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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Growing, but not glowing

Everyday, I can see the progress I’ve made.

That, in and of itself, seems like a miracle at times. For so very long, I felt absolutely STUCK. Progress felt impossible, far-fetched, and highly unlikely.

And yet.

Day by day. Minute by grueling minute. I. Kept. Going.

And slowly, ever so slowly, life started to shift.

My anxiety became easier to control. I started to get some of my confidence back. I started to no longer need my therapist to hold my hand through every moment.  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