Tuesday, January 7, 2020

You don't know what you don't know

I forgot a big one on my list of good things yesterday...therapy.

I've been going regularly for a year now (or is it longer? I honestly can't remember) And its so so helpful.

Today we talked about how reactive I get to B's persistent grouchiness. He's always complaining, saying no, wanting more, unsatisfied, and letting us know it loudly and demonstratively. And in typical therapist fashion she "was curious" about what he was feeling that was driving this behavior. And also curious about why it triggered me so much.

Part of it is that his chronic negativity brings to the surface my underlying fear about his future---his ability to integrate socially, academically, professionally---his ability to become a functional, helpful, contributing member of society. If he can't handle running out of his favorite bread at dinnertime, gives up on a playdate over one difference of opinion in what to do, and resists taking a shower even on our twice-weekly winter schedule---how will he hold down a job, make friends, build any kind of life? (i know, catastrophizing)

But another part is just that I learned early on (and still likely believe somewhere deep down, even after I learned otherwise), that negative emotions should be pushed down out of sight, to make things go more smoothly in the world & not upset others. Don't make a fuss, go with the flow, smile like you mean it, etc...

So my belief that something is "wrong" with him, and that he should change, and just f**($ng be HAPPY for once, because it'd be much more pleasant for all of us---those are my thoughts, not necessarily the facts. And those thoughts drive my feelings of frustration/anger/hopelessness. Which then lead to my actions of yelling at/shaming him or detaching completely. And then guilt and shame for MY behavior. The vicious cycle.

And as much as I read about parenting strategies and KNOW the right thing to do is to validate feelings, and sit with him and let him open up or just be quiet, until it runs it course, it is really f-ing hard to do when HIS big feelings bring up MY big feelings and I sure as hell don't know how to deal with those.

I guess my "homework" this week is to try to step back and focus on what I'm feeling when he begins his inevitable grunting & griping.


  1. Thank you for writing this out, it is helpful for me, as I think I also do this. The thought of needing to listen and validate their griping sounds exhausting. Is it in the hopes that by listening more then the problems will be solved and they will stop griping?

    1. I think the thought is that he is doing this out of some desire for attention/connection so that simply acknowledging "yes, its hard not to get what you want" or "I know you're upset, want a hug? Or should I sit with you for a bit?"

  2. Constant whining is really difficult to deal with. Lately I've been letting Dylan stomp off to her room and slam her door. Usually she emerges in about 15 minutes back to her normal self. Sometimes she goes up there and takes a nap. Yesterday (first day back at school) was the first day in a while without some sort of drama. Hopefully being back into her normal routine will help. I think knowing where we're going to move will help too.