Thoughts of the Day with a Side of Brooding

Today the school called to have me come in for Little Bear. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten a call from them, but this time was different. I could hear him crying in the background over the phone.

The first thing she tells me is that she didn’t want me to take him home. She didn’t want to start that cycle back up. So I’m asking her what she needed me to do, because I hadn’t been told what was wrong yet other than he was inconsolable. That and I’m not particularly fond of flying blind with this child of mine. I love him dearly but if you take the wrong approach things go south fast.

Think of a snowball rolling down a mountain, growing bigger as it goes, and with every bump along the way there is the risk of it exploding.

I want to teach my son how to self-regulate, but I don’t believe there is a need to create extra bumps in the process.

So anyway, what I ended up getting out of the phone call was: she didn’t know what was wrong, she didn’t know how to help him, and she was calling me as part of the crisis plan set in the IEP. Okay, crisis management it is. I can do that.

Well it took more time to get myself bundled up and scrap the ice off my car than it did to drive to the school. Story of my winter life, really. By the time I got there Little Bear had stopped crying, was in good spirits, and was able to tell me what happened.

He was playing Jenga during his social therapy time and there was a misunderstanding/disagreement over who got which half of the blocks. I think? His speech was rapid at this point.

I’m told normally he doesn’t take issue with sharing these blocks, but today it broke his heart. This came from the aide that works with him one on one – not the same person that called by the way. And not having seen the events myself, there is no way for me to even guess why.

So there’s a couple of things here.

First, last night I struggled with Little Bear to stay in bed until midnight. Everyone agrees when this happens his impulse control and mood regulation goes down the toilet.

Second, he didn’t turn into that exploding snowball like he usually does AND he calmed himself down. Today he demonstrated basic understanding of this coping skill and was successful in using it. I’m super proud. Just saying those words are inadequate to how I feel about this. I think the words “quiet joy” is closer. And a bit of envy. I didn’t have those skills at his age. So I’m thankful we have the specialists and care providers we have today. This moment would not be possible if it weren’t for their support and guidance.

Third, even though I’m ridiculously happy over his developing skill set I’m still aware of the cloud lurking over all this. The sleep disruption and the dramatic swinging of moods could be early signs of instability. He’s been cranked with high energy ever since he got home off the bus today. I’m hoping it’s just a blip on the radar, or a hiccup if you will, rather than a complete shift.

Shortly after visiting Little Bear’s school and praising him for calming himself down, I checked in with my dad to update him about all that then I went to the high school to pick up Tuxedo Cat. Last week was mid-terms and one of the days ended up being a snow day. Today was the make up day for that. And as usual he had the office call to make sure I hadn’t forgotten him. And as usual, I had already left when they called. I don’t recall ever forgetting to pick him up for anything, but I do forget a lot of things so I guess his concern is justified.

So while we were walking to the car I tell him how Grandpa (my dad) said he wanted something different for dinner. I asked him for recommendations and he wanted to know what I meant by something different. I asked him there was anything new he wanted to try. There wasn’t. So I asked him if there was something we haven’t had in awhile that he would like to eat. Of course he asked if I could take everyone to Pizza Hut. As much as I would have loved to say yes, I had to tell him I can’t afford to do that right now. It never fails, we go and someone wants the salad bar instead and another wants the pasta, etc. The bill racks up pretty fast when we go out to eat. So then he asked for the pizzas at Walmart. I agreed to that. Just him and me in the store, I should be able to control the cost – right?

Wrong!

Not only did I buy four frozen pizzas, but I bought salad, fresh fruit, soda, and chips. Also grabbed the sugar free maple syrup my dad ran out of (and forgot to put on the shopping list) and snagged a couple bags of petite baby carrots for Little Bear’s school snacks. Still not as expensive as it would have cost me to take everyone to Pizza Hut, but not as cost efficient as I hoped I would be.

The wind was horribly cold today and my rush to get everything inside to get out of said wind is probably why I wasn’t paying as much attention to the ice in the driveway that I knew was there as I should have. With my arms full with half the stuff I bought, I feet slipped right out from under me and down I went on my back. The bags slid under the car and all I could say was “Well, fuck.” After taking a moment to assure myself I wasn’t dead, I rolled over and fished the bags out.

