On Infertility

"Infertility was shaming for me because it was a lonely feeling.  I felt as if no one else could understand my pain, especially all those around me with children.  You feel as if something is wrong with you or that you are somehow being punished for something you've done wrong.  You wonder in the back of your mind if this is somehow the 'plan' because you are unfit to be a mother." From the book "I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn't)" by Brene Brown

As I read this excerpt I immediately went back to that place of hurt and loneliness during my years of struggling with infertility.  Those were some pretty dark days for me.  I wanted to be able to struggle well, find joy in my circumstances and "move on."  But the truth was I wasn't able do any of those things.  I was stuck in my grief, angry at my circumstances and my struggle was less than graceful.  Now looking back I recognize that was all part of the process of grief. I was "OK" with where I was in my struggle.  Any heartache that we go through is going to be messy, awkward and not pretty.  I wanted to put on a facade that I had it all together. I feared that if people saw under that guise they may see that "I'm not enough" or "I don't measure up."  I wish that I had given myself grace to take as long as I needed in my process and allowed myself to be awkward in that journey. I wish that I allowed myself to opt out of baby showers, births and Mother's day celebrations. 

Along with helping clients process their loss I tell them these things:

  1. Give yourself time to grieve and process your loss.  You have the right to take as long as you need.
  2. Allow yourself to have a new normal.  For others, normal may be going to baby showers.  For you it may be skipping them and sending a gift or doing something that nurtures you and reminds you that you matter. 
  3. Find your community of support.  Are there others who are struggling with infertility that you can meet with?  They will understand your hurt, sadness and loneliness.  Meet or call them when you are under the weight of overwhelming feelings.  Don't isolate yourself! 
  4. Make sure you are taking care of and nurturing yourself.  Be healthy in your eating habits and exercise.  Take care of yourself spiritually and write a "Thankful List". Meet with others who support and encourage you and hold you accountable.

I affirm you and support you in your journey.  You are not alone.

 

 

 

 

Attachment in Parenting

Parenting an adopted child

As we adopted out first two kids, I was ready to apply the things I’d learned from parenting books and from my own growing up.  However, my kids didn’t fall into this line of parenting. They fought us on every boundary, rule and ideal.  As our kids grew so did our struggles.  We were at the end of our options and books on parenting when a friend introduced us to the Tapestry Ministry that works with adoptive families.  There we learned that many adoptive kids need extra help in attaching in relationships and our parenting style wasn’t nurturing that relationship into a secure attachment for them.

It’s not about them, It’s about you.

When my husband and I started going to the Tapestry Ministry for adoptive families, the leaders told us, “I’ts not about them as much as it’s about you.”  My husband and I laughed to ourselves and gave each other the knowing eye.  We wanted to say “No, its really about them.  Let me tell you some of the things going on in our home.” 

We met with a counselor who also works with adoptive families and this was the first time we were introduced to attachment styles.  We learned that how we attached to our parents would be how we attach to our children.  We both thought that we were fairly securely attached to our parents only to find out we weren’t.  We both had insecure attachments.  We discovered that experts are finding that we can move from an insecure attachment to a secure attachment with help. 

So now we know, it IS about us.  We continue to work on our relationship skills with each other and our kids and we continue to work toward secure attachments in our family.

Building a plane while flying

Many days it feels like we are building a plane as we are flying it.  We are trying to build secure attachments with our kids as we are learning what that looks like.  At first I felt shame and sadness for the things I didn't do right or give to my children.  But as I continued to grow healthier in my own attachment I learned that my kids were not only now receiving the things they needed but they were also learning some other things from me as well.  They were learning that it's never too late to change, life is about continuing to grow in our journey.  They learned that re-dos and imperfection are okay.  They were seeing humility as I was willing to recognize that I'm not perfect and forgiveness as I went back in situations to apologize.  These benefits go above and beyond what I imagined when I began searching for parenting help so many years ago and it continues to grow as I grow.

Are You Stuck?

I recently went to a seminar on how to get unstuck when I am stuck in my circumstance.   I learned that I get stuck when I get "hooked" by an emotion. Once hooked my emotional brain takes over and I go into a Fight/Fright or Flight state and I act out of my wounded and adapted states. 

