Last week was intense for me, and I’m processing all that happened. I am also celebrating how much growth I have noticed in myself and expressing gratitude for all God has changed in me over the years.
Monday of last week was the calm before the storm. My family (husband and 16-year-old son) had a pleasant dinner together, laughed, and enjoyed one another’s company. I awoke on Tuesday morning feeling joyful and grateful for my family and my life. Like every morning, I spent the first hour with God: praying, studying His Word, and worshiping Him. I looked forward to a wonderful day … and then the bottom dropped out.
My son is on the spectrum for oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD). Of course, most teenagers are oppositional and defiant from time to time, but behaviors in a kid with ODD are in their own league, and typical parenting advice simply does not work with these kids. Over the years, I have learned how to interact with my son in ways that minimize the likelihood of having an ODD showdown, but not matter what I do, these behaviors still surface from time to time, and I generally cannot see them coming. There was nothing on Monday that alerted me to having to deal with his ODD issues on Tuesday.
My son was in full ODD mode on Tuesday morning. The best way to describe the dynamic is that he becomes an emotional battering ram and will not back down, no matter what anyone else says or does. When he gets like this, all I can do is pray and stand my ground while being repeatedly “emotionally battered.” Because my son and I are close, I am typically the recipient of this behavior. (I am a “safe” person to unload these behaviors on.)
My husband can sometimes rein in the ODD behaviors faster than I can because of his authority as head of our household, but that did not happen on Tuesday morning. My husband had been stretched very thin at work for weeks and had a stressful day ahead of him, involving travel. So, I tried to handle things on my own along with the school (my son attends a private school for students with special needs) and kept my husband out of it as best I could, although he was involved in the morning before heading out of town, which heightened his stress level.
Keep in mind that the holiday season is a vulnerable time of year for me because of my childhood abuse. I am improving year by year, but I cannot yet say that I have mastered the holiday season. I told God in October that I know Jesus has already conquered this area of bondage for me and asked Him to guide me in how to walk in freedom in this area of my life. I did well in October, but the dynamics of Tuesday, with the frequent communications from my “battering ram” son via text from school, made me vulnerable to going down the emotional well that beckons every holiday season.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace spinning a vortex and saying, “This is not happening!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]