can lead to indecision and paralyzing fear. Often, taking a first step, some action, is more than half the battle. Doing nothing is a self-defeating circle of hell.

The stress of these situations has taken a toll on my sleep, my stamina, and my health. I have had a flare up of the PsA and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that my current drug protocol isn’t working. The pain in my knee had me scared the debilitating swelling and joint damage had returned. I have taken it easy and taken anti-inflammatories round the clock and things seem to be settling down without the swelling from last time. I will have to discuss this with my rhuemetologist in May. Knowing it is a chronic and life-long condition always brings the fear that current medications will stop working and new, maybe less effective ones will have to be found.

The girls are so busy–USO Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, soccer, concerts and more concerts … we are ready for the Chief to come home. 3 maybe 4 weeks. We are also almost 60 days out from our special summer plans.

The weather has been absolutely nuts! I have a feeling we’re going to have two weeks of spring and then BAM! Summer.

So that is where April went. I will be happy when Father-Daughter Dance is over (my troop “volunteered” to run it). My most challenging 5k is in a few weeks as long as the knee returns to normal. The Chief will be home before I know it. I’m counting on it.

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Ft. Hood

April 5, 2014

Our thoughts and prayers are once again with the men and women and families at Ft. Hood, TX. We are grateful that our Hawaiian ohana were no longer stationed there and report that none of their friends and coworkers were casualties.

A friend who works with troubled teens posted the Buzz Feed article on her FB page: “How Veterans are Diagnosed with PTSD”

The tag line about the gunman “Does it matter if he did (have PTSD)?” is what intrigued me.

I’ve said before, I have PTSD. I’m not a combat vet but I have lived through trauma (and in the last week had my initial trauma slapped in my face over and above the issues we just had with T1 and my friends (Parenting Parts 1, 2, 3)). I know there are times when the rage is barely kept in check but it would take provocation and extreme danger to myself or my children to make me snap. But are all those with PTSD doomed to be violent and murderers?

I appreciate how this article is educational and how it wraps up that very issue.

It’s a grave misconception that veterans with PTSD are typically anything other than “productive members of society,” Schnurr said.

Ft. Hood is a tragedy either way you look at it.

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Parenting: Conflicts and Avoidance, Part 3

March 29, 2014

Part 3: So what am I teaching my children?

This has definitely been on my mind as the week has gone on. I wrote a letter to these two friends just so that I could process my thoughts. I ended with:

Don’t ever regret telling me. Regret that so much of this could have been avoided if I had only been told sooner. In the name of “letting them work it out” you have only taught them that avoidance is okay and they are learning nothing and T1 is learning exactly what I believe—that no one is trustworthy, no one gives opportunities for personal accountability and improvement, and that walking away is preferable to working things out.

I’ve read this letter to T1, both in its original form and when I edited it to include my self-reflection on if I was just as guilty of not letting the other parents know of their child’s behavior. T1 and I have discussed this entire situation at length. We’ve gone through the whole gamut of emotions.

But have I shown her the correct way of dealing with this? It occurred to me that while I feel justified in my reaction as a parent, it may also stem from my trauma thus making it an extreme reaction. And one that these parents just don’t get.

My initial trauma came from choices of others not protecting me–as my 14-year-old self says, “Not putting me first.” I can be rational and understand that choices were made with the best of their ability and that their hands were tied. I get that. But it has always driven me to demand my due. Even with the Chief. My biggest struggles with my MIL were about her making demands on the Chief and not expecting him to put me and the girls first, or at least give us the common courtesy of checking with us first. (See my posts about the Pineapples.) It really wasn’t until about both girls were born and we had moved south that the Chief and I finally got through to her. And I love her dearly. Just so we’re clear, the Chief isn’t a Momma’s Boy and the situation perplexed him too.

The trauma in recent years, both occasions, were because I was once again not considered and not protected by those that should have stepped up to consider and defend me. Trust me, I am not self-centered enough (despite some accusations) to believe I should be the center of anyone’s world or the first thought before they act. Nonetheless, the damage was done and it could have been avoided.

Was no one going to step up for T1? While the accusations were true she was not alone nor were the other children innocent. The question I keep asking is why is my child the only one who crosses the line with the teasing and nasty comments? Everyone gives as good as they get but it always ends with my child saying the last thing before the others run off to their parents, crying about how mean my child is. And what is that line she keeps crossing?

And why didn’t my friends let me step up to help her learn what that line was? I will always step up for my child–that includes defending her innocence and correcting her when she is in error. Who else is going to do that? Certainly not these other parents.

These thoughts took my breath away. They hurt.

I’ve had friends and acquaintances just up and walk away rather than work things out. Learning later some of those situations could have been fixed if I had only been told is where my outrage comes from. Others maybe I was too young to know how to handle. I wasn’t taught to deal with things head on. Hmmm… much like these girls (and parents)? I expressed as much to T1.

But these other emotions? They come from a deeper hurt.

T1′s emotions this week have also roller coastered. She’s sought out both girls; she’s apologized. The one who has frozen her out has not responded but an actually conversation has not taken place. I’ve seen her get angry, just like me, about the pots calling the kettle black… and coming to me with a myriad of examples.

I’ve had to caution her about doing that. “Don’t give in to that anger. If it’s never bothered you, you can’t bring it up, but yes, those are good examples of how you all treat each other.” But I hope she knows I feel her pain and her outrage, her confusion, and her sorrow.

