A Pandemic Thanksgiving

9457471B-FD2A-4833-A8D0-BC85A174EBD0

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and while my husband and I are used to celebrating on our own, I know many of you are doing the right, selfless thing by staying home to celebrate with immediate family only. Some of you are facing a first Thanksgiving without loved ones due to COVID-19. Please know that we’re thinking and praying for you.


This has been a year of constant anxiety, trauma, uncertainty, and unrest. Therefore, as we, hopefully, stay home and gather with immediate family, may we try to find things we’re grateful for even if it is small. May we think or look at the children in our lives and consider the type of world we want for them. One full of divisions and hate and bad church doctrine. Or one full of unity, love, kindness and compassion.


Have a peaceful, safe, loving Thanksgiving.

Where’s The Empathy?

As we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of empathy is so apparent in this country.  People not wanting to do the simplest things to protect others from the virus.  Anti-maskers are shouting about their rights and, ironically, they are using the pro-choice slogan, “My body, my right.”  This totally disregards the lives of others.  If one is truly pro-life, one cares about the life way after birth!  Otherwise, it’s just pro-birth!

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to understand as much as possible in order to try to understand what the other person is feeling or going through.  One can feel the same feelings as the other person or at least get an idea of what the other person is going through.

Empathy is a learned behavior.  While some children are born with more empathy than others, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally egocentric due to their developmental stage.  This is a survival mechanism and not a “bad thing.”  Adults can help the development of empathy by modeling it to their children and pointing out feelings of others—whether positive or negative.

DF42CDF4-781E-4CDA-BE65-C58AF03FCA9A
Source unknown. I got it off Facebook.

Not spanking/hitting or using other harsh punishment with children also promotes the development of empathy in children.  Not using aggression to get what one wants teaches children to respect other people and have empathy.  Corporal punishment and using other harsh punishment only breeds fear and anger.  These make children turn inward in a negative manner instead of being open to other people and what they are going through.

7F75E53D-E3DA-4ACC-AC6D-7931A730A5AD

I talked a bit about helping children understand about COVID-19 in my previous post, but here’s a great book written by a teacher that helps further explain this highly contagious, dangerous, damaging, and deadly virus in a developmentally appropriate way.  If you are one who is not taking this seriously, please read this story!

While places are now opened and the topic of going back to school rages on, and schools are opening only to have cases of COVID-19 the first week of school, the numbers of positive cases continues to rise.  I am truly saddened by the fact that this health crisis has become political and empathy for people who are high risk, children, teachers, healthcare workers seems to be going by the wayside.  Except for the rare medical appointment and the fact that my chosen family owns a private tattoo shop and keeps people out while I am there, my quarantine hasn’t ended.  I try to wear a mask but it falls down because of spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy.  Anti-maskers laugh that I am not able to be in public because too many people are worried about their own comfort and rights to have empathy for those who can’t wear a mask and/or are high risk.  What a horrible example they are setting for our children.

As an early childhood professional,  I don’t recommend children going back to school until this virus is under control.    I know it’s hard for poor families and I worry about social-emotional development of the children, but we have to realize that even if children are less likely to get seriously ill,  some are going to get seriously ill or get the inflammatory disease that kills them.   Not to mention bringing it home to the family and then we don’t know who will get mild symptoms and who will be hospitalized and on a ventilator.

C311ECEA-B21A-47A9-B345-A5D726580E98

I am so grateful  for everyone who is wearing masks and protecting people like me who can’t wear masks easily and then the health care workers busting their butts to fight this pandemic.

620F7157-70BA-498A-8F35-4407405CC073

Children who are old enough to wear a mask in public should!  While some children will have an easier time adjusting to wearing a mask, it is possible to help them with it.

Here are some things that we can do to help children adjust to wearing a mask:

Always wear a mask yourself when out in public.  Actions speak louder than words!

Educate them about how masks help protect others and them.  If they like superheroes, compare them to being a superhero for wearing masks because superheroes always protect others from dangerous situations.  There are some wonderful children’s books to read to them to further encourage them to wear a mask in public.   I recommend this book.

Start with short periods of time wearing a mask and do a fun activity to help distract them from the mask.

Let the child pick out a few masks and/or let him/her decorate one so he/she wants to wear it.

Try different masks for the most comfortable one for the child.

