Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Ramblings of a Madwoman

In the post Unseen Signs, I mentioned I thought we may need to help Jordan because I feared she would burn out by high school. That was written in October, 2011. By the time April came around (only six months later) I was more than just mentioning it. The following is what was written in my journal. Warning ~ It's a mess of rambling thoughts and emotions.

We need to get her help. Adam just spent 40 minutes talking to her while she sobbed, and I ran. I brought her dinner up to her room and she apologized, saying she doesn't know how we put up with her. She said she can't help it. I hate when she's hard on herself afterwards. She appears so self aware and mature, it's like she's a different child once the storm passes. Adam and I sometimes handle it well, but not all the time. We both yell at her. We resent and get angry and don't always hold back our emotions. I have come close to losing it more than once. I'm sick of us having to walk on eggshells and function around her moods. It's not healthy for us as a family. At times we have solutions and stories and words, but we're too emotionally IN it. We're learning and flailing and experimenting and trying things. We're yelling that we're going to take her out of every after school function one minute, and then telling her how great she is, and how proud we are, the next. And we never follow through with our threats, because afterwards she feels so guilty and remorseful that we feel we don't need to, We know she can't help it. We really do believe that. I feel badly for her, and I have since she slammed her head into her crib bars and tried to rip her door off it's hinges. (I'm not sure how this little tidbit was omitted from my journal, but I vaguely remember it happening.) I want her to be happy and I honestly think she needs professional help. Help from someone who isn't emotional, doesn't take it personally, can give her skills and techniques without threats and promises and anger.
We are confused and confusing the situation more and more as she gets older. We take turns being rational to avoid the blow ups. She should sleep more, but we have no control over her bedtime, especially if she has homework. Her perfectionism is a real problem. It's not fair to her if we let this continue- hoping we figure it out, searching for what works each time. Hoping we don't get too emotional the next time. Hoping we had a good enough day, or are in good enough moods to be able to handle her moods and emotions.
And that is why I think we need to get her help from someone who is not Us.

So that's how things were going, and how I was dealing.  Yeah.

I think it's blatantly obvious that we needed help, but it took a long time, even from this point, until we got it. Here's my advice to those who may be struggling:  Do not wait as long as we did.  There is help and hope out there, and life really shouldn't be that hard.

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Two Small, Simple Reminders

Happy Thanksgiving!

"When asked if my
cup is half-empty
or half-full,
my only response is
that I am thankful I have a cup." :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Stuck Again

Five seemingly endless days later, Jordan and her friend made up. Woot! They apologized to each other on Facebook, and all was right with the world. Or so you would think. It was the week before spring break, so the 7th grade school workload was piling up. Jordan had a one (yes, one) to five minute oral report to prepare for, and it wasn’t going well. The problem? Jordan believed the antagonist from the book was the character’s cerebral palsy, while her teacher informed the class that the antagonist had to be a character in the story.

She was seriously stuck, and nothing could be said or done to get her unstuck. Believe me, we tried. We gave her suggestions, spoke rationally, tried to wait it out... all to no avail. She cried from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Three long hours. I would like to say these three hours were the most trying of my life, but they weren't. As you're probably well aware, this was not the first time Jordan's emotions pushed her to the brink.

I'm not sure why my brain is taking me here, but I'm gonna run with it...
Listening to your infant screaming while having absolutely no idea why, it was like participating in a gut wrenching guessing game. I remember thinking nothing could be worse than this. Man, was I wrong. Helplessly watching Jordan begin to drown in overwhelming hopelessness when she was thirteen... that was worse.

I think people have certain expectations of thirteen year olds. We assume they have the ability to communicate and articulate their desires and feelings. Unlike infants, teens are capable of speaking, reasoning and listening. Unless they aren't.

When they aren't (or won't??) believe me, it's not easy or fun.

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Parental Fears vs.Reality

Even though Jordan was blatantly being avoided by most of her “friend” group, there were two sweet girls who had the guts to go against the majority. They invited Jordan to a trampoline park, and she came home in such a good mood. I can’t tell you how nice it was to see her smile.

I’m not sure how or why her mood began to change, but it did. By 11:00 that night she was miserable. How does someone go from euphoric jumping and laughing, to being incapable of putting on her pajamas?

Needless to say, I was getting more and more angry by the minute. I thought the whole situation was crap and she was completely playing and manipulating me, to get a reaction. Cringe. It was as if all those non-productive, parental fears (you know... the ones no one likes to admit to, but during certain times of weakness, we sometimes let sneak into our thought patterns) were relentlessly slamming me down:
  • Our child will have no friends.
  • Our child will not be able to take care of herself.
  • Our child will be unhappy.
  • We will lose control of our child.
  • We are going to screw up our child.
More often than not, Adam was the voice of reason. This was probably true because when one parent is losing it, the other tends to instinctively keep it together. He explained to me that we needed to be calm and speak with a matter-of-fact tone, because if we reacted with anger or emotion, it would only make things worse. I can certainly attest to that, but I was pissed!

This tends to sound so emotional and dire, and I guess at times our lives may have felt that way, but these posts are only short snippets of our story. Life has, and probably will continue to be, filled with ups and downs. And it's okay.

