Perspective on Trauma

Building Perspective on Trauma, Loss, Attachment, Familial Pain, and Moving Forward: LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW


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Joni Edelman: Adult Children of Alcoholics I’m

The following article is by author Joni Edelman. Her writing does much to normalize the experiences, internal world, and often outcomes of adult children of alcoholics.

There are many adults among us — many of whom you might not recognize — with intimate knowledge of what it’s like to grow up with an addicted parent. Sadly, there are also many people who love those adults and don’t know what it is like to have become an adult who was once a child raised amongst chaos. For many of us, our entire childhood was swathed in dysfunction. As development goes, the severe dysfunction of our childhood probably resulted in severely delayed or stunted emotional growth.

Being the child of an addict is complicated, and we can’t always verbalize how so. Even if we’ve had enough therapy to buy our psychiatrist a boat, we still may not even know we are dysfunctional. Bear with us as we continue the work of figuring it all out.

Here are the 10 things we’d like you to know — even if we can’t articulate them:

1. We don’t know “normal.” Normal is a relative term, yes. But our normal is not on the relativity scale. Normal for us can include instability, fear, even abuse. Normal might be a parent passed out in their own vomit. Normal might be taking care of your household, your siblings, your parent(s), and very rarely yourself. This profound lack of understanding leads us to the conclusion that normal = perfect, and less than perfect is unacceptable. Perfect is a non-negotiable term — there are no blurred lines. It’s all or nothing.

2. We are afraid. A lot of the time. And the fear is hidden — sometimes very deeply. We are afraid of the future, specifically the unknown. The unknown was our reality for many years. We may not have known where our parents were, or when they’d return. We might not have known if there would be dinner or drunkenness. While we may know now that those things aren’t likely to happen, that doesn’t make life any less terrifying. This fear may express itself in a number of ways, everything from anger to tears. We probably won’t recognize it as fear.

3. We are afraid (part 2: children). We are afraid to have children and when we do, we are afraid to wreck them, like we are wrecked. If we can acknowledge our own damage, we definitely don’t want to inflict it on anyone else. We don’t really know how to be a parent. It’s actually panic inducing. We will second-guess everything we do and may over-parent for fear of under-parenting.

4. We feel guilty. About everything. We don’t understand self-care. We don’t have clear-cut boundaries. If we stand up for ourselves, we feel guilty. If we take care of ourselves, we feel guilty. Our life is built on a foundation of I give to you and receive nothing. We don’t know how to receive.

5. We are controlling. Because we don’t know normal, and because we are afraid, we may often seek to exert control over anything and everything around us. This can manifest itself in our homes, our work, or our relationships. We may often be inflexible. We don’t usually see this as dysfunction. We will likely frame this as a strength.

6. We are perfectionists. We are terribly critical of ourselves — of every detail. Because of this internal dialogue of self-loathing, we are often sensitive to criticism from others. This is deeply-seated fear of rejection. Please pause, if you are able, and choose your words with compassion. We may have lacked for love. We need it.

7. We had no peace in our childhood. We don’t know peace. This is ironic, because we believe only in perfection and yet we create chaos. Chaos, stress, unrest: these are comfortable for us. We feel at home in these circumstances, not because they are healthy, but because they feel normal.

8. We are in charge of everything — even if we don’t want to be (but we always want to be). This manifests itself mostly in female daughters and especially the oldest female daughters of an addict mother (we have our own books, even). Because these women — like myself — have been forced to take on the responsibilities of the incapable parent(s), they will be the first person to take on everything — to their own detriment. Responsibility is the name of the game. And we will take responsibility for everyone; their emotions, their needs, their lives. In fact, it’s easier to take responsibility for everyone else than even ourselves.

9. We seek approval. Constantly. Our self-esteem is exceptionally low. Our addicted parents were unable to provide the love and nurturing we required to form secure attachment. As such, we will seek that in all our relationships going forward. All of them. This need for approval manifests itself in generally self-sacrificing behavior. We will give to our own detriment. Please remind us to take care of ourselves, too.

10. We live in conflict. We want to be perfect, but we can’t because we are paralyzed by fear. We want to control our surroundings, but we desperately want to be taken care of. We desperately want to be self-assured, because we know that’s the key to the control we seek, but we can’t be self-assured because we grew up believing we had no worth.

