Emotional Intensity and Emotionally Drained

My computer is in the hospital. I am using a borrowed computer. The assistant principal Christine mentioned in her post who passed away this weekend was a favorite teacher of my oldest daughter less than ten years ago. She was also one of my favorites. We’ve also been having some other things going on in the background that I can’t talk about right now until I know more and I won’t know more until at least later today, though it could also be months from now.

My plan for today’s post was going to be about another recent emotional outburst from my youngest daughter, but for the life of me, I can’t even remember enough of it to put it down. My brain won’t let me access that information in enough detail. Something did happen a few minutes ago that made me wonder just how much my husband and I may be responsible for these outbursts (genetics aside). As I am writing this, it is just after dinner time. We almost never have a traditional dinner around the table. We haven’t for years. What normally happens is sometime between 5 and 6:30 p.m. I make sure that everyone who is going to be eating dinner at home is present and accounted for and then either I make something, or I make sure we have the type of food available so everyone can fend for themselves, or we get take out. Then we go to our favorite eating places–my husband and I on our bed in front of our favorite shows, our youngest on the couch in the family room in front of her favorite shows (or sometimes she joins us or sometimes her siblings join her). Once a week, each of the 21-year-old twins makes a meal for the family.

Tonight was one of those nights. We all dished up our lovely vegan lasagna. I took mine back to my room and my youngest took hers and followed me in there. My husband came out of the office where he had been watching blooper videos. He came into the bedroom with his food, but our daughter, who by now had finished eating and was playing a game with earbuds in, was taking up most of the space on the bed. He tried to get her to go or at least move. “Hey! Someone’s in my place!” he said, but she made a noise that sounded like, “Unnnh.”

We knew if we pushed the issue, she’d quite likely escalate to “Unnnnnnnh!” and then much more until my husband would have to physically remove her from the bed and then have to send her to her own bed. Oh, we are talking about an eleven-year-old girl with an above average command of the English language. I braced myself for the battle I thought was about to ensue. Instead, my husband just sighed and said somewhat defeatedly, “Just tell me when my place opens back up again.”

“You can force the issue,” I encouraged, trying to communicate he would have my full support. By now, he was halfway down the hall, “So can you!” He countered. “But it’s your space,” I responded, most likely on deaf ears –he was probably already in the office by now. So there sat our daughter. She had gotten her way over what her father wanted to happen. I thought, no wonder she loses it when we force the issue with her –she’s so used to getting her way! I tapped her to make sure she could hear me. “Hey, dad let you sit here because he decided he’d rather go watch the videos he was watching before instead of what I was watching. I don’t want you to think you just got your way because you were being stubborn.” She acknowledged the information then went back to her game. I guess we were both too tired to force the issue this time

8 thoughts on “Emotional Intensity and Emotionally Drained

  1. Kate Arms-Roberts

    Figuring out when to push which issue is so hard. The number of things that I have let slide or backed down on to avoid a meltdown that will derail the entire family’s day is huge, and each time I wonder whether I would do better in the long run to let the whole family suffer that day.

    1. Donna Leonard

      No idea. I do know that our daughter’s case, she HAS gotten a bit better with age, at least in the frequency of her outbursts.

  2. Robin

    Poor you. My heart goes out. I think of this issue a ton. Their whole body reacts to change. That part is not a discipline issue; it’s wiring that makes the discipline about 50 times as hard, don’t you think?

    My daughter says she likes to yell her anger at home because she holds it in all day at school. I’ve started time-outs again. I need to separate myself from her calming down process, but it feels like abandonment to me. What do the attachment parenting people say about that? Or are they all so attached that no one ever gets angry?

    1. Donna Leonard

      I have to do the same thing. I think I would end up in a mental ward if I felt compelled to practice “attachment parenting,” though maybe I don’t understand enough about it for that to be an accurate statement. My daughter hasn’t really indicated she wants me in the room if she is having an outburst, though she does sometimes come IN to where I am to have her outburst.

      Last night, she came bursting into our room crying. Her rat had just dies that morning and we thought, either she was thinking about that again, or maybe our elderly cat had died. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
      “My book is sad!” She sobbed, and threw herself down on our bed and continued to cry quietly for another minute. She’s in Book 3 or 4 of “The Warriors” series (http://www.warriorcats.com/warriorshell.html). A few minutes later she said, “I liked book 2 a lot, but this one is sad!” She had a bit of anger in her voice. Honestly, I was kind of pleased that a book was able to move her so much. While she is an excellent reader, she is way more into technology and youtube than she is into just sitting and reading a book. I’m hoping this will shift more in the other direction.

      1. Robin

        Well sometimes I wonder if screaming about someone moving something in her room, is really about being mad at some girl issue in school, or being anxious about an upcoming trip. Know what I mean? (I really didn’t mean to move the stuff in her room, but I was putting up shelves because she was complaining the closet was too messy! =) )

  3. tammyCA

    Emotionally drained is right…our home life has never been normal having one child with low-functioning autism and the other one gifted (mostly ‘gifted’ in stubborn-ness & emotional intensity, I think)…and, it doesn’t help that I have never done well with stress/anxiety…

    1. Robin

      When there is an emotional storm in my house and rational discussion is not happending I like to read a good book about a little girl who is struggling with friend issues at school to my daughter. And the room is calm because the only sound is of me reading… about someone else’s problems. And the rational discussion can happen even if it is not about our problems.

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