Piggy was visiting and her hubby stepped out to help me out. At the time, I honestly believed I was okay and not hurt. I blame this on the cold. About 15 minutes later I discovered I had broke the vein in my left palm. Not sure why, but I’ve had varicose veins in my hands ever since Scholar Owl was born and this isn’t the first time I’ve ruptured one. It looks ugly and aches something awful, but not life threatening.

Mom gets home, takes one look at it and asked me if I was sure I didn’t break something. I still don’t have any swelling beyond the area of the vein and the pain is localized only at that point. I had a greenstick break in my left arm once as a kid when I flipped my bike (just learning the ten-speed with the hand brakes and discovered the hard way why you need to apply the rear one first). I’m confident I haven’t broken anything. Honestly though, ripping three ligaments in my ankle hurt more than this. Almost willing to say that hurt as much as the break did, if not more. I do remember the pain lasted longer and I had to go through physical therapy after it healed.

Although I understand her concern. Not everyone registers pain the same way. No pain doesn’t necessarily mean no break. My judgment is based on a previous experience with a break. I have no problem with the idea of getting an x-ray if problems arise. Surprisingly, neither of them argued. I’m guessing they let it go since Piggy was there and wasn’t alarmed. She told me to ice it to help it heal better – something I didn’t know about varicose veins.

So Piggy and I talked about many things. Like my pending neuropsych eval and various diets. She has been keeping a food diary due to migraines and GI issues. Anything that made her feel worse, she removed from her diet. By following her gut (literally in this case) she accidently landed on the Paleo Diet. I told her about Beauty Beyond Bones’ blog posting recipes following this diet. While I don’t follow this diet personally, I think the photos she takes of the food is just fantastic. I honestly can’t remember if my sister was following this blog already or not. In any case, she acted like it was old news.

She also told me that not only is this diet good for those with GI issues, it shows good clinical results for those with ADHD. It makes sense given the fact that it’s basically a high protein, controlled carbohydrate diet. ADHD from what I’ve seen has a high energy demand on the body. This means not letting blood sugar spike or bottom out is important.

Being “Hangry” is a real thing. We are genetically coded to have a rise in aggression when hungry. I guess it served as a motivator to hunt and gather back in the more primitive days. Nowadays, it’s just a behavioral hassle in children and outright rude in adults. Okay, it’s rude with the kiddos too. Since Little Bear has been flagged as possibly having ADHD (either alone or co-occurring with Bipolar), I probably ought to pay more attention to this diet. He already leans instinctively towards a high protein diet so if I were to shift him over to the Paleo Diet he probably won’t fight me on it.

Despite the fact my father has had four heart attacks and Diabetes, he’s still eating a high fat, high carb, high processed meat diet. This is the same man that will ride my case about Tuxedo Cat’s weight but then pushes food on the child. Yes, he’s over weight. No, he’s not old enough to be put on a calorie restricted diet. And for the love of all that’s holy stop stuffing food in this child’s face like he’s starving to death. Then he complains to me that Little Bear never eats enough and never on a schedule. He’s gaining weight appropriately for his age and size according to ALL the doctors that care for him. There’s nothing wrong with this kid as far as his weight and diet goes.

Just one of the things my dad and I lock horns over. He’s a firm believer of three square meals a day – no more and no less. I’m firmly in the intuitive eating camp (aka: the grazers). Neither pattern is wrong exactly but the data points to lower rates of obesity with intuitive eating. I have two intuitive eaters and one who eats three square meals. In case you’re wondering, it’s Tuxedo Cat that isn’t the intuitive eater. Meanwhile my parents are convinced the other two are too skinny even though the doctors say their fine. I wish they would let me be the parent. I don’t know why following the doctors’ advice on this is so upsetting to them. Nobody is saying they’re wrong (well okay… maybe I am…).

