Thursday, January 29, 2009

More about tantrums, and what they do to a parent.

When Sebastian started having intense tantrums several times a day for years, it had a very profound effect on me. Frustration accumulated and turned irritation into anger. Anger and exhaustion grew into rage. Rage would explode and/or turn inwards into depression. Detachment is one of the coping mechanisms parents develop. One has to disassociate the behaviour from the child. But this is not what happened to me at first. What I did was dissociate myself from Sebastian. I was not a mother - I was a caretaker at best. Reluctant , resentful, desperate, and helpless. There was no pleasure, no rest, just guilt and torment from high pitched screams that started the moment he woke up. I did everything I could to help him; nothing worked. Helplessness was overwhelming. I became numb.

I think that that disassociation may be a biological survival mechanism hardwired into our brains. Perhaps from a biological standpoint it is not evolutionarily logical to invest time, effort and resources in a child that does not promise procreation. The desire to detach myself from this unconsolable, screaming child--an urge any honest parent will admit to having felt--became for me a chronic state with which I had to wrestle.

Sebastian's high pitched screaming was not the only source of stress. Finances, unhelpful doctors, the heartlessness and indifference of a SYSTEM that made it OK to make us wait years for therapy; unfinished home renovations; my own forgetfulness, fatigue and foggy brain, made it a struggle just to complete simple, daily tasks.

So far I have survived. I have met many amazing people who have helped us tremendously.

I am thankful for that.

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