On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stop walking on Eggshells

AB will be 11 tomorrow. He had friends over today to celebrate, a first ever experience. Just two classmates, a sunny afternoon, some pizza and cupcakes and it was perfect. They jumped on the trampoline, played Wii, laughed and had fun. I was so glad to have this milestone for him finally! Perhaps it will be the beginning of many more fun afternoons with AB and his friends.

Sissy is still managing well with only the minor hygiene relapse now and again. The first week of school is behind her and she's still happy. Although she's not happy with the fact that I've asked her to reshower. I knew it was too good to be true when she emerged out of the bathroom this morning so quickly. I don't think she even bothered to use shampoo. I keep telling myself, "one day at a time. Just one day at a time."

WG's hair is getting a trim this week, she was showing off when her cousin was here last week and snuck the children's scissors into her bedroom and snipped at her locks. Hopefully her Aunt can patch up the damage. She's been on restriction this week for several reasons and has just now finished writing her paragraphs about being respectful and apologizing. I've just now torn up the restriction contract because she has met all of her obligations. As hard as it is to discipline children, it's still much more rewarding to discipline when the child accepts responsibility and begins to modify her behavior. Sure, she shouts, hollers and screams with the rest of the humans on the globe but she always moves forward, not backward. Tuesday I'm taking her out of school for the day so she can meet her therapist (yes, she is FINALLY getting an individual therapist to help her with the struggles of living in a home with challenged siblings!) and so spend some quality mommy/daughter time. I'm excited and she is too.

Even the dog is feeling better. Gone are the days she wallows in pity, lying in the middle of the hallway or getting under foot. She's even surrendered licking her paws, they've almost healed up.

Some of the most crucial changes have come from my own self-reflection. In the past few months I've learned to strive for what I want and need: to stop sacrificing myself for the good of others. Ultimately, putting myself last results in hurting the people I love instead of helping them. If for no other reason, it shortens my fuse and makes me less tolerant in the long run.

I've also learned to set limits and boundaries; to refuse to yield when the people I love begin to take more from me than I am able to give them either by taking their anger and frustration out on me or by asking me to compromise my own needs. An oft heard phrase in the house now is "I have the right to use the bathroom without interruption!" Or some other variance of the same sentiment. Seriously, I've put off even my most basic bodily functions to meet the needs of someone else. Nope. If I have to pee or poop, by God, I'm not going to solve your conflict for you until I've eliminated, thank you very much. Oh, and if I decide to take 10 minutes to eliminate, that's also got to be acceptable. I think by 37, I've earned the right to squat for a minute or two.

Lastly (but only for now as I consider myself to be on a perpetual journey to self-discovery), I've acknowledged that I am allowed to love myself. Hug myself. Reward myself (within reason). Be kind to myself. Be respectful of myself. Take care of myself. Reach for goals and dreams because I'm allowed to have that in this life and I've denied myself those very entitlements because I haven't loved myself enough. Instead, I've tried to love everyone else hoping that the love would reflect back in equal measure. Guess what? It doesn't. Ever. No matter what the nature of the relationship or how transcendent the individual. You can't love another until you first love yourself.

Does this self-discovery equate the change in Sissy? Maybe. Maybe not. I can't definitively declare that she's "better." I've witnessed her remissions before only to be catapulted into the next manic storm. But it does give me power to affect MY future, MY well-being, MY happiness and the direction of my next ten minutes regardless of what the actions and reactions are of the people I love in that same ten minutes. In effect, I've stopped walking on eggshells.


Trauma Mama said...

Way to go! You inspire me!

GB's Mom said...

What an egg-citing journey!

Johanna said...

Great post!! Yay for AB - really for all of your children, and especially for you.