Sometimes, I wonder how much of my response to things is because of having been abused as a kid, and how much is actually related to the situation at hand. Over the past couple of days, two things have happened that are still troubling me.
In the first case, it was all about tone of voice--I got intensely triggered overhearing my SIL putting her kids to bed, snapping and yelling at them as they got more resistant to laying down to sleep. I could understand that the situation was stressful--the kids had had an exciting day, and were in a strange bed, and we'd had dinner later than we should have; SIL had had a long and tiring day, hadn't gotten enough rest the night before, and didn't have the support of her husband putting the kids down for the night. But as she snapped and snarled at the kids, I couldn't help feeling that sense of impending danger that I felt throughout my childhood. SIL wouldn't beat her children, and I know she loves them, but emotionally, it's still hard for me to separate.
The second case is even harder. I was chatting with one of the kids who lives next door to us yesterday. He had on a sleeveless t-shirt, and I noticed a bruise near the side of his chest. It was a narrow, sideways u-shape. It's a shape I'm familiar with, peering in the mirror, or craning my head, the day after a spanking with the loopy toy. And try though I might, I can't think of anything other than a looped cord that would result in a bruise like that.
In neither case am I sure what I should do. I will definitely keep an eye on the kids next door; but would social services actually help? It's such a hard thing to figure out. And W. and I are trying to figure out how to approach tone of voice with her sister in a way that will actually help both the kids and SIL.
Yeah, so that's what's on my mind right now. I'm just not sure what to do.