The couple of weeks before we left for Michigan were particularly dreadful around here in terms of trauma behavior. I'm not exactly sure what set it off (and sometimes with trauma, there really isn't a reason), but I think that integrating our house guest and her two children into our home had a lot to do with it. Without going into details, let's just say it is a couple weeks of my life I do not care to repeat. Now, what no one often shares about therapeutic parenting is the difficulty as a parent in maintaining ones own mental health. It is very easy to fall into maladaptive behaviors yourself. And this is where I found myself last week.
Let's just say hyper-vigilance is exhausting and can lead to some pretty high stress levels. Unhealthy, non sleeping, high stress levels. And it is very difficult to get off that train. It gives me a whole new appreciation for my hyper-vigilant son. As I was sitting in
Our vacation was a major reset for TM (which is what we all hoped it would be) and this past week was significantly better. But it seems no one thought to tell my head or my stomach. My stress and anxiety levels were continually off the charts and I helpfully added to it all by worrying about the fact I was so stressed and worried. Once again, I have new insight into my child of trauma. If it was this difficult for my to gear down after just a couple of bad and stressful weeks, how could I ever expect him to gear down after years of stress and trauma. It is difficult to let it go.
I ended up doing all the things for myself that I often do for the boy. First, I told J. how I was feeling (stress and anxiety doesn't like to share feelings, remember). That was an immediate help. He could support me once he knew what was going on and also knew how to pray for me. Second, I had to get my theology right. By worrying so much and thinking that I had to be on top of everything, I had forgotten that God was in charge and that He was able to take care of it. I had to remember that God could be trusted, even when things looked hard. Third, I had to keep reminding myself of what reality really was at that moment. Nothing horrible was happening and I didn't need to be on full alert. Deep breathing is a good thing. And lastly, I realized that it had been quite a while since I had done anything that I enjoyed doing and that relaxed me. It had been a good long while since I had been creative or made anything. So I cleaned my sewing table which had been collecting clutter since Easter when I did my last marathon sewing extravaganza. (Which really didn't count as relaxing, either. There was a deadline.) It is now all clean and tidy, everything is put away in it's place, and I could actually sit down and sew. I picked-up some panda embroideries a while back and I think making t-shirts with pandas on them for G. and L. will be my next project.
Yesterday, as I was deciding what to do, I thought it would be a good time to finally learn to crochet. I had been wanting to for a long time and the P family mom spent some time trying to teach me a few months ago. I didn't really remember, but it was enough for the instruction book that I had to make sense. The biggest reason I want to be able to crochet (besides the fact it is the one hand work skill that continued to elude me), is that I kept seeing these crocheted ripple blankets all over. And I needed to be able to make one. They look so cheery and comfortable. But first one needs to be able to crochet.
Nothing does more for my mental health than the combination of figuring something out that has proven troublesome combined with making something. And look what I did...
Now, if I had the right colors, I could start making that blanket. In all my free time.