Saturday, July 21, 2018

Flashbacks and PTSD in RAD Moms

My son and I are fans of Dwayne Johnson although for distinctly different reasons ;-) We all went to see his newest movie called Skyscraper. All is well in my world, I'm happy, healthy, and I'm enjoying a movie in a cool theater on a hot summer day. Skyscraper is exactly what I expected from the trailer and I'm enjoying the fun. 

And then.

The movie was nearing the end. Dwayne Johnson, who plays a father named Will, and his daughter Georgia are caught at the very top of a burning skyscraper. He has pretty much moved mountains to get to his family who were caught in the inferno. He's managed to get his wife and son out of the building. But now, here he is, at the very tip top, fire surrounding them both. They're sitting on the floor, daughter between his knees and his arms wrapped around her. There is nowhere to go, end of the line. Holding her tight and kissing the top of her head, he says something along the lines of, "I'm sorry."

Cue unexpected PTSD flashback.

It's 2015. My daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) has been home for 6 years. My son and I are shells of our former selves and Brad and I fight every day. Brad and I are soul mates. We rarely fight. The occasional argument or disagreement but we don't scream at each other. Ever. We've been together many life times and we've pretty much got it down to a science. Boy has that changed.

Our 8 year old son is extremely depressed and is being forced (unbeknownst to us) into a teeny-tiny life by our daughter. 

We live in a domestic violence household except it's our 10 year old daughter who is the abuser. 

No one believes me.

(You can scroll on down to see all kinds of posts about RAD but this sums it up fairly quickly.)

I've tried everything I can think of to help her and even learned new and unusual ways of living life with her--always trying to help her heal. Some things will work for a short time. Some things make her worse. Still I try.

I tell myself, "I will never give up."

And yet...

Here I am, sitting on top of a skyscraper, my son in my arms, no where to go and the world on fire around me. 

Always I am in protection mode but as much as I am always, always "on" and head on a swivel, it is never enough to protect my family 100%. The abuse that is heaped on myself and those I love just flattens me.

There is nowhere for my daughter to go that will help her and that we can afford.

Divorcing the love of my life and taking our son with me wouldn't fix it--Brad doesn't believe that our daughter is a danger. If we split he will believe her lies and not protect our son from her abuse when they are at his house.

Suicide? In the back of my mind, but in reality, nope. There is no way I will leave my son with no protection.

Nothing can be done and no one believes me. I am helpless and hopeless. 

And so, eyes wide and full of fear at the raging inferno that no one else will see, I sit with my son wrapped in my arms, kiss his head and whisper, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

I snap back. I'm sitting in the movie theater in July 2018. We are all safe: my husband and I have come through and are stronger than ever, my son is thriving, I am thriving, and my daughter is doing well in her home. I'm ok. I breathe in a deep breath. Blink. Touch my arms to my son's on my right and Brad's on my left. Breathe. In and out. I am right here. Safe right now. I feel my feet on the recliner and wiggle them around. I feel my skin touching my loved ones. I feel my breath. The movie comes back into focus. I'm here, in this moment. That was two and a half years ago. 

Nowadays, this doesn't happen very often and the length of time gets shorter as I learn to pull myself back into my body. I'm able to process what happened a little more each time, to put more words and feelings into the experience instead of sitting in stunned silence. Healing isn't a linear process but instead seems to jump around. I don't mind, I'm just glad there is movement! 

So, why do I tell you all this? Because RAD moms are often diagnosed with PTSD. Flashbacks can happen and it's okay to give yourself a break--whatever emotions you have about them are normal. AND also know, you aren't broken. You aren't damaged for life. You can heal. 

In the RAD Mom Summer Camp retreat in early July (a 3 day, all inclusive, healing retreat held at my ranch in Colorado, specifically for RAD moms) one of the shifts was from believing, "I will never get back to who I was before this trauma." to, "I am healing and becoming a new and better version of myself." 

Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a trauma-informed certified Equine Gestalt Coach, artist of 30 years, and Reiki Master. I combine my skills to create an individualized care plan for each client. As an adoptive mother of two (one with Reactive Attachment Disorder and one "glass child"), I am intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations RAD moms and their glass children face as they navigate the muddy waters of life with a mentally ill child. While I see many types of people in my practice, my heart and my specialty is the health and healing of RAD moms and their glass children. Learn more at The Mother Ranch.

If you have a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder in your home and are feeling scared and alone, please join the facebook group called The Underground World of RAD. I am the admin/moderator, there are a few questions to answer and then you'll be added, lifted up, supported, and believed. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Co-active coaching and the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method

One of the interesting things about the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method (EGC or EGCM) is that the style of coaching is different than some. It's called "co-active" and what that means is that I believe every client already has all of his/her answers lying within but often out of conscious awareness. One of my jobs is to assist my clients in finding their own answers.

Advice is easy to come by don't you think? It comes from all corners and we often feel bombarded by what other people think we should do. But really, how often does, "I think you should_____." feel good and true in our own bodies? There is sometimes an internal, "nope" feeling when we are given advice--it just doesn't fit. 

Every so often we end up at a place in life that is scary and uncertain. We feel desperate for answers and turn to friends and family to help us find them. That's when the "shoulds" start flying. Maybe we're desperate enough to try anything and we pick up a few shoulds, dust them off and try them on for size, "I don't know what else to do, maybe this will work." Even when desperate it can be difficult for us to implement the advice and have it make a positive difference in our lives--because it's not coming from within. 

Making assumptions that our stories are the same and that my way will work for you is a recipe for disaster and disconnection. 

So, what does all this mean? It means that I don't "fix" my clients. Instead, the horses, client, and I work together and find ways to tap into their internal wisdom (we all have it!) which is where we find the way through any situation or trauma we've endured. Through greater awareness, self-compassion, and Gestalt methodology we are able to find healing.