The range of emotions felt at Casa d’ABM is pretty wide. I’ve always been pretty high strung, and I’ve written about my own struggle with depression in this space before. Living with a teenager is pretty tumultuous. The hormones…O.M.G. It’s amazing, really. I am convinced that I didn’t display the full range of crazy that I was feeling during my adolescence—not that I didn’t have the emotional swings, but that I didn’t act out.
Lots of people think my parents were strict; to some degree they were, but really they set high expectations and I had absurdly high expectations for myself. With the bar so high I was mindfully cautious about acting out.
I was a bit jealous of kids who didn’t seem to approach adolescence the same way. I wished I’d sneaked out more; went to more movies I wasn’t supposed to see. I did a fair amount of boozing my senior year, but still there was a hard limit on what I would do. Not a bad thing, but a self-control thing that gave me hang ups later in life.
So, now, years later, having a teenaged daughter who is a trauma survivor, is impulsive, at times angry, and seeming always sad…well it makes for an emotional roller coaster for all of us.
Except for Yappy—world’s happiest dog.
So I guess that should say both of us.
This is an especially hard time of the year for Hope. Lots were crammed into the summer months of her young life. This year the memories seem to be crushing. We get treatment, therapy, but sometimes the sadness moves in faster than a weather cold front.
And if you know anything about weather, cold fronts, hitting warm air means storms. Sometimes really, really, crazy storms.
That happens here. The storms are a bit quieter now than when we first became a family, but they are no less disruptive or worrisome.
I try to remind myself that the frequent presence of emotional storm, complete with downpours, represent that this is a safe place. Hope is able to express her full range of emotions in our home. This is a safe place to work through it all; she can emote here.
But here’s the thing, secondary trauma and compassion fatigue are real. It’s not just about loving Hope; it’s about demonstrating empathy (constantly); managing our life as a therapeutic case; navigating big and little decisions that may have triggering effects; always being anxious waiting for the other shoe to drop after stumbling over a trigger.
It is exhausting for both of us. Hope can sleep for hours and hours sometimes. I know that part of it is that her young body is run down and exhausted from fighting her own fight/flight response to life. I know the other part is just coping with the overwhelming sadness that she lives with.
On the weekends I am eager to resume my old life of running errands, hitting the gym, spending the afternoons and evenings doing something fun. I end up running the errands that I have to in order to keep the house running; taking Yappy to the dog park and waiting to see if I can help Hope get herself together. By evenings, I’m emotionally done and I don’t even feel like I’ve done anything.
We might’ve tried a new restaurant or rented but didn’t watch the Redbox movie I picked up in hopes of having some fun family time.
The reality is that a happy house is a rare scene around these parts. It’s about trying to survive and fighting to push the clouds of sadness away.
I hear that the hormonal part will settle down in another year or two; I hope so. Self-care helps with my ability to cope, but living with this level of stress is tough. It is exhausting. It is depressing.
So we both end up sharing her trauma. It ends up being cloudy and sad for both of us. I look forward to a day when it won’t be so overwhelming for Hope, that the depression she feels won’t consume her life, when so many things won’t be triggering. When that happens for Hope, it know it will happen for me too.
July 5th, 2016 at 11:48 am
Hugs. I acted out, in part because of adoption, I’m also sure, know, it was very hard on mom and dad. But what I really wanted to say, is that I’m sorry, I wish I could offer you more support than just a comment and that I’m listening. Please, take every opportunity this week to pamper yourself, fill yourself up, and sometimes, if you need it, just do it – it’s not being selfish, it’s necessary.
July 7th, 2016 at 8:52 pm
Hugs my lady. Yes it is hard to work day in and day out with trauma. You are doing what you need to do and yes self care plays a part. It does get a bit easier, remember baby steps, rejoice in the little things.
July 12th, 2016 at 4:25 pm
The constantly demonstrating empathy is the HARDEST part for me, because so many times it’s like, “when i was 8, my mama woulda smacked FIRE outta me! Lil’ GURL! You better get your life right!!!” but then i remember that life, for a long time, was not “right” for her. And trying to find that place in me that can grapple between being a disciplinarian and getting my daughter to do all of these “desired” behaviors, and understanding WHY she does what she does and being empathetic and sympathetic to her needs and desired outcomes. ISH is crazy! Unlike you, I have a hard time owning my petty, sooo…I’m not gonna sit here and front like i haven’t had it out with an 8 year old! And you are soooo right! It is absolutely emotionally, mentally, and even physically exhausting to deal with all the crap that the trauma has piled onto their lives…
Keep doing what your doing ABM…it’s all gonna pay off in the end…