“Between her and my mom, family history wasn’t history, if you know what I mean.”
I overheard this comment in a group, and I couldn’t help but laugh. That one sentence said so much. And then, because it seems I can never stop relating things to my kids, or stop thinking about them, my thoughts went to them. And I realized the truth of this statement even more with our kids. Every day, every minute, every moment of their life, their “history” was in that moment, they were reliving it in some way or another, even if not blatantly, it was affecting every single action, movement, and thought and word. Wow.
I’ve heard it said that the sum of our past creates who we are (came from a very depressing movie, and I disagreed with the point at the time, and still do) as if we are predestined and cannot change due solely to our experiences in life. But for our kids, that is absolutely true, because they have nothing except those experiences, feelings, and thoughts to go on. They have no other life experience or knowledge to go on, it has totally formed who they are and how they are and they have no choice, no way to fight out of it, without outside intervention.
In some ways it’s almost like being a puppet on a string. Suddenly your arm flips that way, and you have no idea why. You smack the kid next to you, you didn’t intend to do that, but it just happened. You’re not really in control of yourself. You have big feelings that you have no idea where they came from or why you have them, or even what they are, but there they are, making your life miserable.
When put into those terms, it makes more sense to me how my child acts. I keep trying to make sense of his actions and words, and they make no sense. But if I look at it like he himself is a puppet, not in control, predestined by his past trauma to do these things, because every moment his history is really right now, things make more sense to me. Even he really doesn’t know why he does the things he does! That may be the only time he’s not lying…
For some reason, that knowledge helps me be less reactive and more sympathetic to the crazy things he does. Although he puts on a good front of attitude and defiance, underneath, he’s just a scared little boy who doesn’t even know why he’s doing those things. He doesn’t know why his arm suddenly flew out and slapped his brother – someone else was in control. He doesn’t know why suddenly he hates the cat and wants it to die.
Over time, with therapy and whatever other resources we can provide for him, we will give him back the control over his own feelings, his own body, his own thoughts and mind. At least, that’s our goal and hope. But in the meantime, if I think of him like a puppet dangling on a string with a crazy mad puppet master pulling the strings, I can be a better therapeutic parent and less reactive to the stuff that drives me nuts. At least, that’s my goal and hope.
Hang in there.