Mom complained once that I’m condescending (at least I think this is the word she actually meant and if it is I accept her claim – condemning and condoning didn’t make sense when she was struggling for the right word that night given the context) in response to their advice. Their advice would be easier to consider if it was more consistent. It would be easier if it wasn’t the opposite of what the doctors are recommending. And it doesn’t help me receive it with an open mind when they contradict themselves within hours. They start doing that and I’m done. It’s worse than dealing with a circular argument.

I don’t remember it being this bad when we were kids. To make it more complicated, I’ve got one sibling (my youngest brother) confirming my perception and another sibling (my youngest sister) saying something else. She isn’t telling me I’m wrong, but she is saying she doesn’t see it the same. For the record, it’s been a really long time since she has lived with them while my brother moved out with his family just prior to me and my boys moving in. She does at least say that she sees what I call “broken logic” in dad. She called it something else, but I forget the word already.

The other two siblings no longer live in the area. One lives on the other side of the country and the other lives in a different country altogether. I don’t talk to my other sister much, but my other brother conveys an attitude of “they’re old, it’s normal” and laughs it off.

The reason this is important to me is:

  1. I have had too many people accuse me of perceiving things wrong because of my diagnosis
  2. I’ve had multiple therapists in the past outright accuse my parents of being abusive
  3. The question has been raised as to whether what I experience is really delusions or if it’s obsessive thoughts from OCD (both run in the family, so family history is no help here)
  4. my parents are dysfunctional – one is diagnosed, the other refuses screening

I have had case workers push me to move out of this house in the past (in fact, it’s how I ended up in that apartment run by that slumlord in the first place – and this was better for us how?). This is how strongly they felt about it. I do remember, vaguely, as a child this coming into question more than once. Obviously, nothing came of it but I do distinctly recall overhearing someone (a teacher?) saying I behaved like an abused child. Not sure what they meant to be honest. Over the years I’ve grown tired of defending my parents. I resent feeling that I have to.

I’m aware that the legal and public definition of abuse has changed dramatically over the years since I was born, but I’m still struggling with this. Not all children who act out are abused children. And yes, that was the FIRST thing the specialists looked at when we began Little Bear’s screenings. They determined that while Little Bear wasn’t a target and wasn’t being abused, my marriage still classified as a domestic violence situation. It took several years and multiple specialists to get me to understand why they believed that. It took several more years after that point to get out of the marriage.

I don’t agree with using today’s measurements of ethics and today’s legal system to judge the behavior of the past when that measurement or legislature didn’t exist during that time. What purpose does it serve? I want to believe my parents did the best they could with what they had – both in knowledge and resources. What I have seen consistently with my parents is when their understanding changes, their behavior changes with it. The people I have identified as abusers don’t do that.

When someone uses the word abuse, my first thought goes to the intent of the accused. Right or wrong, this is just how my mind works. In my experience, abusers often intend to cause harm in order to gain some kind of benefit. Most of the time, I honestly do not perceive that sort of intent with my parents. Yes, the way they go about things can be highly problematic and sometimes even counterproductive.

The only time I look back and can say, “Yes, harm was intended” was when dad was drunk. I was about 15 years old I think the last time he was drunk and his mother laid into him about becoming his father. That was the end of it. Forever. I started paying more attention to the whispers about my deceased grandfather and the picture it paints is… troubling. I can understand why the accusation drove him to quit cold turkey. No rehab or anything. The only explanation my father ever gave me was, “My family is more important.” The dismaying part in all of this is, my father remembers nothing when he’s drunk. So as far as he’s concerned, even to this day, none of that happened. YET, his mother struck a cord. I don’t know why this stuck with him even though he was drunk at the time, but it did.

And… I have a jaw that at some point in my life when the bones were still soft to bend rather than break was dislocated and then healed and grew in that dislocated state. There is no medical record of it any where. No x-rays. No ER. Nothing. I have no memory as to how it happened. I just know a doctor discovered it and tried to realign it after Scholar Owl was born and it wouldn’t stay in place. It popped back out the moment I’d open my mouth. At that point he told me an oral surgeon needed to break it and reset it to fix it. I haven’t gotten around to it yet. If I had been in some kind of accident that caused it, I know my parents would have taken me to the hospital. I mean it was the first thought my mom had today when I had fallen on the ice. Both my parents say they don’t know how it happened. My mom wants to blame the events she wasn’t present for in Texas when I was 19 years old. But this is the thing, when there is a break – regardless of the type – and it heals, the evidence of that break remains visible. So when medical professionals tell me this happened when the bones were still soft… I was far younger than the teenage years. Younger than the tween years even. It’s an unnerving thought. Because if it wasn’t my parents, then it was someone else and head trauma is the best explanation as why I remember nothing. You don’t recover those memories because they were never laid down in the brain to begin with.

