Okay. After I got my plan in mind for how to go forward and not let this bad behavior of mine recur, I went and knocked on Adam’s door. He whimpered, as if he were facing a growling animal.
I talked to him through the door and asked if it would be okay for me to come in. He cried and muttered in an utterly terrified voice “I don’t want you to come in I don’t want you to come in I don’t want you to come in…” I’m afraid I may have seriously traumatized him worse than I thought. He was reacting like I used to when I got severely beaten.
I spoke to him through the door and told him I would not come in if he didn’t want me to. But I asked if I could continue to talk to him through the door. He said “I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared…”
I said I’m very sorry I yelled at you before, and I won’t do that again. I want to give you a hug.
He hesitated for a moment, and then in a smaller voice said “I really want a hug, I really want a hug, I need a hug, I need a hug…”
So I went into his room and gave him a big hug. I held him and didn’t speak, and he quieted down. I could feel him relaxing in my arms, though he was still upset. But he was calming. He wasn’t able to calm on his own. He needed me, his usual source of love and comfort, to help him calm down.
I told him we needed to talk later, but I would not talk now. I just wanted to hug him. I wanted him to know I’m very sorry for what I did, and that I want him to feel better so we can talk later. I cried a little bit, because I really am sorry, and ashamed. He held on to me tightly. Moments passed slowly, and some of the crazy fear that terrorized him began to ebb away, and he was able to breathe slower and more deeply.
I urged him to drink some water. I judged that he was able to hear me if I had something reassuring to say, so I told him that I am very sorry that hearing him wail sent me over the edge and I lost control. I cannot hear him wail and be okay. I told him it isn’t okay that I smacked him, even a little, because nobody deserves that. Screaming is different from smacking. I told him if I ever felt like I couldn’t hold myself together again if he was wailing at me, I’d first tell him to stop, but if he didn’t or couldn’t, I would leave the house because that is better than smacking. Then I hugged him some more.
He told me he felt so stupid, and he wanted to die. I told him I don’t want him to die.
He told me he had an awful day at school because he is going to fail and he can’t help it. I told him I spoke to his teacher and he is NOT going to fail. We ended up talking for more than half an hour about how just because he may have done many wrong things in school this semester, it isn’t going to make him fail and not pass his grade. He has done other work, gotten other grades, and will have my help with this grade. He has made it harder on himself by not bringing home his assignment so we could have had the weekend. He said it’s due Wednesday. So I told him we will have to work without stopping on Monday and Tuesday. But no matter what happens he will NOT fail. We will turn something in, and even if it’s crappy it will be enough for him to pass.
We talked a bit more. Then I said he should take a shower or bath, and relax more, and I would bring him a sandwich or something. Now he is in the bath, and the towels are in the dryer getting fluffy. I’d better get him that sandwich. Things are almost back to normal.