Sunday, January 18, 2015

Being a Tourist at Niagra Falls

I really am not sure why I'm about to write about what I'm going to write about.  Maybe it's jut something I feel like I can offer after this crazy ride - something that at times can help all of us.  I struggled a bit with what to call this - emotional leakage, emotional contagion, staying off the escalator?!?!  I landed on, well, you can see for yourself.  :-)

I've never been to Niagra Falls, maybe this will prompt me to start a bucket list and make a bullet for that very trip.  I dunno.  I've just heard stories of people hopping in a barrel and going over the Falls.  That seems incredibly stupid to me, and I'm not ever going to do that.  If I go, I'm going to stay behind the guard rail and watch the awesomeness.  Easy enough right?!?!

When it comes to emotions, though, it's not always so easy to stay behind the guard rail, but we need to.  Just because another person is escalating doesn't mean we have to jump in and join them.  Just because someone I care about is mad, does that mean I have to join in and be angry too?  Does it mean I need to rescue them somehow because I'm uncomfortable with the emotion?  Honestly, I'm pretty darn good at this - staying calm I mean and letting the other "be" where they are.  It's what helps me work with tough kids, and it helped me survive a tough kid at home.  I see other people struggle with this though, and after my tough kid hurt me so many times, it became tougher for me to do it with her too.  I'm working at getting back there again though - to my place of inner calm (different from dissociation so I'm told) with her - no matter what big emotion she is riding out for the moment.

I reminded Little Turtle of this idea the other day - encouraging her to try it on for herself.  I asked her to remember the time when we met her sister at Pizza Hut and her sister was really upset.  She was angry.  She was defiant.  There was a throwing of a shoe at one point.  (All things my girl acted out plenty of times herself during these visits, but on this particular day, she stayed behind the guard rail with my vigilance and nearly constant prompting).  Sister started hurling insults at Little Turtle, and she made me so proud because she said, "You may hate me, but I love you." 

If we can stay regulated even when the other isn't, we have an opportunity to be present with them - to truly hear them and be with them even in their moments of big emotion.  When we sit with someone in their anger, we let them see that we accept them - all of them - the good parts and the nasty parts.  Now, that's not to suggest that we should put up with abusive behavior - not saying that at all.  Emotion doesn't equal abuse though.  It's easy for those lines to get blurred I think - for all of us - kids included.

So here's to accepting emotion without abuse.  Here's to being present.  Here's to the kid saying she wants all calls through therapist!  I'll take it.  The ironic part is that I was staying behind the guard rail in our calls, but that's why she doesn't like it.  She wants to tangle; I'm not giving it to her, and for whatever reason, that is ticking her off right now.  Well, it's not for "whatever reason."  It's because she doesn't feel in control of me, and that's a good thing.  She's riding the Falls, but that is a barrel I'm not jumping in!

How do you stay calm (and thus, mindful) when others are escalating?  Does your calm ever help the other calm too?  What triggers you to jump into the barrel with both feet and no regrets (at least until later)?!?!

P. S. The visit was rough, rough, rough.  Mommy couldn't find the guard rail.  I looked calm - really calm, but I dissociated to get through yet another highly disturbing and intimidating Cracker Barrel experience.  Let's just say I won't be having chicken and dumplings again for a long time!  Sigh!

Monday, December 29, 2014


Triggers - I hate the blasted things. 

I joke with my trauma mama friends that due to all this stress we are bound to lose our minds. Picture it - me in the home (likely being tended to or not by perhaps an orderly named Little Turtle) once Mommy has completely lost her mind.  I may not remember my name or the fact that I hate reality TV (except for "The Duggars" or "Sisterwives" or especially "The Little Couple"), but those bleepity-bleep triggers will remain!

Oh, did you think I was talking about the kid's triggers?  Surprise!  Cause, um, no...

There I will be sitting in the day room minding my p's and q's until someone comes in close with an offer about soup. I won't even remember why, but I'll perhaps throw that soup across the room.  Because ya know LT once did that to me when I had the audacity to choose the soup she likes instead of the one she doesn't for lunch. A hospital stay later, and there will be no Campbell's choice for geriatric Jen.  

Or, what about pineapple?  Seems safe enough doesn't it?  Maybe, unless you awoke to the crazy kid standing over you eating pineapple out of a can with a nail.  Then not so much.  I can hear the phone call now. "Poor old Jen truly has lost it. There was pineapple on her plate and she shattered the dish on the floor. Obviously she doesn't understand what she's doing."  True dat, but that doesn't mean it didn't make complete sense!

And we can't forget "Happy Feet."  Hopefully they don't show cartoons in the memory unit because with that, I may be ramming my wheel chair into others' all while ranting and raving that people are a bunch of FBA's (f'in b**** a**es).  It will sound like nonsense, but of course, it's far from it!

Hmmm, as much as losing my cognitive capacities scares me and leads me to settle on eating whatever I want whenever I want it so that my body doesn't "linger" once my mind is gone, there is something liberating about the idea of my own turn to uncork without abandon, but if I'm truly going to enjoy it, maybe I should start while I can savor the moment (and again later upon recollection)!  

may have a prime opportunity starting in less than 48 hours. A visit awaits, and since I jinxed it with my last post about progress this and progress that, Little Turtle is high on the TUDE scale and low on the giving a rip about anybody else's perspective continuum.  May prove to buckets of fun!

Needless to say, I'm taking "Frozen" and crossing my fingers that it doesn't result in a future trigger for me because I can't afford going back brain at the school talent show this year when the umpteenth tween sings "Let it go!"

What triggers will haunt you in the home one day?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Idea: A Book Talk!

I apologize for the delay in posting.  Sometimes I feel like our life is on repeat, and I'm not sure how to write about it without sounding like "Groundhog Day."

Right now, however, I am seeing positive changes in Little Turtle, and I'm excited to share.  These changes are small.  I have no idea what this means for our future, and in some ways, that creates even more anxiety for me.  Nonetheless, she is showing signs of better self-regulation.  For at least two months, she has stayed in the room for family therapy without becoming aggressive.  She has gone a month without restraint.  This is movement in the right direction!  I am thankful for that.

Little Turtle continues to be an avid reader, but finding books appropriate for her has been a real challenge!  That is a story I should blog about it sometime.

Today, I'd like to tell you about an idea I had in the last couple of weeks.  I picked up and read, "I Am Malala."  Love it!  Inside, I underlined some passages and wrote some questions to Little Turtle.  Now it's on the way to her.  Really hoping she'll be open to reading something that is not filled with psychopathy and gore.  I'm also hoping she'll be willing to talk about the book with me on the phone.  Trying to keep my expectations low but also open to possibilities.  If nothing else, maybe it will plant a seed here or there.  And if it works, maybe we have a new way of connecting over the long distance.  I'll keep you posted!

For now, check out the passages I underlined...