So on one hand, I want to deny it all. On the other… I question. I wonder. Too many things simply don’t add up. Any time I have brought it up, my dad will accuse the specialists as having an axe to grind with something to prove – or some such thing. In the past, he’s told me I have no idea what abuse is. I guess being diagnosed with PTSD killed that argument because I don’t hear that one anymore. Mom will get all teary eyed and start up with this speech about being sorry she was such a bad parent that I end up wishing I kept my mouth shut. If it’s not that then it’s the blame shifting game. The whole, “I never did that, it was the other parent” type of shit.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve either deleted or marked private other posts that touch this subject. It feels… evil somehow to even explore for the truth on this one. I want someone to tell me either that I’m imagining it all or it’s is in fact my reality. I don’t need anyone to label it for me. I just want to know whether what I’m experiencing is even real.

As a child it was I had an over active imagination. As adult while dating, it was I was over sensitive and reactionary. Then I get married and suddenly I’m imagining everything. It’s hard not to question yourself when you reach this point.

I’m pretty sure what I’m seeing is real, but I want someone to validate it.

I can take ownership of hypervigilance and hyper response. It’s not hard for me to do that when my reality is validated. I know it’s part of the packaged deal with PTSD.

But damn… it’s so not helpful when people hedge with me about what’s real and what isn’t. And talking about when I’m trying to touch base with them for a reality check.

I don’t take kindly to anyone flinging at me “it’s my illness” during an argument or disagreement. I’m inclined to believe you’re using it as a weapon rather than trying to help me during those moments.

But if I ask you “Is this real?” or “Did this really happen?” or “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” or “Was that really said?” then answer clearly and directly without the bullshit. Don’t mess with my head. Don’t lie to me. Don’t dodge the bullet or beat around the bush. That last one really gets to me because it feels like an answer that doesn’t address the question presented.

I’m not asking you to make a value judgment on whatever it is. I can make those judgments for myself based on the validity of my reality. Hell, most of the time the only thing I care about is whether or not it’s real.

So I’m going to leave this in here in this post because this was a big part of my day today and one of the major topics of discussion with my sister even though I felt like I was getting mixed messages from her. I don’t feel like she was truly willing to commit one way or the other.

Not about our parents and not about my pending neuropsych either. She is now leaning towards OCD and Schizo-Affective disorder and she talked like this was old news but this is the first time Schizo-Affective was brought up in context of me. OCD was ruled out awhile back. She continues to stand by her opinion that I don’t have any form of Autism. Mom doesn’t seem to think so and a lot of the pre-screening I did while Tuxedo Cat was screened and diagnosed points to it being a possibility. However, my sister did point out that dysfunctional boundaries are in fact universal amongst the five of us – we just present that dysfunction in different ways. I thought that because they didn’t present like me, they didn’t have a problem. So in this at least she was direct with informing me that my perception was incorrect and explained why. I need more of that.

If my parents read my blog like they read my journals back in the day, I will probably get backlash from it just like I used to for some of my journal entries. And I know this was a thing that really happened because my sister started writing in a foreign language using the Celtic alphabet to stop them from doing it to her. My therapist asked me not too long ago if they read it and I told her I don’t know. I do know there are times I post nothing out of worry. I’ve noticed since I moved back in with them that this “nothing” is happening progressively more often.

How much of my concern is real and how much of it is obsessive paranoia? I will probably never have the answer to that. What I do know for a fact is that I’m functional enough to make sure my sons are getting the care and services they need. If I’m able to see and identify that reality correctly, then I can’t be that delusional… can I?

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