If we have chosen you as a partner, or even a dear friend, we may see either a situation that requires our keen ability to pick up the mess, or we may see someone who can love us back to health. Neither of these is a particularly sound choice. We don’t know. We don’t care.

While intellectually we may know that it is our responsibility to manage our feelings, our intellect doesn’t always align itself with our emotions. We may be frail, frightened, scared, lonely, angry, or clingy. We may be all of those things at once.

We don’t mean to be, we probably don’t even know we are.

This story by Joni Edelman first appeared at ravishly.com, an alternative news+culture women’s website.

Note: This is a post sharing another’s work.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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The Voice for Adoption Coalition: Raising awareness for adopted children and families.

One would believe that most families who adopt make this decision based on the belief they have something to offer a child who has lost his/her primary family. Just as one would believe; a birth parent wants to love and nurture their own child.

In most cases, these are true statements. Most people want the best, and intend the best for children. Their own and others. In some cases people are so profoundly harmed themselves that they are not able (or even possibly willing) to provide care to a child. Their best may be harmful. A sad reality of the many complications of (most likely) childhoods ravaged with harm and unmet need.

In this writer’s work children and families are met at various stages of adoption. Stages can include; a child in an initial placement who is still connected to his or her biological family. The family at various stages of reunification. A child who is in foster care. His or her family rights terminated or voluntarily relinquished. He or she (the child) may be in his or her -first or fifteenth placement in foster care. A child who has an adopted family identified and the family who has made this initial commitment. A child who is adopted and the family who has adopted. And, a child (of any age, and any placement history) who is adopted and his or her adopted family members.

The families and children are also met at various stages of struggle.They have sought services, or are mandated to attend services, with the goal (and hope) of finding answers. These services are therapeutic in nature and ideally provide avenues to support their child’s needs, learn new relational concepts, behavioral strategies, gain an improved understanding of their child’s inner world and struggles, gain and understanding of their own internal realties and struggles, and make the changes necessary to sustain and improve the quality of relationship and the life of the child they have committed to.

This is Ideally what is to occur. And, in many cases this does occur. Parents, at various stages of placement, are able to engage in the difficult work of supporting children who have been exposed to traumatic impact, loss of belonging, and who come with the many layers of self protection that show up as clinical diagnosis, adaptive, emotional, behavioral, social challenges, and high levels of relational fear. These parents are often capable of empathizing with the child’s experience, can attune to the needs of his or her (or their) child, and buffer the impact of childhood trauma (http://childtrauma.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/DobsonPerry_GilBook_2010.pdf). They are often willing to look at their own struggles with their children and look squarely into the eye of how this came to be for them. They work to stay conscious of themselves in the process of parenting a child who has, at his or her core, been harmed and is both in need of and afraid of connection.

This is not every parent and child’s capacity. Sometimes parent’s cannot understand the child’s need or experience. Sometimes the child’s need is large and their need to distance profound. This coupled with the parents capacity (often based on their experience of childhood adversity or lack of safe and nurturing relationship) is not able to maintain safe presence and provide a secure foundation for their child. The child will inevitably know this and respond with his or her best survival strategies.

These are not statements of blame. Every person has inherent strengths and struggles, and has created his or her own unique attachment (survival) strategy. These are statements of reality. The reality that impaired attachments (attachment abilities and/or strategies) consistently lead to initial placements, often subsequent and multiple placements into foster care, relinquishment or termination of parental rights, disrupted adoption, and recently the profoundly damaging and, at its worst, the harmful practice of re-homing. http://www.reuters.com

In the United states 10-25 % of adoptions fail. Children who were initially placed and in need of a safe place continue to be harmed. This harm can be in many forms (emotional, physical, behavioral, social, and relational). In addition, the recent trend known as re-homing internationally adopted children is in process. Due to the fact that this is a largely individual practice (not overseen by an identified agency) there are no viable statistics in regard to re-homing.

Overall, supporting and strengthening biological children and families is crucial. Provision of solid needs assessments and interventions is a must, prior to termination or relinquishment. Once a child is placed and adoptive placements sought, informed practice is essential. And, when a child finds (what is often deemed his or her “forever home”) it is imperative that solid assessments and on going supports are provided to adoptive families so this can be a reality for him or her.