This is what that looks like for me.  My husband recently shared some news with me about something that would affect my life.  I immediately felt anger and hurt.  The old story that plays out for me is one of rejection and dismissal. Fear that my needs won't be met.  My Flight/Fright state takes over and I act and think from my wounded and adapted state ("It's over ... this is it... divorce is the only answer") and I shut down emotionally.  When I act out of my wounded state I don't make healthy decisions and my options are narrowed down.  Usually things become black and white, right or wrong.  

So what does getting unstuck look like?  Ignoring the issue wasn't working because the problem remained even though I gave it a lot of time to resolve on it's own.  I also knew that if buried this would come back and most likely not at a time I chose. I spent an enormous amount of energy thinking about it and it took a massive amount of energy trying to focus on my normal routines and not my circumstance.  I knew from my recovery that leaning into my emotions, and staying in my adult self to confront and face what I wanted to run from was what I needed to do.  How my husband responds is out of my control but I do get to make more choices based on how he responds.  

Recovery isn't always about getting your desired results in the end.  It's about continuing to move toward your adult self, being authentic and having integrity. Brene Brown states, "Integrity is choosing courage over comfort.  It's choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy.  It's choosing to practice your values rather than simply professing them."

Five Strategies to Help You Move Forward in Your Recovery - Meg Hamilton

Affirmations

One of the things that has made the biggest impact on me in my recovery is using affirmations.   I have spent a lifetime telling myself, “I’m not worth it, I’m not enough”, that message has become hardwired in my brain.   Nuero Scientists have learned that we can re-wire or over-ride what’s been wired.  So, if I tell myself “I am worth it” I can re-wire my brain and that becomes my new go to thought about myself.

The other day I was in traffic and someone honked their car horn.  I thought nothing of it.  Then it hit me, “hey, I thought nothing of that.”  That was growth for me because in the past every car honk was intended for me.  In my thinking, “You are a mistake, you can’t do anything right” I would draw the conclusion that somehow, I had done something wrong or offended someone.  Since the time I left the Meadows 6 years ago I have been” telling myself, “I have the right to make mistakes” and “I have worth and value” so in that situation my brain was able to go to my new “go to” thought about myself.

One of the first thing I learned at the Meadows was that I have value and worth.  To borrow one of their analogies, they said that just like a dollar bill was given value when made I was born with value.  No matter what happened to that dollar bill, whether it was torn, trample on, muddied and un-recognizable it was still worth a dollar.  It’s the same with me.  No matter what I have been through or choices that I have made I still have that same value and worth I was born with.  There is nothing I did to earn it and nothing I can do to lose it.

I love word pictures because it’s a quick way for me to remind myself when I am feeling less than …… I can remember “dollar bill” … I have worth and value.  I am enough.

I looked in the Thesaurus under affirmations and I found these synonyms;

Assertion, Confirmation, Affidavit, Certification, Declaration, Oath, Okay, 

Pronouncement, Statement

These words stood out to me because in light of affirmation, they have such conviction and certainty.  The definition of the word, Affirm, is “to declare the truth of something”. “I am stating that this is true about me.”  These words sound like someone who is convicted, certain and convinced.  If we commit to telling ourselves what is true about us we will be as convinced, convicted and certain of the truth about ourselves as we have been about the lies, that we are flawed, a mistake or don’t matter.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Understanding how your past affects your present

As a Life Coach, I have a client I’ll call her Jane. I’ve asked her for permission to share this story. Jane stated once that she was sad and discouraged because other students were going through struggles in school, like her, but they didn’t seem to be affected by their struggles as much as she was.  This High schooler came from severe neglect in her home. Her Dad had taken his own life when she was 4 and Mom was passed out from drinking when she came home from school each day.  Jane didn’t have a mom and dad to help her to learn how to walk through difficult times or help her learn to regulate self or who to ask for help.  It made sense that she would deal with things differently than others. 

We need to “understand” our past trauma. Understand how your trauma affects your thinking and do not dismiss the impact that it has had and does have on you. Whether it’s big trauma, such as sexual abuse or lots of little trauma’s, like a critical parent, these things have affected your thinking.  Our responses to our trauma were hardwired into our brains. This was for our protection. However, sometimes our body still goes back into fight, flight or freeze and we don’t why.  This may lead us to feeling flawed.  “Why am I reacting this way, no one else seems to”?

