Being the Goldfish

🌟Explaining the anxiety block🌟

Last week I had prepared for a weekend away with my children and some of our closest friends. It was going to be fun and full of treats.

And yet still my middle child refused to go. At first it started with a no, eventually leading to a week of crying, begging, note writing and eventual screaming for me to cancel it. She could not describe what it was that was blocking her from going.

I tried every tactic.

I sat with the laptop to show her images of the accommodation, the area and a picture of the camp park. I gave her autonomy in decision making; we could go by train as the journey was seeming to be an issue. She could bring favourite items from home, we could keep the routines she likes such as reading her Dog Man book before bed. She could pick some activities, the choice of food, I promised we could stay inside using WiFi for gaming or TV at any point she preferred it. She could have her own space, there would be zero demands on her if she could try to come, etc etc.

The list of preparations went on but to no avail. She had admitted it sounded fun but wasn’t sure why the anxious block preventing her from going was there.

I was stuck, not knowing what to do for the best. In juxtaposition, the two other sisters were counting the days down (and who both have their own rigid thought patterns), so the option of not going felt impossible. They wanted the treat to see their friends and once promised it would have been unfair to have taken that away.

So the only option was for my middle girl to stay with family and she could have some fun time with her cousin. This wasn’t making it any easier and she was extremely distressed still – something ordinarily she would have asked to be doing.

Despite the relief that she wasn’t facing the anxious block anymore, she was still upset, because the upcoming demand for me to leave her was just as bad. She told me that to go felt like she was a goldfish trapped in a tank with a shark. Although, staying without me was even worse, like she was replacing the shark with a megalodon.

The block was no easier on the day and it delayed our journey to leave by a few hours. We had to wait until she was in a happier place and playing contentedly.

She knew the separation was about to happen so we made an agreement to not make it a big deal and she wanted me not to tell her. Instead she requested that she spoke to me when I arrived to let me know if she could cope and it made her feel more in control of the situation.

Once past the dreaded threshold the rest was history.

I think this analogy is so important to share. It fully describes the crippling difficulty when you can’t do something you want to be able to do, but you feel that there is no easier option.

This is also my child who is undiagnosed and who I’ve been sharing information about to services, who was initially dismissed and whom I’m still requesting additional support for.

All struggles are instead put onto my parenting and subsequently onto my eldest PDA’er as the root cause for the difficulties that are witnessed.

If only they would listen to the child and the words she uses to describe ‘her blocks’ AND maybe they would be able to find solutions as to why she began school refusing this year.

Then, just maybe, we could find a way together to get past those blocks.

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