I need help brainstorming a solution. Please forgive this very long post. LOL. The problem is my kid keeps saying "I need help. You guys know what I need but you won't do it." He is just not able to affirmatively be more specific, and I get that. When he"s not melting down, I make suggestions about what he might mean, to see what sticks. To the best of my knowledge, it appears that he doesn't feel "normal" and he is upset that we don't help him be normal. He mentioned not feeling like he belongs. Which I think refers to both within our family and outside our family. I can and do work on the piece about inside our family. My working theory is that he is being hit over the head with the realization that clinging to the hope that he can mimic "normal" and survive adolescence is not feasible for him. He does mimic his friends by playing video games, how he dresses and wears his hair, and he tries to control how we all behave in our family in a desire for us to appear "normal". We have stopped explaining why that's not possible (sometimes I just throw my hands up and say "I just can't do normal" - I really can't, LOL), but I do try not to be dismissive of his desire and his understandable thought pattern that if he felt normal his life would be better. I offer empathy, but it's not being received right now, as he might see the empathy as dismissive of his goals. He wants action. I have talked to him about what he might mean by normal. If he wants to be normal, can he be more specific about what this means to him and we can try to help. I am not trying to be sarcastic. He may think I am, though. Like "everyone else knows what normal is, and everyone else learns how to do this from their parents, but if I am not normal, then my parents must be withholding." Specifically, I think he is hoping we can take action to change our family, how we interact with him, what our family rules are, etc. and somehow he will feel more accepted. Despite his hope that if we did something different, he would be normal, he has moments of extreme clarity. He said last night while upset: "I am not going to try to change you guys any more. It doesn't work. I am only going to try to change me." But I think this morning maybe he is just cycling back through the "I can't do this by myself, you guys need to help me." He is clear that he is not talking about meds, therapy or coaching, or having things like a phone (though he would really like that). He wants the intangible feeling of being normal. I have a belief that he will ask for more specific help, like therapy or giving him help to understand his neurodivergence when he is ready. He has rejected our attempts to talk about his neuropsych. Just withdraws. But he knows intuitively, and from seeing Internet searches, etc. I am guessing he's not ready right now until he gets through this stage of hoping he can be normal. That we have to flush this out first. Maybe in the future he will want help with social skills. It's been offered. Or help to develop an interest that could serve as a point of connection with others. Right now it's just video games and stuff he does with the family. What can I do while he is melting down over this stuff? And is there a tool that I can try to teach him after the meltdown? A tool he can use to ask for help that empowers him to take action for himself? For the present, I am trying to deal with the many outbursts just by listening briefly and then giving him space to cool down. During these, he says he hates me and thinks we should do something NOW and doesn't understand why we don't help him. I am guessing the outbursts are expressions of grief and there is not much I can do except to lightly check in while he is melting down. Make sure he's safe. Tell him I love him. Tell him where I will be. I have a belief that if I sit there with him while he is melting down and try to tell him it's not so bad or if I tell him I know how bad it is, either way I will be talking to his anxiety and probably making it worse. Anything I say does seem to escalate the situation. I think the message I want to convey is "I can't take away this pain. I care, and I will wait with you." I think it's like setting a limit so he can be free. I am here to do the work with him, but I cannot give energy to the idea that I could change myself to make his life better and that I am withholding that from him. But I can give empathy if that truth causes him pain. Maybe I am seeing that it is co-dependent for me not to be up front about my lack of control over how he feels. I am not sure if there is something else I could do or say while he's saying these things. Then, when the meltdown is over, I'd like to reinforce his wisdom from last night. "You were so wise to realize that we can't change others. If Dad and I could change ourselves or our family to take away your pain, believe me we would think long and hard and that. Part of us would want to! And we also want to be ourselves." And then I want to introduce a tool. I don't know what this would be. I just have a lot of thoughts about what I would like to teach - we can ask for help, we can get help working through our feelings, we can get help to make action plans based on our goals, and we can do all of this with support from our family. But I don't really know how to do it if he's not ready. So maybe it's just "ask for what you want." It's a family "rule." To try to reinforce that if we don't ask, other people don't know what we are thinking. And if we demand, people don't want to help. But I expect that he will not have the ability to know what he wants or ask for it for some time. That likely there will be many more meltdowns. And when they are over, we will keep offering help in ways that unfortunately don't work for him, because they come from our brain and lack buy in, and right now he wants a feeling that we don't have control over, and even more than that, what he needs right now is to work through this pain. Pardon the long message. I get so much out of writing that hopefully I will get more insight from having done this exercise. I appreciate all of you being a witness to this work. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom, thoughts, and successes.

Posted by sophieno at 2024-01-27 14:57:24 UTC