Managing compound-complex parenting

Managing compound-complex parenting

August is Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Month

In retrospect, our kids didn’t stand a chance of normalcy. They were destined for a dysfunctional upbringing despite both of us swearing we would not raise our kids like our parents raised us. They were going to have a better life if it killed us *shaking fist at the world*. We were like Humpty Dumpty after the fall. We tried to put ourselves back together but that was impossible alone. We needed professional help. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.

The first few years of marriage our daughter watched her parents argue over petty things like what street crosses what street. That literally lead to my husband kicking down our bedroom door. Instantly I realized my butt needed to get to a recovery meeting pronto. Again, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Those meetings saved my life, marriage and kids. I came to understand that while my husband couldn’t control his drug and alcohol intake, I couldn’t control my thoughts. He had a problem with “drink,” while I had a problem with “think.” I studied the Big Book of AA ad nauseam and learned there was very little difference between the alcoholic and myself. The behaviors were nearly identical.

Applying principles of recovery
I soon learned it took two to argue. One of us was in recovery so one of us could shut up instead of adding to yet another tête-à-tête.

Within my first year of recovery, my husband threatened to take our daughter and move out. While he was still yelling, I whipped out my daily meditation book, read pages on fear, turned off the lamp on my side of the bed, rolled over and cried myself to sleep. Of course, he never moved out and I grew stronger, more confident. I had so much more to learn including parenting while living with an alcoholic.

I had to set an example for my children. They had to see it was okay to walk away from an argument; “No” is a complete sentence; Yelling is not necessary; I have the right to remain silent; I can go to a meeting, for a walk, call my sponsor or do all of these; It’s possible to have compassion for the alcoholic; there are no victims only volunteers; and I volunteered to be part of the solution. The level of dysfunction came down each year I remained in recovery.

Quagmire: Juggling PTSD, kids, marriage to alcoholic/drug addict
Yes, I had my occasional drunken moments before recovery but I had no problem quitting pot and alcohol after I jumped into recovery with both feet. He stopped drinking but drastically increased his pot smoking.

My husband tried Alcoholics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. He didn’t work a rigorous program like I did. However, I found a fourth step inventory penned in his hand. My brain nearly exploded when he confessed his actual use schedule. He had a $1,000/month pot habit he was very good at hiding. I cannot imagine what $1,000 of pot looks like.

His alcoholism became exponentially worse just before he started hospice when he started using morphine for pain. At that moment, I lost him. He was not the man I fell in love with and married. He cut me down every chance he got. He told tall tales to his family that made me look evil.

He regularly cut me down in front of the kids including calling me a bitch among other not-so-niceties. On one occasion his vitriol was so ugly I caught myself before I said a word and realized he was attacking me because he was in so much pain, afraid to die. I realized he was trying to make it easier for me to live with his death. When he was done ripping me a new one, I said absolutely nothing and walked away. I cried and cried and cried.

The positive: Both kids heard and saw the whole ugly scene. However, they also saw me put into practice all those coping strategies I learned so they could benefit from my living example.

After my husband died from cancer, I was relieved. Yes I missed him dearly yet I didn’t have to wake up wondering what vitriol awaited me that day.

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!

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