I just don't know how I'm going to keep doing this. I have a beautiful 2 year old son who I am scared to continue parenting because I don't feel capable of managing the transitions I know are coming up (weaning from dummy, toddler bed, toilet training) and the challenges involved in his next stage of development (getting him involved in toy cleanup and self care, behavioural problems). I have a strong urge to just run away from him, but that would be devastating for him as he is so dependent on me and devastating for me because I will have given in to my fear and I don't think I would ever get over it.
How can I prepare myself for these things better so I am not so afraid of them and can actually face them?
Please help me!
Being an only child who survived sexual abuse as a toddler, I tend to be a chronically disappointed perfectionist with PTSD stuck in repeating cycles of fight or flight. Do I find parenting entrapping? You Bet!
A friend defined courage as resisting the urge to fight or flee. Every moment you respond to your son, no matter how, demonstrates the immense power you have over your defenses. Now maybe you can explore why the defenses are there...
EMDR therapy helped me significantly in expanding my self worth so my surroundings became less hostile and I could process the entanglement of bonding to trauma faster.
Seems like you're hitting a "healing crisis" of sorts. Happens when it's safe enough externally to process.
Here's my latest reminder/mantra/affirmation PERFECTION INVITES PARAYLYSIS
Seems to jog me out of hyper analytical anxiety loops (usually). As does physical company and Bach Rescue Remedy.
Where are you? Have anyone to confide in or hang out with mama?
Thanks for your reply MotheringBliss. Firstly I can't tell you how sorry I am for what you went through as a toddler. I know this is going to take courage for me to get through and reminding myself that I am good enough as I am and believing that I really can do this.
What is EMDR therapy?
I am in Australia and getting lots of counselling and support from my mum and talking to other mums/friends. Everyone is telling me to just take it one day at a time, but I find it hard to do that and not worry about what is to come. The counsellor I saw today encouraged me to start imagining myself being calm in those situations I am fearful of and imagining them going well, not as badly as my anxiety is telling me they will. I remember either hearing or reading something similar recently, so maybe that's what I need to start doing more of.
I found it an efficient way to bring buried associative memories to the surface & connect with them emotionally...
After all the hours, expense, & energy spent on various forms of talk therapy, holistic practices (including meditation & visualization), diets, and different belief systems, EMDR was most effective.
Along with recognizing real life patterns, and giving myself ultimatums regarding the extent to which I would tolerate withdrawing in overwhelming fear.
Then more solutions seemed to manifest.
Parenting with a mental illness is just exhausting isn't it?? I have the feeling of wanting to run away from my kids ALL.THE.TIME. It's actually one of my obsessions. I don't think I would ever do it but it sticks in the back of my head as my "way out" just in case. I have planned it out. Most days I feel I am doing them a disservice due to my mental illness. But I know that if I were to abandon them, they would be way more effed up than if I stuck it out and continued to warp them with my mental illness and behaviors related to it. My therapist agrees. To combat this I keep a framed post-it note in my bathroom with the words "Perception does not always equal Reality." It' was something one of the therapists said when I was in an outpatient CBT program for anxiety disorders and depression and it really stuck with me. It has been my mantra for a while now. The bathroom is a hard place for me so this little note is there reminding me to keep on truckin. Also, I try to remove the words "should" and "shouldn't" from my vocabulary. They are expectations and therefore set you up for failure when things don't go the way you want/expect. This allows me to be easier on myself and accept less than perfection, which is extremely difficult for me. My oldest daughter is 12 and a good assistant in this endeavor. Whenever she catches me saying one of those two words she just says, "mom, is that an expectation??" Nothing like a 12 year old snapping you back to reality! Also, I know your son is a bit young for this but it may help in the future. I verbalize my feelings frequently to my kids. They know what OCD is, they know my triggers, they know my compulsions/rituals. And I try to verbalize when I am feeling overwhelmed or need help. Sometimes to my 5 year old I'll say, "mama is feeling really sad right now. Could you come hug me so I feel a little better?" I also say things like "Going to the museum makes me feel really stressed out and I'm not okay to do that today. Let's try the playground instead. I want to save the museum for a day when I feel really strong and able to relax so we can enjoy it. I don't want to ruin our time by being scared and angry and yelling." Sometimes just feeling like they "get it" and you aren't alone and trying to be strong for your kid takes a little bit of an edge off. And they become really perceptive to your needs in that way and they adjust their behavior to suit the situation, thereby making life less stressful for you. It's just about teaching them empathy for a suffering human being. I don't think my kids are any worse for the wear because we sometimes have to stay home instead of doing a fun activity or because they have to give me a few extra hugs instead of playing or fighting with each other.
"Parenting" does end after awhile. You will not be the same person going out as you were going in, however. Usually that's a good thing! What helped me with parenting stresses was knowing that I was doing the greatest service of my life by giving to my child. It wasn't terribly personal for me, or to my child; it's the way of nature. Your children do not need all of your personal responses to parenting. They just need a parent. A parent isn't a "person," really, it's more of an archetype. Knowing that was very helpful to me as a mother. What will my child remember of me? Me by my name, with my history of youth and my doubts? Not really; what children remember is what kind of MOTHER you were. It's a role. Today we have parents who are too enmeshed in their children. Children are just other people. There have been billions of mothers, successful and not so successful. Just do the best you can. After motherhood you are just a person again. It's important but not all-encompassing. If you are a loving person, you can be a good parent. Learn as much as you can about what love really is and what it is not and you will raise a loving healthy child.