I read a lot of information about how being a traumatized parent can damage your kid even if they never experience “trauma” themselves. Being around crazy people can be traumatic, and I worry so I check on what the signs are.
My children are not quiet nor withdrawn. They so rarely indicate low self esteem that I can’t believe they are faking high self esteem. They fucking like themselves. I was absolutely, completely convinced I would be doing worse by now. I thought I would have fucked up everything beyond repair by this point.
I don’t think I have. I think I have worked hard to change how I react to things. I think that when I over react to things I talk about that. I talk about why it is an over reaction, what I should be doing, and why I’m struggling.
I read some parents console themselves with the idea, “At least my kids have never seen me have a panic attack.”
hahahahahahahaha my kids have seen many.
“Ok, I know I’m over reacting and I know this isn’t actually a big deal but right this minute my body is freaked out so we are going to sit very still until I calm down. It’s just a storm. It’ll pass.” As I sob hysterically and keen and rock myself.
I can talk through fucking anything. I’ve trained myself.
But we talk about those kinds of things when I’m calm. “Lots of stuff happened when I was a kid that over loaded my central nervous system. That kind of thing leaves a permanent mark. So sometimes my central nervous system gets a misfired impulse of, “COMPLETELY PANIC” and it takes a few minutes for the rest of my body to catch up on the fact that there is no current danger. It’s super annoying and I wish my body would catch up faster.”
That’s more or less what I tell the kids.
I’m a crier and they’ve had to adapt to seeing that. They offer comfort but don’t freak out. My explanation of that is: “Sometimes when you have life experiences it isn’t safe enough to have feelings about them while they are happening. It doesn’t matter if you have time that day or not. All of the thoughts, feelings, and experiences you have in life impact your body and get stored for later. (That’s why we work so hard on getting you positive thoughts, feelings and experiences!) If you have bad feelings that hurt you and you aren’t safe enough, they get stored up for later when you are safe. So even if it takes years and years your body is still waiting to release those feelings. I’m safe now. So my body is still working on releasing and that gets annoying and inconvenient sometimes. It’s ok though. I’m grateful I’m safe.”
I can talk about these things this way because I am safe in a way I never expected to be. I don’t think I’d be able to do this if I were currently in more danger. So I don’t expect someone else to just do this. This is very hard higher order thinking I could not do when I was still in danger. I was not capable of this kind of explaining when my life was still at risk. It is part of why I’ve had so many traditional social problems.
I don’t think my kids are showing distress on the down low and that shocks me daily. I think they are genuinely doing ok so far. They are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life. I’m finding out what real privilege looks like. I wish everyone got a childhood like them. A childhood full of spare time and snuggles and philosophical conversations about when to follow rules and when to break them. If anything their life has been too good to them and they default to assuming that rules are just and should be followed. How did I end up with kids who think the world just makes sense!??!?!?!
I do a lot of buffering.
When I feel like, “I’m doing well” I stop and reflect… no… it’s not actually about me. It’s about the layers of luxury and safety in our lives. How can I be so patient with them? Because when I’m flipping out we eat out and I don’t have to do more work. How can I work with them on what they want to work on all day? Because I don’t have to do other work. Because I’m lucky enough that taking care of them is my first primary job. It is the only job I can’t shuffle on to someone else. I love my job. It feels like 5% of the hardness of teaching and about 150% more wonderful.
Because this way I can cuddle with the kids and it isn’t illegal. Life is awesome.
When I was a younger adult a “snuggle party” was a different concept. These days we have almost daily snuggle parties and I feel like it is healing my soul. I have people who want to touch me gently and not scream at me now. I have people who want to sit around and cuddle and tell the same 15 knock knock jokes a few thousand times. It is… strangely relaxing and fun. I am soaking in what it means to feel safe.
Many of my friends are not in the easy spot I’m in. I’m feeling very guilty about that just now. I understand why most of the people I know in my tax bracket carefully avoid knowing poor people. I feel like a piece of shit for spending so much money on my bathroom remodel when many of my friends could turn their whole lives around for $10,000. I could have turned ten lives around, twelve, fifteen for what I’m going to spend in the end on my bathroom.
I don’t feel very good about that. I could have fixed the black mold problem for 1/5 the price.
But then I wouldn’t end up with something that fulfills out my lottery fantasies for ten years. I’ve dreamed of this bathroom for a long time. I’m selfish. I want it. I want a bath tub where my kids can hang out and soak with me and talk when I’m trying to deal with how much pain I’m in instead of telling them to leave me alone because there isn’t room.
And my bank balance is terrifyingly low. For me. Which makes me feel like an asshole. I need to transfer money from savings to checking today because otherwise I’ll over draw in the next month. I’m that close right now. It’ll be ok. I will have the credit cards paid off by June. But I’m freaking out. I feel like an asshole because I’m worried about being down to $5,000. But my friends are worried about being down to $11 and how will they get to work.
I can understand why rich people feel so guilty hearing about the problems of poor people. I don’t get to complain. I may have feelings about where I am financially but I don’t get to complain. Shut up, bitch.
I’m going to remodel my bathroom. Then I’m going to catch up more on debt. Then I will probably increase my donation rate. I will never get to the point where I can give people all over the country as cushy of a life as I have, but I could do more and I will. It is hard feeling like that is good enough. It isn’t good enough. But I think that is the best I can do and still learn how to take care of myself.
I really believe the bathroom will pay off long term in terms of increasing the value of the house. We live in a very expensive area. Going from one toilet to two, having a bathtub that is actually fancy and fun… I’m starting to lay out the mosaics for the wall!
My bathroom is going to be art. Which is freaking me out but feels so awesome too.
When did I become an artist? Whoa. I am.