Interesting Emotional Response

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by scent of cedar, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Here is an interesting thing. Like each of us here, we go through some pretty rough stuff with difficult child. There is the usual overwhelming emotional reaction, and the coming back into balance, the PTSD feelings ~ all the things we all go through. So, here is what happened, yesterday. I went shopping for a Homecoming dance dress for 14 year old granddaughter who lives four hours away. We left it to the last minute, hoping difficult child and the girl's father would have both the pleasure and the frustration of that parenting experience. Truly, that first dress, that first time your little girl walks out of the fitting room as a woman ~ all that goes into that first real dress experience is something to cherish. Well, Friday night, granddaughter and I decided we had best do something now, as dance is next Friday.


    So, that's all backstory.

    Here is the reason for this post: So, I go to buy a dress. Find a Jessica McClintock at Plato's Closet ~ perfect, so perfect. But...I don't try it on. Says 3-4. Should be good. Get home. Try to put it on to send picture to granddaughter. CAN'T GET IT ZIPPED. Very small size 4. So, there is stress #1. Back to the mall, today. Find another dress. Beautiful, red dress ~ just stunning. Get home and find granddaughter has FB me ~ anything but red, Grandma.

    Whatever. Too late, now. Dress has been given to difficult child to bring to granddaughter when she goes home, tomorrow. She can always exchange or whatever. Here is the thing: I found myself going through a version of the same kind of intense emotional storm as I did last weekend when difficult child, visiting the psychiatric unit.

    Interesting that this should be so. My emotions don't seem to know the difference between a real, unresolvable, life-changing crisis and an easily resolvable problem with a 14 year old's Homecoming dress.

    So maybe...there is never a need for the kind of reaction I fall into.

    It is so interesting that I fly into the same, total caretaking mode I do when difficult child is being beat or threatened or is homeless or in ICU or psychiatric unit as I do over...a dress.

    Somewhere, there is an automatic switch that turns on at the first sign of trouble. And it never shuts off. It eases away from panic mode, or it keys me up altogether and exhausts me. And I got kicked into that same mindset over...a dress.

    So, I am thinking about that.


    And here's the thing. That mindset did not help me, with the dress situation. It hasn't helped me yet, in the difficult child-crisis situation. So...of what value are those emotions? When I can't even distinguish between the panic brought on by a serious situation and a Homecoming dress? I must have been helpless too many times.

    I am going to try to learn a different emotional response altogether.

    This must be PTSD, right? Hear a car backfire and react as though it was a gunshot. Find yourself in a position where things are not falling immediately into place and BOOM.

    It is an interesting thing, to understand this about myself.

    Maybe there is a way to do this without succumbing to the emotional thing?
  2. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I am in the same place. I am learning to sit back and look at the situation and determine the amount of involvement I truly need to put forth.
  3. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Cedar, let me know if you figure it out.

    I too am in the same place "difficult child PTSD" and it mostly centers on PC16. I think it's the result of all of the self examination/microscope I put myself under when difficult child became difficult child. Where did we go wrong and all of that. "If we had _______ instead of ______; maybe things would be different." "We should have let him _____" We overreacted _____" "We let him down, we let him down, we let him down..." "If only, if only, if only" "We should have, we should have,we should have" ...

    ... and I don't know your difficult child, but my difficult child threw a lot of bombs our way - he was quick to tell us how and where we failed him and how we are completely ignorant failures as human beings all together and throw it on us like a load of dynamite when he attempted to deflect his ill behavior by lighting us on fire.

    So let me know if you figure it out. I too feel the need to try to make pc16's world perfect in every way. I think it's part approaching empty nest symptom - only 2 more years at home left for him - and partially because I want to reward his PCness with perfect parenting. I want to disprove all those bombs difficult child threw our way and even more; I want to make sure there are no "if only"'s when it comes to PC16.

    So, I try to cut myself some slack. And you should too. There is nothing worse than doing something out of partial guilt (for lack of a better term) because you are putting pressure on yourself and then serving it with a side of MORE GUILT and PRESSURE topped with self criticism...

    :smile:{{{hugs to you}}}}
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar, my first reaction to your post is geez, some of us mom's are so incredibly hard on ourselves...........our own personal parental expectations of perfection seem to cause so much stress. Made me think of that fantasy mom you speak about, you know the one who isn't as invested in her kids successes or failures being a reflection of her parenting skill so she is more neutral or even tempered or accepting when the kids mess up.

