Monday, January 24, 2011

Outlets for Rage

As I may have mentioned here, BigBro feels things very deeply or with great strength. He is passionate about things he loves. His compassion and empathy can be his undoing. His capacity to love has always amazed me.

When things lean to the negative side, it is with equal power. His play therapist is really helping him with this. But he still has those moments when he has such overwhelmingly strong emotions, he doesn't know what to do with them.

Around Christmas, he had a pretty big meltdown. He is still processing his feelings about our divorce. He is extremely smart and tries to process everything. However, without full knowledge of exactly how our divorce came about, he is very confused and angry.

As he sat there trying to explain his anger, I noticed his clenched fists at his side. He was yelling to me about how he hates the divorce and doesn't even know who to blame (ie - me or dad). I could see the wound tension in him. And it brought me right back to being that little kid that was trying to deal with something completely out of my control. Something that I hated (usually a punishment or explanation of why I couldn't have/do something). I knew there was nothing I could do to change it. But my rage was overwhelming. My memories of these times bring back visions of pure white rage taking over my sight. I remember wanting to break or hit something. I didn't want to HURT anyone. Or break anything important. I just needed to punch something or feel something break.

As I sat listening to BigBro venting and hurting, it killed me. I totally recognized the bottled rage. I asked him, "You probably feel like hitting something, don't you?" He threw his face to the ceiling and screamed "YEEEEESSSSSS!" Ugh. Man do I get it.

We did a lot of talking. I did a lot of listening. I related some of my memories from my own frustrations as a kid. I wanted to let him know that I understood what he was feeling and he wasn't insane to feel it. We also prayed. A lot!

I wasn't able to get him to his play therapist for another 3 weeks. And it helped. But I can see the underlying anger and confusion always threatening to undo him in those moments of frustration.

I talked to my mom about a punching bag. In high school, when I was still dealing with becoming part of a blended family and full of rage and anger, a friend showed me how to use one of those smaller wall-mounted punching bags that you always see boxers hitting. Bippity bappity bippity bappity. I got pretty good. When I needed to, I just whaled on that thing. My mom and I thought it would be good for both boys to have something to pound on.

But I wanted to check with their therapist. I know there can be a fine line between allowing for a physical outlet and encouraging violence as a solution to frustration. I sent the therapist an email explaining what I had seen, my own experience of wanting to hit things, and our thoughts about a punching bag. He wrote back, "I think [BigBro] has enough cognitive wherewithal to use that as a coping skill in the moment without any carryover consequences. A lot of parents use martial arts classes for the same purpose. Sounds like a good idea."

As I've stated in multiple posts, my parents ROCK. As soon as I shared that email with my mom, she and dad went to the local ginormous sporting goods store. They talked to a sales guy, explaining what and who it was for. He suggested a 70 lb hanging heavy bag. He also warned about their developing bones and not to let them punch it with their bare hands.

This past weekend, mom & dad came and assembled the stand in my garage. Then my awesome neighbor Alex came over and hoisted the bag up so we could hang it on the hook.

The next day, mom took both boys to the afore mentioned sporting goods store and got them each a pair of boxing gloves in their size. Then she brought them home, got them on the computer and showed them a YouTube boxing tutorial video she had researched. BigBro watched the whole thing. Lil'Bro hopped around posing in his new gloves and didn't watch.

When the boys were ready to try out the new heavy bag, BigBro walked up and punched it exactly like the tutorial showed. He got his feet in the right position, shoulder down, jab jab PUNCH! It was pretty cool. Lil'Bro walked up and started flailing at it. So I slowed him down, had him step back and reminded him of his kung fu lessons. He paused and then huh huh PUNCH! Great form!

BigBro testing out some boxing moves:
Lil'Bro (with helmet!) trying out some kung fu moves:

So both boys are enjoying the heavy bag. And I have to admit, I took off my antique ring to have a few hits. My Ex asked if I've put any pictures on there yet to motivate me. Ha! I just may. I just may.

I feel like BigBro will have some options for anger outlets. He knows the main reason my parents got the bag is for his benefit. But I think our whole little family will benefit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wikkid Smaht Kids

Our elementary school gives out awards for grades, perfect attendance, and other types of good citizenship in a school environment. They give out dog tags. I think it's so cool.

The younger grades (K & 1st) always try to make sure each kid gets some kind of dog tag. So there's the birthday dog tag, the perfect attendance, school pride, good student, etc. The 5th graders are a little more sparse.

Lil'Bro got two: Birthday and I think something like Paw Pride.

BigBro got one: A/B Honor Roll.

Proving once again my boys are wikkid smaht and must have been switched at the hospital with the kids of some couple from MIT or Harvard. (hee hee)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

So the 1st year of the 2nd decade in this 21st century is over. I've been looking at postings all over the web where people have extreme sentiments about how 2010 went. I have no such feelings. 2010 was another year. I have a year of my job under my belt. I've worked hard to learn all the new tricks this old dog has faced. I got used to a long commute after 3 yrs of working from home. We had school, birthdays, holidays, illness, fun and lots of laughter. All in all, I liked 2010.

I have even been able to handle the disappointment of not having hover cars, personal jet packs or silver unitards. Though the latter is probably a kindness in obese America.

I post less and less on this blog. Not by choice. But because of time. I have precious little truly free time and choose to spend it doing more important things [to me].

One of the things I love at each new year is recognizing that my need for this blog continues to shrink. It's original intent was to document my struggle with getting healthy. That was derailed quickly with BigBro's diagnosis with Tourette's. And even that had to share the spotlight with my big dumb divorce. This blog was my lifeline during those horribly painful initial divorce years. Thanks to my rockin' God, that need has grown less with each passing day.

The marriage implosion began a few days after New Year's 2007. I just did the math on my fingers and double checked it on my computer calculator. I have survived a full 4 years since then. God walked me through the cess pool of hell that was my divorce. He pulled me up out of the pit and kept walking with me through the dark forest of the 2nd year. He stayed by my side as I exited the dark woods and began taking tentative steps into light and rejoining the world around me. He set me up in strength and confidence. He surrounded me with an army of family and true friends. And I realize that his protection and help surrounded my boys along with me.

I wish I could document the amazing personal miracles I witnessed. I don't share them in such a public forum because many of them were very deeply personal answers to very specific prayers. Many involved things that happened to other people. So to share them here would probably seem out of context and would appear petty and mean in stead of amazing and glorious.

I can only say that, when all hell broke loose and the proverbial crap hit the fan back in January 2007, I learned what it meant to press into God. I threw myself on him. I finally found out what it felt like to count on him to even be able to open my eyes in the morning. And he came through. Hugely.

So 2011 finds me employed, living in the house I thought I'd lose. It finds my boys thriving and hardly any Tourette's symptoms.

I have no doubt God will continue me on an amazing path. Now that I can see beyond my own whining and pain, I can finally ask God, "Now what?" Scary question. But I'd like to think I'm ready to take on whatever it is he wants me to do.