The Discomfort of the Calm


Have you been there?  That place of quiet calm where you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop?  I’m there right now and I hesitate to even write about it.  I don’t believe in superstition, but feel like knocking on wood. Do I really want to express that things in my home are going smoothly right now?  My husband and I are getting along, good report cards came home yesterday from school and even my Reactive Attachment Disordered(RAD) son has been relatively calm.

Historically Paul has struggled the most in the month of October.  He has always said that his birthday month just reminds him that he wasn’t born into this family.  That, in turn, brings to his mind all the other unsettling things he ponders regarding his adoption and his early childhood trauma.  Poor Kid.  But this year, October was blessed.  I even re-read my journal for October and found all good comments about Paul’s behavior.  I noticed in my journal that many days he wasn’t even mentioned.  No news is good news regarding my journaling, so when I noticed he was missing, I thought I’d intentionally add the positive comments. It was refreshing to state the truth.  The honest truth and it was good.

For the parents of other RAD kids, I can almost see you rolling your eyes.  “Yeah, good for you, but we are still knee deep in garbage at our house.”  Well, let me tell you that even if we are in the calm right now, I still fear that I am just resting in the eye of a tornado. Years of abuse and unrest don’t disappear over night, do they?  And, I’m talking about OUR abuse, not his. Maybe I feel like the wife of an alcoholic just waiting for her husband to go on that next binge.  I am just not sure, but as welcoming as this time of rest is, it is unsettling.  What are we supposed to do with our hoses if there aren’t any fires to put out?  I think I’ll use mine to water the grass that I hope comes up in the spring.  What do I mean by that?  I think I’ll use this time to prepare for the next phase, whatever that may be.

I know how exhausting dealing with a troubled child is.  It is emotionally and physically draining, so in this quiet, I will rest.  I will not fill every spare second in meetings, reading parenting books or speaking with therapists about how to manage.  I’m taking a break from learning, trying, and strategizing. I’m taking a break from the grueling schedule of trying to figure it all out.  (I never did, by the way, I just tried! There is no figuring it out!)

I’m reading fiction.  Any fictional piece of literature I want.  I have a whole stack of books full of fluff calling my name. Books without indexes, pages of resources, & notes.  Books with pictures of mountains, lilies or tea cups on the front and no action plan in the back.  I will read, enjoy and even forget what it was about.

I’m going to take a walk….without my phone. No one needs me.  I can walk, enjoy the leaves on the tree and the chipmunks on the ground.  I will smile at strangers I may meet and I will not have the creases of stress on my forehead.

I’m going shopping and I’m going to shop for me.  I’m not going to try to find socks without seams, or shirts without tags.  I’m going to buy whatever makes me feel good.

I’m going to waste time on Pinterest. I may check out crafts to make out of pine branches or poems to write in calligraphy.  I am not going to research safes, weighted blankets, interior door locks or security systems.

I’m going to go out to dinner with my husband and talk about….drumroll please…..him.  I wonder what he’s been up to the last decade or so as we battled this mental illness?  I’m going to have a conversation with him that doesn’t involve discussions of IEP’s, Psychiatrists, or ISPT meetings.

I’m going to play Uno with my daughter.I will have extra time since it won’t be spent picking up debris from a melt down.

And, finally, I am going to enjoy my son.  I am going to spend time with him, talk to him and try to see what has created this calm.  Just like I didn’t know what created the chaos, I also probably won’t be able to figure out what caused the calm, but it will be nice to spend some time with him.  During the calm, he is pleasant and even lets his sense of humor break through.

I wonder what would happen if instead of expending all my energy on figuring everything out all the time, I just accepted the storms and accepted the calm.  Would not worrying about things make time in the midst of the storm for me to do all the things I reserve for the calm?  What if I ran into the storm head on just to get to the eye?  What if I found peace in whatever climate his behavior caused?  It’s definitely something I should consider.  On my next shopping trip, I’m going to buy boots, rain gear and an umbrella and I’m going to be rested and ready. Some storm chasers get bored with the calm.  I can’t say I’m one of them, but I know that if I take care of myself now, I’ll weather the next storm much better!


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Filed under Adoptive, family, Parenting, Trauma-mama

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