Doing your recovery work with kids.....

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Doing your recovery work with kids.....
6
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 1:41pm
Anyone else have young children and working on your recovery? I went to an all day conference for survivors this weekend (thanks to my husband) and it really helped me but it brought up a ton of emotion and I had some weird dream last nite that I think might have been a flashback...and then when I came home I had to take on the role of mommy again and sometimes it's SO hard juggling. I've put my recovery work on hold before and then it's just prolonged. How do you other juggle it???

Thanks,

Amy
Nurturedheartmom

Amy -

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 4:21pm
Welcome to the board! I have two young kids, ages 8 and 6. I started my recovery work when they were 5 and 3. It is very hard to juggle kids and recovery, and it's hard to compartmentalize feelings. One thing I'm learning is that I don't have to compartmentalize my feelings as much as I used to think I had to. I used to feel the need to protect my kids from what I was going through, but now I'm starting to think that doing that was me being dishonest with my kids, and I was teaching them by example not to feel their own feelings. (I believe kids learn more from what we do than from what we tell them to do.)

My dh is in the Navy. The last time he deployed, I kept all of my sad feelings to myself, and I saved them up for after the kids went to bed. I would schedule my breakdowns for when they were otherwise occupied. This time, now that I've been working through therapy and OA to feel my feelings instead of stuffing them down, my husband deployed and I couldn't keep those feelings bottled up as neatly as before. But you know what? I think my kids are doing better now because of it. They see me feeling my feelings as I have them, and then they feel free to experience their own feelings. I don't want to teach my kids to bottle things up like I used to.

The feelings I've mentioned so far don't have to do with recovery, but I also feel more comfortable now sharing my feelings about that with my kids. I don't have contact with my parents anymore, and if I ever feel upset about that, I can say, "I'm sad about that today." I don't share the gory details with my kids, but I can share some of what I'm going through with them. This makes me feel supported by my family instead of the way I used to feel--as if everything was on my shoulders. This is what I want my kids to learn--that a family is made up of several parts, and all of the parts work together. I don't use my kids as mini-therapists, but I do feel as if I present myself as more of a realistic PERSON to them now, instead of as some kind of Mommy drone.

One more practical note--I have a sitter scheduled every week so I can attend my group therapy and OA meetings. I used to feel guilty about leaving the kids with a sitter twice a week, but I got over it and I'm a better Mom because of it. :o}

I hope this helps.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 11:07pm
Great insights and suggestions from Freegirl!

I am also a mom of two. My kids are 12 and 10, so over the last several months I've had a lot of opportunities to do my recovery work while they are in school. We also have weekends when it will work out that my son is on a Scout campout, daughter at a sleepover, and husband at second job, and those have provided good opportunities.

Even though mine are older now, I can relate to what you are describing because I went through my "crisis stage" when they were very small, and didn't understand what was happening to me. I have been able to stay home with my kids, and although it's been a blessing it's also been overwhelming at times, and having the troubling memories and disturbing feelings surface really compounded things for me. Even though I didn't understand what was going on, I knew that I needed time to myself, so I took advantage of babysitting trade-offs, mothers-day-out programs, etc. so that I could have time to not be "mommy" every now and then and do something just for me. Sometimes this was just taking a nap! LOL

Maybe if you could do some things like this, you could set some of that free time aside to just be good to yourself. Sometimes a nap or a quiet soak in the tub really helps to rejuvenate yourself, and you need that even more with recovery work.

I have found journaling to be a great way for me to sort through my feelings and understand WHY I'm feeling the way I am. I usually do this at night after everyone's in bed. With the flashbacks you're having, if you can get it down on paper (or in my case, I type on the computer because it's easier to keep up with my thoughts), your mind won't need to "keep track of it" and keep mulling over it. It's already recorded, and you can go back to it later when you're ready. Otherwise it will be vying for your attention and you have to deal with that besides dealing with the feelings. Does that make sense? It just becomes a bigger jumble in your head.

