I know I haven't written much on it myself.
We all know how much this parenting journey can wear a person down.
It's important to remember that marriages are susceptible to the stress as well.
Tonight, I am writing all this down because I am scared and pretty much a wreck. We're falling victim to the stress here. My marriage is fractured, and tonight, I can see the situation we're in. I understand the enormous pressure of the parameters that we have parent to within; yet, I don't know how to fix anything.
The past year has been my most challenging parenting year ever. It's also been the most humbling.
Throughout this attachment-disorder parenting experience, I have realized that I know nothing. And that what I thought I knew--the parenting patterns and behaviors I initially employed-- were not helping.
We have spent countless hours and (nearly) countless dollars at therapy. I take the boys, sometimes the Mister tags along, sometimes the Mister goes alone, sometimes the Mister and I go just the two of us.
I have learned a lot, and, like I said in my last post, feel hopeful for our son's future.
But for our marriage, I am afraid that these fractures are becoming deeper.
As a married couple, when we go to therapy and learn, we usually walk away with our thoughts and parenting strategies in sync.
Yet when challenges arise in daily living, and those "heat of the moment" moments crop up, it's very easy to revert back into old patterns. I myself have been guilty of this many times. I acknowledge my mistakes and try to be a better parent each time. I see how it's working, which builds momentum, which makes me even more gung-ho about the methods of attachment parenting that we are using (our primary focus is to create the bond.)
The Mister also reverts back to old parenting patterns. But how he feels about this when he does this, and how I feel about it when I do it, are opposite reactions.
Lately, I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The Rock: My husband wants to handle situations as he deems appropriate, which is not in agreement with the therapeutic plans we create. Doing it "his" way makes him feel like he is a parent who is proactively parenting and as he puts it, this way if the child ends up in jail at the age of 18, he knows that he did everything he could, because he is doing it the way his parents did it (and he turned out okay), and he's doing it the way he's done it with our older bio kids (and they are great.)
The Hard Place: The Mister's parenting fractures my attachment with Miles. Because even though that form of parenting worked out great for the Mister and our bio kids, the key is that
Miles is not an attached, emotionally healthy kid. While Miles may cognitively know right from wrong, and while he may emotionally be able to act appropriately much of the time, there are times (lots of times) when he just does not have it emotionally together.
At those moments, Miles needs my help to regulate, not consequences or punishments. Every time something goes wrong for Miles-- whether his teacher didn't give him enough attention, or the other kid got the red vitamins, or his Dad is really angry at him-- in his mind, it is Mom's fault and he ends up angry at Mom because his inner person tells him Mom cannot be trusted. So I have to work REALLY hard at building that trust, at changing his inner dialogue. This isn't to say that the kid can do whatever he wants without consequence; but it is saying that we work on emotional attachment/regulation first and foremost. For a variety of reasons (namely, trauma) and none of which are logical (because trauma isn't), this is just how it is, like it or not.
My husband feels that this is not parenting for him. That it's b.s. If he moves forward and continues with his "set expectation with the understanding that if child does not meet expectation, they will be punished / the child then subsequently does not meet expectation/ parent must follow through and punish child," then he is parenting, albeit at the cost of my attachment with Miles.
If I stop this old pattern, my husband says, "I give up. I'm done parenting. You win, Sarah." If I stop the pattern, it's the same as declaring myself Sole Parent.
This is not a contest. I have never meant for it to be one. The only "way" of doing things that I care about is the way that creates healing for this little boy. I don't care whose way it is, and I will be first to say that it certainly isn't my old patterns. My old ways certainly didn't work, and now I'm doing it this counseling way. And thank God, it's working.
When I reinforce this new way, my husband feels like I am emasculating him and taking away his parenthood. That I am undermining him and taking away his rights as a parent. That I am bent on fighting and winning and having it "my" way.
Right now, the Mister has completely withdrawn from our home life. I guess that's one of the perks you have when you work outside the house. You can get angry and escape and not have the added stress of keeping your kids' lives as steady and stable as you can; of managing the trying behaviors; of minimizing the worries of your anxiety-inclined child.
He is angry and stressed and exhausted and has had it.
I feel scared and sick about this entire thing.
* * * * *
When I am very quiet, and very still, I know what I have to do. I'm trying to focus on help find some strength.
My job is to be emotionally strong and healthy for all of my children. My job with Miles, because he is a very little boy of just 6 (albeit a little boy with some very BIG behaviors, but he isn't his behaviors), I hold myself to a very high level of responsibility in the attachment arena. He is not responsible for his attachment at this time. I am. I hold myself accountable, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I have the responsibility to find the way to parent Miles that will create the healthiest attachment and greatest emotional development. I have the responsibility even if it is hard, or against what I have known all along.
My job is to love my husband. I adore my husband. I love him. I truly do. I don't want my husband to feel emasculated or like he isn't a parent. And I don't think of it as a my way or the highway thing. But I also don't want to keep up with these negative old cycles that we know simply do not work and are not healthy.
I want to be married to him and I will fight for my marriage. But right now, he does not feel that, and he is very angry and very disconnected.
I hope it won't stay this way forever. My own abandonment and rejection issues wreak havoc on my mind at times like these. I hope and pray that somehow, these two jobs can become healthy complements of one another.
The husband and I have been through far worse than this, and we have made it through. I'd like to think for the better. I'd like to think that we can do the same again.
Right now, we're exhausted. I've been sick for a freakin' month and the Mister has had to pick up a lot of slack around here and that is not an easy thing. He has the burden of supporting all of us solo, and that is not an easy thing. We've been busy and exhausted. I'm hoping that this is just the 'release valve' on the accumulation of the past two months.
But the thing is, I'm exhausted and worn down. I feel upset and abandoned. I vascillate between feeling fearful and panicky (and boy, talk about increasing my empathy and understanding of how my little guys must feel), and calm and trusting.
My husband is a type of person who can get angry and stay angry and he has no problem with that. Some people are just like that.
I, however, am the type where it makes me literally sick to be have to go to bed alone, with one of us angry. I like to try and come to some resolution, even if it's just a, let's agree to disagree because at the end of the day, each other are what matters. I'm not good at staying angry, or finding peace when someone I love is angry with me.
This journey is not easy. And right now, I'm on a really scary part. I'm not sharing this so that others know they are not alone (although it's great if it does help someone.) This is probably the most personal and touchiest post I've ever written, and if I'm completely honest, I'm sharing it so that I don't feel so alone. Because it's bedtime and I'm alone and feeling absolutely miserable. Hugs and prayers are greatly appreciated and needed.