The Voice for Adoption Coalition www.voice-for-adoption.org is a dedicated group of adoption and child welfare partners who have committed to raising awareness to the critical needs of adopted children and families.The coalition has made recommendations to inform and encourage federal policy makers to implement strategies and change foundational thinking in regard to how adopted children and their families are supported. In essence, the coalition recognizes the crucial need to provide on-going support to adopted families in the form informed practice, tax credits, access to informed services, and on-going advocacy. Support that may help to facilitate informed practice in regard to aiding parents in maintaining initial commitments, and aiding children in maintaining safe relationships in their “forever home” and becoming safe, happy, well adjusted, and contributing members of our larger society.

The Coalition has cited the Reuters reports in regard to the recent practice of re-homing internationally adopted children, as foundational support for their policy recommendations. Please see the Coalitions informed and thoughtful recommendations at www.voice-for-adoption.org.

Copyright Protected: © 2020 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW. All rights reserved.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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The Safe Justice Act- A Start!

It is highly unlikely that incarceration of youth, increase their capacity for becoming healthy, safe, and productive citizens. The attached article is a very sad statement to the criminal justice systems generalization (one size fits all) of consequence for youth who commit crimes. This is not to say accountability is not important. It is! Each situation is and should be considered on the basis of what genuinely occurred. Too many youth have been incarcerated and lengthy sentences imposed. Incarcerated for mistakes, that most likely would not have occurred had they the opportunities many in our country have. The Safe Justice Act, is a start at reform in this area. Admittedly it is not the foundational answer. The foundational answer will be found in early identification and funding which supports families.Truly supports families! It does not seem a hard concept; that children who grow in families who have enough have a better opportunity to grow into healthy adults. Enough, to this writer, means basic resources, access to education, nurtured relationships, and opportunities to celebrate successes. Children learn and grow in relationship. When caregivers are overburdened with survival, or have not had the opportunities themselves to understand safety it is difficult (not impossible) to afford this to their children. This is not a statement of parental blame – it is a statement of outrage at the injustice of what has occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur without solid understanding that supporting families means supporting overall growth for our country on each and every level.

There are many scholarly articles that can be sited, much research in this area, and many supporters of aide to families. There are just as many scholarly articles, research, and supporters who blame poverty, social issues, and generational systemic use on those who rely on systemic support. Again, it is not a hard concept; supporting families supports the overall familial, social, and financial success of our country. Genuine support does not mean minimal financial funding; and then walking away from supporting and providing avenues to growth. A foundational understanding will need to be supported top down. Early identification, informed support, safe relationships, avenues to education, and opportunities to success (for each and every citizen) is needed. Utilization of funding in these areas and an informed understanding (top-down) is needed.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/a-new-beginning-for-criminal-justice-reform-119822.html#.VdC-RIt0E21

Uncategorized Attachment, http://http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/us/citing-safety-adult-jails-put-youths-in-solitary-despite-risks.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/a-new-beginning-for-criminal-justice-reform-119822.html#.VdC-RIt0E21, juvenile crime, juvenile incarceration, mental health, poverty, the new your times youth in solitary confinement, The safe justice act, trauma

Copyright Protected: © 2020 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW. All rights reserved.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Grace and Self Protection; A part of the healing process.

Self protection is an inherent part of being human. It is normal and needed, for each of us, to protect ourselves when we have been hurt. It can, left non-reflected, become a familiar and painful way of life. Self protection shows up in many forms, but most often in forms that impede trust in both relationship with self and others.

Grace in healing; is not as easily understood. It is important to give yourself grace, ask for and give grace to others (while owning any hurts you may have caused with your self protection), and/ or identifying and building a connection with a higher (accepting) presence (that makes sense to you) to allow the time needed to move away from self protection.

Perspective: There are many ways to understand grace. To this writer, grace implies acceptance, patience, and presence.

Moving toward health is a process and one that is not likely to occur without acceptance of what has occurred, understanding what coping or self protection skills you may utilize, recognizing, reflecting, and owning the pain this may cause yourself and others, and creating the ability to be present with the hurt that lay the foundation for self protection.

To be present with this pain, one must feel safe. This safety can come in the form of trusted relationship with another and/or creating an understanding of higher presence. Understanding you need time and do not have to be alone in this process is essential in creating change.