    Stress......... continuous, unrelenting, pounding stress.................trying to live up to an idea of parenting that we can't fulfill.............meeting that failure over and over again................after awhile there is so much stress within our bodies and minds that we can no longer distinguish between something like a normal everyday solvable issue and a crisis in the making. Yup, I've lived in that world pretty much my whole life...........and it sounds as if you Cedar have lived in that for most of yours as well. From a childhood without safety to kids who are challenging.............and all the life in between ............and a well put together internal universe based on control, perfection and unrealistic we age all those self images get harder and harder to hold together.

    Our culture has a hard view of mothers too. In the eyes of many, we are responsible for our kids shooting people, abusing drugs, not fulfilling their potential, marrying the wrong person, not getting the best job..........and conversely, we take bows when they are accepted at Yale, become Doctors or movie stars, accept the awards and succeed in making money and attaining the American Dream. It's no wonder we place the mantel of responsibility on ourselves. Not all of us of course, but those of us with a fractured view of which wasn't modeled to us by healthy parents.............what a recipe for needing to control ourselves and life.

    For me, given my history and the level of stress I've had to deal with, I see much of this as an 'inside job' now. Certainly exacerbated by my family members, but after awhile it just is who I became...................and only I can change it........holding that vigil against failure is just too is way too short............ I do a lot to create peace, calm & serenity and teach myself how to have different responses to all of it............I have the power to change that............all the blow ups around me may continue but I just decided I'm not going to react that way anymore............the toll is too great...........

    The turning point for me came one night when I attended a support group at a local hospital.........for caretakers.........I had never been before, there were probably about 20 people there, all ages............I started talking and spontaneously I began crying............not just your run of the mill crying.............sobbing..............and I couldn't stop..............I went on talking and sobbing for an hour.............when the group ended people were so compassionate, obviously I had "lost it" and they were all so sympathetic. I went out to my car and continued crying. I put my head on the steering wheel and realized for the first time in my entire life, I had just lost control of my emotions, my well put together, perfect, 'nothing leaking out of the lines' persona had just cracked. I sat in that parking lot for a very, very long time as I came to understand just how stressed I was, just how off the charts my life had become with all the self induced expectations and real life had all become too much. I was embarrassed by my "public display"................and oh so in awe of how hard it had become to just hold tightly.

    I wish I could say that the **** broke and it all changed in that moment, but that wasn't exactly the case. It's been a process of change over a long time. I made little and big changes, sought out help, attempted to scrutinize the places where I was trying so desperately to be in control of all of it.............and I am still doing that, 20 years after that event in the hospital. And, it's gotten so much better. But that was a turning point for sure. I had never lost my composure or my control like that before ...........

    We weren't designed as humans to tolerate the kind of unrelenting stress that many of us deal with. We were designed to build that adrenalin and then when the crisis subsides to go back to a state of peace. Like animals do. But humans hold onto the fear of the past and our fear of that drama returning so we stay stressed awaiting that tiger to attack. Good Lord. Throw a couple of difficult child's in the mix and holy moly, what the heck happened to serenity?

    I can only respond from my own experience and for me I've taken a hard look at that stress in my life and I've done much to bring my body, mind and spirit back into balance. Unrelenting stress can cause depression, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, lowered immune system.....on and on. What I've noticed is that as the inside of me calms down, learns about DEEP relaxation, gets to some kind of balance point, those intense emotional responses are lessened if not eliminated completely.

    For about 20 years I've been going to the same acupuncturist. She has become a friend. She always tells me that in our culture, people believe that resting, sleeping and doing nothing for awhile combats stress. However, it doesn't. If you are involved in a high stress lifestyle for whatever reason, it takes more then naps and down time to stop the body's long term reaction to stress, it takes serious training in deep relaxation which for me, was a learning experience which took some time. I had been in that high anxiety for a long time, I wasn't getting off at the next when I go for my acupuncture appointment, I can drop down into that place MOST of the time, even now, sometimes I just can't get's been a real eye opener for me. We don't even know the damage we're doing to ourselves............until often it's too late..........

    Cedar, I believe it's control. Trying to keep it all in control, although so human and so ordinary, is the very thing that creates so much stress. And, just look at all you've been through with your kids..............all these years of so much stress and so much beating yourself up to be a better parent...........when all along you did the very best you could have, if you had known better you would have done better. Isn't that all any of us can do?