Now Going back to my client, Jane needed to understand the role her trauma played in her perspective and response in life, in order to give herself grace and be patient with herself.  She wasn’t less than, a mistake, an oddity but rather she had something that her friends didn’t have. Now that she recognizes what that is about she doesn’t need to live in fear of it but can make choices based on it. 

So, when you find that you are beating yourself up over something. Take some time and think about it.  Ask yourself:

Where have I seen this before?

What am I feeling right now?

Am I feeling shame and where is that coming from?

Asking myself these questions has helped me to be able to work through situations quicker as I see patterns and I have learned that play out for me based on my past.  Once I pinpoint the lie I tell myself truth about me.

Journal about it:

You may not have an answer to the questions above, but journaling may open up some understanding for you. 

You can share it with your therapist and get his or her insight

You can come back to it later and see patterns

Journaling was instrumental to me in learning what I was feeling.  I had shut down my feelings, so I couldn’t have told you what I was feeling when I was at the Meadows.  But, I started with writing down memories.  Then I went back and assigned feelings to the memories. As I journaled and practiced the few feelings I could tap into then I could then go back to those same memories and feel appropriate feelings for them.  That’s when I could really begin healing from my past.

And of course take it to your counselor.  He or she can help you recognize past trauma and walk through it.

Understanding how your trauma impacts you will help you to put it in perspective and It becomes more manageable.

Look for and Celebrate your successes

Recently my husband and I went to a play.  While he was getting tickets, I asked the doorman where the bathrooms were.  In his thick accent he stated that “they’re on all floors.”  I have a hearing loss and processing disorder so what I heard was “There are no Floors”.  I was trying to make sense of this and he continued to tell me the same thing getting increasingly irritated.  When I finally understood he gave me a look that I read as “There is something wrong with you. You are a flawed.”  I felt shame and anger as I walked away. By the time we’d been to the bathrooms and took our seats I was very aware that my anger was with myself.  “Why didn’t I tell him that I had a hearing issue?” Well, my past had come forward.  I lost my voice as a child and certain situations triggered it. I already had shame over my hearing loss and in that moment that little girl was scared and didn’t know how to stand up for herself.

Later, I shared this story and my discouragement over knowing what to do but not doing it with my husband.   Then it hit me that I WAS able to recognize who I was angry with and why.  I HAD given myself grace and affirmations afterwards.  Not only that but since I was able to processes these things, I could enjoy the play without beating myself up over it all night.  That was a Success! 

 We are going to experience setbacks.  Be sure to celebrate the successes. Even in the midst of your setback there is probably something that you can celebrate. 

Maybe You recognized your pattern sooner. Maybe you were able to stop the lie and affirm yourself afterwards, even days afterwards (it’s never too late.)

Looking for and Seeing accomplishments will help you to see growth and that you are moving forward. 

The Importance of Community

I heard that there was a study done on a college campus that had enlisted students to experience a random electrical shock.  Their heart rate was measured with each shock.  Then they were allowed to have a significant other sit beside them or hold their hand.  They again received several random shocks their heart rate was measured again.  What was found is that when the volunteer was alone his heart rate was much higher than when with someone close to him. 

What researchers are finding is that when we are not connected with others if affects our health as well as when we empathize with others we experience a response similar to a pain response.  Its as if we were experiencing it together.

I think the implication is clear on how important it is to have others around us to support us in this tough journey.

We are born wired with the need for relationship.  Out of our trauma comes mal-adaptive tools that keep us from having healthy relationships with others. However, we still have a need for closeness and connection. 

Finding a community that speaks the language of recovery is important.  It is there that you will find others who give you encouragement, the feeling that you are not alone, feedback into your life of successes and things you need to work on.  Others to help mirror your worth and value.

When we are vulnerable about our past and present we find there are others like us. We find people who care.  We create connection. We are stronger together than apart.

In the book of Ecclesiastes it says…

“Two are better than one …. If either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  Or if two lie down together they keep warm but how can one be warm alone?  And if someone can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily torn apart.”  Eccl Chpt 4

This is a great picture of the strength of community.

