Safety Plan for visiting family? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 06-29-2011, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I am planning on leaving next week with my extended family for a family wedding.  (My DH won't be able to go initially, but I will have my children.)  We are not even leaving for another 10 days and already my stress/anxiety level is skyrocketing.  I put in an emergency call to my therapist today - she's also leaving on vaca tomorrow.  She says I need a safety plan in writing, in place before I leave.  But I'm at a bit of a loss.  Has anyone had to do this?  How did they start? 


Here's what I got so far:


Call my DH


Take a walk



While I am grateful that I do receive relief from my anxiety when I do any of those things.  The relief is fairly short term/temporary.  (It doesn't help that the longing for the drinking - which isn't so short term - is back.  Sigh ...... ) 


I know that a lot of my problem is engaging with my mother.  I'm trying not to, but that is turning out to be easier said than done. 


We will not be near a town, so separate accommodations are not realistic.  We're hours from any where, so no retail therapy.  I sound very resistant to any idea other than drinking.  But I'm not, I'm really not.  I'm just at a loss as to what to do.......


I wrote on my safety plan, I will not engage with my mother.  It looks really cool on paper.  Perhaps I could rub the paper on my forehead and it will sink in .......




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#2 of 3 Old 07-01-2011, 01:23 PM
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Good luck with the visit- it is great that you are planning ahead.  In school (full disclosure, I'm a psychologist Sheepish.gif ) we always talked about how "activity is the antidote to anxiety" (for example, if we found ourselves being much more "active" in a session with a patient, than we might want to ask ourselves if something was making us anxious).  Anyway, I know that when I'm anxious DOING something makes a huge difference (and keeps me from emotional eating, which is my downfall).  So, even though you can't stop by a mall to browse, I'm sure there are other things you can do at your parents house to stay busy and to take your mind off a situation that has triggered you.  Without knowing any more about what you have gone through with your parents or about your kids, I thought of these off the top of my head:


-watch a TV show or movie with your kids- something that you actuall LIKE and that will be engaging

-along the lines of taking a walk, any sort of physical activity.. wrestling with the kids, start up a game of soccer, etc.

- maybe have a list of a few other friends to call besides DH (in case he isn't able to answer, or just in case you find yourself wanting to call for support a lot and want to spread it out :)


Another thought I had was planning ahead for ways to avoid triggers.  I know you said that you could avoid engaging with your mom.. I have personally found that hard to do!  Although it has gotten WAY better with practice.  I also found that having an actual PLAN for how to communicate with her helps..even if it sounds stupid... for example, I play a little game with myself to see how few words I can  use to respond to her without actually seeming to be rude or be visibly acting weird.  I also tell myself to agree with her 3x as often as disagree, and somehow even trying to keep count during a conversation keeps me distracted and busy.  You could plan a few longer-range tasks to do around the house while you are there that would keep you busy and also give you something to do if you needed time away from her.  I don't know what their place is like, but maybe you could offer to dig them a flower bed and do some planting, or maybe there is a basement that could be re-organized or a room that could use some painting.  Just brainstorming.  Double whammy of looking like a great daughter for offering to do something for them, and having a task that keeps you busy and focused.  Will you be able to get away with the kids at all, or are you stuck in the house the whole time? maybe you guys can get a marathon board game competition going, or set up a week-long series of funny family olympics, or plan to try out a new recipe every day.... anything to give structure and to keep you guys busy and not engaged with mom.


last thought- could you plan ahead of time to call a friend every night (or after noon or morning or all of the above) for scheduled check-ins and pep talks?  even just 5 mintues may help keep you focused and present.  And it will avoid the situation of only having support from people who love you when you are already upset... maybe the few minutes of attention from someone who is in your corner can help head off problems at the pass.


good luck!

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#3 of 3 Old 07-02-2011, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for answering!


What you're saying about anxiety makes a lot of sense in the context you phrased it.  (When I'm really anxious, I run around in a little circle and flap my arms.  But by then using any techniques is way too late.  Trying to avoid the flapping stage .....)


What I get from what your saying is, I need to turn it around and use activity to reduce the stress from a very early point.  I really like what your saying about playing games with my kids.  A good running around game would be perfect for them and me.  There is a stream behind the house, when I need a moment I'm going to excuse myself and go stand by the stream.  Get away from the situation for a while.


The problem with having more than my DH to call is, I don't have anyone else.  I have a few friends, but they all grew up in healthy families with real boundaries.  So they're nice enough to listen and nod when I need to talk.  But they all have that, I'm not sure what she's talking about or why she's still going on about this.  It's kind of nice to have you respond and realize I'm not the only one dealing with FAMILIES.  (Although I'm sorry you have to go through it too.)  I try not to go on too much to my poor DH.  But I think I will throw that rule out the window for this trip.  


I don't think I was very clear in my first post about being able to not engage with my Mom.  I know that is the secret to lower stress.  I just can't always seem to not engage.  She has this sneaky was of catching me off guard.  (Which of course makes it sound like I think she makes me engage with her.  I don't believe that at all.  I'm the one that engages.  It's just hard because if I'm not on guard every single moment of every single sentence, bam!  I'm engaged and off and running before I even realize it.  And being that on guard is exhausting.)  I really like what you said about thinking ahead of time how I'm going to communicate with her.  I'm not really sure exactly how I'm going to do that - yet.  But I think it makes a lot of sense to ask myself "is this a life or death situation for me or my children?" before furthering the conversation.  (In my head of course.) 


And maybe a good old fashioned count down to going home will help.  Perhaps paper I can rip up and celebrate at the end of every day.  :D


Thanks again for your help.  You've given me a lot to think about and a direction to go in.  This was very helpful.

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