Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Warfare Disengaging Is A Must


I snapped this photo of the family room the other morning simply because that pair of shoes there annoyed me.  My elderly darling dog, Rosey, pushing open the deck door to come inside.  The floor is 16 years old, as is the dog, but the floor has absorbed a million pairs of dripping wet feet from the pool, plus everything else that's been tracked in over the years.  There's not a lick of finish left on the boards.

I've been incredibly busy for someone with older kids now, my slower-to-launch sons have needed me here and there, the four sets of soccer schedules for Nando and Scotty are wiping me out, and everything thing else is combining to suck up every spare minute.

Grandma's recovering nicely for an almost 85 year old undergoing major surgery, so much so that I've been nagging her to not overdo.  Thank you all, from the bottom of my battered heart, for your prayers over her.  I'm deeply grateful.

"Why is there smoke filling up the car?" Martin matter of factly asked from the backseat, as Dubs and I were test driving a ten year old car.  The lying owner had already pissed me off, a long story, but such a blatant liar I'd expected his nose to grow in front of us.  Needless to say we walked away carless and then the lying owner texted the F word to CW, which first shocked me, then nearly sent me over the edge.

Seriously, Dude?  How ugly.

Martin and CW were angry and I had to be the calming voice of reason.  "Karma's gonna get him," I told my sons, "Thank God we hadn't bought it and it filled up with smoke on our way home.  Duh, y'all."

There is only one car CW wants right now, and only that car between the years of 2004-2006.  This is gonna take awhile.

On another note, when someone who is nearly 18 takes off and makes bad decisions, there's literally nothing a Mama can do, but pray.  If the sheriff drags them home, they'll just bolt again, I've learned the art of disengagement over the years, still learning, never wanting a situation to escalate beyond the realm of return, nor into violence.

The nursery rhyme, "Leave them alone and they'll come home, wagging their tails behind them," echoing in my knotty, overstuffed head - sometimes I can almost see the cotton batting flowing out in the form of steam rising upward.

The skill of disengaging from a fight—disengaging from an argument. It’s a kind of a ‘time out, let me cool off, let me not say things I can never take back, let me listen and be present to what is happening and being said, let me be the grown up here’ behavior.

Disengagement is a skill that works in situations where tempers and emotions are heading in an out of control direction and oftentimes, we think we have to argue and defend ourselves when in fact the rational thing to do is to stand back and think rather than react. We get caught up in yet another argument with no resolve when in fact we do have a choice. Someone is yelling at you and you are about to yell back, think about stopping dead in your tracks and saying “ No, I’m not having this argument—at least not now.”

Disengaging is never easy.  I'm the parent and I have wisdom to impart, right?  Wrong.  No one cares what I have to say in the heat of the moment, they want the last word, they'll battle to the finish, even to their own detriment, and I must be the mature one who will step back and breathe.

I can't even add up the damage done to my walls and windows by violently aggressive ragers, before I learned this simple lesson.  It was never anything I'd needed to know decades ago when Sarah was my only child.  Reason flowed, there was no trauma, there was peace and silliness, only the occasional mother-daughter conflict, but oh so minor compared to what was to come from severely challenged children - through no fault of their own.

Disengagement means taking time to think about how you behave when you are angry and think about a new approach. It means becoming ever mindful for the next time and allowing yourself the option to stop talking, stop screaming, stop arguing period—think first. Way before you are in that situation, give yourself permission to disengage—give yourself the choice about whether to argue. It means literally stopping dead in your tracks and allowing the other person to say what they have to say without interruption on your part. It takes two to argue and as soon as a discussion begins turning into an argument when yelling, screaming, and hurtful words begin, much is at stake in the relationship. When tempers and emotions are heated, all objectivity is lost and the goal is usually to make your point and be heard. Never is one in a worse position to be heard and to make a point when both are competing for the very same objective. And in winning the argument you begin the descent of undermining the relationship in an irreparable way. It is the “thinking ahead and planning to disengage” that helps in resolving conflict in the long run.

Honestly, Mamas, if I can impart the one main thing I've learned from therapy, it'd be this information regarding disengaging.  Honey, it works.

But HOW?  The rest of the article tell you.  This is information I wish I'd been taught in college.

