Happy birthday to my son

My son had a birthday on Saturday! Here is a letter that I wrote to him.

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To my handsome four year old,

Today is your birthday! Four years ago today, I held my breath until I heard your soft cry on the warming table. Only after you began crying did I remember to ask if you were a boy or girl! You came into this world a bit too early, and yet you met all of your milestones early! You were a scrawny newborn who quickly grew into a 90th percentile weight (and 30th percentile height) fat little baby. Today, you are 75th percentile height and weight, and are a well-proportioned little kid with 6 pack abs and clearly visible calves and quads. Those wrestling sessions with Daddy sure are paying off!

This has been your biggest year yet! You started swimming lessons!! You are the happiest kid in the pool, laughing hysterically the whole time! You also started reading. You can read all of the Bob Books Set 1 fluently and comprehend it all! I am so proud of you. You can sound out words like “peekaboo” and “sinking,” which seems phenomenal to me!

You also became a big brother. Wow. I am seeing your empathetic side flourish as you spend time with your sister. One time when I let someone hold her, you asked, “Where’s our baby girl?” We have caught you on video talking to her and giving her toys, and trying the console her when she starts crying. Being a big brother was a huge adjustment for you, and yet your love for her brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for being so gentle.

Right now, your favorite food is the Super Kingpin quesadilla from Moe’s! Everyone is so surprised when you eat it all! Your favorite color is green (on most days). You have never tasted candy, and you choose carrots or peas for snacks. Your favorite movies are anything Thomas Trains. You love all music, and you have been known to bust out dance moves during church worship. And we don’t even go to *that* kind of church!

I love you so much, and you have taught me more than you could ever know. Patience, gentleness, prayer. My favorite moment of all time was the first time you were being corrected for a tantrum and you stopped crying and asked God to forgive your sins and help you make wise choices. Daddy and I had not taught you that, but it was evident at that moment that God was speaking to your heart.

Your smile melts my heart. I hope you have a happy birthday. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Mommy

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Gifts

When my daughter was first born, when I put her in her crib alone in her room, I would pray for God to keep her safe. Then I would proceed to check on her every few minutes until she woke up for a feeding. I have done this for months, continued to pray for her safety. I pray for my son’s safety too. Last week, something very sobering hit me… my children might not be safe their whole lives. Something could happen to them tonight, tomorrow, or anytime before they are grown. I must have discernment and use wisdom in being their mother, but I cannot protect them from everything. There is a 1 in 3 chance my daughter will be sexually abused before she is 18, and there is a 1 in 7 (maybe even higher at this point) chance my son will be sexually abused before he is 18. Those statistics are very frightening. In a way, this realization brought me a sense of peace. After I prayed for God to protect my children as I tucked them each into bed (for God does answer prayers), I also thanked God for the time I spent with them today. They are true gifts from God. This day (however difficult it was for me) was a gift from God. It is a gift to breastfeed my daughter and watch her discover the taste of new food. It is a gift to watch her blow raspberries when she is excited, and it brings me great joy to watch her as she is army crawling and scooting on her hiney to get where she wants to go. It is a gift to teach my son how to read, and a joy to listen to him read most letter combinations- he is not even 4! It is a gift to hear someone call my son “polite” and to hear his giggles as his daddy tickles him. It is a gift to watch a video on the computer with my husband today, and it is a gift to watch my grandma bond with each of my children. Through my trials of dissociation and flashbacks (which were quite strong today if you read my last post), I must also recognize the gifts God has given me today.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes from the Father of Lights – James 1:17

Photo credit: http://blog.pgi.com/2013/12/on-the-seventh-day-of-telework-my-coworkers-gave-to-me-gifts-and-a-sense-of-camaraderie/

Undesired Effect of Forgiveness

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Dear (Abuser),

I forgive you. You are so wounded that I truly believe you don’t recall what you did to me. I forgive you for … I forgive you for … I forgive you because Jesus forgave my sins. I forgive you because

… and then I completely dissociated. I came to on my bed curled up shivering and tingling. The last thing I remember, I was in the rocking chair watching a video with my husband at his computer.

