“What kind of book would the story of your life be? You might think of it as a tragedy, but in reality, your life is a love story, being written by the hand of God. While some chapters will be more difficult than others, visible in every scene, on every page, is the love of God.
The hurts in your life do not define you. God’s love for you determines the course and shape of your life and defines who you are today and who you are becoming…it is also your cushion from the blows life invariably brings.” (The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie p.65)
Did you need to be reminded of this today? It’s also true for our children. Who or what is setting the course or shape of our lives? Who or what defines you? What cushions you from the blows of life?
PTSD. Exactly what is it? Could this explain your child’s behaviors? Have you ever wondered if you could be suffering from it, too? Do you feel broken in pieces?Are you having difficulty functioning? Then you will find this information very useful. These are a few insights from a counselor friend of mine who treats Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what we can do about it for ourselves or for our child – if they want help.
PTSD is a genetic anxiety disorder. It’s a response a person may have when exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present :
1) The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.
2) The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
Typical Symptoms are: (the symptoms need to be present for more than a month)
I was a mess. My daughter’s alcohol and drug use had spiraled out of control. Living on the streets, sleeping in her friend’s cars and in city parks, her life was often in danger. Filled with fear, anger, grief, guilt, and shame I could barely eat or sleep. I was an emotional wreck.
Picture our hearts being like a garden. Mine was full of weeds. Major work needed to be done right away or pretty soon anything that had been healthy was going to have the life choked out of it.
Can you relate to this? Does it feel like the trauma and stress you’ve been going through with your child is choking the life out of you? Are weeds taking over? Do you feel overwhelmed, and emotionally unhealthy? If so, it’s time to do some weed pulling.
In my post yesterday I said I would share a few tips for surviving the holidays as a hurting parent.
They are good for anyone who is hurting, no matter what the cause.
Here are my four survival tips:
1) Adjust or lower your expectations. “Expectations are premeditated resentments” according to Al-Anon. Boy, is this true. If you can do this, it will protect your fragile emotions. You can avoid becoming hurt, angry or resentful. You are less likely to be disappointed. Let go of how you wish things would be. Have no expectations of your child’s participation or involvement. Then, if things work out the way you would have wanted, great! You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The holidays can be so hard for hurting parents whose children are ruining their lives with drugs or alcohol, are suffering from mental illness, are involved in self-harm, have an eating disorder, struggle with their sexual orientation, are in trouble with the law or are in prison, and on and on. You may be dreading them. As the holiday season approached my mind would begin to wander back over the past. Memories from when my daughter was young and innocent flooded my thoughts. Sadness. Regret. Longing. Tears. Do you ever feel like that, too?
I remember how my sweet daughter, excited to watch the Thanksgiving parade, would curl up on my lap, giddy with anticipation. After the big meal she would eagerly pull on the turkey’s wishbone with a sibling or other relative, smiling and laughing the whole time. Happy sounds filled the house. Would she hold the bigger portion of bone so her innocent wish might come true?
What about you? Do you find yourself yearning to have your wish come true – for your son or daughter’s health and well-being to be restored? Would you be giddy with excitement just to have them back, fully restored? I wish it was as easy as pulling on a turkey bone.
The most common question parents in pain ask themselves is WHY? My husband and I did the best we could to raise our daughter with a lot of love, with a strong sense of right and wrong, to be a good moral person, to not get caught up in any addictive behaviors, and to be an emotionally healthy, happy person. We also raised her with a strong spiritual foundation. Yet, she ended up with multiple addictions, was involved in self-harm and had a brain disorder(mental illness). I would lay awake all night torturing myself with many why questions.
What about you?
Many parents in pain are plagued by questions like these:
- Why did my son choose to abuse substances?
- Why did my daughter become anorexic or bulimic?
- Why were they drawn to the same-sex?
- Why did my son get involved in pornography?
- Why did my daughter need to burn herself?
- Why did they become depressed or develop a brain disorder?
As parents who feel a high sense of responsibility for our children, we also feel a high need for answers. Now.
My husband and I began to see unexpected things happen with our 19-year-old daughter, Renee, after we received a very unexpected phone call. One of the safe people in her life called to tell us he and a few of his friends had her in their care. She was safe. For the first time in a long, long time her life was not in danger. A lifestyle of alcohol, drugs and self-harm had been slowly destroying her and we were powerless to do anything about it. Every night when I went to bed I was tormented by the fear that I might be awakened by a phone call of another kind – telling me she had died, either from an accidental overdose or from suicide.
Out of great love and compassion, this friend of my daughter’s felt compelled to try and help her. He gathered a few trusted friends and basically did an intervention. To our surprise she agreed to accept treatment. What shock and relief. This wasn’t her first rehab, but this time it was because she wanted it. This was for the right reason. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.
You can read more about what took place over those five days by reading the moving story posted on To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA).
On the TWLOHA site click on “Vision”, one of the upper tabs. Scroll down to read the story. The title is in blue. This was written by the founder, Jamie Tworkowski, about those five days that changed my daughter’s life. This small group of caring individuals lovingly and bravely helped Renee detox so she could be admitted into rehab. Addiction specialists do not recommended people do this. It can be very dangerous for the addict’s welfare depending on what they are detoxing from.
Since those five days we have watched a miracle of transformation unfold. Today, six years later, my daughter shares her story through writing, speaking and most recently, singing and song-writing. The tables have turned. She is now the one trying to offer hope to those who suffer as she has.
My daughter has come home.
Many ups and downs have marked this path, but we keep moving forward, trusting for each tomorrow.
God has brought unexpected outcomes. To my amazement He brought beauty out of ashes in my daughter’s life and in mine. Here are four ways I have seen this:
I find great comfort and hope from the Bible for life’s trials and heartaches. I have had plenty of them. A major source of heartache has been my now twenty-six year old daughter who has struggled with addictions, depression and self harm for over eight years.
The first four books of the New Testament are full of accounts of Jesus caring for people who were suffering. Compassion oozed from him. Healing power was in his words. This is one of those stories.
10 …. Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said to her, “Woman, you are set free….” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. (Luke 13:10-13 NIV)
Many of our children have suffered for a long time, too. An addiction, mental illness, self harm, an eating disorder, pornography or some other destructive behavior is crippling them. Things look hopeless.