One of the biggest symptoms of Max's distress about moving in here and his worries about permanence was violence. Max had been living with us for about two months when he started hitting me. Now I want to be clear that all was not peaches and cream up until then. We did not have a honeymoon. This was simply an escalation.
Max first started hitting when I was physically trying to do something he didn't want me to do - removing him from a store when he was having a tantrum, for example. But, once the floodgates were open, he started to be more overtly violent in other ways.
Before the hitting, Max would be physically aggressive by invading my personal space in a very angry/provoking manor. He'd scowl, set his shoulders and then lean on me, quite literally. He would stand in the hall, legs spread and hands on hips to block my path. He'd yank on my arm when holding hands.
The more overt violence included kicking me repeatedly one time when I was sitting with my back to a door in the room we were both in for time out. It was hard shoves and pinching.
One of the worst times was him flying at me in a rage and pummeling every square inch he could reach while I tried to collect up an item and then just leave the room.
Another bad time was when he attacked me with his basketball trophy, managing to break it on me before I stopped him. He'd hit the wall with the trophy and I was trying to take it away to put in the black box (where things can be retrieved after a week or so).
Some of the worst offenses, though, were under the guise of affection. He was mad when I was saying goodbye to him for the day at school. He turned to "hug" me, but instead whacked me in the side with his arm. The next morning, he ran to me, supposedly to hug me, but then just strong armed me in the stomach instead. These were awful to me because it's just so wrong to offer hurt instead of affection. And those were planned out, rather than loosing control in a rage.
I am happy to say that it's been months sense the last time Max has physically attacked me. He still will sometimes do the leaning trick or the blocking of the way deal. But, it's less and less.
I hated being his punching bag. It made me feel like I was staying, voluntarily, in an abusive relationship, even though it was rare that Max was effective in hurting me. It made me worry about Davan's safety. If his violence had been directed at Davan in the same way it was at me, he wouldn't have been able to stay in our family. I harbored bad feelings toward Max for a long time, even when the hitting had ebbed. Those bad feelings, in addition to his day to day on going behaviors and his and my personality conflicts, led us to consider disrupting.
I felt like a failure for considering it. However, I sometimes wondered if Max would be better off with a different family - perhaps a family that would appreciate his personality more. Perhaps a family with more patience. I admit to loosing mine. He was so effective at pushing my buttons that I sometimes reacted violently to him. I was worried about myself and what I might do.
I yelled a lot. I picked him up by his shirt front in anger. I shoved him down a couple of times. At one point, we'd started trying to restrain him when he was getting violent, but I found myself being too aggressive and had to stop doing that. Plus, Max seemed to enjoy those physical conflicts and escalate things to try to get there.
In the midst of all of this, I hated Max. I really hated him. I hated him for his treatment of me. I hated him for the changes he'd brought to the family. I hated him for my reactions to him. And, thus, disruption loomed large.
We kept chugging along, though. Now I'm glad we did. I'm glad because Max needed to get through all of that and get to stay, still. I'm glad because Davan learned that you don't just throw people away. I'm glad because I don't have to live with the huge guilt I'd have had. I'm glad because I love Max and some days even am starting to like him.
My family is okay. I had my doubts about us getting to the point where I'd feel that, but we have. It's still not what I dreamed of (I was really hoping school wouldn't be part of the picture), but it is was it is and it's okay. I'm not unhappy. Maybe that's the Prozac talking, but I'll let it talk for a while and see if I can't get past the pent up bad feelings from the first traumatic year. Then we'll see about facing life undrugged. Hopefully, I'll still feel okay. I think I will.