Read or Listen to Audio Books or Podcasts About Co-dependency and Recovery

I was fortunate when I returned from the Meadows to have a counselor who was steeped in recovery.  She encouraged me to read books about co-dependency.  I was so hungry to understand it and of course in my co-dependency “wanted to do recovery right” that I devoured books she recommended.  This was important to my growth because it continued to connect the dots for me and help me understand my thinking and behaviors.  Reading these books validated me, helped me release some of my toxic shame and helped me to feel normal. Not only that but reading material about my co-dependency kept me thinking on it.  If I’m not active in my recovery, then I find myself falling back into old thinking and actions. 

The books I have read range from recognizing co-dependency and helpful “how to’s” to learning about who I am and being ok with it.  One of my favorite books I read wasn’t even about co-dependency, but it was just as important in my growth.  As a co-dependent I lost my identity and took on who I thought I should be.  So, it was important for me to discover who I really am. The book, “Quiet” helped me to do this. I’ve never felt ok with being an introvert, but this book gave me permission to be “quiet” and helped me to feel comfortable in my own skin.

I have a great love for science so some of the books I’ve read like “The Body Keeps the Score”, “Scared Sick” and the “Anatomy of the Soul” have to do with the neuro science behind how and why our past trauma affects us the way it does.  And then, how we can repair the damage that’s been done.

There is so much information out there that we have access to.  Books and media are a great way to build upon what you have learned.

These are just a few strategies to help you move forward in your recovery. There are so many others that I haven’t touched on such as mindfulness and self-care. 

 Doing just one of them is great, however, the more you invest in your recovery the stronger and healthier you become.  I encourage you to find several things that you can do to help balance out your recovery process and do them every day.

Robert Collier says….

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.  Robert Collier

By Meg Hamilton, Advanced Certified Life Coach

 

 

 

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do

By Amy Morin, Forbes Contributor

Shutterstock

Raising mentally strong kids who are equipped to take on real-world challenges requires parents to give up the unhealthy — yet popular — parenting practices that are robbing kids of mental strength.

Of course, helping kids build mental muscle isn’t easy — it requires parents to be mentally strong as well. Watching kids struggle, pushing them to face their fears, and holding them accountable for their mistakes is tough. But those are the types of experiences kids need to reach their greatest potential.

Parents who train their children’s brains for a life of meaning, happiness, and success, avoid these 13 things:

1. They Don’t Condone A Victim Mentality

Getting cut from the soccer team or failing a class doesn’t make your child a victim. Rejection, failure, and unfairness are part of life. Rather than allow kids to host pity parties or exaggerate their misfortune, mentally strong parents encourage their children to turn their struggles into strength. They help them identify ways in which they can take positive action, despite their circumstances.

2. They Don’t Parent Out Of Guilt

Guilty feelings can lead to a long list of unhealthy parenting strategies — like giving in to your child after you’ve said no or overindulging your child on the holidays. Mentallystrong parents know that although guilt is uncomfortable, it’s tolerable. They refuse to let their guilty feelings get in the way of making wise choices.

3. They Don’t Make Their Child The Center Of The Universe

It can be tempting to make your life revolve around your child. But kids who think they’re the center of the universe grow up to be self-absorbed and entitled. Mentallystrong parents teach their kids to focus on what they have to offer the world — rather than what they’re owed.

4. They Don’t Allow Fear To Dictate Their Choices

Keeping your child inside a protective bubble could spare you a lot of anxiety. But keeping kids too safe stunts their development. Mentally strong parents view themselves as guides, not protectors. They allow their kids to go out into the world and experience life, even when it’s scary to let go.

5. They Don’t Give Their Child Power Over Them

Kids who dictate what the family is going to eat for dinner, or those who orchestrate how to spend their weekends, have too much power.  Becoming more like an equal — or even the boss — isn’t healthy for kids. Mentally strong parents empower kids to make appropriate choices while maintaining a clear hierarchy.

6. They Don’t Expect Perfection

High expectations are healthy, but expecting too much from kids will backfire. Mentallystrong parents recognize that their kids are not going to excel at everything they do. Rather than push their kids to be better than everyone else, they focus on helping them become the best versions of themselves.

7. They Don’t Let Their Child Avoid Responsibility

You won’t catch a mentally strong parent saying things like, “I don’t want to burden my kids with chores. Kids should just be kids.” They expect children to pitch in and learn the skills they need to become responsible citizens. They proactively teach their kids to take responsibility for their choices and they assign them age-appropriate duties.

