I was talking to my aunt over the weekend, explaining some of the obstacles Monster Man faces after she'd asked about Tourette Syndrome, when my mom reminded me that I needed to explain to her about being Monster Man's "comfort zone". I realized then that I've talked a little about being his comfort zone, but I haven't really explained what I mean when I say that I am his comfort zone.
Those with Tourette Syndrome often try to suppress their tics, their rage, or their anxiety. Rather than letting others see their struggles, they hold them in as long as they can. After all, the public isn't always as accepting of their tendencies as they should be. As the tics and emotions are held inside, they build up more and more, just waiting to be released. Then, when the Touretter can't hold it in any longer or gets somewhere where he or she can release the tics or emotions without worrying about being judged, the bottled up tics and emotions come out ... and they come out much stronger and much more severe than they would've had they initially been released.
That safe place to release the tics and emotions - that place where the Touretter knows that he or she will not be judged by the tics, the rage, the anxiety, etc - is his or her "comfort zone". The comfort zone isn't just a place, however. It is often times a person or a group of people. In Monster Man's case, his comfort zone isn't at home; it is anywhere that I am. He knows that my love is unconditional, that I won't stop loving him when he lashes out at me or when he shakes his head so hard it makes him dizzy. He knows that, when he finally calms down (sometimes hours after his rage starts), I will always be there for a hug. He knows that, no matter how many times he tells me he hates me, I continue to love him and I know that he really does love me.
Sometimes, being the comfort zone is a hard job. It isn't easy to hear him call me names, to hear the hateful tone in his voice, and to have him blame me for all the struggles he is facing. It isn't easy to have him aim all that anger directly at me. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I know that he really does love me, and that he's only aiming his aggression at me because I am doing a good job of loving him and letting him know that he is loved. And I know that all those harsh words will eventually be followed by hugs, apologies, and a much happier, more loving Monster Man.