I did take her aside later this week to express my concern over what I was teaching her. “My emotions, my struggle, are coming from a place of hurt. From damage. I’m not sure it is healthy or that I’m being the best example.”

I’ve never talked to my children about my initial trauma. I don’t intend to if I don’t have to. T1 knows about the circumstances of the last two. “I wasn’t put first. I wasn’t protected. No one stood up for me. That is my damage. But I will promise you this, I will always stand by you. I will always defend you. And teaching you for years to come is my job.”

In regards to my PTSD, writing my response helped me avoid some of the downward spiraling and obsessive behaviors a situation like this could cause. I’m not one to harm myself but man, what would I give to have another friends say to these women, “Did you know I had to talk her off a ledge last night thanks to you two?” I want a knight in shining armor to sweep in and defend me and my child. It is this reaction that got me thinking about where all this was coming from.

I told T1 that I haven’t decided what I will do with my response letter. I don’t know if it is a moot point and they just won’t change or if I should give them the opportunity they never gave me. I did ask T1 her thoughts and I think she very maturely said, “Send it to them.”

Part 4: What to do…

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Parenting: Conflict and Avoidance, Part 2

March 27, 2014

So where was I leading with all of this? Why was I letting you, dear reader, know about my personal values and standards?

Perhaps because there are some in my life who don’t realize that I hold these things very dear. I can be insulted in so many ways but if I’m never given the chance to give an accounting for my actions and the past is dragged up, that cuts me. Really cuts me. And I’ve had a few days to think about all of this and why.

Recently I had two friends do just this very thing. Only it involved my child. The first overheard a conversation incorrectly. When I went to talk to her I even began with, “You may have heard us talking, etc., etc.” Then I was confronted with, “Yes, I did hear you talking and you should know that your child has criticized and bullied [the other woman's] child and that is why my child no longer invites her over.”

Some important details:

1. She incorrectly overheard us talking about a different child with the same name as the other woman’s child who was in fact bullied and a bully herself to my child.

2. The incident she is referring to took place 18 MONTHS AGO.

3. My child and the other woman’s child have a history of picking on each other but apparently my child is the only one who crosses the line.

4. She insists her child has spoken to mine, and perhaps even said she talked to my child (I was seeing so much red it wasn’t funny) and basically told me that she is choosing not to change.

5. Given her child’s history of not owning up to her mistakes and not talking to another child who was bullying my child because of a lie told her, around the same time frame, I highly doubt her child spoke up to mine. But this parent insists she was talked to, knows that her child talked to her, and that she is suffering the consequences of her actions.

Next enters the other woman. In my outrage that it took 18 months to tell me something about this incident I put this other woman on the defense and she blurts out “Did you know your child slapped mine at the mall the other night?”

“Uh, no–because YOU DIDN’T TELL ME! When were you going to tell me?”

“Never. They will work it out.”

Over the course of two hours the reasons for not telling me made me angrier and angrier. I am not mad about what they said my child did–I can fully accept the truth of the accusations. I am mad that they didn’t give me the chance to make her accountable, didn’t give me the chance to be her parent. I was told things like “She was talked to. She’s choosing not to change.” “They need to work it out. You interfere too much. Are you going to fight all her battles?” “Why does this have to be a teaching moment? You’ve been teaching her all along and she’ll make her own choices no matter what you say to her.” (This one really bothered me because they kept comparing her to their almost delinquent children, siblings of the girls involved.) “You’re reacting exactly the way we thought you’d react.” (Hey, try to tell me when it happens and you will be pleasantly surprised at my lack of anger towards the two of you.) “You don’t give your child enough credit for being good.” “Don’t go home and read her the riot act.”

Oh, and the kickers: “We don’t want this to change our friendship” and “We don’t want your child taking this out on our children because you give her hell for this.” But it is okay for your child to walk away, freeze my child out when she may not even realize? (Oh wait, according to them “she should already know.”) Is this the correct way of teaching them how to deal with problems? I guess those relationship and conflict management experts will have job security for generations to come.

I have gone through every emotion possible. Outrage and pissed off are the strongest two. I have sat down with my child and delivered the news to her that her friends have deliberately frozen her out over something 18 months ago. I have told her in no uncertain terms the laying of hands on another person is totally unacceptable. I held her while she cried.

And we have talked about what I’m really disappointed in–friends who chose not to tell me about my child, who made parenting decisions for me, did not give me the chance to stand-up for (and punish) my own child, called my parenting into question, dragged up the past and opened the door for the examination of their children’s behavior and actions.

I have looked at my own actions–have I ever withheld anything from them? Not directly and there was communication involved. My own shame in a certain incident kept me from speaking about it but the public apology was my way of saying, “If you want to address this with me, now is the time.” So no, I’ve never chosen not to let a parent know about their child’s behavior.

But how do I address this with them now? How can they possibly think our relationship hasn’t changed? Do I let it go and remind myself that I can never bring it up again? Or do I give them a chance to address my complaints–I don’t want to be a hypocrit? In our initial conversation neither of them regrets withholding, only the telling me. I say, “do not regret telling me, regret holding it back and look at the mess you created.” So will saying anything further to them make any difference?

Part 3: What I am teaching my child…

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