Saturday, September 30, 2017

No Apology Necessary

I’m not sure if this is true for all those battling the gamut of mental struggles (anxiety, perfectionism, depression, over-stimulation…) but life’s BIG moments, the significant ones like holidays and celebrations, appear to be so very difficult for those afflicted. And I assume it’s probably harder for kids, although being an adult is no picnic either, so I guess I'm not sure about that.

I think I mentioned this in earlier posts, but Jordan’s Christmas days always began with such excitement and optimism. She truly believed in the picture perfect magic of Christmas. The problem was, inevitably something unexpected would occur, and it would completely derail her from her "joy-ride". (Get it? derail and ride)

Of course something unexpected was bound to happen. And here's why: Jordan was going to be 13 in less than two weeks (and we all remember the joys of being 13), we had four excited, high-energy people surrounding the Christmas tree in a small room, and we had one lower energy person trying his best to keep up). Not to mention, we were all aware of the impending time parameter, the one that in theory, would get us out the door and to a family party by a specific time.

Some people can roll with the excitement, the exhilaration and the family togetherness that go hand in hand with a holiday celebration. For someone like Jordan, it was hard. All of a sudden we would watch her close up and shut down. She quickly went from a level of near-elation, to (dare I say) the gallows of depression. It was different, and maybe easier than the huge fits she used to throw, but certainly not any better.

Later she would always apologize and explain that she couldn't help it. Once it began, once she got angry, even for the smallest thing, she would have no control. Of course I believed her, but it made me sad; sad that she went through it, and sad that she felt the need to apologize to us afterwards.

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Big Emotions For All


As I read ahead in my journal I found clarification regarding the last entry, the one that described the girl drama over who gets to use the bag. Firstly, it did belong to Kayla. Secondly, Kayla told me that she normally would have let Jordan use the bag, but since Jordan had given her a hard time for so long, about all of her boyfriends, there was no way she was letting Jordan use it. And the term “boyfriends” was a bit of an exaggeration since all Kayla was doing was texting and hanging out with a group of friends at football games, which happened to include some boys.

As a parent you tend to wonder (at least I did) how your actions will affect your children's futures. As Jordan accused, did we take Kayla’s side more often? Well, yes we probably did. I hated seeing one of my kids mistreat a sibling, and Jordan could be relentless. But how did this affect Jordan?

Perhaps if I try to describe in detail how one of our drama filled nights played out, it will help to explain why I worried about the repercussions of our parental behaviors:

Try to picture this:
  • -We yelled and vented and she retreated into a corner of her room covering her ears, refusing to look at, or listen, to us. 
  • -Our worry and anger was brewing and spewing out, while her independent spark was slowly, quietly dimming. 
  • -Adam and I took turns speaking our minds, finding strength in our mutual parental-bond and life experiences, while she cried, felt ambushed, and said nothing. 


But her independent spark, the one we intended on feeding and nurturing, was ultimately what was hurting her. It led to lack of sleep, no down time, stress, and an impossible desire for perfection.  Ultimately she began trying to avoid life by shutting down, in the hopes that the pressures would somehow disappear on their own.

And if there's one thing I am reasonably confident about, it's that life's pressures don't usually subside without some sort of self reflection or effort. (The key word there, being self.)

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Giving Up Control

The next night was another rough one. I’m having trouble following the details in my journal, but it had something to do with a bag that Jordan wanted to take on a field trip, but Kayla had already packed for gym class. Or something like that. All I know is we were blamed for always taking Kayla’s side, and Jordan loudly refused to go to bed. The tears didn’t stop and the lights didn’t go out until after 11:00, and that was only because her attendance at a friend’s party was on the line.  Stubborn!

As if we hadn’t had enough drama in one week, the next night was the one I was referring to when I mentioned the “breakthrough”. And it all began because Adam had the gall to ask what else she had left for homework. (Which in my mind was a very valid question, due to all the late night crap we had been going through, plus the fact that she was only in seventh grade. We’re not talking junior year, here.)

I think the best way to illustrate the magnitude of the emotions involved, is to list all the comments we forcefully threw at her. Here we go:

  • You need to tell us!
  • You need to give up the control.
  • Accept our help. Your way is not working well.
  • We love and care about you.
  • We don't want you to study all of the time. It's not healthy.
  • You need more than six hours of sleep a night (Her alarm went off at 5:30 every morning)..
  • We know you are an excellent student but you don't HAVE to be, all of the time.
And get this....

Jordan told Adam what she had left for homework (with a little coaxing from us), and she let Adam help her!! Our daughter actually asked for help on the last part of her paper! Holy Crap!

For the rest of the night we repeatedly told her how proud we were of her. After all, this was a first for us, not having the night end in anger and hysterics. Yes, this may have been a first, but it certainly wasn't a last. If you continue following Us Too, you'll see what I mean by that.

I think (but I'm not sure) that having the same "breakthrough" occur over and over again, kind of makes it less of a breakthrough, and more of a problem.

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Easier Said Than Done

If only...

Here’s the next sentence written in my journal:  A breakthrough with Jordan!
I then described how the following two nights progressed. Jordan was stuck on a writing assignment. She sat staring at her computer for hours, so I suggested a possible topic. Surprise surprise, it wasn’t good enough. Well something was better than nothing!

By 9:30 pm I was beginning to get angry. I’m sure I didn’t say this with much empathy or sensitivity, but I blurted out: “Just write something, or leave it blank and be done with it. Sitting and doing nothing for hours is not an option; you don’t have to be perfect at everything!”  I guess this could be classified as cringe-worthy, although it was so hard watching her lock up and freeze, and then refuse to accept any help or suggestions. Witnessing such self defeating behavior, as a parent, was frustratingly painful.

While Jordan was in the shower I wrote down my idea for the paper, and left it on her desk. Miraculously, it was good enough to incorporate into her paper. She finally finished by 11:15.

This wasn’t the “breakthrough” I was referring to, although the fact that the paper was completed, and she was in bed before 11:30 is nothing to sneeze at. Nope. When the Becks encountered a breakthrough, it was usually preceded by quite a bit of turmoil and drama.

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Life Happens

While Jordan was making her way through 7th grade, Adam was given some bad news. The company he worked for was filing for bankruptcy and he was going to lose his job. Shhh... Did you just hear that? That was the sound of the Beck’s soft cushy rug, once firmly secured under our feet, being ripped out from under us..

Here’s a quote from my journal portraying where I was mentally and emotionally during this time:

“I wish someone would just tell us what to do, or what our next phase in life should be. I hope someday we will look back at this and remember it as a time we were able to get through. Somehow.”

I'm not sure if I was naive or if everyone feels this way, but I honestly assumed that my life would be struggle-free. Okay... After writing that, I clearly see that I was 100% naive.

I also wrote down some brief bullet points as to where Jordan was in her first months of 7th grade:
  • On weekends she’s tired and miserable.
  • She skips lunch and mopes, doing homework all day.
  • Her homework takes way too long and she wants it to be perfect.
  • She doesn’t want to talk to any of us about it, or ask for help.

(Is this when Jordan's "super powers" began to slowly develop?)

Family members feed off each other’s moods and emotions. It’s inevitable. So what happens when Dad is stressed and forced to go to work knowing his days are numbered, Mom is freaking-out wondering how we are going to get through this financially, our seventh grade daughter was a perfectionist, our sixth grade daughter was getting accustomed to middle school, and our son was a sensitive fourth grade boy?  (That last one, because of society's "tough boy" mentality, is enough to tip the mom coping-chart off it's axis.)

I’ll tell you what happens. Life happens.
And it’s not always pretty, neat or easy.

Thank you.

Us Too