8. They Don’t Shield Their Child From Pain

It’s tough to watch kids struggle with hurt feelings or anxiety. But, kids need practice and first-hand experience tolerating discomfort. Mentally strong parents provide their kids with the support and help they need coping with pain so their kids can gain confidence in their ability to deal with whatever hardships life throws their way.

9. They Don’t Feel Responsible For Their Child’s Emotions

It can be tempting to cheer your kids up when they’re sad or calm them down when they’re angry. But, regulating your kids’ emotions for them prevents them from gaining social and emotional skills. Mentally strong parents teach their children how to be responsible for their own emotions so they don’t depend on others to do it for them.

10. They Don’t Prevent Their Child From Making Mistakes

Whether your child gets a few questions wrong on his math homework or he forgets to pack his cleats for soccer practice, mistakes can be life’s greatest teacher. Mentallystrong parents let their kids mess up — and they allow them to face the natural consequences of their actions.

11. They Don’t Confuse Discipline With Punishment

Punishment is about making kids suffer for their wrongdoing. Discipline is about teaching them how to do better in the future. And while mentally strong parents do give out consequences, their ultimate goal is to teach kids to develop the self-discipline they’ll need to make better choices down the road.

12. They Don’t Take Shortcuts To Avoid Discomfort

Giving in when a child whines or doing your kids’ chores for them, is fast and easy. But, those shortcuts teach kids unhealthy habits. It takes mental strength to tolerate discomfort and avoid those tempting shortcuts.

13. They Don’t Lose Sight Of Their Values

In today’s fast-paced world it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day business of homework, chores, and sports practices. Those hectic schedules — combined with the pressure to look like parent of the year on social media —cause many people to lose sight of what’s really important in life. Mentally strong parents know their values and they ensure their family lives according to them.

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do.   Source

Six Freedoms from Birth

We are born with six freedoms:

  1. I have the freedom to see what I see.

  2. I have the freedom to feel what I feel.

  3. I have the freedom to need what I need.

  4. I have the freedom to talk about my heart’s experience.

  5. I have the freedom to trust my heart with others.

  6. I have the freedom to imagine myself living fully.

    These freedoms are bestowed upon us by creation through our Creator. These freedoms are foundational matters as to how we are created. They need to be used to see who we are made to be and do what we are made to do, so we can live the lives we are created to have.

    These gifts of birth have led us to participate in epic creative struggles with those forces that would stifle freedom, creation, and the Creator. The freedoms occur as an inborn gift, an inheritance of birth.

    Our own personal struggle is being willing to continue to live and grow through the freedoms. This growth is difficult because we struggle against dynamic pressures that work to control and stifle what God gave us. We are often raised to live in denial about these freedoms—to deny what we see, what we feel, what we need, to deny the heart’s experience, trust, and imagination.

    If very important people around us disapprove of these freedoms, we are groomed to find approval by denying the truths of our own birth. We give up freedom for approval. In so doing, we give up our selves, creativity, and the Creator who shaped us to be able to live in truthful, genuine, and enriching relationship.

    To risk trusting the God who made us over the people who can disapprove of us is often frightening. This fear runs deep because the need for approval has its inception in the need to loved and connected. However, we have to face and feel something painful. If approval requires that we give up who we are created to be, creativity, and the one who created us, we have not found authentic care. We have found a long process of enslavement, one in which we turn over our identities to others who care more for power than they care for us.

    The only way to change the dynamic is to reclaim freedom—not as rebellion as much as a simple return to how we are created. I recommend three books to assist us in returning: 1. The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living, 2. Needs of the Heart, 3. Keeping Heart.  These three books are about returning to how we are created, being who we are made to be, doing what we are made to do, and having what we are made to have. Freedom is ours, given by God.

Chip Dodd

How to "Be with" our children

 

https://vimeo.com/145329119

 

I will be honest—I am a recovering Dismissive person. So what does that mean? My shark music tends to ramp up when there is an emotional need that enters my inner circle unexpectedly, uninvited, or feels unknown to me (coming back into my circle). . .it is worse when I’m tired, overworked, or have failed to remain mindful in a situation (i.e. when my youngest comes to me in tears after he fell off his bike—rather than brush him off by merely glancing at his hurt arm, I can choose to acknowledge his hurt and embarrassed feelings AND sit with his emotions without becoming rattled myself so I can help him make sense of what happened—that attuned parent). These patterns were intrinsically woven from my early and complex beginnings which taught me (pre-verbally) that big emotions are scary and dangerous—so I need to dampen the discomfort quickly so it will not become overwhelming and dismiss the feeling.

