Every once in a while, we get a learning opportunity that won't allow us to pass it by. When I was a younger mom, it was more about teachable moments. But the tables have turned.
I've been so afraid of doing something that would cause an episode, another hospitalization, that our household has been set on it's ear. We monitor the music we play, the television we watch, the words we speak and the sounds we create in all of our activities. Lily becomes angry and agitated by typing sounds, words with "ck", certain rhythyms . . . She also doesn't tolerate the aroma of meat. We stay in almost all the time because Lily gets anxious and afraid outdoors or in the company of other people.
So, we're housebound and walking on eggshells.
It takes a toll, and I struggle with that daily. How is this impacting my 12 year old son? I know it's making me feel anxious and frustrated.
Some of the more common causes of conflict are Lily's intolerance of her brother's actions, words, sounds. He tries hard to avoid aggravating her, and sometimes gets frustrated and does the brother thing. He makes a snide comment, or a typical 12 year old boy sound, often something mimicking a bodily function or two. We have competing needs, hers for control over her environment, his for some sense normalcy.
I've known for some time that we can't live this way for very long. I've been hoping that Lily's meds and therapy would allow us to ease back into a more normal existence. But the meds and therapy aren't doing it yet.
So things escalate. Lily began some time ago to throw things when she's angry. Usually she accomplished this without any significant breakage. I can hardly believe I looked at it this way, but I have. Then she began to kick or hit. This has been rare, it's a line I've always held firm, and yet it's happening on the odd occasion. I always administer a consequence, usually a time out in her bedroom and a letter of apology. Her notes of apology are sincere, and I take heart in that, but like with throwing things, the bits of violence are escalating.
Two days ago, Lily hit her brother twice, not hard enough to cause injury, but enough to hurt. Then yesterday, she threw a water bottle and broke the glass on a framed cross stitch piece I stitched before she was born. I sent her to her room, where she screamed and yelled and banged things against the wall in her room while I cleaned up the glass.
What I see now, more clearly, is that this has to stop now. We can't live this way, not one more day. Whatever issues my daughter has, and I truly want her to experience peace and happiness, she has to find a way to live in our world. She doesn't have to do this without help. I have lots of patience, and her brother loves her. But we can't keep completely bending our world to suit her.
I thought I'd still feel scared. But I have this weird sense of peace. Of course Lily isn't screaming right now, so who knows how this'll feel later. But for now, I like the idea of reclaiming our lives. I don't expect things to be easy or really normal. But we have to move in that direction. And the change has to come from me. Lily's therapist hasn't done or said anything to support this. Her psychiatrist doesn't say anything about behavior. She just listens and prescribes meds. Now that I get that, their contributions won't alter our existence, I understand that I really am in charge. I don't necessarily feel competent in this capacity, but this ship needs a captain.