I press my fingers into the temples of my head because I’m so…unbelievably…done! I can’t take one more second of the manipulation…the lies…the conniving…the sneakiness!
It’s a mind-game of sorts. “What are you getting from this?” I want to scream at the top of my lungs! “Are you not happy unless you are mind-twisting me into a complete frustrated puddle of a parent?
I want to run away. I want to send him to his room forever just so my mind can have a rest. I want to throw my hands up and conclude that this is the best it’s gonna get!
And then it hits me….this isn’t manipulation as it appears to be.
This is survival. This is, I’m afraid so I’m going to fight. This is, I’ve lost so deeply that all I know to do is work my charm to try and get something…anything…even if it’s not real.
This is, I’ll take any type of attention…even if it’s bad…to try and close the gapping wound on my heart.
This, my friends, is a child functioning from their brain stem…the place of survival…the place they’ve retreated to time and time again through the chronic trauma they’ve experienced.
I’ve become convinced after 5 solid years of researching trauma-induced behaviors, that this is not a kid behaving badly!
When the pre-frontal cortex of the brain is damaged, logic and reasoning go out the door. When the child has experienced abuse…neglect…lack of felt safety…needs not being met…this child has not only retreated to the brain stem (survival mode) they’ve set up camp there.
Once they’ve done that, every single thought, emotion, reaction, behavior, and instinct come from that place of survival.
I know that understanding doesn’t make us feel less frustrated. The understanding might help for a minute and then our emotions may boil too. We are human. You may begin to feel like you are going crazy. You may be asking yourself if you are a good parent. Listen, you are not alone. You are human, with human emotions. You can feel frustrated but you can also feel hopeful. You have the capacity to slow down and understand where our kids are coming from.
Hang in there, friend. I’m cheering for you. Keep loving those precious ones deeply. This is the road to healing.