Did raising a difficult child completely skew your emotional reponses?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by slsh, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    This has been a rough year for me, I think unrelated to gfgland. Or maybe not. Am back in counseling, and something that seems to be coming up often, to my surprise, is that I'm not expressing a whole lot of emotions to anyone, but especially seem to be incapable of expressing anger, even when it's (I think) justified. My inclination is to chalk it up to a dozen or so years of swallowing emotional responses to thank you's junk, since he just fed off any emotion I showed.

    I seem to be presenting an absolutely neutral/flat affect across the board, though inside neutral is about the last thing I am.

    Just wondering if any of you PE-ers have noticed long-term effects from raising your difficult children, or if I'm just completely off my rocker.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    OK, I don't really belong in PE (yet), but... Just the last 8 years have really messed up my responses. I keep my mouth shut a lot more. I am overjoyed about the smallest things... And (silently) raging about the smallest things. I can express myself here... And in private to husband... But that's about it.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Of course. In some weird ways too. I am an ASL as a second language user. I have been around people in the Deaf community for most of my life since a kid... and at work, in a school that uses ASL (which heavily relies on not only the signs but facial expression, body language,etc) I started having issues with a couple of people who didn't know me well misinterpreting my communication. The main reason is I have learned not to let my feelings show as much. I used to be very expressive. But I have learned that with Q not reading expression well and always misinterpeting my intentions, to stay very neutral. It really took a while to figure out I was not switching back and forth as well over time. Luckily I was able to discuss this with them and my boss, and asked them to wake me up so I could make a conscious effort to use my "face" lol.

    I do feel I have to stuff a lot of things.
  4. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes, Yes, Yes! Me, too!!! I did not relate it to GFGdome. I will have to think about that some more. Flat effect for sure for me. I was thinking more along the hormonal lines.....Gah - who knows! I just wish someone could fix me! LOL!
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Yes. I had to keep a serious lid on my temper with Miss KT's antics over the years, and now it's a habit. Sometimes it's a good thing, I think, but the anger and irritation is still there, waiting under the surface.
  6. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Not to mention that if one displays any emotion like anger or whatever at the &((&^&^%@@@*** that comes our way from our kids, then therapists focus on the parents as the problem. So after one has dealt with the literally dozens or more of professionals in our kids lives, one learns to edit everything and be professional.

    If one expresses too much emotion then of course the problems are all of our making. How many years have we all been counseled on doing the Least expressed emotion thing with our kids?

    I dunno, anyone else think there might be something to that?
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think I ever fully was able manage to attain neutral - ever. Just not in me. I do know that all this has changed me. I know that these past couple of years have been really hard on me and I am getting angrier inside and everything is on a low boil. My problem is that with my issues, I tend to boil over easier than everyone else.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    To neutral? no.
    Did it change my emotional response? probably.
    I used to be a total closed book.
    Now... I can rant right up there with the best of them.
    But... I'm a lot LESS trusting, way more wound up.
  9. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I just spent an hour in therapy trying to tell my new counselor how my whole life is now skewed....but I could not articulate it to where I feel she fully understands.

    Having a difficult child has changed every part of me. It has affected my career, in that I used to be this patient, level headed, store manager - and now I am triggered by absolutely everything around me in the workplace. My last 5 years of a career have been a wash, simply because I am too emotional.

    I guess my problem is the opposite to yours. I have lost the patience and calmness that used to be my personality, and it has been replaced with the feeling that I am walking around constantly in a war zone. That every single thing in life is a potential land mine. It causes me to analyze every single person, thing, or action and evaluate whether or not I am going to be hurt bu it or not. It has rendered me paralyzed to move forward with the same daring tenacity I used to have.

    I can't say it is all difficult child-ness, there are other significant life things that have affected this. But I think the inability to retain a level head directly has to do with always being caught up in difficult children roller coaster hell of a life.

    Constantly being in the flight or flight mode for 21 years, has caused me to become permanently in that gear. I have no idea how to disengage. And the only ones that understand are you guys - because friends, family, and counselor just don't seem to grasp the gravity and severity of this.

    Thank you for bringing this up slsh - I really needed to know others are out there like me.
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Very interesting slsh.....