It is equally important that you know; as much as you need validation and apology for your hurts (and this may or may not come) you may need to own (apologize for) hurts to others (in your current life) that your own self protection has caused. This is an important part of the process and one that requires grace from self, for self, toward others, from others, and can feel safer when embedded in a larger understanding of grace.

This larger understanding mostly comes in the form of spiritual connection, belief in purpose, or belief in belonging.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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A place between giving in and holding on!

Sometimes it is hard to know where the line is. This boundary between giving in and holding on! I hope you will opt for holding on, working toward, seeking what you intuitively know you need. When you aren’t sure find someone to listen. Someone who can hear your worries, your wants and wishes, and can give you informed guidance and genuine care.

Sometimes this place is a family member, a trusted friend, a teacher, a pastor, or counselor. Find your place to be heard. Make informed choices as you navigate the rocky waters between giving in and holding on.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Running From Still

I can’t sit still. That is crazy. If I sit still; I will feel. I will feel the pain of my complicated life. A life that began with the person or people in charge who were not able to sit still -to hold their pain, and certainly not mine. Sometimes that person or the people (in charge) perpetuated my pain by their running. Their avoidance of their own pain. They did things that should not have been done. Things I remember or feel ( consciously or not) that cause my constant movement.

My movement (away from still) can take many forms to distance me from its truth. It can take the form (along a continuum) of acting out or giving in. Here is what I know, a long time ago (or a short time ago), I began to run from it , to hide from it, to avoid it at any cost. Why would I (being a sensible person) choose to feel that. I would not. No one would.

Perspective: Being still, feeling, accepting, seeing (maybe for the first time) one’s personal strengths (the strength that helped you survive) creates new possibilities. Possibilities where once there was avoidance; become rights to life that were not known before.

I see this everyday in my practice. I see the personal strength it has taken to endure life’s hardships. Hardships that were mostly created by someone who was/is so profoundly important in the life of the child who has been brought for counseling, the adolescent who has been sent or has come, or the adult who has decided it is time to find answers. Answers to this running from stillness.

It is important to know the running takes many many forms. It can take the form of aggression, anger, depression, anxiety, addiction, withdrawal, submission (and many others). It becomes a way of avoiding the inner experience that hurts so deeply. It manifest in social, emotional,relational, and behavioral strategies meant to distance.

It is important to recognize the strength it has taken and to honor the incredibly creative ( and wise) strategies the child, adolescent, or adult has constructed (through time) to manage the pain that began a long or short time ago.

The work of being still is not about blame of others. It is about feeling, accepting, recognizing inherent strengths, and beginning to see yourself, your own truth and your place in this very large and seemingly complex world.

It will take time and trust. And, that is ok. It took time and many experiences of not being able to trust that set in motion the creative strategies that have made distance.

I genuinely believe, and see, the change that comes through this process. And while stillness (siting with the pain) will create an even greater and more peaceful strength then has existed before, it cannot begin until the person (child, adolescent, or adult) has a place of trust. When this place of trust is found, profound change can and does occur. Sitting still -most often begins in the midst of a trusting relationship.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Sleep and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

insomnia_sleep

“If I stay awake I won’t have nightmares”. “If I keep busy, I won’t think about the bad things that have happened to me”. “I can’t close my eyes, because If I do something bad will happen”. “If I stay awake, I will see if anything is about to happen to me”.

These are just a few of the thoughts that may resonate with a person (adult or child) who has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and whose sense of safety in the world has been shaken. There are as many cognitive combinations as there are individuals. Most of these cognitive distortions were born out of necessity for safety and remain as protective mechanisms long after the original trauma or traumas occurred. Over time these mechanisms begin to hamper the persons ability to rest and/or sleep. In essence the person lives in a state of hyper arousal which affects many areas of functioning and quality of life. When sleep is disrupted a persons mood, ability to concentrate and remember, judgement, ability to attend and learn, sex drive, balance and coordination, health, weight, collagen production in the skin and tissue repair, and overall safety are impacted.

