Getting back into the real world

Today, we have an anonymous post. This mum really needs your help…A Problem Shared1

For so long, I’ve felt isolated. Parenting my two challenging boys is tough, and I’ve locked myself away, too scared to take them out and feel the judging eyes, worried about their behaviour in public, unable to control them and stand up to them.

I’ve found solace in online sources, and I know I’m not alone. But I recently attended a course and met another adopter in the same situation. She lives quite close to me, and I could tell that she was feeling a bit like me – desperate for real human interaction with someone other than her son.

We exchanged details and although I want to meet up and talk, with or without our children, I just can’t bring myself to make that call, and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to actually meet with her and her son after spending so long trapped by my sons. I know I need to, for my sanity and to help the kids socialise, and to set an example for them too.

Has anyone else felt like this? How do I make the first step?

I’m sure quite a few of us have felt like this at times – had our confidence knocked, our ability to socialise waning, and our (sometimes) self-imposed isolation feeling too oppressive. If you’ve found a way out, then how? Please share your thoughts and advice here.

8 thoughts on “Getting back into the real world

  1. Mother of three

    Hi there,
    I’m an adoptive mother with three beautiful children. I can call them that now, but there was a time, when I was holding onto our family by my fingernails. Their behaviour drove my husband and I to our limits; so I hope that I can offer our experience and it might help.

    When you’re exhausted and isolated it is hard to make room in your life for something new. Forging new relationships can take a lot of effort, which you may feel like you don’t have the resources for. This I understand – truly.

    There’s nothing unfamiliar about our story. The affects of trauma, anger and grief took some very well documented forms and no matter how well we had tried to prepare ourselves, it was a lot to take. We were exhausted, depressed, frustrated and very desperate to hold onto the family that we were trying to build; to build the two way (or more accurately the five way) love, attachment, trust and get to a place where we could have fun together and share in the normal family activities.
    We had a great adoption social worker, outreach worker and attachment therapist, but our rock and irrefutable saving was a couple we met on a theraplay course. They were going through the same thing and we struck up a friendship, starting with a dinner, then getting the children together (ours are so much better when other children are around to diffuse the intensity of their relationships with each other).
    The sheer relief of being able to talk to someone who understood our situation from the inside is impossible to overstat!
    We got together when we could, but we were also just a phone call away. We’d talk about how we felt and there were a few times when I just called and cried, and knew that she totally understood (and visa versa). We talked, we listened, we laughed and we helped each other reset for the next day.

    Things are better now for both of our families. We don’t need as much intense support these days, but we make time for each other and when we do it’s to share more normal parenting issues as well as adoption concerns and the children look forward to seeing each other. We are open with each other about how ‘life saving’ or family saving we were for each other and value our friendship.

    As a result of our relationship, I am open to offering any support to parents who are in the situation we were in and have become passionate about helping other adoptive parents connect. I hope to work with post adoption services as a parent to help build these networks, after all my children (and those of friends in our network) will soon be teenagers and with that will come a whole new set of hurdles to leap over.

    I hope you find the courage and/or the energy to connect and that it brings you some relief.
    I wish you all the luck in the world with your family and the best of futures together.
    X

    Reply
  2. Mother of three

    Hi there,
    I’m an adoptive mother with three beautiful children. I can call them that now, but there was a time, when I was holding onto our family by my fingernails. Their behaviour drove my husband and I to our limits; so I hope that I can offer our experience and it might help.

    When you’re exhausted and isolated it is hard to make room in your life for something new. Forging new relationships can take a lot of effort, which you may feel like you don’t have the resources for. This I understand – truly.

    There’s nothing unfamiliar about our story. The affects of trauma, anger and grief took some very well documented forms and no matter how well we had tried to prepare ourselves, it was a lot to take. We were exhausted, depressed, frustrated and very desperate to hold onto the family that we were trying to build; to build the two way (or more accurately the five way) love, attachment, trust and get to a place where we could have fun together and share in the normal family activities.
    We had a great adoption social worker, outreach worker and attachment therapist, but our rock and irrefutable saving was a couple we met on a theraplay course. They were going through the same thing and we struck up a friendship, starting with a dinner, then getting the children together (ours are so much better when other children are around to diffuse the intensity of their relationships with each other).
    The sheer relief of being able to talk to someone who understood our situation from the inside is impossible to overstat!
    We got together when we could, but we were also just a phone call away. We’d talk about how we felt and there were a few times when I just called and cried, and knew that she totally understood (and visa versa). We talked, we listened, we laughed and we helped each other reset for the next day.

