Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good Old Separation Anxiety

So I'm beginning to think that perhaps my abandonment issues are not all that dissimilar from Zachary's separation anxiety issues...and that there's a big genetic component to it. Random thoughts, I suppose.

Zachary's been having a really rough time with the start of school...none of it is new...we go through this same crap every year...for school...for camp...for any "new" thing or transition. He's got some significant and persistent issues with separation anxiety. I've dealt with this with him since he was an infant. At some point in the past few years, it became more than just "typical" separation anxiety that children experience and grow out of. He sees a wonderful counselor, who is helping him learn new coping skills that ideally will help ease some of this very real distress for him. His counselor has said that basically, I'm the only person who's always been here for him, and since we're very close/tight, I'm pretty much everything to him. That became even more apparent when my mom (Zachary's beloved Nana) died very unexpectedly in May 2006. And while it all makes sense, it definitely makes our lives challenging at times. Every morning before school, we go through the same ordeal. The tears start, and Zachary says he doesn't feel well, he has a headache, a stomach ache, his legs hurt, that he can't possibly go to school. And so the offer of an ibuprofen and a Tums is made, to help with his aches and pains. He's tenacious, let me tell you. He can persist with his complaints, crying, whining like this for a solid hour, despite me telling him that school is not optional, it's the law, he has to go, and then I tell him the discussion is over and I proceed to ignore the rest of his complaints or simply tell him that yes, I know he doesn't feel well, and I'm sorry. Note, there is NO indication that he is staying home, coming with me to work, or anything of the like. Unless he has a fever or is throwing up, he's going to school. We've done this for years, literally. It's wearing on me. I can't do this with him until he's 18 years old, I assure you. The counselor said that at some point, we may have to consider if medication might help him with some of his anxiety. That made me feel very, very sad.

Last night, before bed, he's laying there and starts talking about the stuff in his head, as he usually does, when it's time to wind down and go to sleep. He says to me "I'd rather me be taken away from you, than you be taken away from me." I looked at him and said "honey, neither of those things is going to happen, and you don't need to worry about that." He said "but mom, who would buy me food and take care of me?" I told him that even if it DID happen, I promised him he would be taken care of. These are his worries at age 7. What the hell is he going to have left to worry about as he gets older and life gets more complicated? *sigh* I wish I knew how to help his anxiety and I wish it felt like the things we're doing in the name of helping him were actually easing some of his distress. But most times, I really don't know he's feeling any better...and I know I'm not.

I wish someone could tell me why some kids think this way...and that somehow, it's a good thing in life to be a deeper thinker. But in my personal experience, I'm not convinced that's the case. I think I'd personally like to be blissfully unaware of the crap of life at times. Awareness is not something I'm able to dismiss though...and as such, things weigh heavily on me...and they always have. Another thing to have passed on to my child that I feel oh not so great about. But you know what? I think he's even MORE obsessive with things than I am. I don't remember too much of this type of stuff from when I was a kid. I remember significant events that triggered my abandonment and anxiety issues. I had a recurrent nightmare as a child that I can clearly remember and the theme there is obviously being entirely alone and abandoned. But I don't ever recall just thinking about stuff like this, like Zachary does. *sigh*


Pam said...

Amy -
I'm sorry your son is going through such a tough time. As I was reading your post a thought came to mind. Do you have a will and guardianship paperwork set up? If so, make sure he knows that you have is well being taken care of if you're ever not around. Maybe try to develop a closer relationship with whomever that guardian is so he feels more secure with those thoughts. It's gotta be tough on the little guy. You're both in my prayers.

Amy said...

Yes, I have a will that assigns a guardian. However, despite my wishes and specifications, his father will have custody should anything happen to me unless he agrees to what is in the will (which has already said he does not). So, to share that info with him would probably stress him out more.