They Meltdown Because You Are Their 'Safe Person'
Updated: Nov 12, 2021
I hadn't planned on writing a blog this week. But as I shared some personal challenges with navigating life with an explosive little with her social worker earlier this week, she encouraged me to write about it. (she reads my blogs)
If I had $1 for every time I was told my kids meltdown in front of me because I am their safe person, I would be rich. I'm guessing if you are reading this, you have heard it a few (thousand) times, too.
I am the youngest of 3 kids and we are all 4 years apart, similar to the age gaps of my kids. My mom will tell you that by the time I came around I had no choice but to just go with the flow. She will say I was easy to take places because I did just that...I went with the flow. I grew up with order so of course, that was my expectation becoming a parent.
That is the exact opposite of how things are going. Most days feel like one meltdown after another. Sometimes they don't last long. Other times they last for what seem like hours. But one thing is for certain...they happen all day, multiple times a day. Those closest to me will tell me I'm doing great and it's because you are their safe person. I found myself telling my little one's social worker that there are times I think to myself, 'but what if I don't want to be the safe person anymore? What if I need a break from being the safe person? Why do others get to see the best parts of my kids and this is what I get? What am I doing wrong?'
These are the stories I tell myself daily. My child clearly can behave at school and for other people, so it has to be something I'm doing wrong, right? After talking with the social worker Monday I have been reflecting on this, a lot, because I fully believe in taking steps for self-growth. After that conversation I asked myself, 'why are these moments so hard for me? Why am I struggling to handle them with more grace and understanding?'
Here is the answer I came up with...because I have not fully accepted that this is my little, at least for right now. Again, those close to me know that I believe with every fiber of my being that there isn't anything we can't overcome...us as a family and us as individuals. If you are familiar with enneagrams, I am a classic 1, a perfectionist through and through. So the concept of anything other than working towards perfection (or at least close to it) is difficult for me to grasp. This is why I get on these shame spirals questioning 'why can't I fix this?' So then, when I am in these moments and I am now challenged with a meltdown and being the 'safe person' it becomes extremely overwhelming. I will think to myself, 'but what if I'm tired of being the safe person?' I'm guessing if you have read this far you feel the same.
While I don't have the answer to any of this right now, I know this is a common feeling those of us with a rockier road have. Sometimes it's helpful just to read that someone else is also feeling the same thing. Your thoughts are not wrong. As the social worker told me on Monday, recognition is the best first step. These realizations are hard for me, especially to put them into words because it strips away the perfect, together-looking persona I try to have. It makes me vulnerable and that is an uncomfortable feeling for me. They say that one of the stages of grief is denial. I have been in denial that things are tough, and they may be for a while until we have our breakthrough with our little lady. But working on changing my mindset from sprint to marathon status will help me to sustain energy to work through the tough moments and we work towards the finish line.
There is one thing for certain, I know I am not alone. So many of us have these battles every single day. Please know that you are seen, friends. And as I always say at the end of every blog...take care of yourself. Get that workout in and NEVER EVER turn down help!