    Things are better now for both of our families. We don’t need as much intense support these days, but we make time for each other and when we do it’s to share more normal parenting issues as well as adoption concerns and the children look forward to seeing each other. We are open with each other about how ‘life saving’ or family saving we were for each other and value our friendship.

    As a result of our relationship, I am open to offering any support to parents who are in the situation we were in and have become passionate about helping other adoptive parents connect.

    I was recently put in contact with an adoptive parent who needed to connect; we emailed first to introduce ourselves, then met at a local park with our children for a brief play, then because it was going well they came back to ours for a snack/cup of tea and a play. It probably lasted an hour or so, but it has set the seed for the beginnings of a lovely friendship. I have since met the parent to walk the dogs while the children are at school and we’ve been to theirs for lunch and a play date.

    I hope to work with post adoption services as a parent to help build these networks, after all my children (and those of friends in our network) will soon be teenagers and with that will come a whole new set of hurdles to leap over.

    I hope you find the courage and/or the energy to connect and that it brings you some relief.
    I wish you all the luck in the world with your family and the best of futures together.
    X

    Reply
  3. Paula

    I totally get this. It’s like you’re in your own personal nightmare and you’ve lost the ability to speak.

    Reply
  4. Five Go On An Adventure

    Oh, it so easy to say “Be brave, go for it” but not so easy to do it! I hope you do just give it a try, it’s unlikely to make anything worse than it already is. I am sure that many of us adopters on Twitter or linked to WASO will be with you every step of the way at least in spirit. Good luck xxx

    Reply
  5. Sarah

    It is difficult to make that call I really understand how all your confidence can be drained when you live with challenging children. Did you get a mobile number? Maybe you can text. If not I really can’t encourage you enough to make that call. If you feel you’d like to meet up think about how that would work best for you before you call. As a family we have spent so much time at home just us because we’ve been afraid to go out. When we started making the effort again it didn’t always go to plan but when it wasn’t to bad or even good it was great for all of us. My advice for if you do go out, know before you go when you are going to leave. Start maybe with a short visit to the park. Make sure you’ve explained to your boys where you are going what they will be doing and how long you’ll be there. Also explain what is not acceptable behaviour and if it happens you will leave. Even if it’s going well leave when you said you were going to , this way you are not waiting for it to go wrong before you leave. You can start with going out for half an hour if necessary. It so good to come away and go “wow didn’t you do well then” also if it does go wrong I really get how awful that is, it is really tough. Anyone who looks and judges or disapproves are not people you want to worry about. In my head I just say to myself, “you have no idea, walk a mile in my shoes and then see” most people who have to deal with what you are living with just wouldn’t cope. We get you online and as 5GOAA says above we are all with you. Really hope this helps. Xx

    Reply
  6. Sarah

    i get this. thank you for writing it. personally i imagine there is also some trepidation about hearing your own pain spoken from another mum’s lips. it would be like re-living the whole thing – staring yourself in the mirror kind of thing. if you don’t feel like making the call at the moment, i’d say don’t force yourself. let it mature. it may take a while to want to, or perhaps never – both are ok. then again if you would like to meet her some time, then make it easy for yourself e.g. text/email or something else – and when you meet perhaps it could be somewhere neutral, and short – say only 1 hr for coffee. (and last minute bailing is also ok! we all have kids!) Main thing here too is: trust you gut feeling, be true to your own self.
    what does worry me here though – more than whether or not to meet the mum -, is the isolation you describe – a part of me think you may have to force yourself a bit – yeah yeah despite writing trust yourself – it is just that is can become such a comfort to be in that dark space – better the devil you know… your description reminds me of my periods of depression. the longer i stayed in that isolation the more ingrained my depression got. now I know if those dark clouds gather, that in my case i have to pick up the phone and force myself out to meet people i know and love, and who care for and love me. this works for me. i’d even go so far as to say I now know how to nip a depression in the bud. but that’s just me.
    I feel for you, and i will think of you and the other mum. take care. but please don’t use this phone number as another excuse to beat yourself up. it’s ok not to feel like it. x

    Reply
  7. Sarah

    I forgot to ask: do you think a buddy (or a buddy scheme) would have helped you? At any point in your journey?

    Reply
  8. Mending Mum

    You are right for your sake and your sons’ you need some friends who really understand your situation. Try to text this lady if possible, for all you know she may be feeling exactly the same and be worried about making the first move to contact you. It is hard, it took me ages to contact someone that I’d met at a support group, but we now meet up for coffee, lunches etc and I really enjoy the friendship and support. Good luck, I will be thinking of you.

    Reply

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