Feelings are a tough thing to wrangle.
Dealing with disappointment or frustration is a valuable life skill, one that’s hard enough to model when you’ve got a tangible cause for the reaction. Not many tweens take to sitting with uncomfortable feelings even when they can talk through why they’re having them. But trying to make sense of an ambiguous icky feeling when it doesn’t seem to come from anything in particular?
That often sends us talking in circles.
Some days our house is Meltdown Central.
I’d like to think it’s not me. I mean, surely it’s not me. Except sometimes it’s me. I’ll own that.
And because sometimes it’s me, I’ve developed the unique ability to identify when Bear is losing her $#@! completely. Sort of like a Spidey sense, but for hormonal flux.
Take a recent lake weekend. BrightSide took the kids out tubing, and I really should have gone. Don’t ask me how, but I knew to the depths of my soul that I needed to be out there with them. But I didn’t go. Someone else offered to ride along, and I backed out.
Sure enough, Bear had a massive meltdown in the middle of the lake. Seeing as I wasn’t present I got the story secondhand, but by all accounts it was epic. As they rolled back up to the dock my Spidey sense kicked into high gear – angsty agitation was rolling off Bear in waves while she was locked in combat with BrightSide.
It was only after I got her alone and calm(er) that Bear was able to sort through her feelings. To realize that she wasn’t angry about the tube or the water or the situation in general…it was just that she felt icky inside, and this turmoil was exploding outward in every possible direction. Unfortunately for BrightSide and T-man, they happened to be caught in the line of fire.
Now, I can work with random hormonal fluctuations. Hell, I manage to be a functional member of society while dealing with them myself. BrightSide’s approach to Bear’s erratic and somewhat irrational behavior can be hit or miss, mostly because he’s so freaking logic based, but for the most part we’re getting her through it.
The real challenge is when Bear’s hormonal fluctuations collide with deeply buried issues, problems with grief and loss that my sweet girl can’t even articulate yet.
When something Bear doesn’t really understand triggers her, she can suddenly find herself grappling with a fear of being forgotten or pushed aside. Or dealing with an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss, but not being able to explain why she’s feeling that way.
Those moments of all consuming emotion – sorrow, rage, frustration, pain – simply cannot be explained by Bear, especially in the midst of them. And if you try to get to the bottom of it by asking “Can you tell me why you’re feeling ___?” all you get is a discouraged wail of “I DON’T KNOW!”
So we’re living in Meltdown Central, but we refuse to give up. We will not surrender. And I firmly believe at some point, in the perhaps very distant future, life will return to something resembling normal around here.