Living with a child, or two children, who get dysregulated from time to time can be very taxing. I've come to learn the dysregulation comes in waves. There is a slow but steady buildup period. The kids get increasingly moody, edgy, unattached, or bossy. I hold my breath waiting for the emotions to crash, and then it all hits the fan. Finally, their moods level out and they are happy and loving again. The cycle then repeats, especially with changes in schedule or holidays.
Yesterday was Mothers Day, so it doesn't surprise me that there was another dysregulation cycle. It slowly built up after our vacation. There were triggers. I wasn't feeling well for about a week after we returned. We started school up in full force. Hubby had changes to his work schedule. Then came the holiday that triggers all sorts of emotions in adopted kids, the dreaded Mothers Day. You could just feel the emotional energy build. I expected a full blown meltdown yesterday, but we downplayed the holiday. It wasn't without incident. Mr. I complained most of the day about a bump in the head he got Saturday. He said it was bad enough to go to the emergency room, but not bad enough for ice, ibuprofen, or prayer. I was hoping that was as far as the dysregulation would go, that we could avoid a crash, and that Mr. I would have peace. But it wasn't to be.
Today Mr. I awoke on the wrong side of the bed. He didn't want to eat, but was hungry. He was hot and wanted the air conditioner on, but I wouldn't comply because it wasn't even eighty degrees yet. He wanted me to withdraw money from his bank account now, and couldn't wait until I had a car later in the day. He didn't want to do his schoolwork, and pushed back or lied to get out of the least amount of work. He fussed about everything he could think of. Finally, I snapped and yelled at him. I started to clean the kitchen so I would release some of the energy, but I broke a drawer because I pulled too hard on it. Our cabinets are over thirty years old and are made of particle board, so it didn't take much to break the drawer. But it was pretty impressive when the silverware came crashing down. I was crying. I was a mess. Mr. I was a mess. Ms. D laughed at us in her bedroom.
I did not do what I was supposed to do. A good, therapeutic parent would find a way to playfully and lovingly bring down the heated emotions and restore peace and harmony into the home. I did the opposite. You'd think that Mr. I would be worse after we both had a meltdown. I sure do, and feel so awful that I got to that point. What amazed me is that afterwards he became even more connected to me than he had in awhile. He helped me fix the drawer. We apologized to each other. He had a smile on his face and asked me politely to make him some food. We talked later about how we all make mistakes and we can recover from them. It was weird. All that pent up energy was diffused, and we were able to restore our relationship.
Unfortunately this time, the crisis was between Mr. I and me. Other times it is with Ms. D and her brother, with a family member or friend, or just a solo dysregulated trip. There definitely is a pattern, though. The buildup, crisis, and resolution is pretty predictable. I hope to help the kids to be able to learn to recover without the crisis someday. It would be a lot easier for all of us!