My husband suggested I start writing letters like this everyday, and forgiving my abusers everyday. He said I may not mean it at first but that eventually I would, because God would help heal my heart. I am trying this because I am desperate. My EMDR therapist said I am the only person she’s ever spoken to with complex trauma who wants to dive in head first and process trauma. I am trying anything and everything. My husband told me to try his way. This also includes an intake tomorrow at a nationally recognized Christian counseling center. I will continue to go to my regular therapist, but I will try this place for at least three sessions. My husband’s way is through talking openly about my faith, and bringing Christ into the therapy room… bringing Christ into my healing. I guess it’s time but talking forgiveness is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

This is the second time I dissociated today, but the first that rendered me completely without memory. The first time, I ended up curled up on the floor, and then I ate over half a can of this:

nutellaI have a terrible stomach ache

First photo credit: http://www.downwardspiralintothevortex.com/2010_12_12_archive.html

Brave Heart Award

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Sunshine, at http://avictimsjournal.wordpress.com/, nominated me for the Brave Heart Award. This is a very insightful and well-written blog about a woman who is recovering from trauma, and I love reading her blog. Thank you, Sunshine, for this nomination! I am honored 🙂

The Brave Heart Mission Statement

To encourage all those whom have been abused to share their hope with others so that they will no longer be a victim but a survivor.

What is The Brave Heart Award?  The Brave Heart Award is for survivors of abuse and for those whom encourage healing.

Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are loosing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong. I want you to know that the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse. In your life, you have faced many demons but look around you and you will see there is hope, and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

Each step you take you are not alone.

Stand Strong.

Q&A

1.Tell us a little bit about your blog. Who designed it? I designed it… The background photo was taken on my wedding day, and it’s my veil with grass and trees in the background
2. What is the title and description of your blog? Life and PTSD. It’s a blog about my journey to heal from PTSD, plus posts about my family and career as a therapist.
3. Who is your intended audience? Anyone who wants to learn more about PTSD and/or not feel alone in their journey
4. How did you come up with the title of your blog? I wanted “PTSD” in the title so I’d get more PTSD hits, but I wanted my title to be more than that. Though it is a consuming diagnosis, I am more than that. I want to share my life with the blogging world, too.
5. Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog. Initially, I published my blog with my name and a photo of myself. When I realized how many hits it was getting, I went anonymous for two reasons: panic that so many strangers would know what I’m going through; and I didn’t want my clients to come across it because it would affect the therapeutic relationship.
6. What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike? I have one other blog that I kinda keep up with. I panicked and deleted everything off it though, and barely write on it anymore. It is not educational or poetic or well-planned… it is me journaling through my spirals. I’m not going to share it publicly. If you are curious for the URL, you may email me.
7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? I don’t really consider anything I do to be unique, but I enjoy photography, writing, and blogging.
8. How can we contact you or find out more about your blog? You may contact me and find out more about my blog on the “about” section
9. What can we expect from you in the future? psychoeducational posts, autobiographical posts, poems, and my thoughts on the various aspects of my life.
10. What can readers who enjoy your blog do to help make your blog more successful? Just by reading and “liking” my blog, I am very encouraged and put forth more effort into my writing and advertising.
11. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers? For those who struggle with PTSD or another mental illness, I strongly urge you to seek therapy in order to process your traumas. I also encourage you to get out of bed everyday and try your hardest. Make small, do-able goals. Remember that the waves of the spirals always calm, just strap your feet down and hold on.
12. Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog?

The Little Girl And The Therapist

Down, down I descend into the darkness

The sound pierces my ears

Finally, I find her in the corner of a cold room

Knees to her chest, hands over her ears

She is screaming

“Hold her,” I vaguely hear someone say

I can barely shake my head

I hear the voice again. “It’s your choice.”

I am frozen as I watch her in the corner

My desire is to join her; I want to scream louder

She does not deserve this but I do it anyway

I force myself to sit on the cement floor

Cinder blocks behind me

Why is she down here?  I wonder

With no hesitation, she immediately curls into my lap

I try not to notice what she is wearing

Instead, I wrap her in a blanket and hold her tight

I kiss her forehead and she falls asleep.

And then I am crying

Restrained tears, but I am not holding her

I am in my therapist’s office

The floors are not cement; they are polished wood

There is furniture, white and black

Credentials hanging on the wall

I dare not look up but if I did, I’d see a caring face

I stare at the sand tray table instead

When the tears are over, the body memories calm

I uncurl my legs and place them on the wooden floor

My arms relax and I force myself to breathe

The girl is asleep

She will not hurt me tonight.

