A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment
This book has a lot of information in it. There is a lot to process (for me). I might write on this and sprinkle some of my new recipes in the mix. Honestly, not sure. There is a lot that I need to reconcile, apologize for, and start over. I pray that my children do not repeat the same things that I have done and learn from my mistakes. Also, I pray that they forgive me for my many shortcomings and remember more good than bad.
The Whole-Brain Child
Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson start this book by taking ordinary, challenging moments and rethinking how you, as a parent, respond. “Instead of just breaking up the fight and sending the sparring siblings to different rooms, you can use the argument as an opportunity for teaching: about reflective listening and hearing another person’s point of view; about clearly and respectfully communicating your desires; about compromise, sacrifice, negotiation, and forgiveness.”
Will we always take every moment captive and do this very thing? No. That is not realistic. I wish it were. Sometimes I wish I could step back in the past and redo it when I have a challenging moment concerning my kids. Trauma is a weird thing, and it can be consuming. There are a few of my kids that come from trauma. Their beginnings weren’t great, but their middle and, hopefully, the end will be less traumatic. They will have been able to reparent themselves in tense situations. Moments can be captured where they can go back and say, “what would I have done differently?” Moments where they need to forgive someone or themselves (or me) and extend grace to themselves and others.
Being the Expert on Your Child
I learned this statement a long time ago. When H got sick, we went to 5 hospitals and two other facilities. What they saw was a name on a chart and a frantic mom. I sat and listened to them say things like “succumb debilitating, wheelchair, chemotherapy, and Plasmapheresis.” In the beginning, I did everything they said.
Then, I realized that I was the expert, not them. I took back control and began using my voice and advocating for him in a way that I was too scared to do the first time. There was no longer a time when I sat back and blindly said “yes” to any of them. I questioned, researched, had many lists, and consulted with other doctors from other states. I was his expert.
So, now that I can advocate for my child(ren), grandchildren, and myself better (not entirely but better), I can take that into their mental health and trauma. I can become an expert on that to the best of my ability.
In The Whole-Brain Child, it says, “the brain itself is significantly shaped by the experiences we offer as parents, knowing about the way the brain changes in response to our parenting can help us to nurture a stronger, more resilient child.” Quickly, I could throw my hands up and say, ‘I’ve waited too long, I’ve done too much damage. I should just keep my eyes above the waves and let their therapist handle it.’
Yet, here I am, reading books, learning, praying, and hoping that the difference I make now will filter down to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren until Jesus returns. Today, I have royally screwed up. Moments of sheer insanity, but then there were moments when I pulled my crap together and got to the root of something. One moment of healing will hopefully overshadow the moment of stupidity.
Repeatedly Telling the Story
Repeatedly telling the story is one thing that we do. I do this more with H and his medical trauma than I did with anyone else. My adult children would probably tell me to shut my piehole. His medical trauma is ongoing, and there have been some scary moments. Note that he got sick when he was three years old. He has, physically, been through more than what most adults will ever go through.
What I do, for him, is I get copy paper and fold it in half to create a book. I stable the “bind” of the book to make it easier for him. Next, we go through the scary story. The last one we did was on plasmapheresis. It was terrifying.
He retells me the story of what he remembers, and I write it down. Where he doesn’t remember, I fill in the blanks with facts of the story. After that, he illustrates it however he wants. Once that is done (sometimes it can take a while, but I try to do it immediately), we go over the book multiple times.
It is his story, in his words, with his emotions. Then you add in my facts or my fill-in-the-blanks. Doing this allows him to take this core memory that has scared him and process it. Doing this won’t remain a traumatic memory; it will be filed accordingly in his brain and be a memory. Honestly, it helps me as well. That is why I blog. I do that to process some tough stuff.
I didn’t realize that I was helping him with integration. “Integration takes the distinct parts of your brain and helps them work together as a whole. Integration is simply linking different elements together to make a well-functioning whole.”
Who knew? I sure didn’t.
Dis-integration is defined as the loss of integration. When you are working out of your “downstairs” brain or veering too closely to the rigid or chaotic side of your brain, you will find that you are dealing with the loss of integration of your brain working as a whole.
The goal is to help our children (ourselves, or anyone really) to stay in that sweet spot of the water. Remember to process the junk in the Amygdala. Then, move into the “upstairs” part of our brain. From there, we can sail down the middle of rigidity and chaos.
Be on the lookout for all my thoughts on that. I know you are all on the edge of your seat!