Validate feelings about wearing a mask and tell the child that it is uncomfortable sometimes but it is the only way to go anywhere.

Keep little hands busy so they don’t constantly touch the mask.

Always have extra masks on hand or in the children’s backpacks because they are going to drop, throw, spill, forget masks so they need extras on them whenever they are in public.  Also, keep hand sanitizer with you and/or them for washing their hands.

Make up a silly song to sing such as, “This is the way we wear our masks” to the tune of Farmer Brown.

Turn mask wearing into a game to see who can keep theirs on the longest.

Use mirrors in the car to have everyone put them on at the same time.

If for any reason the child has a meltdown and refuses to wear the mask when you get to have a destination and you have to go in, take some deep breaths, make sure that the child doesn’t have an unmet need, the mask isn’t pinching or hurting him/her,  and carry the child in if it isn’t possible to have someone bring stuff out to you.  

Never make wearing a mask into a power struggle.  This will make the child want to wear it even less.  If the child is showing you that he/she is not ready for a mask, make sure that he/she knows that going out is not an option without a mask.

This is a very uncertain time for everyone.  We are all extremely stressed and anxious and children are no exception.  Regression during times of extreme upheaval and stress is normal for children, so try to hold space for it and your own feelings.

The only way we will get through this pandemic is to have empathy for each other and do what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus.  We can do this TOGETHER!!!!

EC33DBC8-1AAE-4C10-9744-6D0C4078671B

Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Mental Health, And Helping Children.

The past few months have been really difficult for me with the Covid-19 pandemic and being super high risk. It has made me struggle with dealing with my own trauma, trying to do what is right and safe regarding the trauma of having a mother who can’t give me what I need, but still wanting her and my other biological family to remain safe. I have felt isolated and anxious and depressed. Being so high risk due to my asthma and severe Cerebral Palsy (CP) has made me angry when I finally realized how serious this virus is for many and seeing how people just don’t want to do what we need to do to be safe!

Life with CP is limiting and even though we find a way to do stuff that I want to do, it’s not easy like typical people who are able to just jump in the car and go. My state is in Phase 3 of reopening and I got my first non-essential, non-medical outing this week to my tattoo artists and chosen family to finish my Samoset kitty tattoo that was started before the outbreak and lockdown started. I was only able to do it because they locked the door and my husband and I were the only ones in there besides the artists. Masks were worn and sanitizer was used even more.

844129F8-4D70-4689-83DD-2AC66EF7AA15 Samoset tattoo by Todd Bass at Triphammer Carbondale.

Throughout this pandemic, I have been aware of all the different aspects of it. My mental health as well as others have suffered due to isolation, people are losing everything, suicide is up. There’s so much to this pandemic and it is so sad that some elected officials are not doing everything they can to prevent this from being so out of control.

I know children and parents are struggling. I think the best thing to do for children is to create routines that are flexible and, if they are old enough, allow them to have a say in the routines. And as I’m sure you have already heard, answer questions honestly but briefly depending on their age and development.

This is scary for the children too. They have lost a lot and they may not be able to understand why. So I have heard a lot of regression in children’s behaviors have been happening from parents. This is so hard because I know parents are stressed out too. I recommend reassuring the children and finding an activity such as meditation or reading or yoga to help calm stress and fear. This is not an easy time for anyone.

Now we have a horrible murder of a black man, George Floyd, that has set off protests and riots in the midst of a pandemic. It is so scary and sad. Racism has got to stop!

I used to say “all lives matter” and even wrote a blog post in which I used “All Lives Matter” for the title of the post that covered every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and, of course, children mattering.

Having a severe physical disability made me question, “what about other minorities?” I was a Republican slowly making my way towards Libertarianism at the time. I am now a Libertarian and while I still love Jesus, I’m no longer into mainstream Christianity anymore due to the legalism, bad church doctrine, and abuse, and hate.

I now understand the Black Lives Matter movement and right now this group of people desperately need our support, validation, and LOVE! Saying “all lives matter” doesn’t do this for black people who are hurting badly. Jesus immediately went to the people in desperate need no matter who they are. Jews didn’t hang around Samaritan people but Jesus did.

