The Storm

I realise I’ve been very quiet on the old blog front these last few weeks. To be honest they have been a massive struggle, and I find it a lot harder blogging in the bad times than the good. It’s fun writing about how well everything is going in your life, but actually documenting how hideous it is feels distinctly less rewarding.

So in the grand scheme of hideous I guess I don’t really have anything to complain about. Nobody died, the house didn’t burn down, and we haven’t starved. I have been on a diet (my first one ever!!) for the past month though, which now that I think about it may actually be the root of the problem. I obviously cannot live happily without regular injections of cake and cheese-heavy carbohydrates!! Luckily for us all the diet officially finishes on Saturday (once I have managed to do up the zip on my bridesmaid dress I’ll be wearing!) and then there will be no cake safe in Cornwall.

So the end of the summer holidays were a challenge with us all exhausted and low on patience. We had hoped that the return to school would start to make things easier again. Our daughter seemed really excited about going back. We were definitely excited about her going back!! However her first week back was an absolute new low. Her behaviour, which was already shocking, deteriorated to constant rage, the worst tantrums I’ve ever seen, where she was completely out of control, deliberately doing whatever she could to break things or physically hurt us. We just went from meltdown to meltdown and it felt like we were all completely powerless to do anything to improve the situation. We were grateful for the few hours where she was at school, and even an overnight camping trip, with a whole thirty hours away from us, but it didn’t feel long enough for any of us to recover, and things would kick off the moment we were reunited at school pick up.

We really got to a pretty low point. I think me and my husband both felt utterly hopeless. When we have worked so hard to be supportive, to try and acknowledge and support our daughter whatever her emotions, to actively try and show her ways to manage her extremes of emotions, and still, at just five years old, we have reached the point where we just cannot cope with this at all. We started having conversations about whether we needed to get some kind of professional help with this, that we just were not up to this. I seriously started to question whether I could actually carry on. And this is after having had many tough times with her already. This definitely felt the worst. Out of sheer frustration and powerlessness I banned all Lego and all TV for a week, knowing it wouldn’t improve her behaviour, if anything knowing it could make it even more extreme, but if I’m honest I knew it would hurt her.

It was becoming hard to even communicate with my husband about it. We both felt awful about the situation, both knew that our strategy wasn’t working at all, but with no idea how to improve things.

I pretty much begged my mum to come and visit last weekend, I just desperately needed some kind of support. We do everything we can to manage by ourselves, but I just needed someone to help us. She arrived in the midst of another full blown melt down, over putting a wrapper in the bin, and I promptly burst into tears on her shoulder. My daughter however, immediately turned into Little Miss Sunshine. All weekend she was her most delightful, fabulous, happy, chatty, loving self, telling her Mimi excitedly about all the wonderful things she’d done all summer, how much she loved school and her camping trip, and she was heavenly to us all. Me, Mum and the kids went out for lovely long days out (mainly involving garden centres, so that made me happy!) and gave my husband some time to recover. It was also good for both of us to get the chance to chat to somebody slightly outside of the situation to get a little perspective.

Four days into the next week and our reboot seems to have worked. The tantrums have stopped, for now at least, and we are all feeling a whole lot more positive. Me and the boy have both come down with full blown back-to-school plague, I even took a day off work!

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My daughter, the disease distributor seemed to get away with a minor sniffle, and so far my husband has escaped unscathed. I am starting to feel more human today though, and starting to get excited about a very special wedding on Saturday. And about eating cake again!!

So I’m still scared about what we have ahead of us. These terrible, unresolvable rages seem to be a recurring issue, and one that just escalates the older she gets. How will we ever make it through her teens with us all alive?? For now though I’m grateful that the storm seems to have passed, for now.

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5 thoughts on “The Storm

  1. The rages are really hard to cope with, I had a lot of them from Arthur last year. So far this term we’ve only had a couple of really awful evenings….

    Hang in there xxx

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  2. Hi,

    I came across your blog from a link a friend had liked, so started reading. Whilst I don’t have my own children, I have a strong memory of what it was like to be 5 myself and I also used to have quite uncontrollable moods. These would kick off particularly when there was a change in pace -such as going back to school. My mum used to explain them to me and that helped. Her theory was that I used up all my control and managing at school and by being on my best behvaiour then, so by the time I came home, I just didn’t have any coping left and so my behaviour would be awful. It escalated considerably when friendships at school were difficult and particularly when I was bullied (not suggesting this is the case for your daughter, but just sharing the experiences).

    I don’t know if any of that helps or feels like it might fit? My mum used to help me by waiting until I’d calmed (even if only a little) and by explaining to me what was going on in my emotional heart, mind and body. She’d be really gentle, even if I’d been a complete rat, and explain that she knew I was trying but that having new rules and changes could be difficult. She was glad I was using my best behaviour at school and understood that I probably didn’t have any left at the end of the day but also explained that Mummy, Daddy and my little brother were tired too and also needed to feel safe. This would normally result in my bursting into tears as suddenly it felt like she ‘got me’, she understood and everything I’d just been experiencing (I think emotions are too powerful for young children even to name or feel, you just ride the waves of them) fell into focus. She made my emotions safe again.

    After tears and cuddles she’s ask me what I needed -more cuddles, more time, whatever and then would ask how I could start to control my own behaviour (she was clear that was my responsibility, not hers) e.g. taking myself away from the situation, shouting outside or just clinging to her for a cuddle. What I remember of these times is just being held, feeling safe even when my emotions overwhelmed and consumed me and starting to feel that I, with my mum supporting me, was big enough to handle them. She helped me build capacity into myself, which I still draw on today. By being kind and gentle to me, she modelled how I should be kind and gentle to myself -her outside talk became my inner talk -today I’ve had my capacity tested, how can I be kind to myself so that I still have some left to be kind to others.

    I say all of this not to offer advice but just to reassure that in 26 years time, when your daughter is my age, what she will remember is your love and your closeness and your making the big bad world of her emotions safe. You are building capacity into her and she will benefit from that. Also, all of this grows out of unique relationships. My mum and I have now had 31 years of getting to know each other and we still balls it up all the time. But through experience, we found the way that worked for us and I’m sure you guys will too. You are enough. you are doing enough and she will remember your love. And it’s totally ok, in fact a brilliant idea, to ask for help -you’ll all need time out and a recharge and that is part of increasing your capacity and that of your daughter’s. We all need extra love injected into our lives and love tanks at times (well, all the time really!). There is no shame or weakness in asking for that.

    Well done for what your doing. Even though you will remember this as a trying time, she will likely remember it as one of growing and being loved.

    Sarah

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    1. Thanks Sarah. That’s really reassuring to read. We do try really hard to do those things like your Mum did, though this last week it just all became too much and we definitely didn’t manage it too well. Lovely to read it from your perspective though, we’ll keep trying… X

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