"Can you come get me?  I wanna come home," heralded the prodigal's return yesterday.

And predictably, "You wanna know what I've missed the most?" I was asked.

"Me?" is always my hopeful answer, that I'll never hear.  You'd think I'd learn.

"Your cooking.  I crave real food."

And that's so weird, as I'm not even a good cook at all.  It's more what my cooking represents.  A sit down family dinner, a routine, stability, predictability, and nurturing.  Even after the four kids had gone to The Mix the other weekend, they all stated they were craving my cooking after a weekend of stuff they don't normally eat.  Certainly they enjoyed eating it at the moment, but one feels queasy later.

Community Service required after Monday's court date, reducing two charges from nearly two years ago from two felonies to two misdemeanors.  A lot of community service, but that's what happens I'd told my son.

I'd bolted out of court the minute it was resolved, depending on Yolie that day to be me, never a fun position, to tend to what all I couldn't do, because I wanted to be up at the hospital with my Mom.  Sarah already there, but I was kinda simmering inwardly, as it was a negative thing like court keeping me away.

The surgery was a breeze, but then Mom struggled afterward, requiring two ultrasounds and some 6 hours extra of recovery in the hospital, not getting home until later in the night, but all is well now.

It's gonna be 72 degrees today, but first I have a meeting to address another mess, plus it's the 4th day of the month, and I've not sat down to pay bills and work with my budget




Monday, March 02, 2015

Not A Fun Day Ahead


Almost 17, Scotty, is a sweetheart.  He just is, he's good natured and loving because that's just who he is, I can't claim the credit any more than I should be blamed for genetic mental illness in kids who just moved in with us.  Duh y'all.

Three daunting endeavors today, one of the three is Grandma's hernia repair surgery, in which prayers are appreciated.  She has the best surgeon around and this isn't laparoscopic, because it's unclear what type of hernia it is, necessitating her being cut open, but on an outpatient basis.  If I try and give more details, my medical ignorance will certainly shine.  I'd just prefer that it be Monday night quickly and all three things will be resolved, and Grandma back home here recuperating nicely.

I have to be in court with a grown son first, I don't want him to appear parentless and unsupported in front of the judge, hopefully it'll go quickly and I can fly to the hospital, where Sarah will already have taken Grandma.  Yolie's on standby in case I'm not done by the end of the school day.

My third thing is taking CW 40 minutes away, at some point, to look at the new used car he wants to buy to replace his expired '93 Prelude, even jumping up a decade will still have him driving a ten year old car, but that's how we go about our business.  This after he worked third shift last night, sleeping during the day, but has college classes this evening before his third shift job - which is only three nights a week, pays well, and he likes it a lot.  Again, thank you Michael.

While I was bellyaching about our crappy cars yesterday, Sarah's husband's work truck with way over 300,000 miles on it, had a flat.  Sunday is so their treasured time to relax.  Oh well.  Their leap year son, Ray, still officially two years old, but 11 in actual years, which day is his birthday, February 28th or March 1st?  We go by whichever works best, so he and his sister went to do dumb errands with us, and to show me which Lego thing he wanted.  I'm stinking clueless.

I've heard this though several times over the last ten years, that my blog has spoken to parents and social workers, but also to teachers.  Well, considering I spent 25 years in the Georgia public school system, I do have a clue in that arena, but just barely.

I sat in thousands of faculty meetings in which trauma was never discussed when we set up discipline standards, the school in which I spent the longest stretch of my career was a relatively poor one, sitting next to government projects in a fairly rural county with a pretty high special ed population.

I, too, didn't comprehend what the parent(s) and students went through each day.  Most of us teachers across the board likely grew up loving school, with loving parents who were quite able to support their families, and we were affirmed and encouraged, right?  What the heck was trauma?  Isn't PTSD just for soldiers?

Yet our students came to school, in my case, teenagers to the high school, angry, unfed, and frustrated - to put it mildly.  Their misbehavior spilled over in fights so bad, that even by the early 1990s, we had a full-time police officer at the school.  CNN covering a triple murder that happened in a parking lot and spilled over to the local ER one time - one of my students that I'd really liked was the culprit.