It is hard to do this with kids needing our attention, too, but I think there are a lot of options that can help. Also, Freegirl made a really good point about it being okay for our kids to see us sad. We don't have to go into details, but acknowledging to them that we are feeling bad is healthy for them. They also can watch us deal with those feelings and can learn ways of coping by seeing what we do. Explaining on those days that "Mommy might need a nap today," etc. is good for them, as long as they aren't being neglected. I do think that it is a good idea to have someone you can have babysit if you are going through a period where you are experiencing a lot of anger and you find that you are projecting it onto your kids. Anger makes us more irritable and less patient with the day-to-day issues of parenting. Do you have a close friend or family member who you can confide in and work out some kind of arrangement where you can call and drop the kids off if you're having a bad day? Then on good days you can do something for them in return, whether helping with housework or babysitting for them, as well.

I wish you well with this. I know it's not easy. I think that as we become stronger, though, we help to build strength in our children, as well.

Hope some of this helped. Love, Heidi

HeidiRose

co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board

Avatar for opal45
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 9:16am
Welcome to the board. I can't add too much to what's already been said, they've both made some wonderful suggestions. My kids were 10, 12, and 14 years old when I started doing this work. They already knew I had a volatile side but I was off the charts when I was in the early part of healing. The beginning stage is so disruptive to our families. And it's disruptive to us b/c we're not used to such uncontrollable feelings. The beginning just sucks. But it does get so much better. For me, I had to get to a point where I focused my attention away from "doing your recovery work with kids" (as your title said) to doing recovery work FOR my kids. My abuse had damaged my ability to love fully, even with my own children, that I knew I had to do this work for them.

Now, I do have one more thought that I don't think the others have addressed yet. You mentioned this workshop you attended. I've been to those workshops before and I love them. They bring up so much stuff that I had hidden/denied for years. But I'm curious, was that a one time only event or is there ongoing therapy? I ask b/c without ongoing therapy you may be left overwhelmed by the emotions and that can be re-traumatizing. When you're overloaded by flashbacks and emotions it's called flooding and, although you're dealing with an enormous amount of hidden feelings, very few of those emotions are actually being processed. That's very unfair to you IMO. For what you've been through, you deserve a more gentle healing. I really hope you have or can find a therapist to help you deal with what the workshop tapped into. You're so worth it. It helps to have a place where you can be taken care of. Being the mom is a tough role to play even in the best of times. Dealing with the emotional turmoil that we go through makes it that much harder so having a therapist be there for us is immeasurable.

You obviously have a wonderful husband who is willing to help. Now, sometimes they don't look very wonderful when they want to help too much. ;-) At least that was the case for me. But if you two work on this together it can help deepen your relationship which is such a gift. Has he read "Ghosts in the Bedroom" or "Allies in Healing" yet? Those are good books for partners. And I think "Sexual Healing Journey" is also good for both of you.

Oops, I digressed, your inquiry was directed toward the kids. Sorry. I just think this is a fabulous gift you are giving your family. It's going to suck for awhile but not forever. You will get through this messy part. Accepting the messiness can help quite a bit. Sitters, naps, journalling are also extremely important and necessary. If you had cancer I bet you'd be able to adjust to those needs. This really is no different in many regards. You are healing.

So, good luck and again, welcome to the board. It's a great place for support and wisdom. You're certainly not alone here and we're open 24/7, :-).

**gentle hugs**

Gail

**gentle hugs**

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2003
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 7:00pm
Hi, I have a 2 yo and an almost 1 yo, and I find it helps for me to have scheduled time each week for "quiet time" reading, processing, having devotions, journaling, or whatever--away from the house and kids. DH puts the kids to bed and I go to a quiet restaurant for coffee or dessert. I also utilize the playpen and the playroom if I really need to have a few minutes of not having to concentrate on the kids.

2s4a

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 06-05-2003 - 1:24pm
This is a great idea! Actually, the leader of my women's group mentioned this is what she does. Because if you set time aside each day, the issues won't creep up at other times as much. Thanks for reminding me!

Have a good day...

Amy
Nurturedheartmom

Amy -

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 06-05-2003 - 1:31pm
Thanks for the great ideas!!! My dh is my only "sitter" LOL. We use his mom sometimes, but only when we go out together. I don't really have anyone else that can give me a break but when my older son is in school that helps. But now he's out for the summer...

I understand too about expressing your feelings to your children. I think it's healthy to do that too. I couldn't imagine having a spouse in the Navy. It must be hard at times. I wish you well.

Hugs,

Amy

Nurturedheartmom

Amy -