I know many Christians and conservatives won’t hear me because I was the same way about this topic and I had to figure it out for myself. But I am embarrassed by my ignorance even though I was trying to be fair and supportive and was trying to validate everyone but I was wrong. I support Black Lives Matter and peaceful protests except for the Coronavirus concern. I hope my story helps someone moving away from ignorance to validation and love over being “right.”

Our children are watching everything and need to be taught kindness and acceptance for all. There has also got to be a major change because most black families experience so much pain and violence in their lifetimes and parents of black children are even more likely to spank/hit and harshly punished because they fear that if they don’t teach strict obedience to authority that it could be their child that is murdered by a bad cop. But this spanking and hardship make the children more likely to act out and get into crime.

And while police lives also matter, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many good cops of all races and they don’t deserve to suffer. On the other hand, white cops need to remember that at the end of the shift, they are like everyone else. But black people still have to deal with the racism and can’t hide from it.

Please be safe and get tested for Covid-19 if you participate in the peaceful protests and quarantine yourself because we can’t make change can’t happen if we’re sick and in the hospital or dead.

May we strive for kindness and love and create this in our children. May peace, love, and light reign in our world!

Jesus Hates Religion. Spirituality vs. Religon.

Note: Life has a funny way of taking over.  I started writing this post in December and am just now finishing it.  Thank you so much for your patience.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.  Happy New Year!  I am writing this post because I no longer consider myself a religious person even though I still believe in Jesus.  However, my belief is no longer the traditional religious belief that mainstream Christianity makes Him out to be.  I am incorporating other spiritual beliefs in my belief system and I am open to everything.  Feel free to read Why I Am No Longer An Evangelical Christian. Plus, Drag Queens And Kings Are Cool!

I recently shared this meme on my professional Facebook page and I got one nice lady who ended up being a joy to talk to because she tried to use Non-Violent Communication principles.  We both admitted to being not perfect and struggling with it.  We’re both open to learning.  I love people like that because another “Christian” called me a “hypocrite” for sharing this meme and then wishing my Jewish friends a “Happy Hanukkah.”  She was swiftly blocked and banned because I have been called so many names that I absolutely will not tolerate it.  But her comment proves that this is right in many instances.  Then there are people that just want to argue just to argue.

Here’s the meme:

DE8E98B1-0462-4B64-9E1B-B8017CC56768

I agree with this because religion does brainwash people of every age, makes people angry (How many wars have been fought over religion?), and promotes a “better than thou” attitude.  Believe me, I was a part of this for a decade and a half and used to gasp with disgust or surprise when a fellow believer would do something against the religious teachings of the church.  We’re supposed to be humble but instead we look down on people who don’t believe what we do.  It’s disgusting and sad, really.

Not all religious people are like this.  But some just blindly follow whatever the established organized religion teaches. Much of the Christian church doctrine is toxic with a bit of love and compassion occasionally sprinkled in.  For children, more of the doctrine is spiritual abuse because even though I still believe that children are created to believe in Jesus and/or a Higher Power, when they are allowed to freely explore, they can create a positive belief system.  Unfortunately, many children aren’t given that freedom and are taught that they are inherently evil (which I rejected after much research) and are told to obey or else they’ll get spanked or go to Hell.

Telling children the above is spiritual and emotional abuse.  It’s not ok.  One of my best friends experienced this as a child and now rejects religion but is still a spiritual person.

I, too, cannot support religious doctrine.  I consider myself a spiritual person even though I still believe in Jesus. I am using other spiritual beliefs to create a positive spiritual belief system because when we open our consciousness, we see that there’s so much we don’t know and that doctrine often doesn’t add up to what we experience.  Plus, trying to have enough faith to be approved by whatever God you’re trying to please isn’t easy and makes one feel like a failure.  Also, fear is often a huge part of many religions instead of love!  After all, many religious sects and cults tell us that we’re going to go to Hell for not being a part of their religious group.

Merriam-Webster defines religion as:

1a: the state of a religious

A nun in her 20th year of religion

b(1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

 

(2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”  (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion#synonyms).
A website called ReachOut Australia says that spirituality is:

Spirituality: This is more of an individual practice, and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose” (https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-spirituality).