Sleep distress and PTSD go hand in hand. Sleep is often the first area to be affected when a person is under stress and where trauma symptoms begin to manifest. Sleep is an essential component for healthy functioning and it must be addressed early in treatment. This said, it is also an area which can take a long while to re-adjust. Recommended interventions include; changing your sleeping area, creating and keeping a bedtime routine/ sleep and wake schedule, ensuring that high energy activities are not engaged in 2 hours prior to bedtime, using a sleep mask, listening to soothing music, warm tea, aromatherapy, maintaining a darkened electronic free sleep area, and/or relaxation strategies, engaging in a quiet activity (such as reading) until you can fall asleep, limiting caffeine , alcohol, chocolate, and tobacco intake, and ensuring you get enough sun during daylight hours. In the event that sleep disturbance is on-going talking with your family physician about your symptoms and the possibility of ruling out health related issues, engaging in a sleep study, medication management, and/or referrals for counseling support is a helpful place to start.

In reference to PTSD specifically, while all of the above are important a primary component is increasing the persons sense of safety. This may include, ensuring that doors and windows are locked, utilizing an alarm system, nighttime routines with support, reminders, and structure. For children, it is important to reassure them that they are safe, that you are there, talk to them about how to access you during the night, and reinforce the above.

Perspective: If you or a loved one are experiencing sleep distress it is important to pay attention.It is a genuine indicator that something is amiss. It does not mean that a trauma has occurred or that a diagnosis of PTSD is appropriate. It will be important to review what has been occurring in your environments and monitor the impact of stressors. For children, changes in sleep which are not considered developmentally appropriate or include on-going attempts to avoid sleep, nightmares, refusal to go to bed, bed wetting, statements regarding being afraid, or attempts to avoid certain places, people, activities, or feelings, are indicators that your child is attempting to manage and /or avoid difficult feelings. It is important to understand their developmental needs, to check in often, to help them identify and express any feelings of stress regarding changes in their/ your environments or events in your lives, to establish solid sleep and wake routines, to aide in the sense of normalcy, predictability, and safety and to access support (in the form of counseling) if the problem becomes a pattern and is not corrected through attempts to increase feelings of predictability and safety.

Resources: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports (Per The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute the following guidelines for sleep at each developmental level. Newborns need 16-18 hours of sleep each say, Pre-school-aged children need 11-12 hours a day, School -aged children need at a minimum 10 hours a day, Adolescents require 9-10 hours, and adults (including the elderly) need 7-8 hour a day. You may find these guidelines at, http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.htm

The Department of Veterans Affairs publishes many articles in the areas of PTSD and Sleep. You may find resources at http://www.ptsd.va

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Protective strategies in the absence of safe attachment!

misunderstood-teen-300x285

He is standing there. He is disconnected. He is hurting. He can’t allow anyone in. There has never been anyone who has felt capable. No one to see him. They have only truly seen his pain, his hurt, his behavior. The behaviors that have been so carefully and cleverly constructed to keep his truths. To keep him safe. He needs (even yearns) for someone to see him. The real him. The person underneath the pain, the hurt, and the behavior. The tiny boy, who once began (as we all do) in need of acceptance, love, protection, nurturing, and opportunities to learn and grow.

The years have not been kind. There have been many losses, many betrayals, many mistakes, and so much judgement (by self and other) of who he appears to be now.

Perspective: This is not any particular person’s story, but it is the genuine experience of so many. Each of us is born with the need to be nurtured, loved, protected, and in need of opportunities to learn and grow. There are many reasons why safe nurturing and learning do not occur and many painful outcomes when they don’t. Many have learned to protectively cocoon that tiny self (the true self) that once began a long (or even short time) ago in what can begin to feel like a maze of survival. Many protective strategies will be crafted to survive. These strategies take many forms. Some will be pleasing to others and some will be alienating. It is important to remember all are created in reaction to pain and with the purpose of protecting.

Attachment research tells us that primary care-giver /child relationships provide important foundation for overall development, and that secure attachments serve as protective factors which may guard against the negative impact of adverse life experiences. Children learn in the early months and years of life what can be counted upon in terms of getting their needs met. Clearly and (again) cleverly constructed attachment based (survival strategies) are then systematically created and in place prior to 3 years of age. These strategies and resulting patterns will then be reinforced through many interactions and experiences creating the belief systems around self worth and trust in relationship with others.

