Ain't that the truth? A friend made this comment about a Zen proverb that states, " Let go or be dragged." Got me two times in one facebook post. Amen.
This also points to the previous entry "Mama, let's go!". I hate to be dragged (drug? drugged? Ah, the lovely forgetting of the English language...). And certainly, I totally identify with claw marks on everything that I need to let go of, as it's being ripped from me.
Come to think of it (and I really don't like to, honestly), I hold on to a LOT. Someone commented on one of my posts something like, "There's a lot to be said about trauma and parenting..." and I don't know what they have to say about it, but I sure have a lot to say about it. Trauma brings with it a lot of everything...it drags behind it things that I never thought had anything to do with it. Now I know it just drags everything behind it. Good stuff, too.
So what of holding on? Why do things have to be ripped from me? Well, trauma, whenever it happens and each time it happens creates a freeze frame effect. I always go back in time to the "right before" a trauma happens and if I can't do that, I play the trauma itself over and over, like an emotional forensic investigator, looking for clues, hidden crevices where things get stuck, and any proof that could a) save me from my endless berating or b) prove my innocence (if I'm innocent, then it wouldn't be my fault and I am released). And I hold the fuck on. To the scene, to the emotions, to the judgments, and most of all, to the fear. It's sometimes comforting to hold on, because then I can keep examining it and maybe it becomes a badge or proof that I am alive.
I get to know that fear like I was born with it and sometimes I even try to convince myself I was. Because I believe (wrongly) that the fear will help me again in the future, like a bodyguard on the playground. I believe that if I know that fear, inside and out, that it will prevent ALL future traumas (whether similar or not). We'll have a special signal, and I will be free and right and safe. And let me tell you, I know my fears pretty well. But sadly, guess what? There are still traumas...and maybe they are less "traumatic" now, or I have more tools now or I can see myself as adult, able to deal with shit easier than when I was a kid (thanks, therapy!). But the "bad things" still go on...and none of us are immune.
And letting go is one of the tools.
Back to parenting...what better way to continue the fear investigation than watching another person begin their life and learn to navigate similar issues...or any issues...The fact is, trauma is relative. I had a friend who I thought had a pretty rough life and I felt for her every time she told me a tragic story...and strangely, she felt the exact same way about MY life, which I thought was pretty good, considering.
Watching K, and constantly reflecting on what I could possibly be messing up in his life, is amazing. In a way, my emotional investigator is looking for things that I couldn't see in my own infancy. Ugh. Exhausting. And frankly, a waste of time.What I do not look for, and maybe I should, is how resilient he is, or how he looks at us to see if we freak out (we don't, really, to my amazement) and when we don't, he knows he doesn't have to.
An interesting example: We have an intense blender and we use it all the time. It's loud. And when I am holding K, sometimes I use it (there's a multi-tasking mama for ya). I say, "Here comes the blender, and it's loud, and we use this all the time." I turn it on, and slowly ramp up the speed. Inevitably, K gets a bit freaked, but I hold him tight and say, "I have you, you're safe, it's just the blender." He usually calms down but keeps his eyes on it, because even though it's loud, it's also super cool. I don't walk away from it, I don't keep him from hearing/seeing it, because it's a part of our life and if he freaked EVERY time we used it, we'd never be able to use it.That's not the same as a really intense trauma/experience, but it's a good metaphor, at least. We don't/can't protect K from all the stuff (and we may not even think twice about something that he finds anxiety-producing, like the blender, for instance), but rather we name it, check-in to see if he's okay, and then we just move on. Sure, he falls, bonks his head on mine, gets scared, but I like to think that he's also learning that he can survive tough stuff and we can/and are there to help.
I'm not saying that simply by writing it down, sharing it, laughing about it, etc., that I will let go better, sooner, with more grace or anything of the kind. In fact, I'm cool if the claw marks are just a thing for me...but it's important that K (and I, frankly) see(s) that I DO let go eventually, and that I am still a happy, adjusted, resilient and social person, even if it takes some time. I'm not trying to raise a perfect kid (this is what I have to keep telling myself), I'm just trying to raise/guide my kid through the inevitable stuff of life. Because in all my traumas and even in the reflection of not letting go before the inevitable letting go, there are so many awesome gifts, lessons, and markers of strength. I can only hope he sees those too.