Now many religious people can be spiritual but it seems like they value the rules and man-made doctrines over truly seeking Truth and God or Whomever one wishes to call Him/Her.  I hear all the religious people gasping after reading this sentence. It wasn’t that long ago that I would have gasped as well.  However, the more one gets away from church doctrine and actually begins to seek the Truth, the less judgmental he/she becomes because we’re all one.  Unless someone practices evil, we really are connected in so many ways with love being our main priority!

Spiritual people are usually more positive, accepting, open, and loving.  They wish to be able to get along with everyone.  Even if they don’t “believe” in Jesus, they are ok with people that do as long as those people respect their beliefs.

And yes, spiritual people do participate in rituals and even some religious ceremonies to help them grow spiritually and they are always learning.  They just don’t subscribe to an exact doctrine, or if they do, they don’t try to push it on others.

0235E080-59F3-4314-A784-D697018FBAD8
Source: reddit.com

Even Jesus Christ was against religious people and hung out with everyday people. Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law:

“Matthew 23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Pharisaism Exposed

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called [b]leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus preached LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE!  Yet, “Christians” can be some of the most hateful people I’ve ever encountered along with Muslim extremists.  You don’t say that someone should die because they are homosexual and you disagree with them.  People shouldn’t blow people away because they want their religion to take over the world.  I believe that religion creates a form of narcissism.  “My church is right and yours is wrong.”  I used to be like that, but there’s much grace and freedom in “agreeing to disagree.”  Yet, I have always hated how children are treated in many religious sects.  They shouldn’t be taught how “bad” they are and shouldn’t be taught to remember every sin so they can repent for them to avoid going to Hell.  And they should NEVER BE TAUGHT THAT GOD WANTS THEM TO BE SPANKED/HIT!

Healthy spirituality is what we all need to aim for.  There’s a Light in all of us.   I believe that satan wants to blind us to this and think that we have to do special prayers and other things to be closer to God/Goddess but we can learn to listen for Them ourselves.  Certain natural medicines are also helpful for some adults to gain more awareness of the spiritual world that is completely and always surrounding us.

After all, love is the greatest of ALL!

BDD1C36C-457A-4B78-BF33-9BA465E80299

“Frozen” Gratitude

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and it’ll be a different one than usual due to a hiccup in my current trauma recovery, but I am slowly learning what true love is.

In the movie, Frozen, Else has a special gift of being able to create ice and snow.  Unfortunately, while playing with her little sister, Anna, she accidentally hurt her with her special power.  From that day on, she was told to not show her power to anyone and it was treated like a curse.  She was separated from her sister and her little sister didn’t understand why due to the memory being erased.

Fear triggers Elise to create ice in a dangerous way.  But after she finally becomes free, she learns to use it for beauty and in the end, a single act of true love is the only thing that will undo Anna being frozen.

We want our children and the world to become kinder and more loving.  I believe that the only way to do this is to practice true love.  And to let the children be who they are as long as they are not hurting anyone.

Love and kindness cultivate a grateful heart whereas harshness and hate create anger and bitterness.  This Thanksgiving, and year round, let’s do our best to create love, kindness, and gratitude!

0609F863-9BAB-4D28-B38E-BA5D5C9C517D

 

Do You Resent Your Child?

I hear that being a parent is very hard work and I agree even though I am not a parent.  Most of my friends have children.  My husband has a son. Therefore, I see and hear about all the sacrifices that they have gladly made.  I get to witness some of these sacrifices my friends choose to make for their children.  It’s not always fun but they do it out of love.

Teachers also make sacrifices for the children in their classes.  I did.  I had to do my best to be at my best for the children I worked with.  Did I get exasperated when a toddler was high spirited or had behavioral problems and needed extra attention?  Yes!  Did I feel stressed out when I worked with infants and they all started crying at the same time with only my aide and me in the room?  Yes!

However, I never held it against them because I chose to be a teacher and I understood that they were just being themselves.  I understand how the child brain works so to hold that against them would have deeply hurt my connections with them.  Children are also very perceptive.  They can feel our stress and negative vibes.

I am severely physically disabled and I understand that I am a lot of work.  It must be even more difficult to parent a child with a disability because he/she requires even more care and can’t always do activities that typical children can, especially children with sensory issues such as aversion to loud noises.  Should it be held against a child if he/she gets overwhelmed by crowds or loud noises?  No, of course not, because it’s out of their control!

According to dictionary.com, the definition of resentment is:

noun

the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person,etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.”