More preoccupied adults have learned that it feels more dangerous when emotions are distant because emotional reactivity was the “litmus” test to determine if their needs would be met. If their parent was emotionally engaged and then “gone,” it became unpredictable and frightening for an individual to know if or when they would return. Thus, in adulthood, when their children or loved ones move away from them emotionally, their shark music goes off and they may feel the deep need to draw them back in to their circle.

Securely grounded, or earned secure, individuals are aware and intentional regarding their emotional needs. They are not afraid to ask for help and welcome others in and out of their circles fluidly. They delight in their children and loved ones explore. They tend to be more aware of when they are emotionally “triggered” and work to intentionally make changes. Though, individuals may have had a more difficult past history, they have some intentional work to make sense of their past. They are able to coherently discuss positive and negative aspects of their histories without dampening emotions, pretending it never happened, blaming others, or launching into anger. . .they are able to own and “sit with” their emotions wholeheartedly—and see others perspectives more compassionately. It frees them to really “see” another and not let their junk get in the way. . .and by the way, that is hard to do. This must become habitual.

None of these patterns are binary—such as good or bad. They are downloaded before we had words. We move in and out of these in different relationships and circumstances. When you are aware of your universal “go to” response when you are stressed, tired, or triggered, it builds a bridge for change and awareness. Kids intrinsically know if their parents can “hold” their big feelings, particularly sadness and grief. When parents put words with their feelings, they can more genuinely navigate those spaces with their child(ren).

When you become more aware of those reactions, you can become more emotionally present and recognize your shark music for what it is. . .just shark music that cannot hurt you. When we become aware of our shark music, we can become more aware of when this plays in the background and intentionally do something different to remain more attuned, present, and hopeful with our loved ones. It is not about perfection, but awareness. And that introspection is not easy work for anyone—including myself.

Mary Main, Ph.D. has repeatedly shared this —“Without awareness there can be no healing.” We cannot heal what we refuse to reflect upon or acknowledge. We cannot bring others into a deeper sense of healing if we fail to do continual introspective and hard work ourselves. Children and adults who have been impacted by early trauma, abandonment, and multiple losses through divorce, foster care, domestic violence, adoption, deathof loved ones, abuse/neglect, and much more need those in their lives to do their work, too. Many times people enter counseling due to those closest to them who refuse self-reflection—that is the heart of attunement and safety or not.

Some questions to consider in your own reflection:

1.      When my loved one or child does ____________, I tend to react this way ______________. I wonder where that reaction came from? Where did I learn that?

2.      When I was emotionally upset as a child, what did I do?

3.      How was grief and loss approached in my family? Who got privilege to express emotion?

4.      Where in my body do I feel the most stress? When does that happen? (becoming aware of body response is a first step)

5.      What feelings can I name today? Which ones are more uncomfortable to me? (Adults must recognize their feelings before kids can).

Working towards integration and healing is a lifelong journey, but I’m thankful each of you are on that path. I’m thankful that through Christ’s grace-filled heart that I’m renewed daily—and a cure is not singularly earthly, but heavenly and redemptive. With every mistake, and we all make those daily, with awareness and humility we can acknowledge the shark music and repair when we need by God’s grace and power to meet us where we are at—just as He meets each child. It is good to know that we are all along on this journey together—and that not one person has this down perfectly:

“There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands fully.” –Romans 3:10

I encourage parents to stop and give their kids nurture every day as a ritual. . .Deb Wesselman, LCSW, shared this approach—10-20-10. These are simple connection techniques that are not meant to be withheld as punishment. This is ritual regardless of the day. It helps ground you and your child together. . .try this with your loved one, too. This is about “being with” and “noticing.” Ithits the deep primal brain and activates the attachment system to help rewire experiences. It is grace embodied.

