Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trauma Mama

One of my favorite angels coined a phrase this weekend--"Trauma Mama."  Perfect.
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There's a meme about it, so I'm guessing she didn't just make it up on the spot.  But she COULD have, and that's the point.

As the dust settles on our most recent crisis, I've reflected on some of the things I've learned.
I wish I could give the following note to my old self years ago.  Maybe someone will see it and it will help, or maybe I can just read it again myself when the next storm gathers.
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Dear Mother of a Child in Crisis: "Trauma Mama,"

You are not alone.  There are many women and men, quietly suffering with their children as they work through a traumatic situation.  FIND THEM.  Talk with them, strengthen them and draw from their strength. Cry together, and LAUGH also.  There's no better moment when you can share a little dark humor with a disturbed buddy.  (We call it the "Shouldering Heavy Issues with Teens" club in group therapy.  It has a cool acronym.)  

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There are also many who have been there and successfully navigated your storm.  Find the village, open the door, sit and warm yourself by their fire.  They know how you're feeling, and they know the words to say.  Be careful who you share your story with, don't betray any trusts, but keep your heart ready to allow others in.
If you hide yourself in shame or withdraw in pain, you'll suffer unnecessarily, and so will your child.
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You are not to blame.  No perfect parents, anywhere.  Sorry.  But I feel that our loving Heavenly Father put his beloved child into your flawed arms for a reason, and you can't fix their situation, but you can and should advocate for your charge, and you are entitled as a parent to insights and revelations in his/her behalf.  Tell yourself that you are enough, give yourself permission, and then keep fighting for the help your family needs.  Ask questions until you get answers. 

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 Let your child know that you are there, and be vulnerable and brave so that they can be, too.  Love unconditionally, and be patient with the child, your spouse and yourself.  Also know that there are no perfect professionals.  Trust your gut, be patient when necessary, forgive, and find the right help.  Don't be afraid to keep looking for a good fit.
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There is HOPE.
It will all be OK in the end.  If it's not all OK, then it's not the end.  We can trust God.
The Savior will carry us to it, through it and from it.  But He stands at the door and knocks; and we must choose to let Him in.  If we look for His hand, we'll see it.  Angels will attend.
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The seemingly insurmountable challenges that we faced before prepared us for the stretching experiences we are living in now.  This will probably prepare us for what comes later. (sigh.)
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If your child is in trauma, you are also in trauma.  Take care of yourself so that you can take care of them.  It's like telling a new mommy to take a nap, but it's true.  No one is going to take you by the hand and tell you to take a break before you break; you've got to be your own mother.  
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Exercise, sleep, get therapy, treat yourself kindly, refill your own cup with no guilt.  Now is not the time to become a martyr.  If you fall apart, you won't be able to help your child.  Find quiet times.  Pray for help, and then accept it.  Then pray for ways to serve.

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Gratitude, Service and Love. Gratitude, Service and Love. Gratitude, Service and Love.  (These are essential for healing.)

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