Monday, February 20, 2012

Mr. Preparedness feels unprepared

Bulldog worries he's going to say the wrong thing to DJ.  He expressed that today after dropping DJ at the hospital.  He is ultimately worried that he'll upset her and that she will revert to self injurious behaviors to cope with her feelings of anxiety and stress.  It's an easy trap to fall into, trying desperately to avoid pitfalls so that your loved one will not have to face them.

We want so badly for DJ to succeed that we can easily become part of an additional problem if we succumb to our fears.  I've made this mistake so many times-attempting to do the coping FOR my children instead of letting them figure it out, painfully, on their own.  Bulldog, historically, has not made this mistake.  Believe me, he's made other mistakes, but until recently, this particular type of mistake was specifically my domain.

This, in due course, leads us to walk on eggshells, which only makes her feel more "burdensome" and "fragile," neither of which serves any of DJ's purposes, whatsoever, and gets in the way of our being grounded parents.  I can see this clearly only because, for today anyway, I am not in Bulldog's shoes.  Check back with me tomorrow, though, and I may feel differently.

Flying Pig gave me some excellent advice:  "Stick with doing what you would ordinarily do as her parents."  She continued by saying, "If you guys were not parenting well, I would not advise that, but you are, so don't change your parenting."  I'm so shaky on trusting myself lately, that I am glad to follow what others tell us;  since Flying Pig and the folks at the hospital seem to think we've got our heads screwed on relatively good enough, I will accept their assessments since they give us some direction.  It's so easy to feel like you don't have your head screwed on tightly enough though....

Which is why I think Bulldog is questioning himself right now.  Luckily, he and I take turns with falling apart.  Last week, I cried my eyes out and he felt positive and hopeful.  Other days, his voice quakes multiple times in a week, and my outlook is calm.

The tricky part will be accepting that DJ will still have "off" days without our outwardly assuming that she will resort to self injurious behavior.  We worry, of course we do.  Since DJ has only recently been forthcoming about what's going on in her cute little head, when she explains her crankiness by saying she feels irritable but doesn't want to talk about it, we (naturally) assume, or worry, that this might be the first slip down the slippery slope to self injurious behavior again.  We want to hover and nag.  We watch her, surreptitiously, like hawks.  Our "fight or flight" systems  are still considerably heightened.  Then, one or the other of us checks the adrenaline at the door, clears our head, and looks at the situation again.  We remind ourselves that we've taken all the steps to keep her safe, even if she tried to NOT be safe.  And as importantly, if not more, she has taken the steps to keep herself safe.  Our job is not to keep her from falling, but to remind her to catch herself when she starts to fall.  If she can't, then we WILL be there to catch her.  We just have to keep reminding ourselves that we are prepared....