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August 1, 2020

The Hardest Part of Healing Trauma as a Parent.

It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. 

The damage still needs to be cleaned up. It doesn’t happen overnight. And having multiple traumas means multiple triggers from situations and feelings.

Years afterward, it’s still a mess. I think the emotional triggers are the worst; they hit you blindly. Healing is a complete rebuild.

It reminds me of when I was three years old and went with my father to bring people a plane full of milk after Hurricane Andrew. 

Like after any devastation, you have to clean up the mess piece by piece—sorting what you should keep and what to let go of—then find somewhere to put it and rebuild. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have Earth angels come in and help you along the way. They can’t pick up the pieces with you, but they can stay and chat while you do. They can listen to you cry. They can bring you some milk. And sometimes, the little one in you finds moments of joy—laughing in a pile of rubble.

What hurts the most, as a parent, is seeing how much the devastation affects your children; the time it takes from them; the pain it causes them to see you struggle with the process; the joy it takes from them because there are parts of the damage and devastation that don’t allow you to walk away and give them what they need. 

Experiences. Adventure. Attention. God, the many times I’ve wished I could walk away and leave the mess on the ground.  

I was in survival mode for a lot of years, forgetting the mess was there. And I wish they could remember that there was a time that I was able to ignore it and give them the kind of life they still want and need. But the problem is that the mess didn’t go anywhere.

And while I was running and hiding from it, it started rotting. So not only was my metaphorical house and environment ripped up and thrashed around, it was now covered in dust and mold. I could smell it. And the blanket I had thrown over it wasn’t hiding it anymore. 

Now, I have successfully beautified our environment, for the most part. But some pieces were harder to clean up than others. 

I built them a new house, a stronger one for them to feel safe in. Earth angels opened up safe places for us to run to when storms hit. But even from there, the kids watch me through the window, picking up the pieces. Away from the damage, they still see me struggle through my reconstruction process. I don’t have my own “new home” yet.

It hurts to watch your mama hurt. It hurts to be a mama and know that you brought them into an environment that wasn’t safe. And that, 10 years later, the process isn’t over. It feels like a haunting.

But I know why. My process was delayed because I wasn’t really healing for the first five years after the storm had passed. I was only putting a blanket over it, so I couldn’t see it. I was carrying on with my life the best way I knew how. 

I was building my babies their own new house. I was finding and creating beauty and joy for them. It felt wonderful, but I was always running away from my own stuff. Little did I realize, the damage was following me—it resides within me.

Below is a quote regarding Homestead after Hurricane Andrew that hit Florida in 1992:

“…Probably didn’t start coming back until maybe 2000 because it was such a blow. The infrastructure was gone. It just took a long, long time.” ~ Jeff Blakely 

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

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