What can you let go of today? Have you ever heard the phrase 'forgiveness is for you, not for them'? Holding on to pain, anger, hurt keeps us in a continual state of stress (heightened alert) and our body's innate survival response (fight, flight, freeze) kicks out hormones to support our survival. That is good in times where you have to be in survival mode but what about when that season is over?
I recently experienced how we can not even know that it is happening, or still there. You think you're fine but then - boom - a trigger.
My client wanted to bring my children some Christmas gifts and after rebuffing her the prior year, I said ok (she wouldn't let it go this year). Due to my girls' exposure to ACE (adverse childhood experiences), they have interesting responses to seemingly normal situations so I kept them out of the exchange BUT what I didn't realize was just how much parenting my kids through their healing processes while in a really adverse experience season myself had affected me. I mean I knew but I didn't know it was that bad. Just the act of someone coming to my house - for a good cause, mind you - sent me internally into such a heightened fight response that I could literally feel my body pumping out the hormones. I was like a soldier on alert. Mind clocking like a computer while keeping my emotions from spilling over because that would derail things. Inside I was screaming 'I don't want anyone in my house!!!' but outwardly I had to keep it together and fix the mask. Emotions not allowed or my mind will not work. 'Do what you need to do!' I got stiff, anxious like a caged animal ready to lash out. Watch what you say, watch what you do so it doesn't get misconstrued. The kids were napping but my animals were out and I wasn't doing anything in particular as this was all internal but I noticed they started slinking away quickly.
It was a good thing, normal even, but it triggered a time where I felt helpless, angry, frustrated in my inability to protect my kids from what would inevitably garnish a trigger response from them that I had to deal with in the midst of my own anguish to the situation. Just how long it would last, unknown, but I had to keep going and repetitively do the things, the rituals I knew I needed to so they would come out of it. It didn't matter how tired or drained I was. If I didn't, they would spiral out and that is so much worse.'Why don't you just tell them...' people would say when I ranted off at moments. They didn't understand that I couldn't - the process was the process and the system is the system and it was a war I was focused on winning, not an argument. I had to protect my children and going off at the mouth was not going to help but in fact it could hinder or derail things. Everything I do and say can be interpreted differently depending on who I was speaking to. I learned very quickly that the children's mental and emotional well-being were not at the top of the list for anyone the way it was for me. Trapped is how I felt. Handcuffed. Imprisoned. Unseen. Unheard. Alone. I couldn't fully be myself and a lot of times I felt like a robot looking out at what was going on. I was doing what was needed but emotionally I checked out because if I didn't I would fall apart and be crushed under the weight of what I was carrying.
It's interesting because the experience made me understand my girls more - when I choose to start letting God truly show me. As an adult it was so much but I had life survival experience and developed wisdom on my side - they didn't have any of that. I knew this wasn't life, just a season but for them this was their whole life. They didn't know that this was any different because they hadn't experienced any different. They are children, they could not see beyond the day they were in. Perspective. That season brought me perspective. How I choose to use it was up to me.
The storm was really over this time but it had raged for years and my being, mind and body remembered very clearly even though I was trying to forget. It was etched in there and even though we were really free this time, the baggage that came - the cost of their freedom wouldn't leave me that quickly. Like a limb amputated I had been living with for years, I needed to retrain myself to live again but in a new normal that I actually had never known. I walked in one way but I came out differently. It's not me walking out but we. I don't know them beyond this because that make you someone different in order to survive. I am a work in progress and so are they but this is my thing to let go of this year. And do I really want to forget? If I forget then will I continue to have empathy and search for the ways to develop more into the mother that they need. My childhood adverse experiences developed a strength in me and without that I would not have been the person I need to be to stand in the gap and fight for them. But God was my only companion in that. They have me as their mother so they have another source, they don't have to figure it out alone - it may make them strong but it can also break them. Out of crushing comes oil and that oil is not for you. So I choose to go back on the wheel, into the oil press because there needs to be more oil. I can now choose to go into a comfort zone or I can continue to be molded, to stretch myself to give even more so they can rise even higher.