Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thursday's Therapy - Adopting Self-Care - When You Feel You Are Walking Around with No Skin On... ~by Tommy and Angie Prince

Baby "Ellie," Angie/"GiGi," and Rollin/"Daddy"

Thursday's Therapy

Adopting Self-Care

When You Feel You Are Walking Around with No Skin On...

~by Tommy and Angie Prince

Survivors feel unsafe in their bodies. Their emotions and their thinking feel out of control. They also feel unsafe in relation to other people.

People with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome take longer to fall asleep, are more sensitive to noise, and awaken more frequently during the night than ordinary people. Thus traumatic events appear to recondition the human nervous system.

...(C)ontrol of the body focuses on restoration of the biological rhythms of eating and sleep, and reduction of hyperarousal and intrusive symptoms.

~Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery


Okay, these last several weeks, Tommy and I have had to pay immense attention to adopting self-care... Just take a look at this past week:

August 2, Tuesday - Anniversary Syndrome: 5 years ago today (8/2/2006), our 19-year-old baby girl, Merry Katherine, was tragically and suddenly killed in a violent car crash claiming three victims.

-On this same day 8/2/2011, Tommy and I go to his urologist where he undergoes an invasive procedure on his body to check for cancer and is told to take it easy for three days.

-(That means I have increased responsibilities/physical demands that I am not used to in order to cover some of Tommy's normal responsibilities. On one of those tasks, I have car trouble...with the radiator no less!)

-Meanwhile we are both experiencing insomnia this week (I had been struggling with insomnia for the two months previous to this week as well, so we are exhausted, and our resilience is low.

-I continue to see the few clients my body is capable to see.

August 6, Sunday - Anniversary Syndrome: 5 years ago today, we buried our baby girl.

Now, add to this, my body has been reacting to stress physically since the end of May, not only with insomnia, but with tummy distress. I was becoming more and more depleted.

NOW, imagine, in the middle of all this,

August 5, Saturday - we become grandparents for the first time! A precious firstborn baby is delivered to our firstborn child, our older son Rollin and his wife Stephanie. The baby is unexpectedly one week early in her delivery.

Our Grief Complications:

On Friday, August 5th, Tommy overhears me ordering roses... to celebrate our newborn grandchild...and he is triggered back five years. Around about the same time of the same week as five years ago, I am once again talking to the same florist when ordering the flowers... pink roses... for the spray to cover our precious daughter's casket... He even hears me asking the florist some of the same exact questions I asked five years ago. He is triggered, and leaves the house for a good cry.

Now, add to this, several weeks before, there were toxic interactions with some family members (some of the same family members that are to be gathering around the baby as she enters our world at the upcoming delivery). The toxicity had not been responsibly owned by the perpetrator; even worse, there had been fingers pointed at me and my other son Nathan, and neither of us had been at fault AT ALL. On top of that injury, there had even been some piling on by other intimate family members, all in complete ignorance, and unfortunately aligning on the wrong side. (Ain't family-togetherness fun???!!!)

So, being that I am already traumatized in my heart from having lost my "baby" girl, I had had to set some boundaries with my son and daughter-in-law about what they could and could not count on in regard to my participation with the upcoming festivities. I shared the following privately with my son:

  • I will love Ellie (our pre-named future grandchild), but I must love her in my own way.
  • I will not attend any parties.
  • I will not be at the hospital for delivery (along with all the rest of the family).
  • I will not be at the church for any ceremonies.
  • But, I will love Ellie, be there for her (and you all) in other ways.

My son is a creative person, not one bound to any particular social rules or rituals, so he was entirely understanding and gracious. Fortunately he knows his mommy's heart, that though she is crushed and broken, she will love him and his family, including a newborn baby in the best way she can.

The Big Event! ~ Ellie is born!

So then, the big event comes! I am upset to some degree that I cannot be a part of the festivities of the wondrous birth experience because of both my deep mourning and the unfortunate interactions we had had with a couple of family members who chose to be mean-spirited and cruel. Otherwise, I would have wanted to be front-and-center in the greeting of that precious baby girl! And yet, I was at peace to a degree, because I knew I could not go.

After two months of insomnia, my body was a mess, and I could not seem to recover. Tommy was now struggling as well. We were both exhausted and doing our best just to function.

Day One of baby's arrival came...and went.

Day Two of baby's arrival came (same day as Merry Katherine's funeral day)...and went. (There was much communication with our son during the process; we just couldn't "be" there physically, only emotionally.)

Day Three of baby's arrival - Tommy announced to me he couldn't go to the hospital at all but would go to see them when they got home. I knew not to push his boundaries but was not sure I was strong enough to go to the hospital without him. I was disappointed I couldn't go and was in a quandary. ~When Tommy got up from an afternoon nap, I bemoaned, "I don't know why I cannot seem to go to the hospital."

Tommy shocked me with, "I feel better now; I think I can go. Let's go!" And so we did!

We had Rollin and Stephanie and baby Ellie all to ourselves for a very sweet and quiet visit. Only as the visit ended (over dinner with our son) did my tummy begin to cramp again. But still, we left the hospital feeling blessed and feeling we had gotten to bless our precious son, daughter-in-law, and newborn baby Ellie, "Merry Elizabeth Prince" (named after Rollin's sister, our precious Merry Katherine)!!!


And today, I read some of the wise advise of the trauma specialists. The advice is a nice confirmation to my listening to my gut and acting upon my intuition to set appropriate boundaries for my grief-torn heart:

Because of your...trauma, you have vulnerabilities and special needs. It is important to be able to hold these in the right context. Often we feel we are our trauma symptoms. We feel broken, inadequate, high-maintenance, "too much." We need to learn how to reframe this to an understanding that "yes I have special needs, but I also have special gifts."

...There's an attitude in this culture that you shouldn't be fragile; we get mocked for seeming too delicate.

In such a climate, we must become fierce protectors of our more delicate side. This means not putting yourself in situations that are activating simply because you think you shouldn't be bothered by them. Yes, you may decide to stretch a little, but when something is just plain bad for you you must have the wisdom and the love to protect yourself from it. Like a mother bear protecting her young, we can protect the parts of us that are less developed.

...Developing the nurturing side of yourself is a very important part of healing. .. Trauma victims have often learned to ignore their signals of distress and override their own needs.

Reversing this pattern is part of empowerment. Empowerment comes with learning to speak up for yourself. It comes with knowing what you want and need and advocating for that, even if you don't always succeed in the outcome you are aiming for. Advocating for your needs is the opposite of being a victim.

Ruptured boundaries

When we're healthy, there is an energetic boundary that surrounds the body and helps us feel safe. When the boundary is ruptured (as by...violation), we feel unprotected and vulnerable. With ruptured boundaries, we often feel overstimulated by our environment and become drained quickly. There may also be a feeling of being totally exposed, as if you have no skin.

Wherever your energetic boundaries are ruptured, you may have a blind spot, which contributes to repeated accidents to certain parts of the body. ... (T)he same would be true emotionally... Ruptured boundaries leave us with hot spots of reactivity and without the sense of protection we need. Conversely, repairing these boundaries gives us more space to move, to be ourselves, and to connect with others... When our boundaries are strong, we can come out of the closet.

She adds a question that I have often thought fits us child-loss grievers as we try to walk through a fairly callous world, callous in regard to our grief in the very least,

Do you sometimes feel as if you have no protection, almost as if you have no skin?

~Jasmin Lee Cori, Healing from Trauma

Picture, provided by my son, Rollin


No comments:

Post a Comment