He'd busted out the cafeteria windows in a rage one day, this shooting wasn't totally a surprise, just heart breaking.

Was trauma ever mentioned?  Nope, not even by me.  I didn't realize I was being severely traumatized during that era, primarily and secondarily, as I raised my very emotionally disturbed and challenged children, while also still going to work each day in a rough school.  When I left that school for another one, after 13 years of being on high alert, it took me a year at my new quiet school to calm my adrenaline and cortisol levels.

Slam a door now and see if you don't make me jump sky high...

I was laughing and yelling yesterday about the from scratch tortillas, causing Jack to come barreling down the hall to make sure I was OK.  Wow, son, it's been a long time since I wasn't, yet this is still your first reaction?

My Assistant Principal back then once tried to explain what he referred to as Project Life to me, which later evolved into Thug Life, but again my white, 1950s middle class naiveté prevented me from truly comprehending what my students endured at home each evening.  I didn't know then that my own kids would later teach me firsthand...

It's not a racial issue, it's a matter of alcoholics or drug addicts as parents, it's chaotic home life and hopelessness.  It was our students being both neglected and abused - school was their safe place where they ate two meals a day, that third meal always iffy.

Fortunately I retired 12 years ago when the spit really hit the fan, in that my second to the last sibling group adoption was scary as could be, nearly causing me to end that sentence with a preposition.

The sibling group before that one, while I still worked full-time, had already introduced me to violence and destruction, but the it was the next group that was downright dangerous and unhinged daily. Four of them would reside, more than one time each, in DJJ facilities.

I haven't adopted now in over 10 years, nor will I do so, I can't begin to imagine challengingly severe sibling groups nowadays, what with meth, the resurgence in heroin, opiates, and society's seemingly downward spiral.

I say it all the time, thank God for the excellent therapists that I've had the distinct pleasure of working with over the years, I'm grateful for the psychiatric hospitalizations that kept my kids safe from themselves, we've been blessed with tremendous resources - yet that can't fix it all.

I still have grown kids raging through life and making piss poor choices.  It's terribly heartbreaking and makes me question everything, what could've been done differently?  But because other parents know I understand, I even have parents - two parent families with 2 birth children - expressing their own grief and frustration over failure to launch kids, or addicted kids, kids who fail to manage money and are sucking their parents' retirement savings dry.  All sorts of issues everywhere.

Sometimes I hear such hair raising stuff from folks, it makes me wanna run to my own 39 darlings, and fall to my knees, thanking God that these are the problems we endure - compared to others, I'll take ours sure enough.

And I'm guilty of taking a Benadryll sometimes to sleep, generic of course, but this Harvard study stopped that practice.  Oh my, say it isn't so.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Tabby's First 5K & Tortillas



Daniel, Jesse and Isaiah went to the UGA Basketball game yesterday, cracking up at Tony's car.  "Embracing his inner trashiness," they guffawed because his back windshield that had shattered in a thousand pieces, yet stayed intact for another two days, fell out backwards, slid off the trunk and into the street.

That's unfortunate.

He's already tended to it, a man's coming tomorrow to replace it, and, Bingo, because Tony has a job and doesn't blow (much) of his money, this 19 year old has the means to pay for it.

We'd already headed to church when Martin and Dubs texted me that the Jeep wouldn't crank.  I grew irritable, it always cranks when they wanna go where they wanna go, they eventually jumped it off, got to church late, with the understanding they'd leave a few minutes early to drive Tony to work, as it isn't any fun driving in the rain without a rear window.

Texted in church, "Jeep won't crank again," meant I had to leave the service to get Tony to work on time, leaving the kids there with Sarah to get to Sunday School.

Hey, we don't make car payments, but apparently repairs are at the top of our list.  Tony's car is in the garage with a blanket over the gaping hole, Martin's got jumped off at church, my truck is balking, we look like a car repair shop, and, get this, Allen's outta gas.

Another chilly day, I'm about five minutes from seriously losing it over this extended stretch of cold weather that Yankees would laugh at us for, but I never claimed to be strong enough to withstand highs of upper 40s.  I freaking hate it.

