Tag Archive | post traumatic growth

How to Help?

I am struggling in my relationship with my son. I am very aware that he triggers my past trauma with his Dad. Unfortunately, what was modeled for him regarding managing emotions, expressing emotions, and handling conflict was not healthy. In his attempt to set boundaries, he ends up saying controlling and harsh things. When he tries to express how he feels,  it comes out aggressively and blaming. Before I know it, my fight or flight response kicks in and my brain is in high alert. I end up physically shaking,  feeling completely invalidated and disrespected. I shut down and feel that old familiar sense of despair and hopelessness that was my constant companion in my marriage.  It’s been so long since I have felt that so it shocked me when it overwhelmed me last night.

So, the question is how I handle it from here.  I know that my son’s behavior comes from his own suffering.  That is not an excuse,  it is simply a truth. I do believe he needs help. But, he refuses to seek it. So, how can I help him? I know that he needs me to shift out of my trauma response and be able to respond to him rationally….with loving firmness. It has taken most of yesterday and still through today to shift that.  It is such a huge trigger for me. But, I am getting there. 

How else can I help him? I know that allowing him to talk to me and treat me that way does not help him. But, I also know that I need time to shift out of my trauma response and find the strength I need. I know that it will be healtheir for both of us for him to move out. He is an adult, and he needs to find his way in the world. But, he is also extremely sensitive to rejection. I need to find the words to lovingly and firmly push him put of the nest. I need to make sure he knows I am always here with unconditional love….but, that it’s also not okay to treat me the way he has. 

In the meantime, while my trauma response has been triggered, I need to be kind to myself and take care of myself.  I need to watch my thoughts so they don’t go to the old familiar places of self blame and fear.  

As hard as this is, I know I can do it. 

The Beauty

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Enough dwelling on the past.

The life I have now is far from perfect, but I choose to see beauty in it.

I have a connection with each of my kids as young adults, and I think I am pretty tuned in to them and what is happening for them in their lives. We have deep and meaningful conversations, and they come to me when they need to sort things out. To me, that is far more valuable than anything I can offer them financially or materially. That is beautiful.

I love my job. I feel fulfilled and I feel like I am living my purpose on this earth every day.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do the work that I do. That is beautiful.

I have a supportive family who loves me. I know we are not always on the same page about some things, and although that is hard for me, there is so much love and support.  That is beautiful.

I have amazing friends who have stood by me and who challenge me to learn new things all the time. They bring laughter, joy, fun, and love into my life.  That is beautiful.

I have a man in my life who is trustworthy, affectionate, attentive, and loving. He has taught me many things, and helped me to open up my wounded heart again.  No matter what the future holds, that is a beautiful.

I live in a place that has beauty so near, and the opportunities to appreciate that beauty often.  Nature and sunshine nurture my soul.  That is a beautiful.

I have a roof over my head, a car to drive, and food in my fridge. That is a beautiful.

Today, I focus on the beauty.

I am grateful.

The Wishing…

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I was doing some tidying today and found my journal from last year. I am going to share my entry from November 8, 2014:

You know what is exhausting?

It is the wishing.

The wishing that none of the last five years had happened.

But, they did.

The husband I loved, the man I gave all of myself to in every way, betrayed me in every way.

My world was shattered.

Nothing would ever be the same again.

My children’s innocence, their belief in the stability and security of our family, was stolen.

They have struggled ever since.

I have struggled ever since.

And he has struggled ever since.

Yet, it can not be put back together again.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men…

Forever broken.

Forever.

And the pain…

It is still there, for all of us.

Yes, I have mostly healed.

Yes, I have moved on.

I have found a wonderful and amazing man who truly loves me in ways I have never experienced before… not ever.

The kids have accepted it.

Yet… there is still pain.

I imagine there always will be.

This is not the way it was supposed to be.

The dreams of a young woman… for life long love and an intact family… children raised with never wavering security…

All gone.

And so…

The wishing.

I NEED to stop the wishing.

The wishing hurts so much.

It keeps me back, keeps me pushed down, locked in a prison of pain.

No more wishing.

What is done, is done.

What happened, happened.

It is what it is.

I have learned, grown, and, in some ways even blossomed.

The kids will be okay, eventually.

They have struggled, but they will never be naive and sheltered. They are not judgmental.

Life can be beautiful on the other side of pain.

Family is still family.

Newly formed, pulled together…

It can be good.

No more wishing.

Instead:

Accepting.

Embracing.

Expecting.

Loving.

Giving again.

New and different.

Life with Hope.

Mom Guilt

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Last night I had a conversation with my 21 year old son, that left me with a mix of emotions.

We were talking about how he and his sister don’t have vehicles to drive, and how it means that I am still driving a 21 year old and 19 year old around sometimes.  I can’t afford to help them get vehicles, so I feel like I need to help them practically as much as I can. But, I also want to encourage them to take responsibility for themselves and I was remembering how I saved up for my first car. I made the classic parenting mistake of saying, “When I was your age…. “.  Yeah, my bad…. I know better than that.

My son said, “Yeah Mom, but you had your parents.”  Shocked, I said, “What do you mean? Do you not feel I have been there for you?”