    I read your posts and I see myself all over the place. It's an interesting mirror you present to me.

    I completely believe we can "learn a different emotional response." I do believe we can "do this without succumbing to the emotional thing." I believe we can respond not only appropriately, but calmly and unattached to the outcome, from our hearts, with strong boundaries and clear intent, with kindness and compassion as well as wisdom and love. I also believe that by you really seeing your own dramatic emotional response, you have the power to change that now. In understanding how those responses don't help, you can choose to respond in a totally different way.

    Through all of your trials and heartaches Cedar, your willingness to change and be open and take a different stance is admirable and courageous. It's no easy task to make these kind of shifts in our perceptions............(we humans do tend to hold on so tight)..................good job...........I really do believe you and your husband will have many more of those light and airy evenings on the patio, listening to Dean, dancing and feeling that lightness of being that letting go brings............
  5. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    It is early morning, and I am going to Watercooler to try Recovering's relaxation music that she posted for us. Before I do that though, I wanted to post that since around 4 a.m., I have been lying awake worrying about that dress. Of course, it isn't the dress. Either I am losing it altogether (oh, GREAT) or...this is what I always do. Only this time, the pattern of anxiety is over a dress. I realize the reaction is inappropriate...but I still can't seem to let it go. I am amazed that my anxiety center can't tell the difference between a dress and difficult child repeatedly narrowly escaping death.

    PTSD, for sure.

    Recovering is right.

    Too many shocks, too much horror in too short a time sets some anxiety process onto autopilot. As I was thinking about that, I realized that, as granddaughter and I have been looking at dresses online since Friday night (she is four hours away, remember), I have not practiced either karate or yoga. Nor have I meditated. I did watch Joel Osteen yesterday, but I couldn't concentrate ~ already in do or die mode over the dress thing. Would I find it, how would I get it there in time, was it the right size/color (no, on the color thing).

    And here is the thing: difficult child has the dress. As of yesterday afternoon, it was all out of my hands. husband and I had done all we could, and had done it well.

    PTSD, for sure.

    We must throw ourselves into fight or flight mode so often that it becomes an almost instantaneous and automatic response to any challenging situation. Usually though, the situation is dire enough that we attribute our emotional states to something that makes sense. But I am thinking now that this high-anxiety thing needs to be dealt with, no matter what the nature of the situation that brought it on.
    Obviously, it isn't just what happens to us when we are waiting to hear that something really bad has happened.

    This is a messed up response, an indication of traumatic damage. An anxiety response of any kind ~ sleeplessness, startle-reflex, overeating ~ has nothing to do with the seriousness of what is happening. It is hyperawareness, come of too many desperate times that things went wrong no matter what we did, no matter how we prepared, no matter how tightly we had sewn everything up.

    That being the case, our business has to be changing from sympathetic nervous system stimulation to parasympathetic. From fight or flight to eat and sleep. I suppose that is what we are trying to do when we overeat during challenging times. Pull ourselves out of fight or flight mode.

    Here is the good news, guys: Now that I know? That anxiety response is history.


    This must be why Recovering is always telling us we need to take care of ourselves. Even when we think we are okay? We aren't.

  6. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    The relaxation music Recovering posted for us in Watercooler helps me. You need to sit with it for the full eight minutes. Noticeable difference, for me.

  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar, thanks for giving the music another try, I'm glad it worked for you. As far as I'm concerned, any opportunity to gain more relaxation is a good thing!

    First of all I want to offer you this website:

    I read the book and it has good information about trauma. You may enjoy it. There are also practitioners around, trained in this method, who may help as well.

    From my understanding about the brain, when we are in continuing trauma our brains actually dig out a new neuro pathway where at the first sign of the tiniest bump, our brains leap right on into the trauma zone and there we the intensity, the heart racing drama, perhaps over relatively nothing................a whole railway has been built in our brains due to continuing and unrelenting stress. We did it. What is also true though, is that we can re-train the brain to by-pass that trauma pathway. I'm all about that new freeway!

    I loved reading your clear declaration that "Now that I know? That anxiety response is history." That is how I feel too, if I have the power to change that, I'm changing that!

