Audio file for those who prefer to listen:
Things were sailing through the air again. How hard it was to wrap my head around that fact. I couldn’t stop my own frustration and disappointment from compounding what was actually happening. We were past all of this! “WTF,” I thought. (Sorry, but that is the thought I locked onto. My own shock and tiredness took over.) I picked up a smashed CD, with edges sharp as a knife. A phone charging cord was whipped in my direction. Fast. Furious. More powerful than I remember. He is growing after all.
Sadness. Deep sadness. (Mine.)
Will he always have these cycles?
Will this always happen – when we think we have things sorted and then it gets up-ended?
“I can’t be trusted with electronics!” He says this as he starts throwing them. I beg – totally off script. I beg for him to please, please, please just put things down, let me help him. I am oxygen to his inner fire. I know I should not be here saying these things this way, but I am.
I am deflated. In that moment I am feeling beaten. I am ashamed. As I was defending myself from the flailing cords, I made open-palmed, light but definite contact with the top of his head. “I am sorry, I didn’t mean that.” His betrayed eyes deserved more. I said it: “I am afraid you are going to hurt me with those cords. You HAVE to stop this.” I am completely off script. He stared at me. Shocked, I think, that I said I was afraid. Why couldn’t I stop, regroup, do this right?
I did get it right – eventually. Once I found my footing again. We didn’t have any major breakage. He did find his way back to our agreed strategies. No electronics were sacrificed. No one was hurt. It was all over fairly quickly, at least when measured by the scales of days gone by – those times that were haunting me as this meltdown began.
It’s hard. Hard for me. Worse for him. He was disappointed. I was crushed. And so mad at myself. I felt I had let him down.
He’s been telling us for weeks that something is bugging him about school. Using every way he can think of to tell us. “It’s like it was in Year 8” (meaning before he transferred from mainstream and nearly had a breakdown). “My brain can’t handle it.” “I can’t do five days a week of this.” “It’s too much writing.” “I ask but they won’t let me have a sensory break.” “I told a lie to one of my friends.”
So much is piling up inside him, we are worried. We know the signs of a child not coping. We know what might happen if this spirals further.
But this time, this time we are in a place with access to resources that can help. And we know now how to use them.
We raise concerns with school and get immediate replies. They will look into things, do some assessments, remind him to access sensory support. We have a therapist who comes to our home every two weeks. We tell him. He will liaise with school. We agree two possible strategies and rate the things we identify as needing attention: 1) helping our son better understand relationships, and 2) helping him to recognise his anxiety and rehearse strategies. The therapist will break these down with the school. Devise ways to approach these issues. We will discuss this with other national-level therapists we will see in a few weeks’ time and feed back to local therapists. We have a quick response from the doctor regarding adjusting meds.
The various parts of his support network are all there, all onside. We trust them, they trust us. Thankfully they are not going away any time soon.
I begin to breathe again.
I let the realisation wash over me: we are not going back to that dark place.
We KNOW just how very lucky we are to have access to these people. (We know all too well too many families are struggling, denied access to such such services for no good reasons.) We are actually starting to talk now about how to help our son transition into adulthood. I feel safety nets around him growing wider (though I know, know how fragile these are even for those adults with FASD who are doing extremely well). Friends near and far via various social media platforms extend support. Tips. Cyber hugs.
We have all grown.
We are all growing.
We are connected. We are not alone.
It was good to be reminded that fear of the future does still gnaw inside me. It’s why I haven’t written in a while. I didn’t know what I was thinking.
I faced that fear. I had to wrestle with it. Tame it. Again.
Pretending it’s not there only leaves us sucker punched when it catches us when we least expect it.
We are not in the same place we were as a family when the crisis hit a while ago. I can’t say what the future might bring, but I can breathe deep and recognise we are not in crisis now. We had a blip. We will have blips. Our son is – on the whole – doing extremely well. He is growing, learning and yearning – a body full of hopes and dreams and desires and instincts and frustrations led by a brain that has yet to learn how to ride its waves with less chaos or pain.
But he will get there. He is getting there.
My husband heard him on the phone last night talking to a friend. The friend kept asking him, “Are you OK? What are you doing?!” Our little one replied, “Yes. I’m OK. I’m listening to my music. It calms me.”
The kids are all right.
And (knock on wood) the parents are too.