What do you think of when you think about trauma or being traumatized? When I think of being traumatized, I often think of people who have been in severe accidents, victims in a war, soldiers who have seen their buddies die in combat, survivors of sexual abuse, victims of rape and people that have been through other unimaginable atrocities. But what about the parents of children impacted by special needs?
One of the better definitions that I have seen regarding psychological trauma comes from the book Trauma & Resilience by Eds. Frauke C. Schaefer, MD and Charles A. Schaefer PHD. That definition reads:
Trauma is any serious event that threatens or affects the life or physical integrity of a person, or a loved one.
Let’s pause and think about this for a moment. For some of you, when you read the above it will be like looking in a mirror. For others, it may be more like getting a glimpse of a distant acquaintance that you try to avoid—you recognize it but don’t think it applies to you … if that’s you, keep reading.
Our initial serious event was finding out that our son could only eat sweet potato without projectile vomiting, rolling up in a ball of pain and having doctors tell us that they would make a note in his chart as he was failing to thrive with a body weight under the 5th percentile for his age. What serious event or series of events are you working through? Perhaps you lay awake at night listening to make sure you child is still breathing, perhaps you don’t know if your child will ever walk or you know she won’t … what are you coping with?
It is easy to ignore how we are feeling and to bury the emotions. Depending on how severe the needs of the child may be, we may just be in survival mode. We are so focused on the child that we neglect ourselves. Have you ever tried to hold a beach ball under water? What happens? Like a beach ball, those things we have been burying will burst to the surface and we will see them impacting us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
I didn’t realize how much our experience had impacted me, until I started sharing our story more. The very first time I shared about our journey, was in front of a large group of people. I suddenly found myself choking back the tears.…Nothing like being real and vulnerable while you are public speaking. This continued to be a trend in the future as I shared about our journey. I would enter into our story and then find myself wanting to disengage so I wouldn’t have to deal with the rawness of the emotion but with every telling it slowly became easier. Not because I was disengaging but because I was healing from a wound I never knew I had.
What significant event is impacting your life and family right now? What in your life indicates that it may be impacting you personally on a physical, emotional or spiritual level? We would love to hear from you! Please comment below.