So a person who feels resentment towards his/her children believes that the children have caused “injury or insult” to him/her and holds it against them.  These people are not able to let it go.  Let’s face it, children will hurt us sometimes but they usually don’t truly mean it.  And children are born with the ability to love unconditionally.

They didn’t ask to be conceived and born.  They didn’t ask to have an immature brain that doesn’t allow them to have total impulse control over their behaviors.  And children with disabilities didn’t ask for it either!

I know parents don’t ask for their children to be disabled or high spirited.  However, by choosing to become a parent, parents should be ready for anything even if this means asking for help when they are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or are exhausted.  I understand that getting help and support isn’t always easy and our country has much work to do in supporting families of every type.  Organizations also need to step up the resources and support for families.  But help is out there.

587DDA6E-2C3D-4CFB-9E81-CA237FEF991B

Your screaming baby isn’t screaming just to drive you to tears.  He/She needs you and may not be able to sleep.  It’s not the baby’s fault.  Your preschooler isn’t hitting you and having meltdowns just to embarrass you or make you crazy.  He/She just don’t have the ability to deal with big feelings without your help.  The child needs you to gently but firmly guide him/her through the process.  It’s not the child’s fault.  Your teenager isn’t saying mean things to you because he/she truly means it.  Teens still require help dealing with strong emotions and it’s not their fault. Children need discipline and care.

Your child with disabilities isn’t trying to hold you back because he/she requires your constant care.  The child needs you!  It’s not his/her fault!

Children learn a lot from the adults around them.  They must learn about empathy, grace, and unconditional love in order to give it back.  It’s true that parents will get angry, frustrated, and exasperated with their children.  They will need breaks and self care.  But parents have chosen to be the child’s parents, therefore, to hold everything against the child is not appropriate.  If a parent is feeling resentful of the children, then he/she must seek help from professionals.  If not, then the relationship with the children will be tainted and may even become abusive.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world.  Believe it or not, so is being a child trying to learn and navigate through this new world.  Respect the children and the children will respect their parents unless they have a mental illness that needs addressing. Respect begets respect.  Resentment begets broken relationships.

D25A321D-648C-4033-8F27-BE5B017EA0A0

Feeling True Love

I haven’t been writing much lately due to my new trauma, so here’s a short post with thoughts about a recent meme from my meditation app Calm.

It is really sad some people don’t know how to truly love. I believe that we love unconditionally as infants and young children but how we are treated as children can literally rip this ability away and cause mental illness that will not allow us to continue to truly love unconditionally.  This is so sad because they miss out on true love and end up hurting the people that they “love.”

6969852C-18F7-4165-AE01-9480D355060B

20 Years Ago Today…

939753B6-ED5E-40A9-AA0E-1900A6848E88
June 10, 1999

This was me 20 years ago today. I graduated high school with my class ’99 with honors thanks to CHIP empowering me to stand up to everyone who thought I should stay in high school! I hated Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings because it was more like “Plan Steph’s Life” meetings, but Chip was my boyfriend then and came to these meetings with me giving me the courage to stand my ground. I don’t think anyone but Chip and I wanted me to graduate with my class. I would have been SO UNHAPPY not graduating especially when I was in the National Honor Society, and as you can see, graduated with honors!

I went on to Waubonsee Community College, and had a wonderful counselor who encouraged me to take Psychology which led me to be an early childhood professional with my Master’s Degree. No, things haven’t worked out exactly how I wanted but I am getting my children’s book illustrated by Candace Lyon, and I will get my 2nd edition (non-religious) of Gentle Firmness out on Amazon and keep advocating for children.  Eventually I will find my place.

I have always had to fight for everything, but I am blessed to have a wonderful man to fight with me to accomplish what I am supposed. I’m glad I don’t have a boring computer job that everyone but Chip tried to push me into!

May we teach children to never give up!

0CA1D9E3-00B6-4D14-BD2D-25A85EC6D76B

Why I Share My Story Of Abuse

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and anyone who knows me or has been following me or has my first edition of my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that child abuse is something I am extremely passionate about.

