Here are some truths I often tell to the middle aged gal in the mirror. She tends to need straight-forward, blunt talk to gain the clearest understanding. Too many words, while well-meaning, and often lovely, can leave me feeling foggy and wanting to “cut to the chase.” If this doesn’t describe you, and blunt downloads as abrasive to you, please close this tab now. Consider yourself warned.
That said, here’s some straight talk about this trauma walk we’re navigating and some misunderstandings that seem to come up often.
1. There is no quick fix for trauma or the difficult coping behaviors it produces. There is no silver bullet. No drug. No magic words, format, mojo, oil, food or pixie dust that will “fix” trauma today, tomorrow, any time this week and likely not this year. Some trauma will be coped with, navigated around, but never fully “ok.” Many of these things we hope are magic fixes are in fact vital tools (among the many we will try and need, because complex doesn’t begin to describe it) in our journey to bringing kids further in healing. Some folks do experience dramatic change quite quickly with some interventions, but if you’re looking for a quick fix, prepare for disappointment. Don’t let unfair expectations trip you up and create further frustration. Trauma’s a b*tch but nothing is hopeless provided our definition of “hope” isn’t “instant success because I’m stressed out.”
2. Most of the trauma informed parenting work you will do is on you. Y-O-U. Your perspective and approach. Your own trauma and woundedness, false beliefs and deep, well-tended fears. You are responsible for the intolerable feelings and actions living with a traumatized child has produced in you. The child is not to blame and should not be a scapegoat for work you don’t want to do on yourself. So put on yer big girl panties (or big boy briefs) and consider the truths you need for the person in the mirror. Dig in, work on your own triggers and hurts, fill your own cup so you can better help your child with theirs. I have the exhaustive list of ways this feels impossible. But there really is no short cut around it.
4. “But what about xyz behavior? How will the child live in the real world? They don’t get special rules, do they? This needs to be fixed now. The world won’t wait for them to behave.” Nope: “the world” won’t wait, and it’s frightening as a parent. However, you can’t force someone to heal faster. See #1 and consult #2 about your own fear and anxiety that is exacerbating the situation. It’s not that these fears are unfounded, it’s that you can’t control them (fears or behaviors for that matter) into submission. Fear can only be wooed, calmed, tamed by safe history and mindful interventions. Trying to press wounded people beyond their current healing leads to set backs, not solutions.
5. #preachingtomyselfagain. #ithinkmybiggirlpantiesarelostinthedryer.
Keep your chin up. Do what you can (it’s enough, because it’s what you can do not because it’s perfect)–love, rest, provide structure, find safe people, try new resources, pray. You’re doing a hard thing on behalf of someone(s) who are also doing incredibly hard things because their life has dealt them a desperately unfair situation and a brain hardwired for fear. Foster compassion for all parties. The unicorns and rainbows have left the building and left a helluva mess behind, but facing trauma with clarity can move you toward more peace and healing far more quickly than hiding and denial and wishful thinking. Here’s to what’s real, and that includes hope.
Submitted by a Moderator at Parenting With Connection.