Where does my trauma end and my son’s adolescent autism begin?
I mentioned in my therapy appointment yesterday that I felt like I was crawling back into survival mode.
I worked so hard for so many years to be a full person: to refuse to just be in survival mode– to have hobbies (dancing, biking, choir, studying Irish, learning the bodhrán, writing), to have a social life. To take a walk just because I wanted to.
In the last few years, I have contracted back into a grim ball: no more hobbies. No exercise. No studying. A sharply constricted social life.
That’s when she reminded me that since my son has hit adolescence, in a very real way I am re-living my childhood, and it’s triggering me EVERY FUCKING DAY on a low level. (This is what I might call ‘tweaked,’ but she uses the word ‘triggered.’)
In 1986, I was constantly on the lookout for signs that things were about to get nasty or violent. I was constantly working to soothe narcissistic ego, to protect my sisters, to head off conflict. In 2016, I am constantly on the lookout for signs that things are about to get nasty or violent. I am constantly working to calm an autist’s anxieties, to protect my other son, to head off a meltdown.
And now my kid is bigger than me. Taller, probably stronger.
Right now, I am working in my bedroom to guard the electronics because he is stalking around looking for them like my mom used to look for a wine bottle after he followed me around badgering me about them for an hour. If he finds them and grabs one, all hell will break loose.
He does not yet know that I confiscated a stashed extra computer I discovered under his bed today, and so when he heads there to watch YouTube all night like he did last night and the night before, leaving me baffled as to why he was so exhausted, he will find nothing.
I don’t THINK he’ll have a meltdown — I think he’ll have enough shame to acknowledge that he got busted and just go to sleep — but I will lie in bed waiting for the meltdown nonetheless, just as I lay in bed at night waiting for my parents’ nightly hideous screaming fight to begin every night.
This was my life. This is my life. And the violence is intense: I got the bruise of my life a few weeks ago. He gouged out chunks of his father’s scalp just a few days ago.
I never felt safe in my own home as a child, because I wasn’t. I don’t feel safe in my own home now, either, because I’m not.
I’m completely exhausted and when I don’t feel safe and removed from the violence I have no idea how I’m supposed to do EMDR and heal from it.
We’re on a waiting list for DBT. I’m working on getting my son a Mental Health Caseworker through the county. We are taking steps. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, I’m back in my childhood home. It is a scary, confusing, and anxious place.