06-01-2021 03:59 AM - last edited on 06-07-2021 03:23 PM by Janine-RO
About 3 months ago, while my husband/his father was out of town at a class he needed to take, my 12 (almost 13) year old son came into the living room and said he wanted to talk to me about something. He wanted me to remove an app from his tablet because apparently there had been some inappropriate pictures on it. In speaking with him it appears they were of women in very little clothes and he felt bad as he had been seeking them out to look at them. We discussed sexuality and the changes going on in his body and that desire can be a normal feeling, etc. He seemed to get better but for days after that he would come to me to confess little things and just seem to have an overwhelming amount of guilt over anything he'd done 'wrong'. Eventually in time those confessions faded and then stopped.
Fast forward about a month ago, again when his father was out of town for class, he came to me with some sexual dreams and thoughts he had been having. I again told him that was normal at his age. He said thoughts and images kept popping into his head and no matter what he can't get them out. I spoke to him about perhaps trying something new or going outside and playing basketball, etc when that happens. He seemed to calm down enough to go about the day but I could tell he was still having problems. The next afternoon he came to me and said he was really worried something was wrong with him because earlier when I had been cleaning up a spill he was able to see down my shirt and ever since he kept having sexual thoughts that include me. I remained calm, though inside I was anything but calm!, and tried to explain to him that it may have nothing to do with me, just that I was a female he happened to see often. Still the guilt ate away at him, the thoughts kept plaguing him and getting worse until I came home to find him in a full anxiety attack, crying and saying he felt like he had hit his breaking point. At this point I did some research and learned about OCD with a sexual obsession component. It spoke about how often a child will even worry they are attracted to a parent. My husband and I went over this with him. Learning that there may be a reason, like OCD, that this was occuring helped but it was a really, really rough week. He had many breakdowns. We discovered in the process his 'confession sessions' with us were likely actually compulsions to relieve the anxiety his obsessions were causing and could be making things worse. We discussed this with him and he began trying to handle things himself and talk down his anxiety on his own. We told him we would help him seek professional help if needed. After that week things got better though and seemed to even go back to normal.
This past week I could tell he has been acting different. He was very quiet and withdrawn from me. I thought it may be his end of year exams stressing him out. Then last night he said he had been having some problems again and that he feels so much guilt due to his previous thoughts of me. I didn't ask if he had more recent thoughts of me and he didn't say. I think in a way I didnt want to know. I did ask if overall he felt this was better than last time and he said yes, a little. He was playing a video game with his father and I was working on my computer. We spoke about it a few minutes and then I could hear him taking deep breaths to ease his anxiety for a long while afterwards until finally I got up and went to bed as I felt like I was part of the problem. He later told his dad he had even had fears before that he (meaning his dad) may have hurt me when we argued and then felt very guilty he had doubted his dad. So his OCD seems to be centered around guilt with a sexual component thrown in. Thinking back he had other OCD tendencies when he was younger, we just never recognized them as OCD.
My problem is now I dont know how to be around him. I feel like I'm causing problems. In addition he does virtual schooling (and did so even pre-Covid) so he is with me and only me all day long. I have long suffered from anxiety and depression myself and this has kicked them into high gear. I even went out and bought some new clothes so they could fit me big and make my figure less noticeable, however because I am large chested that is very hard to do. I am at a loss. My husband is off work today so I literally stayed in my room until noon and then he took our son out to do something with just the two of them. I hate losing the very close relationship I've always had with my son and I want him to know I love him deeply but I am worried that everything I do will trigger him so I avoid him. I also hate seeing him suffer like this. I'd would rather suffer everyday of my life than to see him suffer any. I also feel like this is my fault, that I did something to trigger this because the day before he first said that about me I kissed his cheek when I hugged him and joked that he wasn't too old for it. He is a great kid, always has been very sensitive, and has also discussed crushes he has had on girls he knows so I do know he is attracted to girls his own age.
Anyone ever been through anything similar or have any advice?
06-01-2021 04:13 PM
So sorry to hear about all the stress this situation is causing you, I really appreciate that you have told us about what is going on - it is very clear how deeply you love your son and want the best for him
Your sons openness with you about dreams and thoughts that he is having is such a testament to the beautiful, open and honest relationship the two of you have and it is truly so lovely to hear about how you two have communicated about sensitive things that can be super difficult to talk about. When you spoke to him about the possibility of professional support, did he seem receptive to this idea? There are lots of psychologists who specialise in working with children, is seeing a psychologist something you might look into?
It is also really amazing to learn about how your son has developed techniques like deep breathing to manage his anxiety and the suggestions you have made to him about going outside and playing basketball are great ideas for helping young people self soothe and manage their emotions. I'm wondering if there is a nice activity you could all do as a family that would be calming and that you would be comfortable with? I understand a lot of things are causing feelings of discomfort and worry, I'm just wondering if there is anything that feels safe that your family likes to do together so you can all have some time focusing on something positive?
I am also wondering if you have had the opportunity to talk to anyone about what you're going through? You mentioned that you have experienced anxiety and depression, have you been able to get any support for this? You and your family deserve the very best support, let us know if you want to chat through this more