Cerebral Palsy and Abuse

March was Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month and April was Child Abuse Awareness Month, and I have been wanting to write this post for a while now. This post will cover CP and abuse and mental health issues as May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain causing difficulty in movement. It can be mild, affect one side of the body, or severe. I have severe cerebral palsy and I can’t physically take care of myself at all. I didn’t breathe for 40 minutes after I was born and they almost gave up on me. I was in the NICU for a couple weeks and I wasn’t expected to live. But I did! I will be 40 in September!

But the lack of oxygen caused the brain damage that led to the CP. I can’t control my muscles and have spasms which are involuntary contractions of the muscles and involuntary movements. I am typical cognitively. I type with my nose and write books and these posts with my nose. My children’s book about my life with CP will hopefully be out at the end of the year. Getting the right illustrators has been hard but I finally found the perfect people to do it and they are doing a wonderful job with it!

Having a severe physical disability is hard but I refuse to let it ruin my life. I am a survivor and I hate pity! I crave acceptance and to be seen as a person! Sadly, many people are not able to see the real me. They see me as a child or subhuman instead of a competent person. I am so much more than my disability.

I prefer person-first language. I am a person with a disability, not a “disabled person.” I am a person with cerebral palsy! I refuse to be defined by my disability. Words like “handicapped,” “cripple,” “retard,” and “spaz” are very offensive to the disability community. We are people who deserve respect and rights and support. But again, despite making progress in this country, some people just refuse to accept and see us.

Children with disabilities are more likely to be abused and bullied. I was. Children that didn’t know me would make fun of me at school. I was also physically, mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused by my parents. As I have written in another blog post, I truly believe that both parents are/were narcissistic which is confusing because they did fight for me for the services that I needed and did care for and loved me, but there was also abuse at home. Some of the abuse that I experienced I recently found out through professional therapy that it was abuse and that I wasn’t protected like I should have been and have been put down even through adulthood. I am now protecting myself from those people and my husband does a wonderful job with helping me.

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What is sad is that in a Facebook group my abuse was questioned by some of the parents and these parents claimed that adults with CP are harder on parents. There’s no evidence that this is the case and all the people I know with CP have wonderful relationships with their parents because they weren’t abused by them. Never ever question the abuse of someone!!

Due to the lack of being able to do what typical children and adults are able to do combined with the abuse and trauma I have suffered, I battle anxiety, CPTSD, PTSD, and depression every day. Sometimes I have it pretty together and other times it is a struggle. The pandemic has heightened everything and I am struggling to get out of it again. I will though. Therapy is helping me.

Having CP is just something I live with like my mental health issues. I try to use my pain to help people. If I can stop one child from being hit or otherwise abused, I will keep advocating and educating people who are willing to learn. My pain and abuse doesn’t define me either but it is something that I live with.

I wish there was more acceptance for people with disabilities and mental health issues. I also wish that people understood that how we treat children will affect their mental health. If one isn’t a white, rich man, it’s still hard to get along in this society and this must change. There should be no stigma for the abused, people with disabilities, or people with mental health issues.

Let’s raise our children to be more aware and accepting. I hope my children’s book that will hopefully be out by the end of the year will help with creating a more zombie accepting world.

Unconditional

How many things are truly unconditional?  It’s almost Christmas and we tell children that Santa will bring them presents if they are good.  We put Elf on the shelf so that they know he is watching them for Santa.  I know that some families play games with this toy but many people don’t.

Love is supposed to be unconditional but it often demands things from others or it’s removed when the child misbehaves—no matter how old he/she is.  Christian doctrine teaches that God is love but one must say the “right prayer” to avoid going to “Hell.”  I feel like true unconditional love is rare. I have seen both in my life and now it’s even more apparent with the pandemic.  Love for our neighbors means doing everything we can to protect them from COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home for Christmas with immediate family.

And children should have presents just because they are loved; not because they were good.  The real St. Nick gave to the poor and helped the oppressed because he was kind and loving.  He didn’t expect anything from them. Here’s a wonderful video on the history of Santa.

Have you ever just given something to someone without telling anyone or given something to a complete stranger who needs help?  These have been the most rewarding experiences for me.  This is loving people unconditionally.

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I believe that respect is earned but love is not.  Love, especially for children, should never ever be earned.  This doesn’t mean that we have to be involved with toxic people.  Love them by walking away from them.