Tabby and Nando ran a 5K yesterday, Nando coming in second for his age group, Tabby some 20 minutes later, but laughing and having fun.  I'm good with that.

She decided, nah she begged me to let her trash the kitchen and make tortillas from scratch.  Crap up the kitchen she did, but she made some awesomely delicious tortillas.  It was her first 5K and her first attempt at homemade tortillas.  I'd call it a win-win day for her.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Socially Challenged Bozo I Am

I'd like to tell y'all that I've been busy embarking upon some remarkable feat lately, I dunno, like learning a new language, or re-painting my entire house, learning to lay tiles or to refinish furniture.

Instead I've slumped in an easy chair watching crime shows on TV.  Dateline, 20/20, and that new channel Investigative Discovery.  I tell myself it's because I'm absolutely fascinated with human behavior, and that's the truth, Ruth.  One might wanna guide me to studying positive human behavior instead - but with the way I've been living for way too long, it behooves me to learn more about the other side.

Weird though, since on that other side there's so much hopelessness, negativity and precious few answers.  I like the shows that have a forensic psychologist who attempts to deconstruct the criminal's childhood, the common denominator so often being due to being unwanted, unplanned for children, abused and neglected, surrounded by drunks, druggies and other criminals, resented for their very existence, shunted into foster care, few ever being adopted, but even those who did become adopted were so often very damaged - too damaged by their early childhood to not go out into the world in a rage.

BTDT.  I'd be angry too.  I understand.

However, looking at my family and into so many of your families via email telling me your stories, the majority of our adopted children did well.

In my family too, this is true.  Yet us mamas gnash our teeth over those who've seemingly failed to fit into civilized society, the whole Prodigal Son thing where we're expending all of our effort, pouring ourselves into children who turn  everything round to suit themselves as they blame everyone around them.

One of my grown children had gone to a counselor years ago who told her to respect her own boundaries, not to put out the Welcome Mat to those who'd mistreat her.

That's kind of where I find myself right now as well.  If you can't be nice to me, then please stay away.  I'm not a ghetto girl who wants to be in a screaming match with you, I don't wanna argue, I'm appalled by so many poor choices demonstrated by some, I'd best just keep my opinion to myself.  My boundaries are erected, I'm not your punching bag anymore.

I prefer to live in peace and silence, to weed my gardens, to be productive, to attend soccer games, not court hearings.

I forgive everyone, I move on, I need to be left alone if one does not come my way with emotional kindness.

I have many very attached children and grandchildren who need me to not be mired in that which I cannot change, the whole Serenity Prayer thing going on here within my mind.

I've painted nothing, I need to repaint a bunch.  Yesterday when the sun was finally showing, as the temps rose to a paltry 54 degrees I went outside to scamper around like a little socially challenged Bozo and do yard work happily, we got CW's ancient Prelude sold to a guy who already has a couple of these old cars, needing CW's as well.

I've pondered a newer vehicle for me too, if I sold the 2004 15 passenger van.  My 1999 truck has been not starting for me lately, unless I dig around under the hood first, but I'm just not yet convinced I could either swing it without my van yet, or what to do.  When in doubt, don't.  Always been my motto.  I'm happy with not making an automotive move right now.

I've not been exercising, I have been eating right though.  I seriously have Seasonal Affective Disorder, every single symptom.  Just ask my mom how irritable I've been.  Next week is supposed to be warm and I know I'll improve.

The issues swirling around me involving those who I can't force to make better choices still stresses me out, pero no hay remedio, there's nothing to be done, literally there's no remedy.  No spit, Sherlock?

Shake it off Cindy, go on a hike, take your spading fork and flip over the soil in a garden bed. Do something lazy bird, this slump is your own doing.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

IED's Fall-Out Damages

Some very significant difficulties here lately, one can't force feed necessary medications to those who need it.  A parent can't physically stop self-destructive behaviors in children, and it leads to a great deal of stress for a parent.  We KNOW what can happen, they think they know it all, and then dadgum it happens, just as we'd warned them.

I feel often, internally, as if I'm carrying the weight of, and for, so many adults who are stuck - for lack of a better word.

I don't wanna enable and I don't wanna ignore, yet I have to disengage often so as to de-escalate situations.  The other person does not have that coping skill, so I have to try and remain calm as they explode or act out.  It's never easy.

