Thursday, November 16, 2006


I'm trying to figure out how to blog about this without sharing more than I should on the Internet.

My father is a recovering alcoholic. My mother divorced him when I was seven. The levels and sorts of abuse I went through are not comparable to what most of my kids had to deal with, although I understand now that to my four-year-old psyche it did not matter. As an adult I could be in a car crash and walk away trembling and think, "Thank God for air bags! How much worse that might have been!" If I were four, the car crash would be the most horrible, terrible, life-threatening thing that had ever happened, and it would be possible that certain things in my adulthood would bring back all those four-year-old feelings. That other people had been in worse car crashes would have nothing at all to do with those feelings.

The point?

Well, since Evan got his visa and all his plans settled for going away his alpha male side has been coming out. "Cwalls" pointed out that he is being possessive, which wasn't an adjective I had used, but is really accurate. He is a 260 pound clingy, demanding, domineering baby gorilla.

I have been feeling bullied.

I am also feeling really sad because he is going to go, and really tired because of everything I have to do, and I have not gone to Alanon for more than a month. All of that has left me, well, less good at dealing.

So Evan has been doing his thing and instead of simply remembering I am the parent and shaking my head at his stumbling attempts to figure out how to be a grown up, instead of quietly disengaging his clingy fingers and giving myself some space, instead of calmly telling him the other morning at 6:00am "Evan, you need to shut your window or block your vent" with an attitude that communicates, "Yeah...I know you hate for someone to wake you up at 6:00am, but that is the natural consequence of banging doors and freezing drafts in the living room," instead of all that I have been feeling and sometimes reacting like a four-year-old.

I have wanted to stamp my feet and say, "I will NOT be bullied in my own home! Stop! Leave me alone! I will hit you back!!"

I forgot that I don't have to defend myself as the parent. I am the parent. I just get to make the rules. I get to enforce them. I can say no without being furious. I don't have to engage. I don't have to let the inner four-year-old who is afraid of being bullied and hurt be in charge. I can parent her, take care of those feelings, and also be a parent to Evan. (Can anyone tell that I got to see my counselor yesterday?)

And there is another point...

I had a pretty stable childhood. I had a mother who loved me and took care of me. I was never afraid that I would not be taken care of. I was never afraid that my basic needs would not be met (at least when I was with her). I have had a good adulthood. I have had a lot of time to understand my trauma and what it means. I have been in a safe, loving, supportive marriage for 21 years.

And sometimes the trauma that I experienced as a child takes over. Sometimes I react to a stituation from that experience, and not from the reality that I am currently safe, loved, and an adult.

So why would I expect that a child or a teenager who suffered more trauma for longer periods of time to be any different? Why would I think that the fact that they have been safe for one whole year, that they intellectually know that I will not reject them, mean that they would not react like frightened four-year-olds? Why do I think that somehow I can make them feel safe enough that all that will just go away? Why would I think they would be more healed at 15, 17, or 19 than I am at 43?


  1. This is one of the best posts you have ever written. As we say in hebrew, "Yasher Koach" loosely translates as may you go from strength to strength, or more power to you. I'm proud of you beth. :D

  2. Indeed, yasher koach. Great post.

    It's hard, sometimes, not to get sucked into the kiddie drama our kids throw at us. I keep having to remind myself that I am the parent, and that FosterEema and I are really the ones who get to make the rules around here.

  3. Sounds like a lot to deal with for anyone. I'm impressed at how well you are handling yourself.

  4. Thank you!

    I needed to hear this today.

  5. There are many things that I know but they still don't stop me from wanting to beat my head against the wall occasionally.

    I may be in the minority here but I'd be more concerned if you didn't overreact occasionally.

    Sometimes the best thing I can do is walk out of a room and leave them talking to themselves.


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