    This level of stress many of us have been in is SO damaging, so debilitating, so remarkably sneaky in how it ultimately gains control of our very physiology over a long period of time and then it simply becomes who we are and how we react to life. When we're younger we can tolerate it better, but as we age, the accumulative impact of this high stress begins to take a toll. So, yes, that is definitely why I always advocate that we take care of ourselves. Some of us have absolutely no idea what that means, we've either not been nurtured in that way or we have been so far removed from self care for so long we forgot how to do it. When we're frightened for our kid's well being and in some cases, their lives, our self care is the first thing to go overboard, theirs becomes paramount. Makes sense, but it is not a healthy choice. Nor is it one that brings joy, peace, laughter, adventure, passion or beauty ...................often all of this is gone from our lives as well.

    It took me to get very, very far away from myself to begin to learn how to care for myself, so I am a huge advocate of that. And, especially if we are living in the world of gfgdom.

    I'm certainly not glad that you are going through all of this, but I am glad that you are realizing you can change it.

    I've read posts where parents who are further down the road tell us that there was a time span where they had to get off the merry-go-round of our difficult child's and begin to calm down from the high level of stress. Personally, I think it's more then time, more then waiting for the stress to leave and balance to return. For me, it's been much more active, I've made different choices and utilized new methods to bring myself to a peaceful and calm place. It didn't feel as if it was going to naturally just happen. (or maybe if I were 34 instead of 64 it would be a natural step!) It may for others who hadn't spent as much time in that high anxiety arena, but for me, it took some work.

    We can all travel down this new path of peacefulness and report on how this develops...........the calm AFTER the storm.....................yes, I like that.

  8. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Thank you, Recovering. I read the excerpt from the book, and checked out the information on the second site, as well. It is comforting to have these feelings validated, and to know there is professional help available if I cannot handle this.

    It is interesting to note that the anxiety response is wide-ranging, today. Internal talk is all about things I have failed at, been shamed by, or "should" have done or known. I mean, I'm all over the board, today. So...the underlying self-talk during times of anxiety is negative stuff from forever, one after another. This must be what really sets up the anxiety response ~ in other words, when we think we are experiencing anxiety because our children are in danger, that probably isn't why we are experiencing anxiety. Negative self-talk roars into consciousness, and THAT creates anxiety. What I am seeing is that the negative imagery changes until the anxiety-provoking impact is achieved. Again, nothing whatsoever to do with the situation at hand.

    I have nearly completed The Untethered Soul. I had decided to let a lot of old stuff go, aka the information in that book. This may have something to do with that decision.

    It certainly is a strange thing.

    I'm doing alright. I read one of MWM's posts, today. Like Recovering, she has been working out, and working very hard on stress reduction for awhile, now. For those who are interested, I will continue to post about this, and about how I feel as I go through, and try to release the anxiety-provoking material. It has been an amazingly interesting day in the sense that I am aware of the wide-ranging negative thought pattern. As though the intent is to create intense anxiety, and my own brain is going to keep at it until that state is achieved.

    Punishment? Maybe, punishing myself for the way things have turned out for difficult child? Hard to say.... Probably a punishment pattern from childhood that feels "right" if I haven't met my own goals?

    It is better to be aware. I am very surprised that this kind of thinking is what is really under the anxiety response.

    Now, what possible survival value could this dynamic have? (Could be worse. I could be like that gazelle in the link Recovering sent us when the cheetah leaps. Now, that would totally suck.)



    Anyway. I listened to Recovering's relaxation tape, again this afternoon. If you haven't taken the time to do that, give it a try. It is very helpful. Still haven't managed yoga, today. Having read MWM's post about determined stress reduction, I will be committing to yoga in the morning from here on in. Also, read that a twenty minute walk can do amazing things for our outlook and energy.

    I will report back on that, too.

    If this material helps me, I will be so happy. The energy devoted to digging up all that negative stuff and then, resisting it, must be enormous.

    I just can't imagine what purpose it could serve, for our brains to do this to us.

    What to hay?
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar I have various responses to your post.........................well, perhaps they are simply my musings ..........

    ......... your post reminded me of my old group facilitation days when I would listen to folks talk about something they felt bad about. Within a moment, they would start recalling other, old events where they messed up in the same way, or felt ashamed, or were inadequate in some similar way........I started calling it the 'dirt file' where we go to find all the old crummy things we have done or thought we did so we can add to the present bad feeling and really give it weight. It seems we all have that file, easy access to everything we ever did wrong............. It got to be a joke in the groups. You could hear it when someone began that tiny thing, out comes the dirt file......... and in a minute they were ready to stand accused of being a serial killer! After awhile we called each other out on this practice, to get ourselves aware of how prevalent it is.........once aware we do it, it's easier to begin stopping it.