My 12 Nominees

http://morningpageswriter.wordpress.com/

http://afraidtotell.wordpress.com/

http://66amazon.wordpress.com/

http://lisapinney.wordpress.com/

http://secretangelps911.wordpress.com/

http://cptsd2013.wordpress.com/

http://elliethompson.wordpress.com/

http://ptsdfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com/

http://findinghopessunshine.wordpress.com/

http://brokebutbeingrepaired.wordpress.com/

http://beatingtrauma.com/

http://thepowerofsilenceblog.wordpress.com/

To my nominees, here are the instructions for accepting the award;

Rules for accepting the Award

1. Thank the person whom nominated you.

2. Post a comment on your nominees blog (with a link back to your Brave Heart Award Results), notifying them that they have been nominated for The Brave Heart Award with the Quote below.

Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are losing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong. I want you to know that the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse. In your life, you have faced many demons but look around you and you will see there is hope, and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

Each step you take you are not alone.

Stand Strong.

3. Take the 12 question interview yourself and share your answers on your blog.

4. Nominate 12 blogs.
5. Share the 12 question interview with your nominees to answer.
6. Share your 12 nominees website/blog links on your blog page.
7. You can not nominate a blog if they have already received the Brave Heart Award.

12 Questions Asked:

1.Tell us a little bit about your blog. Who designed it?
2. What is the title and description of your blog?
3. Who is your intended audience?
4. How did you come up with the title of your blog?
5. Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog.
6. What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike?
7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
8. How can we contact you or find out more about your blog?
9. What can we expect from you in the future?
10. What can readers who enjoy your blog do to help make your blog more successful?
11. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers?
12. Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog?

Liebster Awards!

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I was nominated for the Liebster Award twice in the past few days, so instead of writing two separate posts, I’m going to combine them. Ellie Sofia at http://elliethompson.wordpress.com/ and ptsdfrozen at http://ptsdfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com/ nominated me. I am so blessed to be Ellie’s blogging friend; her writing is powerful, her story is painfully and beautifully sincere, and she has a heart of gold. Thank you, Ellie!! I am also immensely enjoying getting to know ptsdfrozen because I feel like I very much connect with this woman (including her screenname!). Thank you, ladies!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
These awards often feel more like chain letters than awards. These are hard questions for me to answer, and the only reason I am doing this is because I want to recognize some of my favorite blogs for their posts and support. Through these blogs (and many others I am following), I feel slightly more normalized for the trials I am going through.
I Was Given These Questions
1.  Who do you write for? I write to give myself a voice and an outlet.
2. What type of blogs do you like?  I enjoy reading blogs written by people who are working hard to heal from mental illness, as well as people who are sweetly encouraging in their walk with Jesus.
3.  What do you wish the world understood about PTSD?
A friend just asked me what PTSD was like. I answered something like, “It’s like I’m completely fine one second and then the next second I’m spiraling into a deep hole because of a stupid trigger. Then I’m fine, and then I’m triggered and I’m dizzy for days, I can’t breathe, and I am caught in visual, auditory, and body flashbacks of my past. It is completely unpredictable and leaves immense devastation in its wake. Sometimes I have to pull over while driving because I can’t trust that I won’t make an impulsive decision in the midst of the most random and uncalled for spiral.”
4.  What would you say is the biggest passion in your life? I looked up “passion” to help me answer this question. “Strong and uncontrollable emotion.” Right now I have many strong and uncontrollable emotions but none are the result of passion. If I strip down every goal, behavior, and task, my underlying desire is to teach my children to trust in Jesus.
5.  What are you most proud of? My children.
6.  What activity makes you feel like yourself the most? Anything related to my job. During session, I am calm and easy to converse with. I feel normal.
7.  If you could have a dinner party with 10 famous figures dead or alive, who would they be? I am changing this, because I couldn’t care less about famous people. I would choose to have a dinner party with finallyspeakingmytruth, Ellie Sofia, ptsdfrozen, 66amazon, pinneyl, teddylee01, mandy, Mariann Martland, ideationsms, and afraidtotell (amongst others, but these are the first that popped into my head)
8.  If you could choose a different profession for this life what would it  be? I want to be: a professor, therapist, and an author. I am already a therapist; in the future, I may still earn my PhD and become a professor; and I have written one book and am working on another, so I still may be published at some point! I don’t want to change professions, I just want to add to my career!
9.  Describe your personality in 3 words. labile, caring, introspective
10.  Name a person who has made a significant impact on your life. Truly, my husband. We constantly battle over both stupid and serious things, but at the end of the day we are still holding hands. We still touch feet while we sleep (because any other cuddling may or may not send me into a spiral). We still kiss each other goodbye. We still say we love each other. We still say goodnight. We still feel safe knowing the other person is in the other room, even if we are in a monumental argument over making our own toothpaste vs. buying toothpaste.
~
1.What is the best thing about you?  My empathy
2.What time of day do you blog?
Whenever I can catch a chance with my busy life. Usually first thing in the morning or right before I go to bed.
3.How many revisions does it take before you finally publish?
8-ish (this one is 14 and counting because it’s taking so long to write this post!)
4.Who is/was the most influential person in your life?
See above
5.In one word describe yourself.
Labile
6.Where do you see yourself one year from now?
A year closer to feeling whole and calm.
7.What is your favourite social media?
WordPress
8.What type of blogs do you follow?
Those who struggle with PTSD and people with a strong faith in Jesus. I need connection to both worlds.
9.What is the motivating factor for you to blog?
I NEED an outlet for this crap inside my head
10.How would you describe your blog content to someone who has not read it.
See above PTSD question
11.What have you learned about yourself from blogging?
I have realized that I felt so desperately alone in my symptoms before. I did not know a part of me needed this community of people who struggle with the same things I do.
10 Random Facts About Myself
I do not have the energy for this…
10 Questions For My Nominees
Pick any 10 questions above
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Nominees
Feel free to use either of the graphics for your post
She was the first person to follow my blog and has become an amazing friend and support. Her blog is full of beautiful insights, amazing writing, and thoughtful words.
I very much enjoy reading his blog! It seems rare to have a male perspective in the mental health world, and he’s a great writer.
Beautiful art therapy!
A favorite because her posts are very uplifting

