When the walls go up

Trauma is a funny thing.

As I have worked my way through the many, many layers of my own story, I have learned many interesting facts about childhood trauma and discovered many of the reasons why I behave the way I do.

Yet, I still find myself feeling surprised when the sub-conscious takes over and I revert back to those past, safe coping mechanisms.

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The Power Deferential

I am a thirty something woman.

My whole life, I have struggled to please others–especially the bosses or influential people around me.

I crave their approval. I want their validation. I want to know I am good enough. Continue reading

“I HAVE to love you, but I don’t HAVE to like you.”

I teach little people every day. Seven and eight year olds, to be precise. This year, I have one friend who can be particularly challenging. He is a boy on the spectrum, not in control of his emotions and easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli and frustrations.

He feels best right next to me. Getting one on one attention. Holding my hand. Hugging me. Being up in my bubble. Each day, I do these things for him because he is also a child of poverty and neglect and it is my job to love and take care of him while I have him.

The other day, we were walking together. He had been having a rough day, and his signal is yelling, “I hate (whatever is bothering him).” Often, it is me, or a friend, or school, or his mother. My response is typical–“I’m so sorry you are feeling that way right now.”

After having numerous breakdowns that day, he held my hand and calmed down as I led him on a walk. He squeezed my hand hard and asked me, “Do you like me or do you hate me?”

I looked this sweet boy in the eyes. He held my gaze for a second, and looked elsewhere, uncomfortable with direct eye contact, as I said to him, “I don’t hate you at all. I love you.” He took a deep breath and relaxed, ready to go back into the classroom. Continue reading

When therapy ends

There is this person, whose couch I could always curl up on and cry, laugh, or simply vent about my life.

This person showed me a kindness I had not ever experienced. A basic, human kindness–empathy. She saw me for who I was, respected me for who I was, and allowed me to be and feel whatever I needed to.

She believed in me.

And, eventually, it allowed ME to believe in me, too. Continue reading

Finding Family

Ever since I was a young girl who recognized that my family did not love the way that is “normal,” I have been seeking.

Seeking that love from my own blood–pleasing and changing myself to fit into the mold that might, maybe, possibly, (but never really) be enough.

And, seeking that love from others. Hoping, each day, to find a person who could help me see my own value.

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Targeting the trigger

Over the next few weeks, I have planned some really intensive EMDR work that ought to help me work through my feelings of “stuckness.”

I’m approaching these appointments apprehensively…for me, EMDR is rigorous and exhausting. It is emotionally overwhelming and draining all at the same time.

But, without hesitation, I can say it works. After each session, it feels as if some part of my path has been cleared, making it easier to take a few more steps forward, edging ever closer to the elusive other side. Continue reading

Weathering the Storm

As I was teaching science to my students the other day, discussing earth’s changes, I started to think of the term “weathering.” The way I teach it, weathering is what happens when a cliff is hit by a wave repeatedly…slowly, over time, the water wears the cliff away.

I realized…I feel like the cliff. The waves hit, again and again, as I remain steadfast. Slowly, over time, the waves change me…but the process in and of itself is not a fast one.

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