Sunday, November 16, 2014

Finding Humanity

Another week has flown by. Swim season has started for the boys and so has the grueling workouts. Three days a week, the boys need to be at school by 6:15 in the morning for weight training and swim practice.They also have practice weekdays after school and on Saturday mornings. Colin is the youngest and smallest boy on the team. As with cross country, he has his work cut out for him. It appears that Colin is determined to get in shape.

Friday night, I stayed home with Colin and my middle-son while my husband attended a dinner with my eldest for the seniors on the cross-country team. I asked the two boys what they wanted for dinner. Middle son was just getting over a minor fever and was not hungry. Colin had a plate with peanut butter and crackers and a protein drink at his place at the dinner table. He asked that I buy more protein bars. Apparently he is trying to build up his puny muscles and is trying to load up on foods that will help.

I was tired after a long day at work and heated up some left-overs. I fed the puppy and enjoyed some quiet time while the boys retreated to their rooms.

Saturday Game Night

Saturday morning, I went to work early, eldest went to swim practice while the younger two boys had a quiz team tournament across town. Dad drove and dropped them off and went back home. The tournament was being held at a high school that was not far from where my sister and her family live. I came along with hubs to pick the boys up at 4:30. We brought Sumter along and went to visit my sister and her family.

My sister and I picked up some pizzas while the boys hung out and the dogs played. After dinner, Colin suggested we play a game called "Cards Against Humanity". This is an adult game similar to "Apples to Apples" but a bit off-color.

Five of us played; my sister, her son, me and my two boys (eldest had to work and was not with us). We had a great time and I can't remember the last time I was able to laugh so hard with my boys. Colin was in a great mood, especially when he and his brother tied for 1st place.

Shortly after the game was over, we decided to go back home. I was so happy to be able to have enjoyed a "normal" evening. Of course there were the usual messages about puppy going to kill us but only a few soft-spoken ones with no witnesses other than my husband and I. We were more focused on the fact that our son is not only able to be in the same room as us but had wanted to play a family game. This was the first time in well-over a year.

Lazy Sunday

Today, Colin has been keeping mainly to himself. At one point he was looking for his modeling clay and seemed agitated that he was unable to find it. He came up from his room to ask demand I tell him where I put it away. I don't recall moving his clay and neither did my husband.

Colin had seen his cousin working on claymation last night which sparked his interest to return to a project he put aside for several months. I tried to help look but was banished from his presence. I was more than happy to take my leave. Colin is no fun to be around when he is in a mood and I am avoiding him the rest of the evening.

Fortunately I think Colin found enough material to work with and is holed up in his room. He'll come out when he gets hungry and is able to fend for himself. It is important to give our son his space. This also gives me an opportunity for the quiet time I need. I am able to catch up some of my to-do list before bed.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

New Normal - Jekyll & Hyde

It's been almost two weeks since my last report on Colin. No major events to report. We have settled into a New Normal with a few tiny bits of progress. Last night being the most encouraging event of the week.

 About Last Night

Last evening, I came home as usual with Sumter bounding into the house to greet his boy. Colin started his usual routine of "Kill Her" which I ignored. I fed the pup and took him outside to potty. When we were back inside, Colin was in his usual spot on the family room floor, in front of his laptop watching one of his gaming videos. He continued with his antics of "Kill Yourself", " Vicious puppy is going to attack" and a few growls thrown in for good measure.

When my son was not looking, I pulled out my cell phone to see if I could get a video of this behavior. A warning shot was fired in the form of the "click" of a photograph. I quickly switched to video mode. Colin looked up and snapped "Stop! What are you doing?"  "You better not post this online." It is amazing how the kid can go from acting like he's demonically possessed to behaving like a normal, reasonable child.At that point he quit his antics and started acting "normal".

A short while later while I was in the kitchen, Colin came over and laid on the floor for Sumter to jump on him and attack with kisses. He started up again with his messages of "Kill". This time there was an animatronic quality as he lay on the floor, jerking his head between puppy kisses, to punctuate his hateful communication.

I laughed and asked, "What are you? A robot?" as I mimicked his jerking head and spewed back the same messages.

To my surprise, Colin laughed. He responded to my observation that he looked like an atromiton by telling me about a video game "Five Nights at Freddy's". He asked if I wanted to see it. I said "Sure" as I pulled a face "Should I be afraid?"

He took his laptop back down to his room to run the video on his flat screen t.v.. I came down, turned off the lights for better viewing. For a brief time, I felt a connection to my son. One that has eluded me for the past 18 months. My son explained the video demo of the game (as played by one of his favorite gamers). There was a character in the game that had the same name as me. I had a good laugh at my grotesque-looking animatronic namesake.

After a short time, I took my leave so as to not overstay my welcome. I will savor this event as a small victory.

Doggie Daycare

As I started to enter my busy time of year at work, I had been finding that having Sumter weekdays at my work was starting to become more and more stressful. Something had to give. I found a Doggie Daycare that came highly recommended. Sumter has been going there for the past week and a half. This has been a godsend for everyone. The work day is much less stressful, Sumter gets to play all day with other dogs and he is calmer at night after depleting much of his puppy energy during the day.  A win-win for all!

Getting Wired

Right after my last blog post, I hit my limit during one of Colin's hate-filled diatribes. He was in his usual spot on the family room floor parked in front of his laptop. "Why don't you go to your room?!!" I snapped. He replied that he didn't have internet hookup in his room. After confirming this with Dad, I asked how long it would take. Hubs said it would take a few hours and proceeded to complete wiring the connection the next day.

Now Colin is not dependent on using a common space room for internet hookup. I am a bit surprised that he will still frequently continue using the family room connection. I'll take that as progress that he doesn't want to spend all his time at home in a windowless, basement room.

Other Observations

Many parents in my online support group have moments of grief over being a main trigger for their children that leaves them limited in their ability to interact with them. I'm not sure why but I don't have the same sadness. Some of this lack of despair can be explained by the difference in Colin's sound sensitivities from most misophoniacs. As far as I know, the typical man-made misophonic-trigger sounds of eating, breathing, sniffing and coughing have never been an issue for our kid. I don't think that my husband and I are triggers. I believe that we are subjected to disrespect due to misplaced anger over the past year. While in hind-sight we may have done things a bit differently, I don't feel guilty over the actions we took to try to help our son.

 I have been feeling a bit detached from Colin as he is a bit of a stranger to me. I have no idea what goes on in my son's head. I often feel like a dispassionate observer, cautiously monitoring behavior, like a scientist in a lab.This is not the same loving momma's boy from two years ago.

Since our son's successful re-entry back home, I have been slowly recovering from the past gut-wrenching, emotionally-raw year of Colin's breakdown and his time away. We are doing so much better than I had hoped for but it will take time to reconcile. I don't mourn the loss of my little boy but instead try to be grateful daily for the progress we are making.We've seen the dark side and know that our situation could be so much worse.

I am keeping a watchful eye for any behavior that would indicate backsliding. There have been no days without hateful messages but we are having more periods of normal conversation. I am not seeing any outward signs of reactions to known triggers but I have noticed a vocal tic. The past several weeks, when the house is relatively silent, I have picked up on a sound that Colin makes. It is a low, guttural, swallowing sound; a bit like that of a bullfrog. This usually happens during the tense early morning hour at breakfast or when at night when I am alone with him in an awkwardly quiet room. Coping mechanism, nervous tic or my imagination? Perhaps one day I'll have an answer.

As always, we are a work in progress!