http://discussingdissociation.com/

http://singledadventures.com/

http://lisapinney.wordpress.com/This is quickly becoming a favorite because she writes about her recovery from trauma as well as her relationship with Jesus. I greatly  benefit from her encouraging words and her posts.

http://beautyfromtheashes613.wordpress.com/

http://cherished79.wordpress.com/

http://ihurtericabelle.wordpress.com/

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The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award 

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. 

3. answer 10 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. provide 10 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate up to 10 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post . Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it

Saying Goodbye

doll

I fold up the bed I meticulously created for her. I gather her clothes, dressing her in her favorite dress. Her hair is a mess, but I do my best to run my fingers through and pull it back into a ponytail.

Today I say goodbye. It is just a doll and yet, it feels like so much more. She was my childhood doll, the one I held when I was afraid; the one who kept me company at night or when I hid in the closet. She shared my dark secrets with me and her eyes recall more than I ever will.

I have felt discomfort since reuniting with her on Saturday. I had been hoping she would bring healing to the child inside, who is desperate for connection with her past. Last night, I tried to fix her hair and I removed her clothes to put on a new dress. There is blood on her.

I don’t remember the blood but the blood triggered a string of flashbacks. Now I am shaky when I see the doll because I recall just how much of my darkness and shame she was privy to. All of a sudden her sweet face looks demonic and her body feels violated.

I must say goodbye to her. But I say goodbye to more than just her. I’m not sure I can verbalize it just yet. My inner child is crying out and is desperate for her doll, but I must find a different way to soothe her. This doll is too painful. And yet, letting go is painful; my inner child feels I am abandoning her like I am abandoning the doll.

… And I might be desperately trying to do just that.

Her jacket is on and I give her a hug. It’s time to go to a new home. Stay safe, sweetheart. I love you.

Family Love

I’ve been posting all serious things recently, so thought I’d take a moment to share my blessings.

This morning, my 6 month old woke up earlier than I desired (especially after nursing almost every hour through the night). When I realized she wasn’t going to go back to sleep, I decided to nurse her lying down like we did when I was healing. She wasn’t hungry, but enjoyed it as much as I did. She nursed for 45 minutes, popping off every minute to smile, with that gummy grin reaching her eyes.

Breastfeeding grounds me. She is close and looking in my eyes; I am meeting more of her needs than one; her tiny body curled into my chest. It grounds her too. Sometimes in the middle of the day, she just needs to connect for a few seconds before she can return to playing.

