After an amazing time with his Grandparents, my son felt his anger coming on and let it all out within an hour of being back home. Even though he had a great time, he talked about how much he missed me, as he punched at me. He talked about how much he missed his brothers while he ripped up their stuff. After about 1 1/2 hours of anger, he started to melt into sorrow where he repetitively cried out, “I want to go home”. I tried to comfort him, letting him know that he was home, but it didn’t help.
The best way to explain this episode is to compare it to a computer that malfunctions when overloaded. Even though he appeared to be having the time of his life while away, his body was holding in a good amount of anxiety that he needed to get out once home. During the episode, I saw anger that was violent towards me and towards himself as he bashed his head into the door. At times he was calm, but very mouthy and appeared to be having fun taunting me. Then other times, he was trying to scare me, followed by moments where he was agitated in his own skin. The episode ended with him feeling deep sadness and confusion.
Then he fell asleep.
I thought we were done for the night when I was able to get him into a warm bath and feed him dinner, but before I could even finish my own meal, he was up and messing with his brothers. For the next hour he struggled with feeling too much energy and acting mean, as he complained, “I feel like I need to hurt someone”, then writhing on the floor, desperately begging for this feeling to pass.
At one point, I was on the couch, silently crying as he laid on the floor, questioning when this will ever end. He shared that the doctors don’t work, the medicine doesn’t work, nothing is working.
Before he drifted off to sleep, he allowed me to hold him in my arms as I reminded him that there are peaks and valleys and that when he’s in the valley, there’s a peak around the corner. He just has to trust us to help him through it because we love him and will never let him go through this alone.
I wish the story ends there, but after he was asleep, I have two younger boys who are living in their own aftermath. Both are upset and heart-broken after counting the minutes for their brother to return home to then experience a meltdown so soon. My middle son explained that he felt so bad he wanted to punch someone in the stomach, but he knew that would be wrong. So I used this opportunity to teach my little ones to “let it out” on their pillows. So the boys began punching their pillows with every bit of energy their little arms could give, when I told them to, “Knock them out”, they began laughing uncontrollably, because “Mommy, it’s just a pillow!”
I was glad to see them recover a little from the day, but I know that it isn’t over. Just as my son said, “the doctors don’t work, the medicine doesn’t work, nothing is working.”
This is long road and I’m afraid we’ve just begun.