“Your love heart is not cracked anymore….I love you mummy”
Wow! What a thing to hear on a sunny winter morning. My four year old said this to me as I was washing the dishes. What seems to be a regular morning of random conversation carries a much deeper meaning.
It is a morning I am not impatient, I am not rushed, I am not angry, I am not sad. This shining light on the path of healing affirms the effort and reflection practiced daily so that I can step away from effects of childhood trauma.
After my second child I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and went on anti-depressants. Two key things stand out as I reflect on this period of time; intrusive thoughts and anger. Both of these were very distressing and led to one and a half years of anti-depressants. This morning is a sign post showing me how far I have come along the journey of healing. As I I think about these precious words, it brings a smile to my face, a warm feeling that I am on the right path. As I listen to my daughters playing, laughing and expressing joy, I am grateful to give them a better life than what I had growing up.
My love heart is not cracked anymore. Honesty and wisdom out of the mouth of a babe.
How did I get here?
One of the first things I committed to was being able to REPAIR. Saying sorry when I have done something wrong. Now this is not a free pass to do whatever you want and then say sorry. It is quite the opposite, it is the awareness that you have done something wrong, saying sorry and reflecting on how NOT to make the same mistake again. That being said, when I do make mistakes I remind myself of the 80/20 rule, it is impossible to be perfect all the time, in fact it is unrealistic to teach our children that anyone can be perfect all the time, we all make mistakes. The lesson is HOW do we handle ourselves when that does happen. For myself, it has been to repair, reflect, forgive myself and keep trying.
Another thing, and perhaps the most important from a child’s perspective is PLAY. Making the time to play. This is how children CONNECT with us. Their invitation “come play with me” is a child reaching out. In order to make this achievable I aim to dedicate anywhere between 10-20 minutes for a play at the end of the day. The beauty of this is that as a parent, we don’t even need to do anything. I follow my child’s lead, watch what they are doing and join in. And on the weekends, we DANCE, I put some music on and we jump around the room, spin each other around and be SILLY!
BREATHE. During those moments I am triggered and past traumatic feelings present themselves I walk away and I breathe. I remind myself that the feelings are a product of my trauma and are more an indication of my experience rather than anything my children are doing. Once back to a calmer place, then I can re-engage and deal with whatever the situation is. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that children are at different developmental stages, they can and will do things that are irrational, they will not know how to handle their BIG emotions. I am the adult, and I have the cognitive capacity to react appropriately. And this has been my mission for years now, heal from my trauma so that the cycle of abuse stops with me.
And a lovely resource I’ve been following for some time is Aha! Parenting. You can find their website HERE. I’ve found it useful to sign up as many different parenting newsletters as possible so that I receive daily reminders and reflections to keep me on a steady path.
Last and not least, is my husband. I have been fortunate to marry a man who is intelligent and philosophical about life. He knows my deepest, darkest secrets and loves me anyway. He knows my stories of abuse and has allowed me space to heal. He is my confidant and biggest supporter in life. Whilst marriages are not always perfect, with each person bringing their own trauma, issues or what ever you would like to call it, one thing we do have is a commitment to make it work. Both of us have had very poor role models when it comes to love and marriage. The ironic part is that my dad, the one who was physically abusive has helped us through some of our biggest conflicts. My dad may have brought heartache into my life as a child but there’s an element of peace that has been found. For that I am also grateful.
photocredit: Jodie Dee