I understand that some people have very high-needs children and it is really hard but they should love their children for who they are.  Speaking from my own experience of being a very high-needs child as well as having a parent ask in a Facebook group about what to do to prevent damage from not being able to meet every single need, I believe that it is more important to explain to the child that we are trying our best and validate the child.

However, coming from an abusive, narcissistic home and struggling to come to terms with my own mother being narcissistic and and that she will never be able to be a good mom to me, what hurts is parents not talking about it in a healthy way.  I have severe cerebral palsy and even my husband can’t meet every emotional need I have and sometimes he gets frustrated which is human but it triggers me. The difference is that he is truly trying and admits to his shortcomings.  I do the same.

But with narcissistic parents, they don’t care and won’t admit that they are falling short.  In these cases and other abusive situations, the love is not unconditional.  I think as long as one has a good connection with his/her child and teaches healthy coping skills, the child may need help later on in life, but he/she shouldn’t have the same amount of pain and damage that us who were abused by our narcissistic parents have.

Accepting that one’s child is different than the parent is unconditional love.  When this happens and children have very different personalities than the parents, the best thing that parents can do is accept it and support the children.  Get involved with at least one activity that the child enjoys.  And share each other’s interests with each other knowing that it’s ok to be so different.  Yes, it is hard at times but the key is to validate and accept.

This Christmas, with so many people sick and dying from COVID-19, let’s remember the little Baby that came to Earth to try and teach us what unconditional love is.  Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, please think about how you can make this world better by loving people instead of being selfish.

Have a peaceful Holiday season.  We remember all who we lost this year.  May 2021 eventually be a better year!

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Love Should Always Triumph Over Manipulation

 

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I recently heard something similar to this quote, “Love should always triumph over manipulation,” on a television show and it spoke to me. Unfortunately, manipulation triumphs more than love does in the parent-child relationship.

It’s not always a conscious thing, though, sometimes it is. We unknowingly usually start manipulating children at birth by not respecting their bodies and feelings.  We force them to do things that their bodies are not yet ready to do such as “tummy time” or propping them up.  This is so uncomfortable.

We make them stand before they can. We try to quiet their cries by shushing them, distracting them with a toy in front of their faces, and/or leave them to cry-it-out.

As they grow, we try to force our own agendas onto them even more.  When they are acting their ages or doing something that is developmentally appropriate, we punish them.  We spank/hit, give time-outs, and arbitrarily take things away.

This is all manipulation. Young children are often accused of trying to manipulate their parents but they are not able to think that far ahead. They’re always in the present.  People who tell parents that children manipulate are usually extremely manipulative.

This can continue into adulthood.  But love should triumph over manipulation. Love should think of the other person and do what is best for them. This does not mean letting people of any age walk all over us!  It should mean putting others first as God wants us to do.

True love accepts all, puts others first, tries not to hurt people, tries to have empathy, and gently corrects when appropriate.

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I don’t know who’s quote this is but it is spot on!

Another Tattoo, Love, And Acceptance

On January 27th I got my third tattoo which is of my beloved first kitty, Sara. It was the ten year anniversary of her going Home. I got Sara when I was about nine years old and lost her when I was 25 years old. This was the original tattoo that I had been wanting since soon after she went Home.

I made it through the tattoo with flying colors and took the same medications as I did with my last two tattoos in order to slow down my muscle spasms.  See here and here about my first tattoo experiences. Again, my mom was so excited and proud of me.  It’s funny how even though I am 35 years old, I still need my mom’s approval and acceptance!  It truly means a lot to me!

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My beautiful Sara tattoo!

I have been thinking a great deal about love and acceptance with everything going on in both my world and the world in general.  My husband and I no longer attend church because we’ve never found one that the people totally accepted us. Some people have and we are still friends with them, but many people assume that I am mentally disabled and talk to me like I am a child, well actually, worse.  They are often patronizing to me. It drives me crazy! Of course, as I said, there are some who can see past my disability, but many can’t even after telling them that I have a Master’s Degree. 

So when my friend, Jackie Heim, posted the following on her Facebook page, I felt sad but could really relate.

