Posted by Casey
Riding a roller coaster with my brother is one of my favorite childhood memories. Whenever we could, we stayed late at the amusement park; as long as no one waited in the queue for our seat, the coaster operator allowed us to ride again. We rode so many times we lost count. Once, we even rode in the rain, drops pricking our skin like thousands of tiny needles.
Thanks to amazing guts of steel, we never puked. (I consider this a point of personal pride.)
Hubby and I choose to ride a different kind of roller coaster. Again and again. Every. Single. Day.
Sometimes the coaster is fabulous; other times, the ride makes us queasy, but we opt to stay on.
The summer of 2016 included a few twists and surprise dips but generally kept us smiling and laughing with hands in the air. We thought we’d turned a corner; both the girl and the boy seemed happy and well-adjusted. Together, we camped, traveled, sang along in church (what we lacked in pitch, we made up in enthusiasm) and did everything “regular” families do.
The kids weren’t perfect—and neither were we—but most of the time, we just enjoyed being together. Hubby and I finally exhaled and let go of the “this can’t last” feeling.
I often joke with Hubby that “normal” is just a setting on the dryer, but I won’t lie…it was nice to feel normal for a while.
After so many steep climbs and drops, riding our coaster around gentle curves was a welcome change.
Then the summer ended.
Dark storm clouds gathered. The coaster dive was sharp, deep and straight through a painful downpour.
We aren’t sure of the triggers, but every October for the last six years—right after Halloween—negative behaviors spiked sharply in both kids. In 2016, they didn’t wait for October. As soon as school started, they both had an immediate personality flip. By November, we had plumbed our expertise and found ourselves hitting bottom. They didn’t respond to any consequence, positive or negative.
His behavior at school spiraled out of control.
Her Reactive Attachment exploded into full bloom at home.
The roller coaster fell into a series of spirals and drops, and life flipped from “normal” to “triage” without warning.