Have you ever felt empty? Not just the feeling that leads to a grumbling stomach, but the gut wrenching emptiness that leaves you feeling numb? Today, I feel like my Mama Maremma persona has failed. After being pushed, attacked, sworn and yelled at, criticized and threatened continually throughout the day by my child who lives with the brain damage that comes from FASD, I NEEDED SPACE!!! I was unable to get away without being grabbed or wrestled to the ground, such was my child’s desperate need to control me, in an attempt to communicate his anxieties and fears in the only way he is currently able. This particular anxiety is not the one that most would consider should constitute such drastic behaviours, but merely the presentation of the evening meal. Potato on top of a casserole, instead of beside it. How did I, Mama Maremma, allow anxiety upon anxiety to build up pressure in my child, so that he was so overwhelmed and ready to explode at the slightest change in his environment?
I felt trapped, just like a wounded animal and needed to break free. I broke my Mama Maremma self-control rules…..I yelled!!! With my newly found adrenalin, I managed to get myself away and locked in a room where I could lick my wounds. I prayed for help and guidance, which upon reflection probably sounded more like demands and then immersed myself in guilt. I used my book of strategies I keep on my bedside table for times such as these and after many deep breaths, I emerged from my safe-haven, only to be launched at again. And so began the energy zapping round of strategies, therapies and drawn out routines in the hope of creating an end to yet another day of the relentless behaviours that often feel like they are draining the very life out of my body.
Finally, I cautiously breathe a deep sigh of relief as I silently hope that the lack of noise is the answer to my earlier prayers for peace and that my son is asleep. I ask myself how I can possibly fill the void that has slowly eaten its way into my mind, my heart, my body and soul, that has come from the constant drain of caring for the extreme behaviours from my son.
I soldier on!! The daily tasks must now be completed. I take our garbage bin out ready for collection the next day. It’s cold and my head aches from the sudden change in temperature. I know I should be rugged up with a beanie and coat, but my mind is beyond any such sensible and practical thoughts.
I take way too long outside, my body exhausted from the relentless onslaught from the day. I stop and stare into space at the stars that have been there for ever and wonder if they have the answers for me. Can they fill my heart and soul with the strength and energy I desperately need to survive the constant turmoil that caring for someone with FASD brings?
My legs guide me back inside to the warmth of my home and I tentatively and quietly step inside, for fear of disturbing the peace that has finally descended.
I sit at my desk, preparing for the necessary paperwork and emails that need attending. My dog sits at my feet, tilts his head to one side, then runs off and brings me a toy, beckoning me to play. Suddenly the stresses of the day are melted away and I too am down on all fours, playing, cuddling and speaking in baby talk to my wonderful canine companion, who sees through all the layers of my emptiness, ready to fill me with his unconditional love.
So there is my answer for filling the emptiness that has today has invaded my mind and body….my unconditional love!! Tomorrow it’s time to cast away the things that “need” to be done and PLAY. For my son, that play will bring exercise, pressure therapy, laughter therapy and reassurance. I know it will only be a temporary reprieve, but it will be enough to give me the strength and energy to plan and prepare for a better outcome the next time my son becomes overwhelmed with the world.
Mama Maremma is a full-time carer for her child who is living with FASD. She likens herself to the Maremma breed of dog who are renowned as guardians and protectors.
You can read previous blogs from Mama Maremma here.