It is these beliefs that maintain distance in relationship (from self and others) that deserve and need supportive informed relationship to make change. Supportive, informed, and corrective relationships can and do make a difference in the lives of all people, but in particular can provide safe places for those who have been hurt (and who have constructed protective cocoons) to begin to see themselves and let themselves be seen clearly. With this clarity comes acceptance and eventual change.

Safe places can come in the form of a parent, an aunt or uncle, a foster parent, a sibling, a school teacher, neighbor, friend, or counselor (and many others). Having just one protective and safe relationship ( a relationship of acceptance) aides in the repair attachment wounds and creates opportunity for trust in self and other. This in turn (eventually) provides foundation for attachment abilities to generalize.

Resources: http://circleofsecurity.net, childtrauma.org,http://www.traumacenter.org

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Courage: Perspective on Shame

It is painful to be seen. This very truth places its foot right in front of healing. For most of us when we think of exposing our truths (the very things most of us have spent a life time running from and actively hiding from ourselves and others) we feel huge fear. Fear that keeps us from owning our story -our very truth. It keeps us from seeing ourselves and letting others see us. It takes huge courage to touch our shame! The shame we carry can come from many places. The way we perceive our hurt and often the way others respond to our hurt impedes or halts our healing. It is difficult (terrifying is a better description) to look at the pain of life. Maybe this pain (which created your feeling of shame) is residue from childhood hurts, victimization for which you blame you, mistakes you have made in your parenting, relationships, employment! Maybe it is an active addiction, a current lost relationship, a recent mistake that seems like so many others you have made. The truth is -it is ok that bad things have happened to you. It is ok that you have made mistakes. It matters how you are managing them. It matters if you are currently hurting yourself or others because of active shame numbing or hiding. It is important that you find a gentle place to see you. This seeing you and being seen (in all your truth) by a trusted other will aide in healing. It is scary to be seen and not everyone you know has “earned” (Dr. Brene’ Brown) that right or can provide this to you (because of their own active shame numbing). Find a gentle place to see and be seen.

Perspective: Dr Brene’ Brown, Researcher at the University of Houston, has written and speaks extensively on this topic. Her work normalizes human vulnerability and brings good hope.

“Owning your own story and loving yourself through that process is the bravest thing you will ever do”. Brene’ Brown. http://brenebrown.com

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.


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The holidays and The Addict: A family members perspective.

I hurt for my loved one. I hurt for their children. I hurt for the spouse who no longer attends to the relationship. My loved one is blind to what they are doing to themselves, their children, their spouse, and our family. I do understand that it started with pain. Pain so big, there seemed no other answer. I do understand they didn’t know what to do. I understand they have to see it to change it. I try to understand I can’t change it for them. I know my understanding changes nothing! I feel stuck, hopeless, and helpless.

The holidays are sad now. Those of us, who are not addicts, are stuck in not knowing how to navigate the holidays with, for, around the addicted loved one. Some say just move ahead as usual; it’s their life-they will figure it out one day. Some say, I can’t watch that-I don’t want to see that at the holiday table-it hurts too much. Some say, lets try to organize an intervention. Some say, they will be angry. We will lose them if we don’t go along or we try an intervention. Others say, they have to hit rock bottom first. We are stuck!

We love them, are angry at them, have been hurt by them, see their children hurting, are afraid of them, are afraid for their children, are afraid for them, have compassion for them, and want them to be ok!

Perspective: It will never feel ok to know your family member is suffering. It will never feel ok to see the impact of their decision making and their choices. Non -addicted family members will best benefit from gaining support for themselves from informed resources.  It is the addicted person’s choice to use substances and /or alcohol. No matter how it started or what enables it to continue. Non addicted family members will hurt and will need to learn what they can and cannot do. They will need to understand they cannot make the pain the addicted person is causing stop. (When you genuinely love someone -you hurt when they are hurting.) Non -addicted members will need to take steps to ensure that children are truly protected. They will need to take steps to ensure that they themselves are protected. They will need to take steps to ensure they are strong enough not to enable, and mature enough to be a resource or find a resource if the addicted family member wants to attempt healing. There simply are no easy answers. Addiction is dangerous, sad, scary, infuriating, and out of the non addicted members control. This does not mean non -addicted members should not try to help. It means learn what is feasible in your area, learn what is advisable and non-advisable when your loved ones are addicted. (It is essential for your own survival.) Informed resources include; http://www.na.org and http://www.aa.org

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

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