“No Thanks”

Great Wall of China

Janet Lansbury wrote a great article on her website, Elevating Child Care. I was particularly moved by her observations about personal limits. As a trauma survivor, I struggle with setting boundaries. In recent months, I have come to see this as a two-step process. One step is garnering the strength to speak up about my boundaries. This has taken time and practice, since for so long, speaking up was absolutely prohibited. The other step is knowing what those boundaries are. This is actually proven to be the more difficult step. It requires a new level of self-understanding.

For a trauma survivor in an adult relationship, setting boundaries is challenging. With children, the process of healthy boundary creation is just short of rocket science. Recently, I have realized that I spend most of my daily energy trying to stay calm as my children invade my personal space. Boundary invasion comes in many forms. As I become aware of these forms, I am getting better at addressing them in a positive manner.
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Darkness and Light

Light 2

I don’t think this will come as a shock, but I could not trust my parents. My mother used to act friendly until she got whatever she wanted from me. My father only wanted one thing. Unfortunately, I could not trust most of my relatives either, although there were a couple of exceptions. As I grew up and began to embody the energy of my family, I would attract people in to my life who were dishonest. This is what I expected, so this is what life delivered.

I remember the first time I discussed this with my therapist. My therapist has a brilliant poker face. It is the first thing they teach you in social work school. You aren’t supposed to look shocked. But when I told her that EVERYTHING has a double meaning, she wasn’t sure what to say. She tried to clarify. “Do you think every statement from every person in your life has a double meaning?” I said yes. She kindly suggested that this might be a belief system from my childhood. She kindly suggested that some people in the world may really say what they mean and say it for the right reasons. I logically knew she was right, but my inner child part was not having any of it. My experiences had proven that people were only interested in their own personal benefit.
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The Third Option

Three Roads

I had the privilege of participating in a panel for HuffPost Live yesterday, which focused on parenting methods. It was prompted by a viral blog post about a new parenting “method” called CTFD (Calm The Eff Down). The post was written by David Vienna, author of The Daddy Complex. Although it was mainly meant as a joke, the idea that parents need to calm down and stop stressing is serious.

I was asked to join the discussion because I have admitted to being a helicopter parent. I think they were expecting me to argue with David about parenting approaches, but I explained on the phone that I am not an advocate of helicopter parenting. I am interested in examining the reasons for my need to hover, and adjusting my internal approach to parenting. They still let me participate in the panel.
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Have Trauma, Will Hover (Chapter 2)

LSH Dentist

We went to the dentist yesterday. This isn’t the kind of dentist appointment with a cleaning and a sticker. This is the kind of dentist appointment with sedatives and drills. Unfortunately, my daughter was blessed with my tooth genes, and that means she will be forever traumatized by the world of floss and fluoride. As a parent, there is nothing worse than knowingly putting your child in a position where she will feel pain, and not having a choice.

Until now, I have always been in the room when a doctor was with my children. It never occurred to me there would be another alternative. Imagine my surprise when I picked up my purse to go back to the exam room with my daughter, and I was told that I wasn’t allowed. My daughter started crying at the thought that I would not be with her, and I could feel the volcano starting to erupt from the pit of my stomach.
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Maybe In A House …

Annie

I have been in recovery for a while now. Most days, I feel pretty good. Most days, I can keep my anxiety from paralyzing me. Most days, I function well. However, I don’t have to look far to see my pain. All I have to do is think about my parents.

Last night, I was watching a TV show, and a woman was grieving the loss of her mother to cancer. It had been about nine months since her death, but since the woman was planning her wedding, she was particularly upset. I could feel the intolerance building up inside of me. I may have even rolled my eyes. I thought to myself, “at least you had a mother”. This doesn’t happen every time. My compassion has come a long way. But last night, the feelings were there.
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Mirror Mirror In My House

Mirror Mirror

Life is a mirror. I have always believed that. To be more exact, the external life always represents your internal state of being, which is largely unconscious. This may sound like spiritual babble, but I have had some overwhelming examples in my own life. In my situation, the memory retrieval process makes it easy to pinpoint my unconscious thoughts, emotions and physical responses, since they directly relate to the memories.
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Curiosity Was Framed

Ignorance Not Curiosity

I remember the first time I stopped defending against my repressed memories.  I had always seen the memory flashes, but I ignored them.  They weren’t memory flashes of actual attacks.  They were images of very mundane scenes like a living room, a trinket on a counter top or a backyard.  My normal approach would be to dismiss them.  They weren’t real.  They weren’t logical.  They must have been dreams.  Sometimes, I would defend against them so well, my conscious mind would not even get a glimpse.  In those cases, there was nothing to dismiss.

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