Crazy Intense Tough Love

[headline_arial_small_centered color=”#000000″]There Is No Bad Day[/headline_arial_small_centered]

[headline_tahoma_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Chapter 9 – A Fresh View.  A New Life[/headline_tahoma_medium_centered]


[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]The New Deal[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

December became a month of growth, renewal, rebuilding, and recovery.

I spent hours each day shopping or teaching myself new ways to cook.  Taking much needed naps, or going on super slow one mile runs which were so painful and yet so heavenly.  It consumed multiple days to stock our entire house with new food products and get rid of the old.  Do you realize how pervasive refined sugar is in our food supply?  I was shocked to see it on the ingredient list of just about everything we had in the pantry and refrigerator.  And the time required to prepare food and learn new ways to cook was enormous.  But after what I had been through, I could no longer risk eating the same old way ever again.  And I now knew too much to continue feeding my family a destructive diet.  Ironically, like most Americans, we thought we were eating healthy.

Dr. Lundell and my subsequent life-enhancing experience with diet made it very clear to me that the diet I had grown up on played a significant role in causing Ulcerative Colitis for me.  The medical community of Doctors can deny all they want, and bury their heads in the sand, and just keep prescribing steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs for the rest of people’s lives.  But I don’t buy it anymore.  There are causes to auto-immune diseases.  Everything has a cause.  It’s NOT just genetics as most Doctors use as their copout.  Diet is one of the major causes.  It is certainly not the only factor.  All stressors, whether environmental or emotional play a role in digestive and auto-immune disorders.   And genetic tendencies also play a role.  But the diet we are subjected to these days, and which is common-place in America and many places in the world, is absolutely a major stressor on our systems.  I cannot doubt that at all anymore after what I have experienced firsthand.

It became deeply important for me to create an environment of nutrition in my house that would support long term health for me as well as my children.  It was not enough for me to just change my diet and watch my family continue eating destructive foods and creating ticking time bombs in their digestive and immune systems.  I could not justify contributing to that.  And I could never bear to see my children suffer what I went through if I knew I had contributed to it through apathy.  Not happening.  Thankfully, Nan was convinced also.  And the kids were convinced little by little.  They had all seen what I had gone through, and now that we knew a large part of the cause was diet related, it was time we all made some significant changes.

It wasn’t easy.  In fact it was downright challenging.  I hardly got any work done in my business in December, maybe an hour a day.  And this after three months of virtually zero work.  But my priority was healing, recovering, learning how to cook and eat, and focusing on helping my family do the same.  Amazingly, my business prospered, and 2012 ended up being our most profitable year to date.  And thankfully, our kids adapted quickly to the massive dietary shift, which was cool to watch.  They did have their moments of tears over the loss of life cereal and toast with jam.  But that passed soon enough as they began enjoying new, healthier foods.  Understanding the why behind what we were doing was critical for us all however, so we constantly reinforced that and taught them the truth about food (See the Epilogue for some reference material we discovered about healthy eating).  Now we find our kids explaining to us how great it is that we changed our diets and why.  It’s very, very cool.

I was amazed most of all by how well Abe adapted to the new diet despite his emotional turmoil.  But his pain was still a major issue.


[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Crazy Intense Tough Love[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

child hunched

Every day now Abe told us he was going to die somehow.  “What are you going to do?” I would ask.  “I’m just going to run into the street,” he’d reply.  This daily discussion was highly alarming, but it freaked us out most when he actually did it.

One day picking the girls up from school, Abe threw another fit.  He crouched on the sidewalk with his head and knees tucked into his shirt like a turtle in its shell.  Nan was talking to a friend and he scooted himself out into the middle of the bus lane. Thankfully the buses had just left and it was empty.  Nan ran and picked him up and brought him out of the street.  But then he stood up and said “see ya!” and bolted off down the street.

Holding our newborn, Nan was helpless to run after him, and quickly he was out of sight around the corner.  Frantically she shuffled all three girls and loaded them into our white minivan to chase him down.  She found him a quarter of a mile up the road nearing our street and asked him through the window where he was going.  He screamed “I DON’T KNOW!” his face flushed red and sweating from running so hard.  Then he took off back toward the school.  She followed him in the van and he turned around again and ran the full quarter mile to our house.  But he didn’t stop.  He kept on running past the house toward the busy street another few hundred yards away.  Nan quickly parked and chased him down on foot, grabbed him tight in her arms, and carried him home.

She came in the door completely frazzled and scared out of her mind.  They don’t teach you how to handle these types of things in parenting school!  Or do they?  Is there a parenting school we never heard about?  Well, even if they do teach this somewhere, parenting is an adventure, there is no arguing that.