Also the weight of The Blame Game - where everyone blames me for everything.  "They feel as if they can't blame themselves, or they'd then have to make obvious changes.  Easier to blame you, or the cops, or their bosses," professional therapists have often explained to me, as I grapple with the ensuing resentment.

One of the challenges that destroys the self-esteem of some Hazardous Parents is the professionals who deny our reality and keep throwing more ineffective tools or methods or ideas or strategies at us despite us saying that nothing is working. When they finally do hear us, they determine the lack of change is because we didn't do anything right - and we believe them. I strongly challenge that thinking - I believe we all try our best but some of our kids just aren't going to *okay* during their growing up years and it isn't because of our parenting. Its just the way it is. So, when you find yourself starting to slide down the self-esteem ladder - take an honest look - are you really using the strategies you've learned? If you are and they are working - great! If you are and they aren't working - then accept what you have to deal with and don't take any crap. Most people in the world wouldn't have tried at all. Stand tall and know that you tried, and tried some more. Be proud of yourself as a parent and as a person. Hey, you are entitled to a better day. 

Dr. Brenda McCreight spoke those word on Facebook.  Go 'Like' her page on Hazardous Parenting in order to see these affirmations.

I must've read that paragraph a dozen times.  I've been blessed by excellent professionals, yet I share in this self-esteem issue after having my own self-esteem battered for so long by my kids, by their actions, and by their nonstop lashing out.  It's been very challenging for me to keep forgiving and moving forward.

I really just wanna sit outside and weed.  Forget the world, it sucks.  Go away and let me suck my thumb.

Or me sitting here stewing and wondering how many people silently blame me for my kids' behaviors?  Behaviors they came here with deeply embedded in their psyches.  Or all of the times the kids have lied about me to get what they wanted from other people?  Y'all, it stinking hurts.  All the time.

I retreat further inward.  Good thing that I'm happy alone.

My life is infinitely less dangerous now, and I need to learn to control my own thinking, or to learn to stop fermenting in my own bitter juices.

All of those years that I barely ate or slept, was always feeling as if a fight was fixing to break out around here, because it was - well, all of those years of me putting all of them first?  For what?  I could've just sat in a mud puddle and colored in a coloring book for all the effectiveness that my nurturing, stability and security had on anything at all.

I watched a news thing about a man's murder defense being due to his Intermittent Explosive Disorder.  Oh my.  My kid with that disorder, amongst a plethora of other diagnoses, is in prison for the second time.  Can you imagine living with, and surviving, that?  We did.

From Psychology Today: An inability to resist aggressive urges may be an indication of intermittent explosive disorder. Individuals with this disorder often seriously damage property or assault others, usually in stark contrast to the provocation involved in a situation.

Yeah, no freaking kidding?

I didn't blog for a few days, wanting to not blog negatively, to return to my former Silly Cindy Mentality, but I'm a ways away from that.

I checked my readership stats, they've gone down, and I'm Ok with that, this is likely how it'll end, the blogging might just peter out slowly.  Might suddenly be so, might fart around here for another ten years.

And ending on a great note, JoJo is barely 10 days from his graduation.  I'm so deeply proud of him.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Isaiah's 6th Birthday Party


Big Joe and his baby girl, Alyssa, at the party yesterday. Alyssa later cracking me up, what a mess she is, and us Southerners use the word mess complimentarily in form.  The first photo is of 11 of my 21 sons.

Tabby, Nando, Jack and Scotty returned home from The Mix after second service Sunday, nearly 48 hours of various youth groups from churches in this county all getting together.  Hundreds of teens, why would anyone sleep?  They'd had a blast, Tabby later recounting what they'd learned, since she actually pays attention.

Scotty more impressed at finally discovering Michael G's hiding place in the church, after 8 years of no one knowing during their marathon manhunt or laser tag games.  That's your takeaway, son?  The high school boys slept at the church during the Mix, host homes for the middle school kids and the high school girls.

"So MUCH fun!" they'd hooted and hollered, Jack conked out immediately, fell asleep sitting straight up in a chair at noon, I got him to his room, while the rest of them tried to soldier through Isaiah's party.  By 6 p.m. they were toast also.