    As far as how I present myself? Guarded -all the time. I don't trust people.....I trust my dogs....

    So the reaction you probably are having in the therapists office isn't an uncommon one.....I'd say all your life - due to the nature of having SO many people examine your kids, and come at you about your kids and talk to you about your kids, and tell you things about your kids.....and on and on and on about your kids? You've probably come to the conclusion that no matter WHAT you say......people are always putting YOU under a microscope, your thoughts your words your body language......how you even sit in the doctors office is on his notes...when you roll your eyes......yadda yadda yadda.....

    SO to me this is just a "trust" issue with this therapist.........and in my humble opinion (untrained of course) you don't trust this person yet - so you're being reserved. WHY Bother blowing the dust out of your attic when he's just going to give some poo-poo advice and not get to the core of the issues AGAIN.....ANYWAY? Just be calm, cool - collected.......allow him to see that you have it together......you're good......see????

    Instead of blowing it out your blow hole, and having a fit......like you really want to - and having him write down some scribbled notes on the first few visits where in he marginally notes (Mother slightly psychotic, suggest month long hiatus for her in State Bed and Breakfast with LARGE doses of Diazapam and Morphine for sedation) -

    Nope - I think you're just being guarded because you don't trust this guy yet - ANd in that I'd say you have options -

    Either take him aside adn say "You know what? I'm tired of being Mrs. Calm, Cool and collected - so I'm lettin her rip" and at the next meeting - let her rip--------

    Or ask to talk to him in private......and explain you have issues......and don't feel like opening up right now but just feel like you're going to explode.....but don't want to but want to explore that later - could you?

    Hope this helps .......
    Hugs & Love
  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I definitely think before I speak, but I do speak. I'm naturally suspicious and distrustful and a bit paranoid...all the result of either being a New Yorker or raising a difficult child, or both.

    Also I was raised in a house of difficult children and they were always on the attack, so I learned to squelch a lot of my emotions from that environment as well. It's only in my later adulthood that I've found my voice, however, I do use it cautiously.

    I think what dealing with a difficult child has done to my emotions is make them hyper-sensitive!

    That said, I am more in line with what Janet said about being at a low boil, most of the time.
  12. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    ROFL -

    I just asked DF this question.......and told him some of the responses..
    Apparently (ahem) I hold NOTHING back when asked.....so I digress. :consoling:
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I grew up surrounded by difficult children and a mom that is a class A difficult child. I had a "game face" before preschool.

    Years and years ago when I went to a therapist over my childhood we were like 5 session in and she told me I don't trust her to show my feelings. I agreed. I have very few people I trust to show my feelings to, especially certain ones. Told her I was there to deal with the past, not boo hoo on her shoulder. I could do that at home in private if I needed to. And we went on from there just fine.

    After a lifetime with difficult children, it's just how I am, normal or not. Doubtful I'm going to start changing now.

  14. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Thanks, ladies.

    Actually, this poor therapist caught it full force - well about as full force as I get these days - from the get go. I picked her specifically because of her stated areas of interest, and I think it's a decent fit. There's just been so much yucky stuff building up, she could have been the therapist from Hades (which she definitely isn't) and I still would've spewed.

    It's more the people in my life, which means the family. I know depression is a big factor (what's-the-point kind of attitude) but I think also just having been in the unemotional response mode for so long with thank you that it's how I react to everyone. For ex., my second session, I get there and there's no checks in the checkbook. husband had just put it on my desk while I was in the shower, didn't tell me no checks, didn't move the 6 inches to get a new checkbook to put in the darn wallet. Nothing new, his typical MO, but I totally lost it in therapist's office. I would never say anything to husband because, well, what's the point? He's been doing this for 25 years. Had I been anywhere else, I would've just inhaled it up, charged whatever I needed to buy, and gone home and put in a new checkbook without saying anything to husband.

    I don't know, maybe it's more to do with- my own junk than effects of raising thank you in an as emotionally neutral manner as possible. Though I really do think that somehow, for whatever reason, I am responding to everyone in the family very neutrally, have been for quite a while. It's definitely not how I was 15-20 years ago.

