Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

Which rabbit am I?

I laugh as I shake my head back and forth and somehow muster an, “I don’t know.”  And I didn’t get any smarter as I slept, because this morning I woke up and I still don’t know.  I don’t know which rabbit you are.  For that matter, I don’t know which I am either.  Ah, the plethora of things I do not quite yet know about myself.  All the answers, the references, the cross references, the things you always need to know.  But when you ring, I still pick it up.  And when you’re silent in my ear, I know you are laughing at something I just said.  And I wait to hear the echo of your happiness.  Which, as you know, is more precious to me than even my own.  Because your happiness is my happiness.   You are my “amygdala buddy” and I like it that way.

I think everybody needs one — an amygdala buddy, not a rabbit (although rabbits are really cool).  What everybody needs is someone who knows that you’re lying when you say that you are fine.  Someone who can enter the room and bring you instant regulation.  And if not instant, than pretty darn fast.  I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “chemistry” thing.  But it might be.  I’m just a pseudo-neuroscientist.  I just know what I know.  And I know that’s what you can do.  You can read right through my lines and you can feel what I feel right when I feel it.   That is connection.  And that is what everybody in the whole wide world spends their whole life yearning for.

I think I will tell you now, that the amygdala is the part of the primitive brain that is responsible for perceiving threat and danger in our environment.  A cave man with a well-working amygdala would have been a more successful hunter, more likely to survive in the woods.  Today, a child with a well-working amygdala will be more likely to survive his infancy when his mother does not feed him or change him or even pick him up at all.  Because he will begin to perceive her as a threat in his environment and he will not need to depend on her anymore.  And that perception will then be transferred to all adults, to all people for that matter.  Instaed of trust, mistrust forms.  That is trauma.  That is Reactive Attachment Disorder.

And no matter who you are, or what your story is, there is a piece of you in this article.  Because every one of our past experiences builds our brain into what it is today.  And when our past experiences are scary or stressful or even unpredictable, our amygdalas can become very, very strong.  And before we know it, we are perceiving even mundane things as threats to our well being, to our survival.  We might have panic attacks or we might get easily frustrated during moments of pressure. We might be more likely to have a one night stand than a long term relationship.  We might keep people close, but only so close.  We might always wonder if everybody feels that way. That is a strong amygdala.  That is being attachment-challenged. And that is just human nature.

So I don’t know what rabbit you are.  But at least I know you’re human.

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September 28, 2008 Posted by | RAD Education | 3 Comments

That Darned old Pucker Brush again

Like I’ve said before, there is an old saying in the south about being confused.  It’s called “wandering around in the pucker brush.”  And to my understanding, the pucker brush is pretty nasty.  Prickly.  Painful.  Just bad to get lost in.

That is how it feels when you are trying to parent a child with a trauma history and can’t seem to find any help.  (Believe me.  I’ve been there!)

So to help you find your way out of the maze and into healing, you now have access to BCI-trained therapy right here in Oregon!

Check out this link:

Life Strategies in McMinnville, Oregon

And get yourself out of the pucker brush.  It’s never too late.

Peace in the home.

Peace in the community.

Peace in the world.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, RAD Education, Soap Box, Support Groups | Leave a comment

I Will Hold Your Hair Back When the World Gets Overwhelming…Whether Or Not You Hold Mine

What happened next wasn’t very interesting, so I felt no need to keep that story going. But if you must know, I will tell you. All the sordid details of every pathetically complicated interaction.

He laughed at me. He said he knows. He said, “Yes, for 10 years. I felt it too. But that doesn’t change today.”

Then my brother got me Conor Oberst tickets and now I’m fine.

And how, exactly does this become about parenting? And especially about parenting a child with trauma? Well, everything. In every way it feels the same. Because my son, and all the stories he could keep telling, about wanting so badly to be loved and to be noticed and to be validated by someone he looks up to. That is what I was doing. That is just what I thought I needed in that moment. And I believe I did. I needed someone to wrap their arms around me and say, “I hear you and you’re safe with me and I love you anyway.” And he did and it’s all good.

But what if he hadn’t? What if he just laughed?

I would have been so humiliated, so hurt, that I couldn’t have left that space with a smile on my face. I would have been in tears.  But worse than that, I would have been in so much emotional pain that I don’t know how I could have recovered.  I would have continued to throw up and stay awake in bed, curled up in the fetal position without a thought in my brain.  I would have chalked it up to every negative thing inside of my head being right, once and for all. They are all right. That I’m that terrible. That I’m fat. That I’m way out of my league here with trying to find love.

That is what foster care is like for our children.  And placements and orphanages and disrupted adoptions.  To be so terrified of sharing yourself with someone.  Yet to go against everything inside of you and actually say what you want.  Then only to be shut down, to be laughed at, again….and again….and again.   To be devastated by someone who you thought was supposed to love you.

I think a lot of times, the traditional parenting paradigm that we operate out of is just like that. Our kids whine and they cry and we say, “Oh that child! He is just doing that for attention!” As if that was a bad thing. What if we stop thinking of it like that and we just give them what they think they need? What if we just meet them exactly where they are? Validate their feelings?   Hold them?  Show them how much we care about what matters to them?  Tell them that we, “hear you and love you anyway” or that “all your feelings are safe with me”?  Isn’t that exactly what they need?  Isn’t that just what you have needed at times, someone to just unconditionally support you no matter what?  Or someone just to hold you?

Because that’s all I needed someone to do. I just wanted to be held.  And that’s not wrong. It’s right. And true connection creates safety to have those needs met. That is unconditional love. And that is what parenting should be all about.

How did we get so far removed from that? When did we start saying “full-time mom”? Like Nelly asked, “When did a child become a full time or part time deal?” Isn’t the very nature of parenting a full-time job? To bring a life into this world, whether by our body or our hearts and be responsible for them in every way?  To be there with someone, for someone. Someone who maybe just “needs” you when they need you. Someone who you are just there for.  You know, just to hold thier hair back when the world gets overwhelming.  Because it’s not our children’s job to hold ours.

And that’s it.  That’s all that happened.  From the beginning until now.  I had an experience of unconditional support from somebody that I needed it from.  Finally, he was present with me and he heard everything I said.  The best part is that he is taking responsibility for his part of the relationship and that makes him a big, strong man.   And that means the story isn’t over yet.  (Wink, wink.)

To be continued in about 1000 years…..

September 11, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, Soap Box | Leave a comment