IMG_4063
Tattoo by Candace Lyon

I am a child abuse survivor.  I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad and various other adults until I was 17 years old and finally told people that I was being abused.   All abusers make their victims feel shame and guilt.  One often thinks, “If only I did better,” or “It’s all my fault.”  I still struggle with this and have recently learned of additional abusive behavior that I’ve continued to endure as an adult that I was either unaware of and/or denied it was real.  Unfortunately, I continue to get confirmation that this abuse and manipulation is real and am putting a stop to it.

Mental illness runs in my family most likely due to the horrible cycle of abuse.  Genes may also play a part in the mental illness of my family.  My Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) score is a 7, which is pretty high, and I struggle with anxiety, PTSD, and depression every day. But every day I work towards healing and helping people.

To not share my story and pain would be like not sharing something that, unfortunately, is a part of me.  It would be like denying that I have severe cerebral palsy.  While I don’t allow either of these things to define me, I have wounds and scars from my trauma and I believe in using my pain to help others—others who were abused, others who are trying to break the cycle with their own children, and others who need to know that we’re not alone in this. And if I can prevent one child from abuse and heartbreak from the people who are supposed to love them, then it’s all worth it.

Another reason I share my story is to show that there is hope even when it doesn’t always feel like it.  Some days are harder than others for us survivors, but we are survivors.  There is no shame in getting help professionally.  There’s no shame in creating healthy relationships to support you.  Abusers and their defenders will make you feel like a horrible person for opening up about your abuse but don’t let them win.  This is typical abuser behavior.  Unless the abuser gets help, nothing will ever change.

D0BE5D66-D8A6-43E6-B88D-F0502225619A

I hope also try to help people understand that even “normative spankings” are abuse in that corporal punishment can make children at a higher risk of being physically abused.  When a parent spanks/hits a child and the child doesn’t obey, the parent may decide to spank/hit even harder.  This is a risk for physical abuse even if one doesn’t consider corporal punishment as abuse.  No child ever deserves to be hit.

And countless other studies show that corporal punishment is harmful to children and it often includes emotional and verbal abuse because the child is told how “bad” he/she is and how he/she “deserves the spanking.”

6CECB47C-3007-42BE-AEFC-E7BD3100389D

My dad hit me because of my spasms, which are involuntary muscle movements due to my severe cerebral palsy.  He also hit me for other things.  He was verbally and emotionally abusive as well. He passed away in 2003.  

After extensively researching narcissism as well as conferring with a colleague that knows more about this mental illness than meI do, I now believe that both of my parents very likely had/have this disorder.  In addition to refusing to admit they were/are wrong, they exhibited/exhibit other key characteristics of narcissism such as a lack of empathy, “an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships” (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

I have been over-analyzing my own behaviors because I am absolutely terrified of getting this mental illness.  It’s important to realize that it’s human nature to occasionally be selfish and self-absorbed.  It is also human nature to want recognition for accomplishments or to not to want to always admit when we are wrong.  Sometimes, like children, we want our own way and lash out when we don’t get our way.  This is not narcissistic as long as we recognize these tendencies and can admit that we do some of them occasionally.  I know I do these things sometimes but I always admit it.  I will always apologize if I am in the wrong.

To have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), one must exhibit at least 5 or more of these characteristics to an abnormal level and not be able to admit that he/she is doing any of this.  People with NPD will deny that they have it and will make their victims believe that it’s the victims’ fault, not theirs.  And as with any kind of illness, there is a spectrum wherein each individual lies.  Some people have narcissistic tendencies and some have NPD.  Unfortunately, because people with narcissistic tendencies or NPD will absolutely not seek help for this mental illness, it’s very difficult to diagnose.  These people usually seek treatment for depression or anxiety but not narcissism (Bressert, 2019).  In addition to this, NPD and other personality disorders can have the same kind of characteristics.

It has also been suggested that the stigma of mental illness can be associated with narcissism (Arikan, 2005, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/aadd/5cd265bcaeeaff77d9ce4fe16abf4ad39dc8.pdf).

I forgive my parents and other abusers and their defenders, but I cannot remain silent.  This is now a part of my story and I will tell it in a respectful manner.  Because people with NPD or narcissistic tendencies are masters at manipulation, one must put up strong boundaries and stand firm.  Otherwise, through manipulation that isn’t always obvious, these people will break the boundaries.  Walking away from them is the best way to protect oneself and hopefully get them to get help.  But nothing is guaranteed with this mental illness.

