Me

Woman Pulling Hair out

I’m bursting with anger and fear
There’s too much pain to shed a tear
Sometimes I’m collected and calm
Meeting their needs, I am their mom

Just one trigger and I am four
Curled up, I can’t take anymore
I try hard but I cannot speak
I’m gone and can only hear screams

More triggers and I am seven
Angry at my God in heaven
My memories and pain are here
Boxed up so the others don’t fear

Can I force myself to be five?
I feel so vibrant and alive
Creative stories in my mind
I get to leave my past behind

I have trauma, is this for real?
There must be honesty to heal
I am longing to be just me
How long until God sets me free?

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.

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

The Incapable Parent

I would exchange my right arm for my son. My left leg! My heart! My brain! My lungs. My life. In reality, I happily exchange my sanity and grown-up conversation for a little boy who will be four in a few weeks.

I have complex trauma that started from the very beginning, but I was about four when my life came crashing down. As a result, I have some major triggers. Four year olds. Injury. Pain. Fear. Crying. Tantrums. Children bed-sharing in any capacity.

It is a simple task that comes with being a parent. Nightmare, inability to breathe, bloody nose… Whatever the reasons, sometimes four year olds just need to sleep with Mommy and Daddy. Most moms (dads too but this is a mommy’s blog) pull their kids into bed and fall asleep with their mommy arms safely wrapped around the child’s body… The child they grew for nine months and then spent the next year(s) catering to them at any (or all) hours of the night.

So why am I incapable of bed-sharing with my sweet boy? That is a loaded question, yet it is the most simple of needs that I cannot provide for him. It leaves me curled up in a ball in tears.

Someone once told me that I cannot let “this” overtake my life, I have to overcome “it.” I have PTSD, and will probably have it to a varying degree for the rest of my life. It is not my choice to be so triggered. I am doing my very best to not let it affect my parenting. But, it has and it does. I have very little control over this monster in my brain. I do not know how to calm my inner child who is screaming for my son’s safety in the big bed… Even though there are four safe arms wrapped around him.

This inner child is raging to be heard. Until I listen, she will continue to strive to destroy. Even a sweet little boy’s heart who just needs Mommy’s arms wrapped around him.

The Little Girl And The Therapist

the basement

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.

 

Image from http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/construction/bad-cinder-block-walls-basement-314960.html