“I read that between 80-90% of parents with special needs kids do not attend church. There is no source for my information, so I can’t verify this. But, I believe the number is high (for sure higher than it should be). I’ll take my son anywhere – the library, the mall, the beach, swimming, a museum, a park, the grocery store, Disney World – anywhere but church. I can handle the comments and looks from strangers. Not being able to talk and not understanding everything said to you is a frustrating disability. From Christians, the one group of people who I want support from as as special needs parent, I get judgmental comments. Burdens of expectation concerning my son’s behavior are thrown on my shoulders. And, always by people who are doing nothing to help me with this burden. I have experienced this ever since dealing with my first language delayed child over a decade ago. It hasn’t gone away. And, the third time around I am dealing with an even more severe delay. So, I just don’t go. It’s easier that way.”

The very people, the Church, who are supposed to love and accept you for who you are, don’t!  They want children to be these perfectly obedient robots and if they’re not then you need to spank/hit them.  They never stop to think that the children may have special needs or they never try to understand about child development.  To be so judgmental to parents and children is so wrong and un-Christlike.

I see the world becoming worse and worse which the Bible tells us to expect.  But what I have been struggling with for years is that I didn’t realize that it would be the Christians that are often leading the way to destruction.  We’re supposed to be leading people to the Light.  I just don’t see that happening.

I believe that this is due to church doctrine.  Church doctrine often appears to be aligned with the Bible, but when you look deeper, you see how much it strays from the Bible.  Jesus was constantly with sinners and making them feel loved and welcome.  In fact, people would run to Jesus when He was in their town!

When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured” (Mark 6:53-56, NASB).

It was always the self-righteous Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that scoffed, badgered, and ultimately crucified Jesus.  Regular people just wanted to know more about Him and to understand Him.

Not long ago I posted on my Facebook personal page that I have recently found myself relating more to the tattoo culture than to the Christian culture. As strange as that may sound, it’s because the tattoo culture is so real, loving, and accepting!  They are so Christlike and they don’t even know it.  That is so scary and sad that a tattoo shop does what the Church ought to be doing.

We are born with a deep need for love and acceptance.  Children absolutely crave it from their parents and never outgrow it.  Jesus put us here to love and accept people in order to lead them to Him.  There are a lot of people out there right now, young and old, of different races and ethnicities, and of different religions, and of all sexual orientations that are craving for love and acceptance!  May we do our best to stop judging and begin loving and accepting the way Jesus does!

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Sacrifice And Love For Others–Especially Our Children

Romans 15:1-7:

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

I think this Scripture is key in how we should interact with others, especially our children. It seems that many Christians are not willing to self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. If it’s not convenient for us, then we won’t sacrifice for others.

Guess what!  Being crucified on a cross was not convenient to Jesus, but because He loved us so much, He died a horrific death for us–His beloved children!

I think it’s beyond sad that many popular, mainstream “Christian child-rearing experts” actually discourage parents from self-sacrificing for their children. Instead of rearranging their lives to include children, these “experts” teach parents to force a new human being to fit within the parents’ lives so the child knows that he/she is not too important.

How is that obeying what God clearly lays out in the above Scripture?  Children are indeed weaker than us. They need constant care and guidance from us which should involve major self-sacrifice from us.

Leaving infants to cry-it-out so that we can get a good night’s sleep is not self-sacrificing nor is it accepting infants for who they are.

Staying up with them and engaging in nighttime parenting despite being absolutely exhausted is self-sacrificing and accepting them.

Spanking/hitting, using time-out, shaming, arbitrarily taking things away, yelling, and other harsh punishment with our children is not self-sacrificing or accepting children.

Doing the hard work of disciplining (teaching, guiding, correcting) using positive, respectful, and gentle techniques such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children is self-sacrificing and accepting of our children.

Most Christian claim that if they don’t spank/hit and “teach” their children that the world does not revolve around them that their children will turn into self-entitled brats.  Let me tell you this: Children learn by our actions. Some of the most self-entitled people I know grew up in punitive households where they were constantly “put in their places.”  Their parents were so focused on forcing their children into self-sacrifice that the children never truly learned how to sacrifice for the sake of others.

True love means being willing to sacrifice, accept, give grace and mercy for another no matter how inconvenient it is to us. We must model this to our children.

Biblical love does not involve inflicting pain on children as many Christians still believe due to errant interpretation of this verse:

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

In order to understand this, we need to understand that the Biblical Rod was a big, heavy stick with spikes on it. Shepherds never hit their own sheep with the rod. Rather, they used it to protect their sheep from predators. We need to do the same with our children. We need to sacrifice ourselves in order to protect our children from the enemy, satan, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

Biblical love is clearly defined as:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cornithians 13:4-7, ESV).

May we use self-sacrifice to truly love our children and everyone!

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