Welcome to the third annual Parenting with PTSD Awareness month. This year’s focus is on managing symptoms around our kids.
Bear with me as I set a table for you. I’ll need to bring some things to the table first before we sit down, say grace and eat. Please know I am not a professional. My opinions and experiences are my own.
Take what you like and leave the rest. Find similarities, identify solutions or ideas for solutions, be inspired and have hope. It is possible to break the cycle for generations to come. Let your creative run loose as you parent as well as you can. I’m rooting and praying for all of you. so let’s get started.
Lay down your expectations because Mission: Parenting is hard but not impossible
No one prepared me for parenting while suffering from PTSD and related disorders. How in the hell was I supposed to parent two kids and manage PTSD symptoms? There was no book, pamphlet, seminar or guru to follow and learn from. I was in completely unchartered waters. Absolutely no one was in a position to help. Well meaning friends had advice but no one understood or had experience. I felt screwed.
What’s worse, World War III was in full effect right after my mother tried to inform me how much of a pain in her ass I was. She felt duty bound to correct me having not done it sooner. It couldn’t have come at a worse moment.
I was in my third month of therapy after PTSD diagnosis trying desperately to come to terms with my new history emerging from deep inside. Pandora’s box had been opened and there was no way to stop what was coming. I had abreactions in the shower, bed, on the toilet, in my living room. My stomach regularly roiled as I contended with unknown triggers and strange scenes popping up in my head.
I could barely think yet there she was trying to right her wrongs clueless about my struggle. She only said two sentences and I was yelling for my husband to throw her out of my house. By the time I found Edd, she was heading toward the gate door. It became clear my mother would be absolutely zero help after Edd died.
Single parenthood begins
After my husband died, my son commented on the first meal I prepared after Edd’s death. My husband usually prepared dinner. My son said, “Dad makes a better dinner. I don’t want this.” I almost died inside. I absolutely understood he was expressing his grief the only way he knew how. My daughter was very weepy with angry bursts in between. I completely understood because she was his “pumpkin.”
The only relatives who came the funeral were two cousins and siblings with attitude. I drove us to church but was an hour late. I didn’t want to go. The two toughest things I had to do that day were greet everyone who wanted to express condolences after the service and my mother in law.
She told me why Mom wasn’t coming. “I can’t imagine what kind of daughter you are that your own mother didn’t feel comfortable coming to my son’s funeral,” she said. “Your mother said she was afraid of how you might embarrass her.” That’s right. My own mother made my husband’s funeral about her and not her two grandchildren who needed her comfort.
It was clear my mother held deep-seeded ill will against me. I was completely blindsided as I had spoken with her the day Edd died 10 days earlier. I fully expected her to come. A close friend expressed her condolences and made me look her in the eye. She told me the fact that my mother wasn’t there was absolutely not normal, not okay. I burst into tears.
After the funeral, I had nothing to offer kids except meals, a roof over their head, clothing and transportation. I had nothing emotionally or spiritually.
I had a vendetta against my mother. I wanted her dead or arrested and convicted of child abuse. The venom she spewed set the tone for the next 10 years. In fact, less than two years after Edd died, she lead the charge with grandparents to wrench custody of my special-needs daughter from me. Apparently, the grandparents didn’t want my son, just my daughter. That hurt him deeply.
The court document was full of false accusations like severe neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and more. Basically, all the crap she did to me growing up was projected upon me as a parent. The court investigator, however, saw right through all of it and they had to dismiss the case. A year later, they opposed my application for conservatorship of her, which delayed conservatorship for two years.
I was acutely aware I had an opportunity to break the cycle of abuse going forward. However, I had no idea I couldn’t be a good parent with so much hate, anxiety, rage inside. I wanted her to die yesterday. I wanted nothing to do with that witch.
The spite and venom held in my heart came out in ways I never realized.
How the hell was I supposed to be good-enough parent when my heart was severely bruised, broken, in 100 forms of pain? I should be eager to greet my munchkins when they come home from school. Instead, I couldn’t get out of bed. When I did, the slightest thing pissed me off. It seemed as if I always had something stuck inside my craw like a piece of white-hot coal.
I was impatient with the kids. All of us were in pain but I had to be the grown up.
When my special-needs daughter had a psychotic break, I had no one. There was no one to share my crisis and motherhood with sans my recovery fellowship and church friends. Yes they cared but it wasn’t the same as the love an adult child craves from their parents. It was programmed into my DNA to want a relationship with my parents.
I felt as if my kids got the shaft, the rawest of raw deals: A lunatic mother and a dead father.
… to be continued
Posts in 2017 series
Breaking the cycle of loneliness takes work
Go outside and play on PWPTSD Awareness Day
Women, Blacks, Latinos have higher rates of abuse
Managing compound-complex parenting
Drinkin’ and druggin’ make parenting even harder
Risky behavior, self neglect aren’t life sentences
When food becomes a weapon
Managing rage, ground rules around kids
Managing hostile relatives, false accusations, head games
Parenting: If it’s not hard, you’re not doing it right
Third Annual Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Day is here!