    Not like I haven't done that myself. But, it is self cruelty. It is all the unexpressed real or perceived infractions which we swallowed and/or quickly pushed down so as not to feel. After awhile that stuff is like a giant beach ball which when you try to push it underneath the water, you may succeed temporarily but it will come out of that water with an incredible force. I think that's what happens in our minds. We push all this unwanted, negative stuff down, year after year, so when there is a little bit of an opening, like a drama of some sort, a crack in the veneer, that material comes shooting out like the beach ball.

    It isn't being done to us. We do it to ourselves. (obviously not everyone masters this, just those of us who have a negative self image) By our avoidance patterns, our denial of the truth, our keeping all that doesn't fit cleanly into the lines--out, by not expressing our fears, our shortcomings, our human frailties, our perceived weaknesses, disappointments, hurts, angers, sadness, all of accumulates and gains momentum and screams to get out of the well appointed container we call the Self.

    My old meditation teacher told me the mind is a wonderful servant but a cruel master. That's why meditation is valuable, it quiets the mind so you can actually hear your heart, your voice, your intuition, your creativity, your beauty, your awesome self. Yoga does that. Walking does that. Music does that. Dance, movement, laughter............prayer..........anything that quiets the mind gives us a tiny moment between thoughts or breaths.........and in that moment where peace begins........

    The rest is the dance of the crazy 'monkey mind', the unrelenting thoughts of mostly negativity. Someone calculated that we have 52,000 thoughts per day. Imagine how many of them are positive. Not too many. Most of it is us spending time beating ourselves up, wondering what kind of an idiot forgets our keys, trips, says the wrong thing, oversleeps..................good Lord..........what is YOUR self talk like?

    "Resistance is futile." (Star Trek). "What we resist, persists". It doesn't go away. A holistic Dr. I went to told me that the "body never forgets" whatever we go through is stored somewhere............think of all that is just not expressed. How we stifle our negative out of control feelings. Where do they go? They're stored in the memory. In the mind. And, in the body.

    I think when we change this kind of thinking, however we do that, we open a whole new pathway where a certain calm prevails............and in that calm, ideas spring forth, intuitive hits flourish, lightness, fun, gratitude and ease expand.

    *The other day I was ruminating about retiring and sort of resenting not being there yet. I thought what kinds of things would I be doing if I were now retired. So, on Friday, I came home early and said to SO, let's go to the ocean and watch the sunset. We did. It was so beautiful, we felt like we were given a wonderful gift of remarkable beauty. We stopped in an ocean view dive and had fish and chips. On Saturday we went to San Francisco, walked all around, had lunch, drove part of the way home and discovered this gorgeous park on the bay. We spent a few more hours there. I had decided to "act as if" I am already retired and we are already doing that kind of stuff. So, now we have this book of trails and hikes all around Northern Ca. that we intend to cross off as we do them, one by one. My whole mindset shifted into a different perception. I feel so happy about it too! I think that kind of thinking is a result of clearing out my mind of all the old debris.............and of course, detachment from my 'out there' family members. In that empty space, as I once heard someone say, "magic happens."

    This is somewhat new to me too, so as Cedar mentioned, I will report on my findings.......
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

  11. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Ha! Recovering, this is fantastic. Here on the site, we hold strong for one another through terrible extraordinary to think we might do the same for one another as we triumph and reclaim our lives, stronger and more whole than we have ever been!

    I hope you do share that process with us, Recovering.


    You are giving us a goal, an understanding of what success looks like.



    Okay, so I awakened this morning, and could tell the difference immediately. I am thinking the anxiety-provoking thoughts are decharged a little, each time we are able to sit with and acknowledge them as anxiety provoking thoughts without any real purpose...or value. Here is a secret I can only tell because this site is anonymous. My negative thoughts have to do with cowardice ~ with times I did not protect my siblings, with times I stood there and saw what I saw and heard what I heard and could do nothing to stop what was happening. That is the basic theme. Anything you would attribute to a coward, to someone who stands for nothing. Extrapolate to my own child being beat to death. (Which is what we thought was happening, this summer.)

    Step back, again.

    Cosmic purpose?

    To heal those psychic wounds I sustained as a child, I would need, truly, to revisit the trauma. Looks like I have. Not only was I experiencing the negatives...I could see their unhelpfulness, could feel the weakness, as they drained, or tried to drain, my strength. The thoughts are pointless, the bad things that created the pattern in the first place should never have happened, to anyone.

