August is Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Month
America is being bombarded with lies masquerading as truths. America also is being told the present is worse than the “good ol’ days.” We all should harken back to a time when things were “better, simpler.”
I remember those times. They were rife with lies. When I was age 13, my paternal grandmother sat me down and informed me that I wouldn’t amount to much because I had dark skin. She had light skin. Had there been no civil rights advances, she might have been right. That was the norm.
Truth was suppressed in favor of a twisted worldview. Truths like all men are created equal but must be separated by race. Niggers don’t mind being called nigger so whites were free to throw that word around. You know like: Butter, bread, milk, nigger, eggs, cheese. No big deal. Is it all coming back now?
Besides, blacks are inferior beings, i.e., 3/5 of a person; therefore, undeserving of equal protection under the law even though Lincoln gave it to them a few years ago.
At home, absolute truths were spoken in hushed whispers. Truths like that same grandmother repeatedly was raped by her father because after her mother died, someone had to service el señor Papi so it fell on the two oldest sisters. I’d heard it for years but never made the connection it was very likely my grandmother did the same to her two sons, one of which was my father.
I was manifesting incest memories as nonepileptic seizures during early therapy sessions. Body memories found a safe place to finally surface. My body remembered another truth: I was sexually abused. Little did I know I had repressed memories for which I had no control. A major coverup was beginning to unfold.
Imagine how perplexed I was when I became a parent. I had one worldview while reality was something completely different. If I veered off the reality course, my husband got me back on track. I couldn’t escape how evident truth was versus my skewed worldview.
Storied myths included:
- Cracking my knuckles would ensure they grow large and very ugly. Nope.
- Breastfeeding would increase my chances of getting breast cancer. Nope.
- The only snakes and perverts in my family were my great grandfather and my Tio. Nope.
- If I dressed and acted inappropriately, I deserved the treatment I attracted. Nope.
- The only reason I had multiple bladder infections was because I wasn’t wiping up properly. Nope.
- The reason I had anal fissures was because I ate too much. Nope.
Who knew being a mother would trigger me. Before, a trigger merely was associated with a gun or a green light on a major project.
I raised my kids the only way I knew how. I did everything I could to make sure my kids weren’t raised by tyrannical parents.
Learning to trust myself
For some reason, I was very concerned my daughter was being molested when she reached age 3. I can’t explain the “feeling” but it wouldn’t go away. I did not eliminate the possibility it was my husband but I seriously doubted it. I toyed with the idea it was someone at daycare but only women watched her all day. Dad was out of the question because I couldn’t remember him being sexually inappropriate with me.
I made an appointment with her pediatrician without telling my husband. Her pediatrician very gently walked me through signs and symptoms as he carefully examined her. She didn’t appear to have been molested. However, the pediatrician mentioned my kind of suspicion was common if I was molested growing up to which I immediately said I wasn’t molested growing up.
Years later I started recovering memories. I no longer could deny I heard me say my father’s name when responding to my therapist’s question, “Who is with you? Who is hurting you?” It was neither my great grandfather nor my uncle who consistently came up.
I recalled one time when we picked up my daughter from my father’s house. He told us that she had not peed all day Sunday. We thought it was a bit odd when the diaper was dry Monday morning. She was in lots of pain so we raced to the clinic to find out she had a raging urinary tract infection. It would be another 24 hours before she finally peed.
I discussed this memory with my husband and it gave us pause. We couldn’t outright accuse my father of playing with her private parts years ago. We also knew if we confronted my father we risked alienating him, a babysitter we desperately needed … but it fit the pattern of multiple UTIs.
After my husband died my daughter was triggered badly as we slid into an IHOP booth. She recalled why she suddenly got quiet and afraid. I asked questions consistent with how my therapist asked me. It was my father at one of the IHOPs near Disneyland. Now I know. My father likely would have said she was making it up and to “forget about it.” That last phrase was gospel growing up.
I soon figured out I had to instill in my kids that I would believe anything they told me. I made sure they understood if anyone said they will hurt me if I find out, they are lying. Tell me.
As I was growing in Christ and progressing through therapy, I established a safety zone. I kept my poker face on every single time they said or did something outrageous. Overreacting ensured they’d never approach me.
During one parenting class, the instructor said he regularly checked in with his kids with very simple questions: 1) How are things going? Assuming the answer was positive, he would follow up with, “Would you tell me if it wasn’t?” That latter tidbit was brilliant.
I immediately started asking this question. I didn’t want to reveal my hand in that I wanted them to know I really did want to know how they were. I wanted to establish and build trust.
I didn’t have that with my parents. Deep down, I always suspected there was cause for me to hesitate before I told them the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Let’s be honest. If I knew I did something wrong and they knew it, they asked me what happened anyway to see if I would come clean. I knew a beating was inevitable so I embellished, downplayed my role. It didn’t matter. I got my beating. Bruises and headaches were a lifestyle.
My parents didn’t get I was just a kid testing limits. They had no frame of reference for discipline without fear, rage and physical abuse. That’s how they were raised.
When safety and truth come together
My children trust I won’t kill them for being truthful. I am a safe person and home is a safe place. They consistently have experienced a very calm, cool and subdued parent who doesn’t want to scare them into obedience.
Of course, I’ve lost it a few times but in my garage after they went to bed. This fact was a personal parenting victory. I never put a hole in the wall with my fist or peeled off my belt as if to prepare for a major beating. Oh yes, there were major and minor beatings growing up, but I digress.
I had to learn and teach that telling the truth was absolutely important. I had to understand making a mistake was not the end of my marriage. I was raised to believe mistakes lead to divorce or beatings. I was wrong.
For example, imagine how quickly I stopped lying to my kids when I had to apologize for lying in the first place.
I had to set the example. I had to teach a white lie is still a lie. I had to build trust and all of it began with me and the truth.
Posts in 2016 series
Parenting by any means necessary
Foundations: Why truth matters
Let Patience have her perfect work
School: Expectations versus reality
Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
It’s okay to miss the target and hit the tree
Game changer: Prayer and Meditation
Cogtoolz brings much-needed resources to college students
Impact: Bless, release, declare over our kids
Posts in 2015 series
Parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder
Discipline requires training, love spelled t-i-m-e
Beatings/Spankings are abuse: plain and simple
Parenting, like marriage, requires work
Parenting is a lifelong-learning proposition
Stop, look, listen and ask yourself questions
The high art of juggling
Downtime: the golden goose of PTSD
Worldwide parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
Parenting is a high call no matter your lot
The drought before the drought
Being misunderstood is a symptom
You are being forged in fire
Awakenings podcast: Parenting with PTSD