    State Bed and Breakfast sounds like a fabulous idea, if it weren't for the fact that I'm pretty sure everything would fall apart at home in a heartbeat. husband has become a very compliant 5-year-old, and the kids are... well, teens. It's pretty bad when your difficult child is the most helpful person in your life, LOL (though thank you really has made remarkable growth).

    And no, I'm most definitely *not* neutral on the inside. Rapid screaming boil would be more like it - think China Syndrome.

    Anyway.... onward. Thanks again.
  15. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I had only 14 months of living with a difficult child (which is why I only rarely post here anymore--my experience is so slight, compared to everyone else's), but it definitely had a strong effect on me behaviorally: I learned to suppress most of my emotional responses (so as not to further inflame difficult child's inclination toward rages) and to fall into step with the general policy/atmosphere of denial and "nothing wrong here" in my sister's home. When I finally left, I was amazed (especially in hindsight now) at how much pent-up anger, and even fury, I had stored away, which began to leak out all over the place for well over half a year before it began to subside. For me, by far the largest effect on me was the suppressed anger that built up within me due to having to rein in my natural responses (of fury and contempt at being so verbally and sometimes physically abused) while around difficult child. I think in some ways that's the worst consequence of a difficult child's misbehaviors: the effects on the psychological well-being of the people around him/her. difficult child can hurt himself all he likes--at the end of the day, he reaps what he sews and gets what's coming to him, which is only just. But the effect of his shenanigans on the well-being of others, especially family members, is truly shocking and saddening.
  16. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    What Lisa said is exactly how I am...
    I grew up in a volatile tho loving household. Loud, -often to the point of meanness. I was a doormat as a young child and then learned to imitate the behavior to survive. Everyone was always about themself-better than the rest. Even today, you can always hear two voices monopolizing the conversation at big family dinners...No one's opinion is allowed to digress...
    Now I check out-a lot as does my brother though I understand his family life is volatile too.

    Sometimes I think in an effort to raise difficult child in a calm household I created a kid who is an attention ***** (like my family.) I don't know.

    I subscribe to the theory "when you happen upon sh!t in the road of life; don't kick it"

    I do trust h so he often bears the brunt
  17. Elsieshaye

    Elsieshaye Member

    I could have written this, verbatim. I still have a lot of trouble doing anything that draws attention to me, including getting praise or initiating a conflict (however mild or rational). Lots and lots of difficulty expressing anger appropriately (I'm all about stuffing it - sometimes literally by overeating - until I blow up, usually in a private meltdown in the bathroom, over something trivial and unrelated). Good times.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I can't even count the number of times, when I start somewhere new especially, when I have apologized ahead of time for my behavior. I never blow up or anything, but sometimes I am overly detailed and trying to be so proactive it can overwhelm someone. So , I iwll say... you are about to pay the price for X that happened last year.... I am just going to make sure this never happens again... etc. It has worked for me for the most part. but it is tiring.
  19. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    I think your ability isn't as much a hindrence as it is an evolving process. I think you're just an enlightened being who is able to see the BIG picture and process life like a chess game......and even though you haven't taken your hand off the piece you'd really like to move - you may have to move another piece you didn't want to to keep the game going. It's a series of picking and choosing your battles and I think you are just like the rest of the difficult child Moms and Moms in general - You are Pick-weary. lol. It gets old after a while - BUT eventually there will come a day when you sit in a house - and it's so quiet - you can hear the hummmmm of the computer fan and you think .....and you can hear yourself think.....and it's creepy. Even the sound of blinking makes a noise. Then you will wonder (not so much long for) but wonder WHY in the world your husband is doing the things he is doing and HE will make you nuts beyond your WILDEST difficult child...........and I highly recommend rooms at the opposite ends of the house..and a garage, and a man cave......and get his hearing tested EARLY...........and dual blanket controls......and breath right strips.......and hobbies of your own. And a note on your door that says "I"M BUSY "

    because if you think you are the china syndrome? You'll be the PHiladelphia Experiment ............and no amount of time warp is going to get him out of your hair.
  20. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Definitely. Due to living through Kanga's koi, I have increased emotional lability, decreased ability to form and maintain positive relationships, increased somatic issues due to stress, and acute bouts of paranoid and panic.

    and I talk funny too.