One can and must forgive his/her abusers because the forgiveness is more about setting oneself free from harboring anger and resentment towards them.  However, this does not mean letting the abusers off the hook.  I can’t do this myself.  Forgiveness also does not mean that you have to reconcile with them.  It just means you are able to work through the pain and heal.

I also don’t believe that all abusers are narcissistic or have a mental illness.  The cycle is so hard to break especially when the community is actually encouraging the abuse and the silence of the children and adults.   I’m aware of many abusers and/or pro-spankers that have realized that they were wrong and have apologized for it.  They change the way they parent or interact with their grown children.  Change is possible!

I am learning how to not be in toxic relationships with people who continue to hurt me.  This is far from easy but having healthy relationships is crucial for healing and recovery.  Getting psychotherapy is a must.  And I heal from getting tattoos so I recently got the tattoo below.  It was very emotional for me but reminds me that I am a SURVIVOR!  I need this on the days that feel impossible to get through.

9DE0F5AC-2496-49C1-AD53-628FB49CCFD9
Narcissistic survivor tattoo by Todd Bass

Gentle parenting is prevention for child abuse. If parents understand typical child development, then I believe that they are less likely to spank/hit or otherwise abuse their children.  Therefore, I will never stop sharing my story.  It is a part of my healing process.  I don’t do it out of spite.  I do it because I understand the pain and struggle after trauma and abuse.

May we value children and stop child abuse someday for good!

93CA2B36-DAE4-4699-BD33-65F8A8C8803A

References:

Arikan, K.  (2005).  A Stigmatizing Attitude Towards Psychiatric Illness is Associated with Narcissistic Personality Traits. Psychiatry Relat Sci Vol 42 No. 4 pp. 248–250

Black, R. (2019).  Personality Disorders: A Guide to the Ten Different Types.  Retrieved https://www.psycom.net/personality-disorders-10-different-types/

Bressert, S.  (2019). Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/

Goodtherapy.  (2018).  Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).  Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/ace-questionnaire

Psychology Today.  (2019).  Narcissism.  Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/narcissism

Mayo Clinic.  (2019).  Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

 

True Unconditional Love: Letter To My Possible Future Child.

I’m not pregnant and not adopting yet, but I have been thinking a lot about unconditional love and thought I would write this since it is almost Valentine’s Day and every child deserves true unconditional love.

 

Processed with MOLDIV

 

Dear my precious child,

I wanted you since I was a child myself and you are a dream come true.  I promise to try to never make you feel unwanted.  If I do, please tell me and I will make it right!

I will always love you unconditionally!  Nothing will ever change that!  If you ever question my love for you, I will do everything I can to help you feel my love for you!

I know I am going to make a million mistakes while we work together to get through this life but I promise to always apologize to you and truly mean it!

I will teach you how to handle your big feelings and I will always do my best to validate your feelings.  I will have my own feelings and may mess up by not remaining calm, but I will always apologize for yelling or saying anything that hurt you.  I hope you will always feel safe enough to see share all your feelings with me.

Yes, you will have appropriate limits and boundaries that you won’t always like.  I will do my best to be appropriately flexible with you.  Sometimes I will have to hold firm in the limit but I will always listen to you.  If you want to do something differently, I will be open to that.

Our relationship will be built on mutual respect and trust.  I will always apologize if I disrespect you or break your trust in me.  Of course, the same will go for you too.

I will allow you to have self-expression as long as it’s not hurting anyone.  I may not be into something you are,  but I will never put you down for being yourself.  Be yourself!

I will never ever punish you by hitting/spanking you, time-out, taking away your stuff arbitrarily, or shaming you.  I will apologize if I do.  There will be natural consequences for you and I will help you understand them.

You’re always welcome!  I will want to see you!  You always come first!

I will never manipulate you for any reason.

My precious child, this is a cruel world sometimes.  You’re heart will be broken and my heart will break every time yours does.  I am here for you.  You will know how loved you are by me, your dad, your Heavenly Father, and others.  It’s ok to protect yourself from toxic people and relationships. But please don’t lose your loving, vulnerable heart.  It’s worth it to love.  I will help you through this.

I won’t be a perfect mom.  Just know that you are my world and I will do everything I can to love you as you deserve.  You’re a beautiful person.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Love you,

Mom

46E2F65D-8DC2-4E12-9752-A3532B817284