August is Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Month
I believed God heard and answered prayer so I began to listen more closely. He always spoke and I heard him best when I was still. If in the heat of battle I was about to overreact, I had just enough grace to excuse myself and walk away so I could get quiet enough to hear Him speak. By hearing, I mean I could hear within my being, between my ears, not in an outside audible voice. I had to cultivate an ear for His voice. I knew cultivating that gift would be the most important skill in my spiritual tool kit.
Honor your father and mother, Exodus 20:12
Honoring my parents didn’t mean I sucked up to them and took whatever they dished out. The only way I could honor my parents was to leave them the hell alone. They had to stay out of my life because they were toxic. They were having nuclear meltdowns because they couldn’t control me. Why would I want to be exposed to radiation levels strong enough to kill me, and permanently, emotionally scar my kids and future generations?
Lean-in to available support groups
Had I not had a very healthy 12-step recovery group, sponsor and been an active member of the worship arts department at church, I would not be writing this today. I needed God with skin on. They came in the form of relationships with strong women who understood as perhaps few others could.
They were men and women at church who adopted us and modeled positive behavior. They prayed with, over and for us. They were the glue that kept us together. They were the check against pervasive, severe, deep dysfunction. They reminded me I was good enough, that Jesus loved me just the way He made me.
As long as I had the courage to know the difference between what I could change, I would be set free to live a happy and joyous life. They taught me what’s good for the parents also is good for the kids. This always proved to be true.
It’s okay to be angry, Matthew 21:12
Growing up, I watched my rage-aholic father yell, beat us with his belt or bare hand, punch holes in walls, crack car dashboard with his pounding fist, beat Mom, burst into tears of rage while driving and more. However, if I remotely tried to express my emotions in similar fashion, I was in deep trouble. Double standards were normal. I had no idea double standards were wrong, and likely a huge source of anger and resentment.
I learned in Bible study it was okay to be angry as long as I don’t sin in my anger. When I wasn’t full of rage, that was easy. When I heard my mother lie like a dog to the judge that she was worried about my mental state because of court proceedings she started, I was enraged.
I had visions of hanging her from a tree. I wondered if I could get through killing her, cut her into pieces, dispose body parts all over California and not get caught. If I treated her head like a baseball on a tee, would I hit a home run? I was a rabid Investigation Discovery fan so I knew I’d get caught eventually so I didn’t do it. Obviously, I had murder in my heart so my anger was equally toxic.
I had to learn it was okay to feel what I was feeling. Several wrongs were perpetrated upon me and I had every right to be pissed off. Depression came from turning my rage inward upon myself. I hated myself.
Get perspective from a stable third party
My therapist validated my rage. He understood it well. He told me what happened wasn’t normal and it certainly wasn’t okay. Before I started recovering memories, I thought I had a pretty good childhood despite parents who had a bitter divorce.
My therapist tried to get me to see I had a very difficult upbringing. Given the way they were trying to control me and my children, I couldn’t argue.
I also learned I didn’t have certain rights despite justified reasons for my feelings. I didn’t have the right to
- Pass it along to my kids;
- Punch holes in walls;
- Yell excessively;
- Beat my kids;
- Make mountains out of mole hills while decrying I was god or Hitler; or
- Speak ill of their grandparents in front or within earshot of them.
I did the latter for years before I finally shut up. I made mistakes but God gave me plenty of grace. With very few outlets to vent, self-destructive behaviors were inevitable and God knows I had a few.
We’ll talk about that next …
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!