    So, in a way, I have been given, and have been able to see, accept, and receive...a gift.

  12. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Okay. The difference between that mom who is able to function, whatever is happening to her child, and that mom who, like me, zooms into fight or flight when the phone rings late at, I don't think that is what I mean to say. What I mean to say is that there is no mom who could go through what we go through, here on the site, for the years we go through it, and not have the anxiety of dealing with an at-risk child key her own traumatic woundings.

    There is nothing the matter with us. (With me.) We are battle-fatigued, as anyone who does battle over years would be.

    We have been under such intense stress, for so long a time, that all the stress responses must be stored in the same place. Old anxiety over difficult child comes up attached to other old traumas. Like pulling an old fishing line out of the water. There will be things tied to it, or growing on it, or growing on the things that were tied to it ~ but they all come front and center when you pull the line out of the water, looking for solutions to the current crisis. It isn't that our brains are showing us something we need to cope with the current, anxiety-producing situation. Our brains are pulling out all the stops, giving us everything we have, in the hope (or the expectation) that there will be something, there on that fishing line, that applies to the current situation. Until we go through the anxiety, discarding whatever happened then as a potential solution for the current problem, the anxious feelings are as intense as they were when the initial trauma happened.

    If the event were not traumatic, had not been anxiety-producing, it would not have been stored on that fishing line.

    So, that imagery could explain the wide-ranging nature of the negative imagery and self-talk happening yesterday. Interesting too, that my determined intent to 1) survive it 2) survive it in a healthy way (there is a difference) enabled me to see what was happening for what it was. I still experienced the feelings...but I was present enough TO experience the feelings. I was present enough to experience the negative feelings as echoes of something over and done, rather than as overwhelming, real-time, present moment anxiety. (Really, it was the craziest thing, the way the negative imagery was all over the board. When I examine past anxiety events, I realize I heard/saw all that stuff then, too. Response at that time was "Not now. Got to deal with this, got to save difficult child.")

    And that kind of thinking ups the ante, and fires those desperate, all over the place responses we call nervous breakdowns.

    Interesting. I love my brain and the way it works, risking everything, tearing off all the old blinders, so I can have access to everything I know, to help my child. Nothing very cowardly in that now, is there. I do get it that a little kid can no more stop an adult abusing a sibling than she could stop a tidal wave from sweeping everything that mattered away. Intellectually, I get it. Nonetheless, we learn what we learn, from such situations. And this cannot be undone. It can only be accepted, and the lesson learned then, retaught.

    I hope this means that, as I become familiar with feeling the feelings behind these old traumas without becoming overwhelmed and creating new, present-day overwhelming anxiety, I will be able to see what is there without condemning myself, without feeling hopeless, without feeling helpless to cope with the danger my child is in. At bottom, the anxiety response seems to have to do with old trauma, keyed by present day certainty that, just as I could do nothing for my siblings (or myself), I will be unable to protect or change anything, for my child.

    Or myself ~ which keys into another whole "This is how someone ~ wrongly, as it turns out ~ taught me I can be treated." fishing line.

    "Good. Bring it on." said Cedar, whistling past the scary things in the dark. :O)

    So, this is getting to be more like therapy than helping one another cope with at-risk kids. Nonetheless, this is what happened to me, as I coped with at-risk kids for such a long time. Initially, I remember feeling that I could deal with it. It did take years before I lost faith in my ability to save either child. And it took more years to learn the true nature of the problem. As it turns out, our son hadn't fallen prey to whatever I did to our daughter, our son got caught in addiction. And our daughter, our sweet, little girl...turns out to have been mentally ill for such a long time.

    Mental illness runs in my family too, Recovering.

    So, there you have it. When we realized the nature of difficult child daughter's problem...I would have given almost anything to make it something I did, something I could change, for her.

    I can't change this.

    I was reading a post this morning...I think it was Dancerat's. She was talking (or someone was talking) about marijuana and lack of ambition, lack of clarity. And though I always report that formerly addicted difficult child son is doing well, is pulling himself out of that behind-all-his-friends place where his addiction took him...difficult child son still uses marijuana, daily. And he just isn't picking up the way he should have done, by now. There may be people who can use marijuana daily and still function. I don't know about marijuana, so much. But what I would say now, having read that post this morning, is that any mind-altering substance (including alcohol) steals the edge we need to triumph in the world. Once we are older, once we have accomplished whatever we accomplish, it doesn't matter so much. It is our time to play, and explore, and be curious about everything, again. But when we are young, we should stay away from anything like that.

