It’s hard to believe it’s only been about 2 weeks since the course of my future changed (at least in my awareness). It seems like it’s been so much longer, but perhaps that’s because so many things have been going on that it gives the feeling of time stretching out.
I have been working on trying to identify and set up my own boundaries in life. I have recognized my tendency for being codependent and I plan on start going to CoDA meetings (codependents anonymous) because I can’t figure out on my own how to not be that way. It’s been such a lifelong orientation, I really don’t know any other way. But I don’t want to be this way anymore. I want to be my own person. I also plan on starting back with a counselor who can help me work on not “spinning my own reality”. Someone probably with a strong background in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). I will do this at the beginning of the year when our new benefits kick in, which will happen to allow mental health visits/counseling with no copays! Plus I will have my annual EAP visits to use then as well.
I have been taking the time to turn to Allah whenever things get overwhelming. So, I have been turning to Allah pretty much on the hour, every day. Before, I would turn to myself or creation for solutions to my problems, and I want to get away from that maladaptive pattern too. So I have been doing a lot of work on myself, but I still have a lot more to go.
All of these details, plus still getting ready for the closing on 11/19, and some recent events with my youngest son, have been keeping me very busy. I have a great girlfriend I talk to almost daily, and she’s a wonderful support. With all of this the “pain of being alone” is softened. Though this is a lot of work and sacrifice, and yes I lose too much precious sleep, I can safely say this is certainly not the worst thing I’ve been through in life.
There are a lot of times I want to reunite with my husband. I want to go back to all the familiar comforts and dive back into the dreams we built, to keep chasing them. One thing I tell myself every time I notice I get carried away with those ideas is that to do so would be going back to living a lie, and the lie is namely that the behaviors he demonstrated in the marriage (and that I ignorantly overlooked too many times) were acceptable. They were never acceptable, I should’ve never tolerated it past the first time. So going back to that would be sending the message to myself, to him, to our children, and to society that abuse is OK if you can justify it or find a way of living with it. That’s just simply not true, so no matter what I might feel or want I commit myself to that truth and the response it merits.
One of the more difficult challenges I’ve been facing has to do with my baby, Jabiyr (gosh, how hard it is to work my mind around the fact that he will likely be the last child I birthed). Jabiyr, who can be the sweetest, most interesting and engaging boy, has always had a temper problem. I’ve often felt he genetically inherited that makeup from his father, because even as a baby he seemed angry. Where other babies (even my older children) would cry with needs, sadness, and plaintively, he growled. He was mad! He never seemed satisfied with any of my attempts to soothe him and he would just roar his frustrations out until he was exhausted.
As he got older, he was aggressive as a toddler. Some of that is to be expected at that age, so it was hard to distinguish which things were “personality” and which were developmental, because it wasn’t extremely severe. But when he started pre-K at age 4, his aggression took a specific form. He was suspended several times for hitting other kids and responding to stressful situations with violence. Other reprimands were given for him not listening or following directions, or hiding under his desk. In the end, he was actually expelled a week before the school year was over because these behaviors had just gotten to be too much.
I was hoping that perhaps these extremes were because he wasn’t used to school, and happened to be one of the youngest kids in class. I hoped it was just immaturity, and that with time and adjustment to the routine he would outgrow it. He always had a hard time adjusting to change, and has very particular preferences about how things should go. Yet, these trends continued into kindergarten and first grade. I don’t think there’s been a year he hasn’t been suspended at least a couple times for aggression or defiance. However, it did seem like the incidents were decreasing in very small amounts, as last year he didn’t really have many episodes of trying to hurt others. It was mostly just the “not listening” stuff.
This year he had some very patient and understanding teachers. He started off doing great, with a structured reward plan for every day he did well (10 days got him a prize, and 100 days is a big prize. So far he has had 44 good days). I really thought this would be the year we see a big difference with him, as his reading and writing skills began to blossom rapidly as well.
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when he came to understand what was happening with me and his father. I expected this, naturally. I knew this would be a painful adjustment for him, even though the parting is amicable and we are both working toward supporting the little boy as best we can. The small things that would “set him off” became even smaller, and the reactions even larger. In the past 2 weeks, I have been called to come get him from school 3 times for essentially disrupting the classroom with a tantrum and refusing to stop. He would throw chairs, scissors, pencils etc, and not stop when requested.
Even at home with me, I’ve lost a lot of leverage I used to have with him. When I used to be able to sit with him and soothe him, or give him a consequence that would deter him, now those things don’t work. He is almost impossible to redirect, and he just doesn’t seem to care what the result might be. It makes me very sad.
So, a few days ago the school called again for him to be picked up. His classroom had to be evacuated because of the havoc he was causing. Students and teachers feared for their safety, and he was suspended. I also had begun fearing for his safety, because not only has he punched himself in the face when he gets upset but now he is so impulsive when he is in that kind of state I’m not sure what might enter his head to do to himself.
I took him to his afters school provider on the day of his suspension. Within an hour of being dropped off, I got a call to come get him because he was tearing things off the walls, cussing, and hitting the other kids. I was heartbroken, and I have run out of ideas on how to manage these outbursts. The school is at their wits’ end too, and I obviously can’t take off work several times a week to get him each time. I had not looked at medication as an option because it is not FDA approved in children under the age of 7, and he just turned 7 this past August. However, at this point it seems that he cannot control his emotions on his own, and I don’t know what else to do.
So I took him to the closest behavioral hospital for an evaluation that day. After the assessment, they recommended an admission so they could observe these behaviors themselves and formulate a treatment plan. I’ve also met with the school administration to come up with some clear objectives while he is there. Today we will have a family session with the hospital staff, and I hope we will have some strategies going forward to help Jabiyr work out his feelings in a healthier way.
Taking him there was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I have always been the one on the the other side (at my job), taking the admission clinicals for children so young. I never thought I would have to take my own, but between my professional expertise and maternal instincts I’m flat out of answers. I cried all the way home that night after leaving him.
The doctor I spoke with yesterday said that since he’s been there (a little over 24 hrs) he has been compliant, agreeable, and not at all aggressive or obstinate. I was very surprised at this. I am not sure if he is trying to be on his best behavior so he can come home, or if he just hasn’t been “triggered” yet. Either way, it makes me wonder if he can in fact control this behavior, but just chooses not to. If that’s the case, I wonder what could entice him to make the right choices when needed?
I have to admit, seeing all this play out brings a temptation of reuniting with his father. I think, “see, if you hadn’t pursued a divorce, your son would be still doing ok and not acting in the worst of ways. If you get back with him, he will stop these behaviors”. But then on the flipside I think of all the things he’s witnessed from his dad in his short life that maybe modeled these behaviors to him to begin with. Ya Allah, please help my son and bring him peace of mind, heart, and body.
I will forge ahead, and I will continue to try to make the right choices as best I can assess. I will not give up just because it gets hard, and insha’Allah time will straighten all that seems crooked right now.