Here’s a fun fact about widowhood:
If you have young children when your spouse dies, about a year after his/her death those children will probably go into full on rage mode.
I’d heard of this from a widow friend who was farther down the road, and now I am at that signpost.
One of my kids has slammed into “anger” with full force. He’s always been a bit quick to fly off the handle. We’ve always had to learn to manage his fits and his expectations. Lately, however, his anger has become exhausting, impossible, draining, defeating. He is quick to trigger and his rage fits will last over an hour sometimes. We will then have a few minutes of peace before he triggers again. He screams. He kicks walls. He screams. He slams doors. He screams. And screams. And screams.
Through it he hurls insults. I am a terrible mom. I obviously hate him because I don’t want him to be happy. He hates me because I don’t want him to be happy. He’s going to run away. He’s going to grow up to be a criminal due to my poor raising of him. He hates me, he hates me, he hates me.
This isn’t supposed to happen until they are teenagers, right?
I am not without recourse. We all see counselors, and we are working very hard with him to determine how to help him. We are enlisting grief and anger specialists. We are not letting this situation escalate without taking any action. I am getting him the care he needs, but grief is a process. We are getting through this, but in some ways it might just come down to being a storm that we will weather together.
I feel terrible for him. It must be so miserable to be entirely contained within a fog of anger. He can’t enjoy his life. We are working on it. I know we will get him through this.
Meanwhile, am I permitted to also feel terrible for me? I am doing what the counselors suggested. I remain calm. I. REMAIN. CALM. I REMAIN CALM, DAMMIT! Seriously, I try my best to keep a calm tone of voice. He can scream as much as he wants, but not in my face. And not if it is making everyone else miserable. He is allowed to have and express his feelings, but he is not allowed to make others feel bad. He can scream in his room. When he gets insulting, he gets a count. Three count = time out.
One epic incident lasted over two hours. I cannot remember what it was about. I wouldn’t let him have juice, or it was time to turn of the TV. Something like that. He screamed and bellowed and slobbered and flung insults at me. I calmly counted whenever he crossed the line, and wound up sending him to his room three or four times. It was a nightmare, and I didn’t think I would be able to continue.
After that night, it has been better. It was almost an instant cure. For a couple of days he had no fits at all. It’s building up again though. I can feel it. That kid has some sort of tectonic pressure inside of him and he is going to have another collapse.
The other night, he finally said it. He said what I knew was coming, and was dreading to hear.
“Mom, I wish Dad were still here and that it was you that died.”
Holy shit, y’all. Ouch. Ouch.
I know it’s normal and okay. I gave him a count for saying something hurtful. I reminded him that if he wants to talk about his feelings, about my rules, anything that we can do that in a calm way but that he is not to say hurtful things when he is upset.
He was really close to his dad. I am sure there are lots of times that he would rather have his dad around instead of me. I know it doesn’t mean he would trade me, or that he wants me to die. He doesn’t want either of us dead. I know, however, that he sometimes feels his life would be better or more fair if he was with his dad instead of with me. I am told this is natural. A child will idolize their non-present parent and will believe their life would be better with the other person.
I also know that to a certain extent he was trying to engage me in an argument, by escalating his words to get a reaction from me.
It’s okay. I understand.
Except that Jesus Christ it is so not okay. I’m not okay.
And now I am mad at my husband for leaving me to deal with the grief of our children.