He said, “Yes, you have been here for us emotionally and and been as supportive as you could.  But, it has been hard for all of us.  We haven’t had stability like you did.  We didn’t have financial support and help like you did.”

Ouch.

Instantly, I felt my stomach clench with regret and sadness and guilt.

“Oh Son, I know. I feel so bad about that.  I wish it could have been different for you!” I said.

My son, in his infinite wisdom of 21 years on this earth said to me, “Mom, you have nothing to feel bad about.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  You did the best you could in the circumstances and I appreciate everything you do for us.  It’s okay.  I made my own choices too.  I didn’t choose to handle my emotions very well, and I could have done better.  That’s my responsibility.”

He’s right.  I didn’t want my kids to be “children of divorce”.  I didn’t want them to feel the pain of the divided family and have to face some harsh truths that they had to face.  But, I can’t change the facts or the past.

It is also true that they have learned a lot and grown in some ways that is very valuable through this.  I am not sure I would have had some of the wisdom my son demonstrated last night “when I was his age”.

I can’t help them financially the way I want to.  But, I do my best to support them, guide them, and be a sounding board for them as they are navigating the waters of early adulthood.

I choose to believe they can still thrive through this.  I have to.  I hope I can help them do so.

I have done my best to love them, to provide the amount of stability possible through everything, and to create an emotionally safe home for them.  I know that is valuable, and I am hopeful for the future.

It’s The Way It Is

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Twenty-five years ago today, I made vows that I meant with every fiber of my being.

Six years ago today, I was told “I didn’t ever love you, not even on our wedding day”. (This was recently apologized for and recanted, but five years later, after the damage was well done).

Five years ago today, I was living in my parents’ basement with two hurting teenagers, and had a very intense and powerful counselling session in which I chose to redefine this day as my anniversary of commitment to loving myself.

So, Happy Anniversary to Me! ❤

Yes, I am sad today. But, I am also at peace.  I choose to recognize my own worth and I choose to be loving to myself.

It’s My Story

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I have been feeling a nudging to start this blog for some time. I  knew it would be therapeutic for me to write about my story, and I also sensed that it would be helpful to others.

There was one thing that stopped me.

Fear.

It is a very vulnerable experience to own a painful story and tell it. A huge part of my journey has been to look at myself, my part in my story,  and to take responsibility for that. That is not an easy thing to do. I have come a long way, and it is my intention to continue that journey.

But, my fear was more than that. I was still afraid of my former husband finding out and being angry. That was a fear I knew all to well.  That fear had been my constant companion for over twenty years. A huge part of my healing has been working on overcoming these fears.

My kids have talked with me about how they remember their dad making it very clear that we were not to talk to anyone about what goes on in our home. I remember that too. I felt very restricted in my interactions with friends and family and kept everyone at arms length.  I was afraid people would see the truth….that our family was not as it appeared to be and that I was failing to somehow make everything okay.

When the crisis my marriage was in became clear to me, my former husband gave me permission to only speak to one person about it, his sister. But, I  was so broken and struggling so much with what to do, that I couldn’t maintain the facade with my closest friend.  One day while going for a walk with her, I broke down and told her what was going on.  She was wonderfully supportive and very concerned.

My friend had only seen the charming, funny, intelligent side of my ex, and so she didn’t even think twice when she phoned later that night to check on me, to say to him when he answered the phone, “I hear you are having a rough time. I’m sorry. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. ”

My ex handed me the phone with a glare and said “She knows?” in a raged whisper. I nodded and quickly made small talk with my friend to finish the conversation.  She knew something was very wrong by my response as well as his. But, from the public persona she knew of him, her comment should have been well received.

After I hung up, I got yelled at about how wrong that was and I had no right to share with my friend.

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I was given the message that I had wronged him terribly, even though I knew this friend was trustworthy and would keep it confidential.

This is only one of many incidents that created this deeply rooted fear in me to tell my story.

I have no desire to hurt anyone, to create trouble, or to seek any form of revenge.

I intend only to speak the truth in terms of my story because I know,  from personal experience that this can be healing for others. I know this, because that is what happened for me.

When I was coming to terms with what was happening in my marriage, I joined an online forum and read other people’s stories. I could be anonymous and seek help and support.  I learned I was not alone and I was jarred into seeing the truth of my situation for what it was.  I became strong enough to stop excusing and rationalizing completely unacceptable behavior.  I got stronger and was able to do what I needed to do for myself and my kids.

If one person who reads this has a similar experience,  it is worth overcoming my fears.

This is my story. It’s mine to tell.

Post Traumatic Growth

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http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/Post-Traumatic-Growth

I found this article the other day, and what an encouragement it was!  My counselor suggested to me, shortly after starting to see her, that I was likely experiencing post traumatic stress.  We addressed that through a specific type of therapy called EMDR (https://emdrcanada.org/emdr-defined/) which as very helpful to me.

Fortunately for me, because I was seeking help and support during and after the crisis time in my life, I began to experience healing and positive growth within the first few years afterwards.  If you have experienced emotional trauma, or are currently going through a difficult time, I encourage you to read the article and find hope in those words.  Choosing to seek support and help, and choosing to address the trauma in healthy ways, can be the catalyst for tremendous growth in your life.