10-minutes of connection in the AM—from brushing hair or teeth together, rubbing backs, waking up a child with a song, something soothing and simple. . .not a lot of words, just learning to be together and notice each other in a loving, healthy way

20-minutes after school or work—no discussion of homework or school, but eat a snack with your child, draw together, play a game, go for a walk—this is about regulation and connection so a child can reconnect with you after a long day—and then jump into dinner or homework

10-minutes at night—lotioning, sing to your child, read a book, tuck in, weather maps on their backs, just snuggle

If you are uncomfortable, notice that. . .sit with it. . .rather than negative self-talk—try, “I’m trying. And I will keep trying. I am teaching my child (and me) how to be loved and be lovable.

Melanie Chung-Sherman, LCSW-S, CTS, LCPAA

 

Is it Just me?

I am reading Brene Brown’s book, “I Thought it was Just Me, But it isn’t.”

It's a great book on how shame isolates us in our relationships from others.  In the midst of our shame, it appears as if we are the only ones who don't have it together. 

Nowhere have I experienced this more than in the case of our parenting in adoption.  Our struggling kids didn't follow the typical path of most kids.  As they acted out their fears and struggles resulting from early trauma I responded in fear of what others would think of me as a mom.  My shame came from my own trauma in childhood, of not having a secure attachment with my caregiver.  Not having a healthy connection or attachment resulted in my thinking I needed to be "perfect" or needed to be "what they wanted me to be" in order to be "OK" and lovable to my parents. Fast forward thirty years and I am still thinking I need to be the perfect parent in order to be lovable and OK.   I got stuck in shame. It held me captive and I couldn't see any options, only that I was "doing it wrong" and "not a good mom."  I was isolated and couldn't speak of it for fear that others would find out how "bad" I was.  Finding others with like circumstances and being able to speak of it went a long way in bringing healing to my life as well as opening the door to options.  I don't have to be the "perfect" mom, have the "typical" or "other family."  I, with all my messiness and all my mistakes, am OK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trauma in Attachment

Trauma in attachment can begin in utero, not only through alcohol and drug consumption but through the stress of an un-welcomed pregnancy.  Once born, infants quickly use their senses and emotions to determine who he or she can trust to meet their needs.  Newborns are already wired for the sound of their mom's voice and will immediately connect the smell, touch and taste of mom to the sound of her.  It is at this time, infants begin forming trust and an attachment as their primary caretaker continues to meet basic needs emotionally, physically mentally and spiritually.  If this trust is interrupted through adoption, extended hospitalization or abuse, this throws their developing brain into the fight, flight or freeze state. This experience is hard-wired and the child learns that he or she cannot trust others for met needs.   This sets them up to try to meet their needs on their own and they will try whatever gets a response from others or a need met.  Eventually, this may take on the form of "the perfect child" or the child who always is getting into trouble.  These are coping skills learned and used as children but as they grow into adults these coping skills hinder them from authenticity in relationships.

I saw this in nature once where after a bad storm a friend of mine found a very young kitten scared and hiding in her garage.  Knowing my family was wanting a kitten she passed Valentino on to us.  We fed him by bottle and loved on him.  However, as much as we tried to love on him he never wanted to be pet.  One day he discovered my daughters fuzzy blanket and began suckling it. From then on he would seek out that blanket and suck on it for long periods of time, all the while purring.  It was the only time that he would allow us to pet him.  I believe that since he went through the trauma of losing his source of safety and basic needs he couldn't trust or "connect" with us.  He continued to try to meet his needs through a blanket but it just couldn't meet the need that was lost.  He was stuck.

You have worth and value

About six years ago my child's counselor told me, "Meg, you are precious." She didn't say it in a sweet endearing way but as a statement as a truth about me.  My immediate thought was, "How can she say that about me.  She doesn't know me that well."  What I didn't understand at that point was that worth and value are instilled in us at conception.  I was born with worth and value and with that came what you bestow on things that you value.  ie my expensive beautiful new sports car I will protect, keep clean and well maintained, I will look at it with great appreciation etc.  In that same way, a baby is to be cherished, protected, taken care of.  I thought I had to work at becoming valuable but It belonged to me all along.

A great analogy I heard once referred to the dollar bill.  The dollar is given its worth by its creator.  It doesn't do anything to earn its value.  If I tear it, step on it write all over it and it becomes unrecognizable, it is still worth 1 dollar.  In that same way, I can make choices that harm me, or others can harm me to where I feel less than, but nothing takes away the value, worth and preciousness that I was born with.