Until now I was still hesitant to start disciplining Abe.  I had so completely botched everything in the hospital six weeks earlier that I was clueless as to what approach to take.  If I am strict, do I send him off the deep end and watch as he runs out into a busy street one day to end his life?  If I am lenient will he spiral down further still?  What the heck do I do??

Some nights Nan feared going to sleep, not knowing if he would get up and run away in rebellion.  It constantly tore her up inside.  I think she has at least ten times more sensitivity and love than me.  And Abe’s suffering was visibly destroying her.  One night Abe attempted to run out of the house and Nan firmly stopped him and scolded him for even thinking about it.  But then they both cried uncontrollably for an hour or so.

I was no longer willing to watch her go through the turmoil.  A switch flipped in me that day and I knew I had to take control somehow, now that I had energy and some minor strength back.  Abe was sick.  But his behavior was unacceptable to me any longer.  It was almost as if I had to make the choice between my wife and my son.  It was torture, but I knew I had to seek Nan’s well-being first.

We were beyond our wit’s end as to what to do.  With all the psychiatrist appointments at least three weeks out, our only other option if Abe decided to seriously endanger his life was the children’s hospital ER.  That was the last place we wanted to send him.  From what we had learned, depression drugs often have horrible side effects and can make things worse.

The next day we had a follow up appointment with Dr. Lundell and Abe refused to go.  When I forced him out the door, he took off running up the sidewalk directly toward the busy street.  I ran down the driveway in pursuit and he was already a couple hundred feet away, fortunately he had stopped to look back and see if he was being followed.  WHEW!  He was playing us.  My heart rate had spiked when I thought he might be serious this time.  I don’t think I could have chased him down.  But clearly he just wanted control and a reaction.  And at that I realized that my Mr. Nice Guy approach was not helping him.  I would not normally do this, and I don’t condone this type of parenting style, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

I yelled in an intensely harsh, no-nonsense tone, drill sergeant tone, “ABRAHAM! GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!”  He hesitated, and took a step toward me.  “RUN!!  NOW!!” I shouted.  He started trotting back.  Wow…it actually worked!  That was unexpected.  I thought I was going to have to blow my tough guy cover and ask Nan to chase him down.  When he got back I commanded him in a very forceful tone to get into the car and in his seatbelt.  He crawled into a heap on the floor and was bawling and wouldn’t move.  So I forcefully (with every ounce of my still limited strength) picked him up, put him in the chair, and strapped him in.  He tried to take the buckle off and I mandated, “DO NOT TOUCH THAT BUCKLE!”  His weak emotional state was no match for my firmness and intensity.  I could not have done that a week earlier.  He buried his head in his coat and just cried as loud as he could.

I was done with the manipulation.  None of my niceness had been effective lately in the least.  His despairing behavior only seemed to get worse.  Plus it angered me to watch my wife suffer such intense emotional anguish non-stop every single day.  I was done.  And I made that very clear to him that morning.

I was extremely firm, but I don’t think I was irrational or vindictive.  My gut said this was the only possible path for progress.  I could no longer stand by and watch my wife get bull-dozed daily by this wonderful eight year old boy who was being controlled by his own fears and nightmares.

He cried the entire 30 minute drive to the appointment and then finally settled down.  At the end of my visit with the doctor I asked his advice on healing my son.  He recommended a couple of natural dietary supplements which he prescribed.  He also recommended eliminating refined sugars from his diet completely, which we had already done.  He confirmed his belief regarding parenting that firm limits, enforced lovingly were critical.  It was clear that Abe had been searching to find limits in his life and was feeling very unstable and insecure.


[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]More Healing Miracles[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

Miraculously, Abe transformed that very day.

He was obedient and respectful to everyone including himself the rest of that day.  Not only did he not appear to hate me for the intensely harsh treatment he had received that morning, he acted with greater respect and love toward me the rest of that day.

He didn’t fully recover that day; he needed time.  But a major shift had taken place.  And he went for five days without any temper tantrums, screaming, or telling us he wanted to die!  It confirmed loudly the importance of tough love and appropriate limits.

Now please don’t take that to mean I condone drill sergeant parenting in a commanding and harsh way.  That was an extreme circumstance where true love required that from me in that moment.  It has never required that since.

Abe was healed that day and it was a miracle to me.  I could hardly believe it.  Nan couldn’t quite believe it yet, and understandably so.  She had been living on a bed of pins and needles with him for so long that it took a couple weeks for her to fully accept the possibility that he was actually recovering.  But by Christmas break, Abe was himself a majority of the time.  He would sadden easily, but he no longer threw tantrums.  And by Christmas, Nan and I were both able to relax, and fully feel the peace that had returned to our home.

Peace!!  No more fear!  Happy children that sleep in their own beds and don’t throw tantrums all day!   Our happy life was back.  It was miraculous to us.  We couldn’t fully understand how even while it happened right before our eyes.

Somehow our son who was lost had returned; our family was reunited in love and harmony.