    So, that's what I have to say, this morning.

    Each of us, though we may feel like emotional wrecks, though we may feel we aren't strong enough, or bright enough, or kind enough, or whatever enough it is, to help our children be who they were meant to be in our dreams for them...each of us is doing amazingly, superhumanly, well. Unhealed trauma is nothing to fool around with. Out of desperation to help our children, out of desperation, as Signorina wrote, to steer our younger children toward the success we dreamed of for all our children, we are pulling out all the stops built in to protect us from our own traumatic woundings. And, though the woundings will be different for each of us, we all have those times when we couldn't prevent something bad happening, to ourselves or to someone we love. Dark, painful places where the best we can hope for is silence, is never to go there, to be that person it was happening to, again.

    But we do go there, for the sakes of our children.

    As Recovering is sharing with and teaching us, there is a healthy way to do what we cannot escape doing. Part of that process is acknowledging what is happening, acknowledging the root of our anxiety. The other, and more important piece, is trying to stand in a place of strength, as we respond to the overwhelming feelings that are called as we pull out all the stops looking for a way to save our children, or to prevent damage to our easy child kids. Recovering and MWM are right. Just taking those actions which indicate we intend to survive this well keys a different feeling, changes our internal perceptions of who we are and what we deserve and whether we will succeed.

    It has to do with taking hold of the tools that will get us through unremitting, unimaginable pain.

    In our hearts, we have to claim the right to our own lives, right in the faces of those old, traumatic memories drawn out of the water in our desperate searches for anything, anything at all, that might help us turn things around, for our kids.

    Well, that's what it looks like this morning, anyway.

  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I understand. I'm taking in all of the responses, and hoping that some of it will sink in for me, too.
  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar, your words seem more compassionate and kind towards yourself. This is good.

    I think those of us with traumatic memories have that tendency to be unkind to makes me sad for all of us........

    I recall a therapist telling me that I had "survivor guilt" where my siblings were concerned. Like you. I used to have a recurring dream for many years about my younger brother, who turned out to be schizophrenic............he was stuck in a tiny house in a huge wheat field............I could see the tiny house and I just kept frantically running towards it, crying, trying to get to him..............but I never got any closer...........I would just spend what felt like the whole night running as fast as I could, so desperate to "save" him..........and I never got there. That pretty much sums up how I felt.....a lot. Sums up a lot of my life too. It's pretty weighty to carry that responsibility as a little kid. I don't have that dream anymore. I think 2 1/2 decades of therapy finally healed that guilt.

    Guilt requires punishment. I'm happy to have stopped punishing myself.

    You know, one positive way to look at this Cedar is that all of these old traumas have been initiated by your daughter's present's all come out now for you to do whatever you need to do to release it experience and understanding is that is how healing works, the stuff comes up when we're ready and then we can find a way to let it go..............

    At times that old "stuff" is stronger then we are, but, at some point, I think we recognize that we are strong enough to face our own demons. My own fears about walking through that were essentially unfounded................walking through it has nothing over living with it...................and once it is dealt with, expressed, addressed, looked at and ultimately let go of............we are then free..........

    In these last two years my daughter forced many issues..........brought to the fore my own "stuff" and my unwillingness/willingness to face it..........but there it was.............unearthed now, so quite a bit more difficult to squash down..............

    I was reading one of Witz's posts about crying earlier...........I thought of so many times in the last couple of years where I just let myself let it out, all those held in tears.............there has been something profoundly cathartic in these mini if I was releasing much of my own hurts, my own sorrows, separate from difficult child, but similar in that I was responding in ways I had as a child but this time I was safe enough to express those feelings..................and boy oh boy did I...............and now, over here at this point in time, I'm so glad I's freed me of much of that early trauma I didn't even know was still there. As that Dr. told me, the body never was stored in there waiting for me to feel safe enough to let it go................

    Mental illness has many casualties Cedar, not just our daughters, our parents and our siblings............but us entire life has been colored by it, marked by it put me on a path I never would have been on. My sister, (bi-polar/Aspergers) created a piece of art was all black and grey, abstract..........horrid to look at...........scary even..............dark and intense.........all the color mushed together..............we were hanging it for an art was the first time I had seen that piece. As I was looking at it, I said, "it reminds me of our childhood." She stopped what she was doing, stared at me and said, "it's the house we grew up in." Oh my.

