Sunday, April 22, 2012


One of my children is in intensive therapy. It is the nature of the beast of living with children with special needs. I have no intention of violating that child's privacy and divulging information about said child's life. However, the focus of that child's therapy is a concept that I feel works for myself just as much as said child.

This child works within the Dialectic Behavioral Therapy model. Basically, it is verbally processing, and over processing, just about everything in life. It is examining a situation first from the individual's perspective and then from stepping out to see it from other people's perspective and compare the differences, then specifically and deliberatelly walking through how to modify the situation to have allowed it to work properly instead of simply pushing ahead bull-headed into a bad situation.

This morning, said child was emotionally melting down all over my house. Ultimately, I removed a treat the child was given last night until child can calm down and be more deliberate in their choices. The child was following me around the house wailing and gnashing teeth demanding to know RIGHT NOW, what the child must do to have the treat returned.

My only response was simply that I could not answer that question. The wailing and emotional meltdown sounded like donkey brays directly into my brain and my brain was shutting down from the effort of listening to these spilled emotions all over my house.

I realized a few things in this interchange. I contemplated how the therapist was stressing the world mindfulness. We must all stop and think before impulsively rushing headlong into situations, especially when we feel emotionally out of control and just want to lash out. As humans, we need to be aware of how we are interacting with others around us. This is different than being responsible for the emotions other people feel. However, it is an appropriate response to want to be mindful of how we interact with other people before we take action.

It can also be perverted. Conservative Christianity has a accronym that I have heard so many times I cringe at just the thought of it. JOY. If you are Christian, it's actually not a bad concept in and of itself. It means Jesus first, others second, yourself last.

The problem is that it is easily used perversely and leads to emotional abuse and manipulation. Yes, there are times that we must make choices between our wants and those of others. In those times, it can be selfish to choose ourselves at the expense of others, especially when those others are vunerable and cannot meet their own needs without our assistance.

Going to the bathroom and forcing my desperate three year old to hold it while I go first would be selfish. It would be putting myself ahead of him and sacrificing his needs to mine. In normal circumstances, when I take early potty trainers to the bathroom, I allow them to use it first. Just as I allow other early potty trainers to skip ahead of me in line when they show signs of distress.

However, the teaching of always sacrificing self becomes perverted when we teach a mother that she can never use the bathroom ahead of her toddler. So, when mother is sick, or pregnant, and legitimately having an emergency, and her toddler diesn't even need the is not appropriately to have the toddler use the bathroom first. It's making a sacrifice that didn't have to be made in the first place.

From the time I was very small, I had JOY and other such principles grilled into my brain. The premise is supposed to be that when a compromise must be made, putting others first is the Godly response. It fails to account for the fact that usually, we do NOT have to sacrifice. We don't have to fail to care for ourselves because what we percieve is dependents or ourselves is not a conflict, it's merely a lack of creativity and balance. It's a failure to be mindful.

I learned the very hard way that I had take care of ME when my health completely failed me. I percieved that I had to choose myself or my children, exactly as I had been taught my entire life. I opted for my children...and let my health deteriorate to a level that I may never fully recover from. Learning to recognize that I can be healthy and cared for TOO has been a long process for me.

So, when I take this child of mine who needs so much extra help navigating this world and processing that which said child does not understand within it, it is not browbeating this child into never considering their own needs legitimate that I wish to teach. I want this child to recognize that this child's emotions are legitimate, this child's needs are worth of honor and recognition. However, so are other people's. There has to be balance, and that comes when we are mindful and not myopic nor when we live in martyrdom merely for the sake of bragging rights involved. Working to help this child find balance is a strong reinforcer for me that I too must find balance.

I'm a work in progress. I just never let myself forget anymore just how much I must strive and place that balance as priority. Working with this child today has reminded me that I have been out of balance when I let myself get so sick yet again. I've been actively working for a week to come back into balance. I still hav a way to go. Each day, I have to remind myself that caring for myself is NOT sacrificing my children. Their needs are totally met. Therefore, I need to take the time to care for me, even when I still....all these years down the road, continue to feel guilt for every effort towards my own health and healing that I exert.

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