Two days ago, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was listening to music that, for whatever reason, triggered a reaction from my son, starting up an argument. For those who follow my blog, you know that my son is diagnosed with ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and mood disorder – disruptive mood dysregulation disorder to be exact or DMDD. For those who know nothing about these disorders, each is difficult to deal with; combined, they make for a virtually impossible situation without therapy and/or medication. His arguing led to taunting and harassment. My years of therapy taught me not to engage but Friday night, it wasn’t enough to defuse the situation. I suppose the emotional reaction he was having was so overwhelming that he just could not regulate his emotions and his behaviors. He started to name call which then escalated to bullying then threats of breaking my things.
I couldn’t do it any longer. I couldn’t continue to take the abuse. I couldn’t continue to walk on eggshells in my own home. Being patient and empathic towards him through his countless outbursts was just not the treatment he has desperately needed. Over all these years, I have tried everything imaginable to help my son – yelling, fighting, disciplining, withholding things of value, going to therapy, applying every strategy talked about in therapy, admitting him to a pediatric psychiatric unit, trying new schools, walking out of my own home in the middle of the night to calm myself down when it got heated, calling the police dozens and dozens of times to get my son to calm down, seeking help from multiple state crisis agencies, being patient, listening, loving him gently amidst the chaos, giving him space. You name it, I have tried it. Friday night, I finally ran out of ideas. The strength that I got from tapping into my love for him wasn’t there. In its place was pure weariness from 17 years of trying. All I could do was text my friend to call the police so that they could assist with removing him from my home. (I could not call the police myself as the situation between us was extremely precarious.) He didn’t believe they were coming. But this time he had to know I didn’t want to keep going the way we had for so long. When the police arrived, I told them to call his absent father to take him. He was in the middle of work and as is typical of his character during a crisis, he couldn’t figure out how to leave his job to get my son. Instead, he told my son to get on a subway to get to him. I took a chance and sent my son off with the police, with no cell phone (I took it away from him right before he left and told him to tell his father to get him a new phone) and told him to find a pay phone if he needed his father’s help. Those thirty minutes moved so fast then suddenly my son was gone. I sent my son away with the toughest love I have ever known as a parent.
The last 48 hours have been tremendously hard for me emotionally. It has been traumatic and as with any trauma, I have gone through waves of numbness, powerlessness, anger, guilt, disappointment, loneliness, hurt, sadness. There have been moments in the middle of the night or just being in my home, alone for the first time in a very long time, when I feel the onset of anxiety because the roller coaster of emotions is just so strong to deal with. I may even be going through some form of separation anxiety. After all, my son has been with me, nonstop, for the last three or more years.
I try to live a coordinated, structured and purposeful life but this is just a damn mess. And now my son, who desperately needs psychological help, is with the worst person of all – a father who has never been helpful or around and who does not believe in seeking help. This is simply so much for one person to handle. When shit hits the fan like this, all I can do is surrender the weight of these issues to something/someone greater than me. All I can do is keep the Faith that I have grown to believe in. The Faith that I turn to when I simply don’t know what to do. The Faith that, amidst all the madness, has always given me peace. The Faith that has shown me, after the discomfort of all the issues, that something else – something better – is on the other side.
I don’t know what is going to happen now. I don’t know if or when I will speak to or see my son again. I don’t know if he will come back home. I don’t know if he, too, is feeling the same jumble of emotions as me or not. All I know right now is that we have to go through this. And I simply have to have Faith that it will all work out. Faith is all that I have.