My son is quite the opposite of calming. He’ll be 4 next Saturday. He is tired of being cooped up and is going bonkers inside. I turned on his music full blast the other day and taught him how to jump on the bed. Then I told him to take the empty boxes to the kitchen so I could break them down. 45 minutes later, he was calm. I’m going to have to save those diaper boxes for him more often!

My marriage seems to have always been an uphill challenge, but we are better than we have ever been. Last night, we drove 45 minutes together to pick up my grandma from the airport. Instead of listening to a March Madness game on the radio (he actually wanted to be home watching but didn’t want me out in city traffic alone on a March Madness Friday), we turned it off and enjoyed each other’s company.

I feel that by the time our kids’ needs are met and my PTSD needs are met (unfortunately this takes a lot out of my family), there is little time for our needs as a couple… Or for him, really. I am blessed by his patience as I battle my symptoms, and am thankful he is at my side.

My life is beautiful.

Is EMDR Helpful?

EMDR 1

Last year, I attended a trauma training and the trainer touched on eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). He stated something like, “It’s very simple, the client moves his eyes back and forth several times and then the feelings associated with the trauma are no longer triggered! For the deeper traumas, they may have to have the process repeated. It’s a very effective and very interesting therapy!” This tends to be how many mental health therapists view EMDR. It is an intriguing enigma because, after years of working to evolve therapy into something that is always helpful, there is finally a method that is shown to be consistently effective.

Francine Shapiro, “discoverer” of EMDR, has stated that EMDR is effective in all traumas, but that “it takes longer when you have multiple traumatic experiences because there are more memories that need to be processed.” Studies upon studies have shown the effectiveness of EMDR because it uses the brain’s natural abilities to heal itself. It is effective, but is it always beneficial?

As I’ve written previously (About PTSD), EMDR pulls the traumas that are stored in the limbic system and brings them into conscious memory, in order to be stored correctly in the cortex. This tends to be a fairly straightforward process for those who have experienced a one-time trauma in adulthood. However, because the childhood brain is so malleable, when children experience a significant trauma, their brains are forced to veer from normal development in order to process the trauma and protect the brain.

One of the very common ways children manage trauma is through dissociation. It is common for these previously dissociated memories to surface in adulthood, mostly because the brain is finally fully developed around age 25 (the topic of recalled memories is quite debated, but it is indeed common). This is a normal process as the brain attempts to bring the memories into consciousness in order to be stored correctly. Some memories become conscious, and some do not; it depends on what the brain feels it can manage at a conscious level. EMDR fast tracks this process and does not allow the brain to pick and choose which memories it is ready for. Therefore, those who have experienced complex trauma (continual trauma during childhood) may become flooded with very intense memories. The complex trauma survivors’ brains have spent years adapting to the trauma and building up walls of protection so the person can survive. EMDR reverses these protections and breaks down the very protective walls they have spent years building.

Many complex trauma survivors who have attempted EMDR have reported that it makes them feel worse and that they are unable to manage the overwhelming feelings. Recalled memories return at such a quick rate that leaves the survivors flooded. The brain is not prepared for an onslaught of memories because naturally, it unfolds trauma at a far slower process. This seems to be what the non-EMDR trained therapist does not understand; I have found myself considering referring clients with complex trauma for EMDR in the past, simply because it is known as an effective therapy for trauma survivors. Now, I realize that in the case of complex trauma, it may be more beneficial to allow the survivors’ brains to unfold the memories at the rate their brains can manage (however slow and exhausting the process may be).

While many mental health therapists are intrigued by EMDR, and rightly so, not every trauma survivor is well-suited for EMDR. Because EMDR fast tracks processing, the processing could take less time, but the process could leave the client in a heap. EMDR therapists understand this and are able to filter their clients accordingly. However, even the smallest safety-building EMDR session may send their complex trauma survivors into a spiral of the past that their minds have worked so hard to forget (I therefore recommend great caution in reading Francine Shapiro’s book, Getting Past Your Past, because it immediately teaches the basic concept of bilateral stimulation to improve safe place).

If you are interested in reading more about a personal account, I invite you to click on the EMDR tag at the bottom of this post.

