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In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

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“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis


I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Healing From Old Baggage

All of us come into life, naked and crying for comfort.  Some receive that comfort, some don't.  From the moment of conception, our lives are full of experiences both negative and positive. 
I have written extensively on this blog about attachment, bonding, the neglect of orphans and their physical and emotional needs. 

A couple of years ago I wrote this post <--- (linked) about "Any Unpacked Bags"....

Today, I'd like to cover more detail on this, and why it is of PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE to deal with our OWN healing in order to help our children.  I also want to offer hope for those who did not have a "stellar" or "nurturing" childhood, but felt the sting of dysfunction, due to neglect, abuse, divorce, alcoholism, death, or any other trauma that can wreak havoc on an individual.  There is hope for healing and having happy, secure attachments with your children and other healthy relationships!

 The Tender Heart's Support group has been studying Karyn Purvis's Book, "The Connected Child". We finished chapter 12 last night in Support Group.  It was the last chapter.

She mentioned in the chapter that many times parents who bring children in for therapy, are needy themselves.  An AAI test is given to analyze where the parent is coming from.

Here is an excerpt from her book that you might find very helpful! :)

When answering questions about your own parents you tend to:
( If your attachment style is secure)
Answer honestly and truthfully.

express appreciation and value for close relationships and bonds
be comfortable discussing interpersonal connections
give specific, clear examples that illustrate your observations about the past
have a balanced perspective on the good and the bad, talking about the failures of your parents as well as the good things, without dwelling on either

express thoughts using speech that is coherent, with the past distinguished from the present.
have coherent recollections of your childhood, with a clear time line

display a sense of humor and forgiveness for the past.

(If your attachment style is insecure)

give short, vague, or dismissive answers, or give excessively long and rambling responses, you can't seem to stop

make broad generalities about the past but can't give specific, clear examples that illustrate the points,
give misleading or incomplete responses

use black or white terms idealizing your parents or denigrating them
minimize or block out negative experiences
actively hang on to grudges, anger, and resentments

have confusing or contradictory details in your stories about them
have incoherent thoughts or speech
confuse the past with the present.

Securely attached adults are better negogiators in close relationships. Only a secure mother can say, "Tell me what hurts, sweetheart," and listen attentively and respectfully to the answer.
When an adult is avoiding her own history, entangled in her past or disorganized about her losses, she can't accurately assess and respond to a harmed child's reality.  Only a secure mother can find the heart of the highest risk child.
If you did not have safe, nurturing or warm relations with your family as a child, odds are, your own style is insecure, HOWEVER, be reasurred that you can still achieve a secure attachment style IF you are willing to face up to your own difficult past.

To do this, you will need to visit the past with ferocious HONESTY and be willing to explore and examine it head on. You can come clean about the past in a variety of ways including:

Keeping a journal about your feelings and history

drawing pictures about your feelings and history
talking to a counselor, therapist or clergy member
writing a story about it

taking walks and talking to a friend about it
writing a letter to the person, then tearing it up and burning it.
Accept what happened to you in the past was not ideal, yet at the same time recognize the individuals who hurt you probably did the best they could with the tools they had. Accept the people who hurt you were laboring under thier own demons.
Be willing to come to terms with the past and release it, have a sense of humor about it, and then go forward FREELY in the present."
excerpt taken from Karyn Purvis' Book The Connected Child chapter 12


Nobody has had a perfect childhood, some less perfect than others and some downright awful.
But  Karyn is right.  If we don't deal with our own issues, it will be VERY HARD to deal with our children's.  Those buttons we say are pushed....... yep... unresolved issues in ourselves.

If you find yourself  over reacting in a negative way, when your child acts out, it might be a good idea to think long and hard about why certain buttons are such a trigger for you.  Deal with the trigger and the button disappears! :)

One of the exercises we did last night was using 5 adjectives to describe the relationship with our parents before the age of 12.
Then, write an explanation relating to each adjective.

The final question was:  "What happened when you were upset?" 
(what was your mother's or father's reaction when you were upset)
Those answers can be very telling in how we respond when our own children are upset.

This is not a chapter about blaming parents or it's all your mother's fault type malarky.  But it is REAL that the toes of the past step on the heels of the present.
If you can CLEARLY analyze your experiences, it is very helpful in understanding yourself and why you may react to your children.
Our children NEED us to be at our best, prepared to help THEM deal with THEIR trauma!
Attaching and bonding is so important. Don't let your past hold them back by getting in the way of their healing and future!

I will be taking a group through this book again starting pretty soon.  (hopefully next week)
I really do suggest reading chapter 12, and then going through the entire book with chapter 12 in mind..... and then really going through chapter 12. :)

Our regular support group will be starting Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volume 2.


Unknown said...

Hi Christie, please do not take this comment out of moderation. I have given your link to a few people in the last few months in the Israeli adoption community, and there was a suggestion that if you want to attract more regular readers/get a book deal (which you should) based on your blog, you might want to consider bold/italics instead of capitals for emphasis. Just a thought from a friend of mine.

Unknown said...

There are some awesome thoughts in that quote. I was trying the exercises you described, and they are actually giving quite a bit of insight into why I'm more angry at one parent than the other...

Karen said...

Maybe I should move close to you and join your group! :-) No, just kidding...when my book gets returned I'll read chapter 12 again... Could you do a post about your support groups (or perhaps you did already?)...how are they structured? Do you have childcare? All that detail stuff... :-) My husband HATES/struggles to read so unless it's in DVD form, he gets most of his info second hand from me.

Christie M said...

Thank you Hevel! :) I will do the bold italics. I can use all the help I can get. :)

Christie M said...

Karen, :)
I only have one small support group. (5 people) We started in the fall of last year. Great people!
I am going to be leading an online group for The Connected Child starting soon. There are a lot more people in this group, but I don't know how many until we start. :)

Our support group meets at a coffee house one day, on the first and third weeks of each month.
There is no child care, at this time. If the group goes above 10, then I will move it somewhere else and consider child care as an option.

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