Todays blog piece comes from Tweeter @ivavnuk who felt compelled to write something after reading our post by Colby Pearce last week.
I’ve just read the excellent Colby Pearce article (read here) where clearly the experience he has in writing is shining through with it being so well crafted, but it is an excellent insight too.
Its something I had wondered in reading adopters and prospective adopters accounts through Twitter. There are people who clearly meet that balance but there are people who seem wide of it.
My experience of childhood trauma is that the affects of abuse run deep and are very likely to be carried into adulthood, and being able to take a place in society isn’t helped by having your ‘failings’, ‘weaknesses’, and ‘abnormalities’ emphasised. For clarity ‘failings’, ‘weaknesses’, and ‘abnormalities’ were how I as a ‘worthless’ child viewed my issues – and not a view I am ascribing to anyone else.
Was it Jackson Brown who sang, ‘don’t point out my failings – I know them too well’ ? Certainly a child with critically low self esteem is ripe ground for taking support that they are worthless and full of problems.
Yet there seems a prevalent mindset, perhaps borne of trying so hard to understand a child’s issues’ ?, where those issues are taken to be that child’s defining feature. A new behaviour is noted and seems almost too readily ascribed to their trauma. Like Woody Allen mistaking a leak through his shirt pocket from his pen as being a malignant melanoma – it may just be an ink stain.
It may even be a melanoma – but not malignant. Some effects of trauma can be carried into adulthood and not be defining or over encumbering.
In fact they can be empowering. Nietche said that we start life as a camel, and the role of a camel is to have burdens put upon it. The camel then goes into the desert where it is transformed into a lion – the bigger the burden, the more powerful the lion. The rest of his transformative analogy is beyond the scope of this waffle – but the point is that your wounds become the source of your wisdom. Accessing that starts with knowing that you are not solely defined by those wounds, or at least seeing value in them. Another of Nietche’s phrases was ‘Careful you cast out your devil – it may be your best part’.
I’ve read where people talk with frustration of the root of their child’s behaviour being mistaken by others for normal development rather than trauma. Normalising it is the phrase.
Yet there is a balance there in not making your child feel they are abnormal and there is merit in others seeing them as normal.
It reminds me of the story about a mental health institute patient who was convinced he was a spy and awaiting some important mission – a stream of doctors had tried to convince him he wasn’t and encountered deep conflict over it, the patient becoming more distressed and the doctors more certain he needed to be contained. Then one day a maverick therapist snuck into his room and said ‘Look, I’ve not long before they find me – I know who you are. Whats important is that you tell no one you’re a spy, just take your place in society, and if we need you – I will return, have you got that ?’ The chaps is said to have agreed, been validated, and took his place in society and lived happily ever after.
The goal is to have a happy life amongst other people.
Trauma I’m familiar with seems to have the greatest impact at an emotional level. Understanding and labelling that seems of secondary importance, perhaps even of only mild interest or even no importance. Great big emotions sweep you away regardless of what your conscious mind might understand. What does help is coming to understand that you are the space in which those emotions play out and not those emotions or thoughts they are manifesting through. ‘You are not angry – you feel angry’ is an empowering change of view – it creates space so that choices about what to do start to arise.
I’m new to parenting – but I”m not knew to being burdened in early years. When I read twitter I have no adoptive parenting expertise – but I can read it through the eyes of my childhood.
Some of it surprises me.
I had no idea parenting was a competitive sport to some until I entered the arena. I heard a comedienne on the radio say “before I had children I didn’t know what was important – now they are here I know that the only important thing is that they are better at everything they do than my brothers children”. This even seems to extend to trauma – I’ve read exchanges that seem to be competing with how hard it is to endure their adopted child’s behaviour.
That’s a similar worrying view to the prospective adopters you see, whose agenda or desperation for having a family seems so prevalent that it must outweigh their ability to put a child first. Surely the most basic component of being a good parent is being able to put someone else first and to not see a situation in terms of yourself ?
The Buddhists say: ‘We all drink from the same stream of consciousness – don’t piss in the stream’
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