Close Quarters Are Challenging
Right now people are stuck in their homes. We aren’t out shopping or wandering the mall, we aren’t going to our offices (for the most part, again, thank you to those who continue to provide all of our needs at their risk), and we aren’t leaving for entertainment. Our children are also at home. They are not having play dates, they aren’t going to school or sleeping at their grandparents’ house. EVERYONE IS AT HOME. Anyone else finding this a challenge?
As the weeks continue, are your children getting more restless? Maybe they are tired of Zoom? They miss their friends? They probably don’t want you around all that much either…
Okay. Take a breath and try to reset. For just a minute, sit, close your eyes and breathe. This WILL pass. Your children WILL go back to school – hopefully next year, and you will be able to go to the beach, out to dinner, see a movie again. But right now, it is difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful thing to have loved ones and we should all be so fortunate to have the opportunity of wishing they went somewhere else. I can’t imagine how difficult it could be for someone to be at home alone, in isolation. But it’s ok to be frustrated, especially while trying to work with so many invasive distractions in your new “home office”.
Times are stressful. Perhaps you are finding out more about your significant other than ever before? Maybe you have new admiration for your child’s teachers?
So we’ve established, our homes are a little more crowded and seem to be getting smaller by the minute. But what else have you noticed? Are your relationships flourishing under these conditions? Are you pleased with spending 24/7 together? It’s ok if there are some hiccups along the way. We are all different people for a reason and we DON’T all need to think or behave alike. And we ALL have different strengths and weaknesses.
But are you fighting more with your spouse? Are you drinking more to pass the time and combat your frustration? Is it getting harder to hide your substance use from everyone? Or maybe you are using more than just to have a good time; having to use now every day… Not going into the office probably doesn’t help. Any hey, who’s going to notice if you didn’t shower? No one can see your arms on a Zoom meeting, or notice your hands shaking…
What about the kids? Are you more concerned about your kids? Maybe you are seeing that they are easily frustrated or stressed? Maybe they are unable to sit still or focus in “class”? Is your once happy and healthy household coming apart at the seams?
I worry that some may not be able to see the differences between being frustrated by supernormal circumstances and the rising tide of underlying issues and unhealthy responses. I worry about how domestic violence rates are rising. I worry that we are frustrated and our children are seeing this; seeing how we respond to one another, how we speak to our partners. It DOES translate into how THEY speak to our partners, how they will speak to their future partners. If we are aggressive or easily irritated, they will learn that is the norm. If they see violence, they will likely feel this is acceptable.
So again, take a breath and try to reset. For just a minute, sit, close your eyes and breathe. This WILL pass. But while it’s happening, don’t fight the need to ask for help. Don’t sit idly by and watch yourself fall into a worsening depression. Don’t allow your substance use to escalate with the false belief that you’ll work on it tomorrow. And don’t forget about your children and what they are seeing and learning.
Now I’ve gone and painted this awful picture of destroyed marriages and damaged children. But wait. It doesn’t have to be like that. There’s hope, and a lot of it. You and your partner CAN work on this together. You can learn how to have a healthy argument and when to stop and take a minute. This is a valuable lesson for your children. You can learn how to use “I statements” instead of “you statements” (examples provided below). You can work on your substance use – there are online meetings still going on and sponsors still exist (see my post from earlier for more information) as well as specialists (like myself) who would be more than happy to help you.
And what about your children? If you can calm yourself and start getting the treatment you need, they will become calm as well. You are allowed to make mistakes and teach them how to do things differently. Own what you’ve done and tell them you will change it (but then you MUST DO IT). If they are having issues, get them the help they need. Get them evaluated, start treatment. Don’t wait to seek help for them either.
Here’s where I say what I always do. Where I tell you I am here to help and if it isn’t from me, seek out your local psychiatrist. Here’s where I tell you I started treating children to increase access to treatment for them as well. And here’s where I remind you that I’m with Kimmel Psychology and associates in Coral Springs, FL but now working remotely through a telehealth platform and you don’t need to leave the house. While this is all true, I can’t do anything if you don’t let me know you need the help.
I have heard a lot about people struggling and thinking it’s normal. That it will pass and there’s nothing wrong other than the pandemic. That might be true. But if it isn’t, or if you aren’t sure, please seek treatment. If not for you, for the ones you love.
Please everyone stay healthy and safe.
Examples of “You statements” and “I statements”:
You statement – You don’t listen!
I statement – I feel like I’m not being heard
You statement – You’re no help!
I statement – I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’d appreciate some help
You statement – You don’t care!
I statement – I’m feeling unloved right now and I feel I need some more caring right now.