I have moved into a new phase in life, especially my parenting life. My last child has moved out of the house. Another child visited for the summer, so we didn’t experience a true empty nest immediately. Yet it is still a new phase–the child who moved out last was our child with an alphabet soup of diagnoses. He suffered complex early trauma. Life with this child was never easy.
Life with early trauma: some things that happened
- Things we liked mysteriously broke or disappeared.
- My new car was scratched.
- Dish soap appeared in the coffee creamer.
- Paint thinner found its way into the water jug (might have been an interesting test of the filter but I was not brave enough to find out…)
- Every conversation had an eavesdropper.
- My husband and I were lied about and to.
- We got a lot of calls from school.
- My child had no friends.
- People invited us places less and less.
- I lost friends (turns out not too many stick around for the latest chapter in how-my-child-tried-to kill-me).
- I felt stressed and scared.
Life with early trauma: some things I did
- Put cameras and alarms pretty much everywhere.
- Slept behind locked doors.
- Kept our little dog close.
- Locked up knives, scissors, medications, cleaning supplies, and lighters.
- Hid ingredients for our dinner.
- Hid my purse as well.
- While I was at it, hid everything else.
- Documented everything.
- Read every book, blog, and journal I could find to help with all the ingredients in his alphabet soup.
- Woke up at every sound.
- Recovered stolen items.
- Felt like a failure.
Life with early trauma: a new phase in life
We have three rules for adults living in our home:
- Clean up after yourself.
- Attend school or have a job and put effort into it.
- Treat us with respect.
My child informed us that the last one was unreasonable. We, however, refuse to allow someone to live here for free, give him rides, feed him, and support him if that person insists on cussing at us, yelling at us, and calling us names. The choice to leave was my child’s. He decided he was an adult, and as an adult, he wanted out.
That’s not to say that we just let him go. We helped. Next time I’ll tell you how, and what happened to me next.