My prayer request of y'all the other day?  Thank you for praying, so far, so good.  Still will take prayers and miracles, but hopeful signs have appeared.

Got to spend time with Lena's mom, aunt and uncle before they headed back up north, a 16 hour drive  back to upstate New York, and I also got to be with Daniel and Megan who'd spent the weekend here.

Isaiah's party was fun, a Jedi theme, thus the Master Jedi name tags on some of them.  My three oldest sons, Joe, Jesse and Sergi, who'd all grown up here, BFF's with Curtis, who later married Marcela, were all here for Jesse's son, Isaiah who was so busy plastic sword fighting with his new friends from school and the cousins that he barely stopped moving at any point in the afternoon.






Now we're back to the heavy duty soccer, my attendance required for four separate team schedules.  Oh my.  Plus I wanna get to Isaiah and Ray's games too when I can. This week will be chilly (crap) and rainy (yes!).

I can't even detail all of last week, my several trips to Atlanta, as clearly I can't divulge everything, gotta deal with stuff, and I know it's things y'all encounter as well.  It emotionally wore me out, and reading up on stress, I'm wanting to take better care of myself.

I generally remark on news items that get my goat.  Almost four out of 10 Americans are living on the edge of financial ruin, given rainy-day funds that either match or are lower than their credit card debt.

About 24 percent have more credit card debt than emergency savings, while another 13 percent have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings, a new survey from Bankrate.com found.

I struggle financially too, just like everyone else, but am I just so simple minded as to think:  Stop Buying Stuff America.  Everyone owns too much crap, likely could remove 80% of the items in their homes and not even miss any of it.

I love HGTV shows, especially the House Hunters or Fixer Upper shows, but I cringe as young couples bark their disdain at the lower quality finishes, demanding granite counter tops - which is fine if they make that much money, but my experiences tell me that most folks don't, they just charge it.

My generation (uh-oh here she blows, eye rolling time) and my parent's generations had nothing.  Seriously had nothing that wasn't either used or paid for, no credit ever used back then, savings accounts promoted, rather than everyone paying interest constantly and getting nowhere.

I just pray that I got some of this across to my own kids...a better way to live.  Live beneath one's means and be happy about it.  It's a choice how you're gonna feel.  Choose to feel good about not owing money on restaurant meals, unaffordable trips to Cabo, or clothes still sporting tags in one's closet.  See?  Ya didn't really need it.




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tea Drinking


Two sisters, both friends of mine, need y'all's prayers this morning for a third, out of four, sisters total. A lot of prayer.

I went up to the hospital right early this morning, since I'd had to get my 33 year old son to his second job, city bus doesn't run that early on a weekend. I'd gone to visit another longtime friend with serious health issues, and I spent the rest of the morning in a bit of a daze, thinking about what both of these extended families are dealing with, plus church families that have loved them for decades, neighbors and friends, everyone concerned and praying.

I'd spent some time with one of the aforementioned sisters too, the sister who needs prayers is in ICU.

Ya just don't know.  Life throws out so many challenges.

I would personally lose my mind if I didn't have God to lean on each day.

My 33 year old son is always gonna need help, he just is.  He's been in VA clinics and facilities, he seeks out professional help thankfully, and Big Joe's been tending to him for the past year, and I know it's been tough on Joe.  I'm proud of him certainly for rising to the challenge.  They're not birth brothers but they grew up here together, and have been brothers for nigh on 25 years.

My others Bubbas still living at home have been going to Fabian's apartment to get showers, for three days we had no water, it was not a busted pump, and the plumber's bill was so very low compared to what we might've faced.

That was during the time my dear friend, Jessica, was specifically praying for us.  So spot on that I'd texted her back immediately. Man, that was some good praying girlfriend.

So now I have water to make hot tea and coffee.  Sarah's recently found out that one of the few herbal teas that are organic are Numi - this after us wrongly trusting Celestial Seasonings for 40 years.

My grandson, Isaiah, turns 6 today, I'll see him this evening.
Scotty, Nando, Jack and Tabby are all gone for the weekend, at a church retreat called The Mix.