This weekend I have been struggling with emotions. I know, big surprise! I have no idea what I am actually feeling and I keep wavering with a flux of feelings. One moment I am fine, the next I am irritated, the next too fatigued to even feel anything, the next joyful, the next angry, the next sad, back to feeling some sort of jollity. I have no explanation; frankly I am tired of analyzing myself so I am not going to. I have too much to do and the reality is this is what my brain does. I can break down into great detail every single thing that is causing me to feel such a multiplex of emotions, however; today it can be summed up to this – it is December.
That is all.
This month holds too many traumas, confusing social experiences, too much sensory sensations and cold weather. Those wrapped up into a big blanket of unresolved pain, confusion, overwhelming intensities of joy and love, enhanced by anxieties all sweep around and through me creating a vortex of emotional whirling. So when Joshua handed me a piece of paper that read,
“I love you. But sometimes I feel like I’m beep.”
I was struck with how my little guy is struggling with his emotions. I was not sure what “beep” meant so I asked him. He told me that beep meant “stupid.” We do not use the word stupid here so he considers it a bad word – we do use the word “BEEP” on occasion – it has multiple meanings around here. I asked him, “Ok, do you know why you feel stupid?” He said, “No, I just sometimes feel like I cannot do anything right.” I asked him about that and why he felt that way. As he spoke, his words were not really matching the emotion he was trying to express. He seemed more confused. I stopped him because he was going down a path of negative talk about himself and I said, “We will talk about this in a minute, but first I want to point some things out.”
While he was talking, I wrote on his paper, “I think you are beeping Awesome!”
Now he is seven years old so the word “awesome” is something that he uses and understands to mean good and a positive. This caught his attention and made him smile. It gave me the opportunity to show him the incredible things that he HAD done. First, he was able to realize that he felt “off” he was not feeling good about himself and instead of going into his either or type of expression which is uncontrollable tears or uncontrollable screaming he decided to write what he felt out on paper.
This is a huge thing for him.
Secondly, he wrote it. He came up with the sentences on his own. While he was writing this, he had gone onto the steps alone and asked us how to spell words. I was not sure what he was writing, but David and I both shouted the letters to words he was trying to spell. Handwriting is very difficult for him. It has been (is) frustrating and even traumatic at times because he has gotten so confused as to why he cannot get his hand to write what he is thinking. It makes him feel badly about himself. For him to write this out took a lot of effort and personal strength for him. AND as I told him his handwriting looks incredible on his note, he did great!
I wanted him to recognize that and see how much he had accomplished with writing this.
Third, he felt safe enough to express these things to us. He did not feel afraid to use the word beep or to share with us that the world was stupid. This means the world to me. Joshua internalizes a lot. I believe much of it has to do with his inability to “know” what he is feeling. He misreads people often, and always assumes the worst. This was an opportunity to help negate those negative thoughts and build into him. We talked more about how incredible it was that he was able to write this down and express what he was feeling.
We reassured him that he is NOT stupid.
We also, reassured him that everyone makes mistakes and we all can make the same mistakes repeatedly. Mommy and Daddy included!! Boy, oh boy can we. He has a challenging time accepting that we can make the same mistakes over and over. To him, making the same mistake over and over equaled “stupid.” This particular situation was triggered because he had been told to stop flopping and leaping off the furniture. He is told every day to stop this. The other day he flipped face first onto the floor and got a bloody nose … He hurts himself all the time. There are days when we forget why Joshua is doing those things. If we are talking “grown-up” stuff or if I am working with Daniel or Ariel, I forget and end up saying something like, “Joshua, you have got to stop throwing yourself onto the floor and do not jump from the couch to the chair!”
I forget his sensory needs and I forget that he gets bored or distracted so easily.
In my forgetfulness, I have not explained to Joshua why he does those things. I had not explained to him why he “cannot” remember to stop. It has nothing to do with his intelligence or not being a “good” listener. It has to do with his body and what he needs to regulate all of his thoughts, balance, and emotions. David and I both explained to him about some of his sensory challenges and how his mind is unique with its own needs. We also, shared with him the ways that we as a family share many similar challenges from sensory and emotional difficulties to the way we think and process information. The discussion ended with Joshua smiling and feeling good about himself.
I was left feeling very proud of what he had accomplished all on his own and amazed once again, at my little guy.
He started his social group last week along with his occupational therapy. He has already shown a significant change his attitude toward himself. I believe that having things explained to him and the one-on-one time with the OT has given him a little boost of self-esteem. It was a good reminder for me that my kids must have answers. If they do not understand they are left to their own limited filters that are influenced by what little they know of the world and themselves. The more I can explain how their wonderful minds and bodies work the more they will gain an understanding of themselves. I hope that understanding will lead to the ability to squelch those negative thoughts and redirect into self-acceptance. I really hope so … gauging from the positive experience from this; I can’t wait to see what else Joshua shares with us.
It is such a fabulous thing to experience watching his little face expressing that he feels beep to glowing with pride realizing his hard work and accomplishments.