In last week’s blog I wrote “I’m not a cryer...but this morning the floodgates opened, and five months and two weeks of ignoring the truth poured forth. I feel better for it”. How wrong I was.
As the week continued, I carried on feeling more and more irritable, short-tempered, and lacking in any patience at all. In short, I was not remotely therapeutic in any way shape or form. As a result, the kids’ behaviours (which had been deteriorating) escalated, which made me feel worse and worse… You get the picture.
It all came to a head on Thursday when Duckling’s teacher asked if I was OK at the school gate. I had to walk quickly away to avoid bursting into tears there and then. By the time I got to the end of the road, with a scooter over one shoulder, a bag of library books over the other, and Gosling on my shoulders eating breadsticks (the debris of which crumbled into my hair), I was sobbing uncontrollably. If I thought the floodgates had opened last week, this was the Hoover Dam bursting! I must have looked like a lunatic. At one point, Gosling patted me on the head and asked why I was sad. I remember saying I was upset because I wanted to make him and Duckling happy and felt that I wasn’t. His reply was a massive squeeze and telling me he was happy.
I managed to call Tom, who came to get us. In nearly 15 years of being together, Tom has never seen me cry in that way. He took Gosling to the library while I sat in the car and cried some more. I’ve never felt more lonely in that moment – the one person I really wanted, and needed, to talk to was the one person I couldn’t because he was looking after Gosling.
I texted Denise, our SW, who immediately called back. We spoke for an hour – after I calmed down enough to actually make any sense. She listened and gave me some words of wisdom. I shall forever be grateful to her for that one hour of her time – particularly as she was officially on holiday.
Looking back, I realise now I had been feeling low for a while. For the previous couple of weeks, I had been waking up around 5am most mornings and not being able to get back to sleep; I was finishing off a second, third and sometimes (if there was any wine left in the bottle) a fourth glass of wine as soon as the kids went to bed; I was starting to pick at biscuits, chocolate and cheese in a way that I didn’t used to. I was feeling depressed.
It felt like I was taking on all the worry, stress and anxiety of two traumatised children (and sometimes that of Tom too) and I had reached capacity. I needed to let everything that I was feeling out too.
I also recognise now that I can’t let things get like that again. I grew up with a parent with severe depression and I always thought I was quite good at letting my emotions out - but that was before it was necessary to keep it all together for the sake of my two little ones.
So, this week I do genuinely feel better. I’ve started sleeping through the night, which has given me a new sense of energy. I’ve found my therapeutic mojo again (most of the time) and things do feel like they’re settling down. And if I have a second glass of wine and some chocolate – well, life’s too short to worry about everything.
The Good Stuff
The realisation that all was not well has been slowly creeping up on me for quite a few weeks now.
It started when Denise, our wonderful social worker, suggested we didn’t submit our adoption order papers straight away. She explained that as soon as the adoption order is granted we would lose her as our social worker and she felt we still needed her support and guidance. Initially I was quite thrown by this as I thought we were doing really well (and overall I think/hope/pray we are) but as we talked more I discovered all was not as rosy as I thought maybe it had been.
I follow lots of fellow adopters on Twitter and the blogosphere, and many of them write about really horrific experiences with their children. With the exception of some of Duckling’s screaming fits, Tom and I weren’t going through anything ‘terrible’ and I kept saying to him how much worse it could be for us. We weren’t like those “other people”. It didn’t seem to matter that we weren’t getting enough sleep, couldn’t do a single thing by ourselves without a child wanting to be carried, that NOTHING we do is ever good enough for Duckling, or that Gosling was hitting, kicking and pinching (the list could go on), because there was someone having it worse than us.
Then, last week, Denise read back to me something she’d written about Duckling & Gosling as part of an ASF application she was submitting to get them an holistic assessment. I was shocked by what I’d listened to; she had described my life completely accurately but it was like listening to one of those “other people’s” stories.
Over the weekend, I think I started to realise that although there are people having it worse than us (and there are) it doesn’t matter. Because this is our life and quite often it’s not all that great. In fact, at times it can be pretty shitty.
I remember writing in a previous blog that I’m not a cryer – and generally I’m not. But this morning the floodgates opened, and five months and two weeks of ignoring the truth poured forth. I feel better for it. It’s also allowed me to write again – something I’ve really missed but just haven’t been able to do.
Accepting that our reality isn’t what I thought it was has really shaken and upset me. They say acceptance is the first step to actually changing your behaviour and if nothing else it means Tom and I can move forward with caring for and looking after Duckling and Gosling to the best of our abilities.
The Good Stuff
Duckling went swimming for the first time and loved it.
Gosling has made a friend at nursery.
Tom and I have a babysitter at the ready for our anniversary.
My husband and I have adopted two wonderful children. Duckling is 5 and Gosling, her little brother, is 3. I'll be keeping track of our journey here...