Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ann's Story Part 20: Dealing with Ann's Threats

Feb. 11, 2003
To my friend:

I am getting a cold and I am very tired. My throat hurts and I am don't want to deal. Work is stressful and I am beginning think that "department chair" is just another word for "mommy." I just want to hide.

Ann spent yesterday with her parents. She had a good day and came home in a good mood, but later, when she did not want to go to bed, she started up again with the "concerns" about her immanent horrible behavior. She will not be able to control herself indefinitely...she will get angry and hit someone. I am getting really, really tired of this conversation.

Roland and I gave her the hard sell. We told her that everyone has the right to feel safe and that if anyone in this family started threatening someone else we would call 911 and have them taken somewhere where they could get help. Roland specifically told her that if he did anything like that I would call. She said that I would not because I loved him. I assured her that I really would, but she seems not certain as to whether to believe me. She knows that I love him and can't quite accept that love does not require taking abuse. I however am very, very clear on that.

I am learning that I can cope with all kinds of things. I am also learning that I am not good at dealing with two things: 1) someone telling me that she doesn't want to live here; and 2) threats of violence.

The first one makes me feel like telling her, "so pack and ask Ruby to find you a new place to live!" I can take a deep breath and remind myself that she is happy here, she is just sad because she misses Mandy and John...and conflicted because she is happy here and feeling guilty about it. I think through all that and I don't feel angry anymore. I can respond appropriately...which is to say very little response at all. " said that before. Have you finished your homework?"

So much that Ann does is an attempt to see what will get attention from me, negative or otherwise. I told you about her occasional refusal to go to bed? She will sit in the living room and announce that she does not want to go to bed. We ignore her. If that does not work we tell her that we do want to go to bed, turn off all the lights, and leave her sitting alone in the dark living room. I am really good at this stuff. I am better than I was when Carl was here at recognizing my impending tiredness and taking a break.

I am not very good at the threats of violence. So far they are not really threats...the are expressions of quiet concern about future violent behavior. I don't seem to be able to make myself ignore them. It is important to me that she understands that frightening people is unacceptable. I am quite comfortable with the position that if she even frightens Andrew and Brian she cannot live here. It pushes deep anxiety buttons for me. I lived in fear of my father for years. I will not live with someone who threatens me. I will not ask my kids to live with someone who threatens them. Part of me thinks that she is just trying out another tactic to get my attention, and I am feeding it. We have the same conversation every are the consequences of violence. I should just change the subject, but I don't. I need her to understand that she hurts someone she moves out. If she will have to test that to believe it she might as well move out now.

The thing is I am not certain if these are just attention-getting claims. If I was certain that they were I would be able to cope with them. I could give the non-response response and move on. But if it is not, if she means what she says, that eventually she will hurt one of us, then she is living in the wrong home. I would have a terrible time forgiving myself if she hurt one of the boys.

I am tired, sick, stressed from work and really not coping well. Today we have a family therapy appointment with Ann's counselor. We will have to deal with this today.
Part 21

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