the nature of trauma
Since I participated in a therapeutic group for parents of children with difficult beginnings this spring, I’ve been learning more and more about trauma and its possible effects on kids. This means that I’m seeing more and more of the effects on my two sweet ones. It can be devastating to see an issue, that we dealt with last year, cycling back and making a new appearance. It can be heartbreaking to see how hard my kids are working to heal, and how some days the progress seems so minimal (other days it’s huge!).
The past few weeks I’ve felt completely overwhelmed. Buddy has been throwing tantrums like I’ve never seen before. When he’s not having a fit he’s seeking control by being contrary in every way, and finding every button to push. In some ways I’m able to understand his needs better, but as he’s making some huge linguistic leaps, he’s struggling more and more in other areas.
Missy has been sulky, whiny, and needing all attention to be focused on her all the time. At dinner, each person shares something about their day. If she isn’t asked to share first, she’s likely to walk away and pout, whimpering on the couch, regressing until she’s more like a 3 year old than the 9 she really is.
Some moments I find myself overflowing with empathy, patient and steady, loving, and using every therapeutic parenting skill I have. Other moments… well, other moments aren’t like that. I’m realizing that their big feelings, and their grief, are hugely triggering to me. So we’re all working hard around here. Working hard to heal from past hurts, to trust each other, to love each other. Our current daily life is not what I had in mind when we were first trying to become parents. Trauma, and its long-lasting effects, had never crossed my mind when Missy and Buddy first joined our family. But here we are, God has given us a life, and we are trying to walk the path, leaning on Him daily, hourly, sometimes every minute just to make it through. In the meantime, I try to note all the progress, all the beauty, and all the joy that are embedded in the midst of all the pain, rage, and grief that sometimes seem to reign. And I hang on, knowing that soon (in a week? a month? a year?) they”ll go through a long or brief period of relative calm again. Until then, I’m hanging on to any threads I can find.