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chaosThe chaos of living with two traumatised children is sometimes completely overwhelming. But um, oh dear, hang on…

I speak, or write, as one who is, I regret to say, a bit chaotic myself. This failing makes their chaos a lot more difficult to unravel and remedy and all our lives a lot harder full stop. I try, I really do, but not a day goes by when I don’t lose my keys/ purse/staff pass / planner / phone / mind. I forget EVERYthing, even to have or follow my own plans – and that’s since I’ve had those miraculous weekly brain-fog-busting B12 jabs, so god knows how useless I must have been before them.

There is no known reason for my chaos, even if I did go through a few traumatic, death-swamped teenage years of my own, my chaos has been a part of me from earlier childhood. I’m sure the menopause, pernicious anaemia and the stress of parenting don’t particularly help but they are not the cause. I met up with some old (very old, how did we get so old?!) school friends a few months ago who reminded me again how very untidy I always was. My sisters are similarly shambolic (one of them masks it very well!) and my mum really wasn’t much better, may she rest in messy peace.

Our children have much more of an excuse. According to the experts, one of the casualties of developmental trauma and dysfunctional attachment is likely to be their executive functioning skills. The brains of babies who are not properly nurtured don’t process information in a ‘normal’ way and so they end up approaching tasks the wrong way round.

Both Django and Red seem verbally able and can be extremely charming, so anyone could be forgiven for thinking, what’s the problem? Their early need for survival skills has given them an extraordinary knack of knowing exactly what to do to impress when necessary but it often masks a real inability to break down and complete the simplest of tasks. Django still struggles with all the basics: eating, sleeping, toileting and cleaning himself. We have to overtly remind him to do things in order, repeating our ‘January, …., March, …..’ mantra ad infinitum, waiting for and helping him to fill in the blanks. In spite of his evident verbal skills, he still stumbles over the order of the months in the same way that he struggles with putting his clothes on before he goes out, sitting at the table before eating or going to the loo before it’s too late.

My own chaos is rooted in essential laziness and an unremitting faith that things will turn out ok even if I fail. I know deep down (if I take time to think about it) what I have to do and every so often I revise whatever is holding me back with a complete physical or mental, environmental or emotional declutter. Thus I turn my chaos into a stuttering order which just about works for me, for a little while anyway.

My lack of a well-made path towards anything permanent still drives my husband nuts and sometimes I worry that doesn’t really help the children either. I have enough order in my brain to know what they should be doing and guiding them toward it. They are learning to overcome their chaos in spite of mine, but it’s no surprise that they have started noticing the hypocrisy of me telling them to be tidy / organised / careful while I langour in the disordered squalour of a string of bad habits I’ve never quite managed to conquer.

At least living with their chaos makes me more aware of mine. We are helping each other.

Time for another declutter methinks.

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