Adam, continuing to be the voice of reason that he is, assures me that the struggles we face today, can ultimately provide us with the tools necessary to achieve success later in life. I sure hope he's right.

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, November 11, 2017

We Are ALL Different

Something else made my heart twinge more than the fact that Kayla wouldn't want to be friends with her older sister; As a child, I wouldn't have chosen to hang out with a kid like Jordan either. Unless, of course, she happened to run. ;)

Notice I said it made my heart twinge. It doesn't anymore. It's funny, I think before people have kids, everyone kind of pictures them as mini-clones of themselves. This is so not how it works.

Yes, if our kids are very different than we were (or are) life will probably be more challenging, but having Jordan as my daughter has helped open my eyes, my mind and especially my heart to all types of people.

Apparently my way is, and has never been, the only way. Huh... Who knew??

Thank you.

Us Too

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A New Mortal Enemy and Enlightenment

What’s the one scenario you would be least likely to hope for when one of your kids is in a fight with her best friend? How about having that best friend reach out to another one of your kids?  Kayla began “discussing” (aka texting) the situation with Jordan’s New Mortal Enemy (NME).  

My first instinct was no way, because everyone knows how the wonderful world of middle school drama works. There are two sides, and everyone is either on one or the other. All of a sudden I was annoyed, and left wondering, what the heck happened to Team Beck? It was then, that Kayla enlightened me.

Apparently, both Jordan and NME were saying the exact same things about each other. Go figure. They had very similar personalities. Both were intelligent girls who could be mean, moody, over controlling, and confident--while also being insecure. (Not the easiest personality-trait combo.) Kayla told me she wouldn’t be friends with either of them, and that most of the issues brought up were exactly what she had dealt with growing up with Jordan. Why would she take her sister's side? Hearing Kayla voice this realization still makes my heart twinge a little, even today.

I did the Mom-thing, explaining how it wasn't easy for Jordan to be the way she was, and that she really couldn't help her behaviors. If she could, wouldn't she ease up and change, in order to avoid the pain and conflict? I'm sure this was a tough pill for Kayla to swallow. Hell, when I was in the midst of the emotional arguments, I had trouble believing she couldn't control her actions. (Not surprisingly, this led to numerous future, cringe-filled moments.)

But she was our child. There was so much more to her than the argumentative, difficult, angry behaviors we were sometimes presented with. I'm glad I realized this back then. We raised her, and we were well aware of the many facets that made Jordan...Jordan. We knew the funny, sarcastic, confident, caring, smart, sensitive, love-filled Jordan. We, meaning Adam and I, just needed the understanding, patience, and the guidance before we were able to help her find her happiness and her wholeness.

Thank you.

Us Too

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Post Filled With Gratitude

Within the past few days I've received some positive feedback from some very special people. I would like to take a few minutes to express my gratitude. Some even told me they took the time to read Us Too from its very beginning. That requires some kick-butt discipline. :) Thank you!

I realize the posts are getting more emotional, and possibly more uncomfortable, especially for those who know us. Like many families, we basically had to hit, what felt like rock-bottom. Only then were we ready and capable of beginning the frightening, all-engulfing search for help.

Oh, and one more thing… please keep in mind that the Us Too Story took place in the past.  Now that Jordan is away at college, does she still have bouts of anxiety and depression (it’s actually more like sadness now), and struggle with dermatillomania? Of course she does.

But our story has improved one million percent since the time Jordan was in middle school. We are no longer controlled by the anger and fear. Today, instead of asking ourselves the reactionary, unproductive, emotional question: "Why us?", we try to take proactive steps towards helping Jordan get through the rough patches.

And if the Becks can do it, anyone can!

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Maybe Middle School Does Suck

You know how when someone mentions the words middle school, most adults groan and cringe? I never truly understood this reaction until watching Jordan try to navigate her way through. Sure, I look at the pictures of myself in middle school and cringe, (the hair and clothes of the early eighties... need I say more?) but I don't equate this time as being sad and angst filled. Was it awkward? Sure. But miserable? Not that I remember.

Now I better understand the negative reaction. During this time things were so rough in the Beck household, that we felt obligated to take away Jordan’s cell phone. Her lifeline. Ouch. Simultaneously, Jordan’s best friend decided to hate, and completely ignore Jordan, while she (in the typical middle school fashion) strategically pulled the rest of the friend group away with her. Perfect.

All of this led to yet another ridiculously trying night. Jordan was sobbing in her bed and I was desperately trying to console her. In the past Jordan would reluctantly latch onto something I said, no matter how minuscule it may have been. This would inevitably lead us to some sense of closure, resolve, and much needed relief at the end of the day.

But it appeared those days were disappearing from our nightly routines. Nothing I said helped. Actually, much of what I said made her more upset, more angry, She reacted as if I had no clue, and worse than that, no right to voice my opinion. Excuse me? You won't even try to accept my help? As you can imagine, with my competitive, but also so very empathetic personality (when it came to my kids), this did not sit well.

Instantly I felt I was being cascaded into unprecedented levels of anger and hurt. Not a good combination. It killed me to see her suffering and I would have done anything to help her, but she refused to let me.

And I was very resentful.

Thank you.

Us Too