    But right now, it feels as if that is all in the past. Really. I wanted it to stay in the past, but (I believe) until those traumas are liberated from us, we are not liberated.

    I know how much suffering there is for us parents, I know it in my heart and I read it here is unfathomable. You add the early trauma and it can overtake us. I had an early commitment to get through all of this "stuff" and I've been at that task for 40 years............and you know what? Now I'm done. Life is short. I don't want to spend it suffering over anything I have no control over anyway. I refuse to allow my past to rule my present. If I had to stand on my head and spit wooden nickels then I did that. But now? No. I am going to put it all behind me, if that includes my suffering over my daughter's choices then I will learn how to do it. I am learning. I have learned. Something, a new something has it detachment? I don't know. I am just thinking less and less and...........less.........of anything or anyone I can't control............I am holding on to my moments as if they mean more then time spent ruminating over things I can't change...........because they do..............
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thinking of you Cedar.............hoping you are faring well...............sending good thoughts..........
  16. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I'm doing so much better, Recovering. Thank you, to Recovering, and to everyone who read or responded. I like to know that you are out there, real in the world somewhere.


    We are heading South this morning. I will be back online Sunday or Monday.

  17. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I have felt PTSD feelings. There was a period of time, the phone would ring, and I would scream. And to this day, I often don't hear the house phone even if I am standing right next to it. This is because we got sooo many BAD news phone calls.

    Our adult difficult child still causes upheaval, but we try to minimize it as much as possible. It's harder, trickier and more emotionally tugging when there is a grandchild in the picture. (((Hugs))))

    First thing I thought of about the Homecoming dress was to find a mutual store for teens or a nice dept store, both in your area and hers, and send her a gift certificate after talking with her on the phone and making sure she could get a ride from a responsible person to the store.

    Or have her pick one on-line and you simply pay for it and have it sent right to her. Kids are fantastic on-line. (It sounds like you personally went shopping for the dress, which had to expend a loooooooot of energy)

    Bottom line....minimize your work, effort, stress.

    BUT...she's still young at 14 and maybe that just isn't do-able right now. But something to consider for the future as you will need to conserve your energy, understanding that there are certain things you will want to still be available for to help. Your granddaughter will need skills to circumvent having a
    difficult child mom and those extra skills + extra help from her loving grandmother will be the ticket to a successful and happy life.

    pS. Just found that relaxation music post...NICE!
    Lasted edited by : Oct 14, 2013
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar, hope you are well and warmer in the south!
  19. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    That imagery is beautiful, Recovering! And it is true ~ in a storm, all the parts of us that were constructed to enable us to continue to function through repeated traumatic events shatter and fall apart. We are left, then, with who we really are. It feels pretty miserable, pretty scary, to be naked like that. But as we survive it, we learn not only that we are somehow stronger than we knew ourselves to be, but that we must always have been stronger than we had been taught to believe we were. With those first questions and realizations, ALL the old, negative teachings are called into question. We learn our own truths, and we learn too, that the only truth that matters is the one we have explored and validated for ourselves.

    And the world becomes a very different place.

    In a way, where I seem to be heading now is a lot like what Brene Brown has to say about vulnerability. Risk and uncertainty become desirable to us, because that is where we find true things. We learn to sit with the discomfort of not knowing. And in that vulnerability, a whole different world, filled with light and color and motion comes to be.

    I feel so happy that you posted this for me, Recovering.

  20. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    For those who have been following my process? Another breakthrough this morning, in responding to District's post. So, it looks like that, once we have decided to reclaim ourselves, we will become aware of all kinds of things to help us with that process.

    A huge part of receiving, or of granting myself, permission to go through this, has been the Joel Osteen materials. Permission is given there to accept that wonderful things are happening, right now...and that we are meant to heal, are meant to be strong and healthy and very, very happy, and that there is nothing more we need to do. That what is happening is happening because it is right and good for it to happen, now.

    Divinely ordained.


    Very helpful, to me.

    It's really quite extraordinary, too see where I've been. I am coming away with such compassion for difficult child. I think I was always afraid to look too closely, for fear that it would change the way I feel about difficult child. That is not what is happening. What I think will happen, as I let go of these old, harmful questions and misunderstandings, is that I will be there for her in a way which was, literally, impossible, before.