Re-parenting The Inner Child

inner child dressesDraw your inner child connecting with you

In the mental health world, we often consider those with complex trauma as “stuck.” This means that at the point where their trauma began, a portion of their brains stopped developing, and even as adults they exhibit some of the same emotional development they did at the age where they became stuck. Clients who are “stuck” may over-attach to those who exhibit desired parental qualities or are older. This can easily lead to unhealthy attachment. It is typically healthier to transfer these feelings onto a therapist, who is better able to manage these needs with proper boundaries. Talk of re-parenting usually occurs in these therapeutic situations.

I heard a beautiful story once of a family who re-parented a teenager with complex trauma, including reading children’s stories and tucking her into bed. Through this endeavor, the family changed the course of the teenager’s life and improved her attachment style. Though this is the deepest desire of all inner children, the time and effort this requires makes this kind of story quite rare. However, the concept is very common, especially in therapy.

Some therapists help clients re-write their stories as if they were their own parents, each chapter of the story being a different age bracket. Other interventions include encouraging the clients to listen to and meet the needs of the inner child. This may include offering her something as simple as a juice box, time on the bed with her favorite blanket, or a coloring book when she is having a tantrum. Through meeting these needs, it is theorized that the inner child will feel her needs are met and will calm down. I personally do not believe the child will ever become completely “un-stuck,” but the inner child can certainly be made to feel safe. With care, the child will not feel she needs to wreak havoc in her adult’s life.

When people hear talk of re-parenting, it is common to feel uncomfortable. After all, connecting with the inner child may remind us of how popular culture has turned diagnoses like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) into something to fear or make jokes over. According to a study, DID occurs in approximately 1.1% of the population and ought to be better understood than a few movies. Dissociative Disorder NOS (DDNOS) is a far more prevalent diagnosis for survivors of complex trauma. Those with this diagnosis may have successful careers, and when their brains are engaged professionally, they exhibit no symptoms (this relates to their ability to easily separate from other parts of themselves). However, they have frequent and lengthy periods of partial or complete dissociation or feeling they are walking in a fog. Those with DDNOS often have a very strong sense of an inner child, who is developmentally the age of the adult when the trauma began (re: being “stuck”). It is the inner child who recalls and relives the trauma. However, they differ from DID in that the child does not have her own identity or take over completely. The adult is typically always in ultimate control of the mind and body, though they may feel the constant struggle of the inner child.

Some ideas on meeting the needs of the inner child

Cut your food into small pieces

Have a blanket to use for comfort

Have crayons and a sketch book or coloring book handy

Listen to kids music

Keep juice boxes in the fridge for her

Write letters to her

Allow her to keep a journal (giving her a voice will calm her)

Visualize yourself holding her and tucking her in at night

Keep your favorite childhood toy, or buy a favorite toy for her

Paint fingernails and toenails

Finally, if you have children, play with them. Allow yourself to feel nurtured as you meet their needs.

For more ideas on healing the inner child, read Courage To Heal or click here 

inner childA bed prepared for my inner child’s favorite doll, which should arrive Saturday

Too damaged

I spoke with my EMDR therapist last night for the first time in a couple of months. I described the problems I’ve had since the initial session, including significantly increased periods of dissociation and complete loss of memory; two onslaughts of 20-50 long-forgotten memories each; and physical pain. She told me these were major red flags because “We weren’t even digging, we were doing safety stuff. It was supposed to enhance your safety!” She told me she didn’t think EMDR would be a good idea because of the red flags. She explained (as I had found in research recently) that EMDR is most helpful for one-time traumas occurring in adulthood. With complex trauma, the brain has spent years learning to protect itself- EMDR reverses the protections and can easily send a complex trauma survivor into a tailspin. She said case studies she’s read show that complex trauma survivors have needed EMDR for upwards of 3 years before improvement is evident. She said that before EMDR, complex trauma survivors would learn to manage the feelings and memories as it slowly comes back, and would often be in therapy for years and years.

So those are my two options. Be in therapy for years upon years and feel like I do now… Or dive in head-first and break my neck because flooding is a reckless idea in my situation. Receiving real EMDR would cause my brain to break down its protections and I’d basically fall apart. She said that to help me manage my physical pain she could refer me to a chiropractor for massages and pressure point therapy, but that this could trigger stronger body memories than I’m currently having.

It is discouraging to be told I’m too damaged for a type of therapy. It’s also discouraging that I have a long long road to recovery. I am already exhausted. How much more can I endure?