a blog about daughters in crisis and the moms who love them

Archive for the tag “daughter”

Moms Have Triggers Too


you never leave my heartWe know that people with life-consuming issues deal with certain thought paths or things in their surroundings that “trigger” impulses. Impulses lead to choices, and choices lead to decisions. Decisions. Well, they sometimes lead to dire consequences. Attaching the words “Trigger Warning” to graphic photos or videos of the effects of self-injury is an all-too-common way of backhandedly glorifying the behavior. It’s gore for gore’s sake.

Worrying about someone’s triggers going off is no fun either. In fact, the dance between cutters and the ones who love them is one that requires a great deal of relationship savvy. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a “walking on eggshells” scenario where the cutter holds more sway over everyone else’s behavior than is warranted. After all, who wants to be blamed as the reason for a new wound?

Less is said, though, about what happens to a mom’s emotional well-being or anxiety levels while living with a child whose triggers lead her/him to make heart-wrenching, self-destructive decisions. Since Mother’s Day is near, today seems like a good day to bring it up.

Moms have triggers too.

Sometimes it’s hard to reflect on how I became conditioned to a state of low-to-medium-grade anxiety, a “waiting for the other shoe to drop” sense of always-on vigilance. At best, it was distracting. At worst, paralyzing. If I could have stopped every risk from coming along, I would have.

Suffering can be as painful to witness as it is to endure. But I can’t be everywhere at once, can’t make the world stop spinning to get between my child and what might happen. Sometimes it’s misguided to try. Accepting this makes all the difference.

Still, although it’s been a couple of years since anything major has arisen at our house, I notice that when any of my kids has an emotional setback I feel triggered to jump back into Night Watchman mode and brace myself for the worst.

We’ve come a long way. But healing takes time. Recognizing what’s happening in my head and walking through the discomfort to find my peace again is part of the process.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere. If you are living with a daughter in crisis, my heart is especially with you. Don’t give up and don’t stop reaching out for help when you need it.

Let’s Dissect a Myth About Cutting

I’ve never met a cutter who views it as an optimal long-term lifestyle choice or a best practice for coping or relieving stress. They ALL say it’s something they want to quit doing. This must mean, then, that it does not provide the lasting sense of relief, peace, or atonement it seems to promise in the beginning.

Cutting betrays itself as an unsustainable approach to managing one’s emotions and circumstances. Rather than it working better and better, the longer and more frequently people do it, they instead find it multiplies their problems and swells the weight of their burdens. Rather than a tool that makes life easier, it is a weapon aimed directly at the self.

Cutting does not lead to victory, but to defeat. Guilt and shame. Temporary relief. Obsession. A cycle that always ends at regret.

Jesus, though, really could say, “It is finished,” and mean it. He paid the price once and put an end to sin and death. His blood does have power. His wounds really can heal.

Not long after my daughter, Tessa, turned to God for help to stop cutting, she realized something profound: she was trying to accomplish on her own what Jesus had already accomplished for her. She realized that she had shed her own blood in an attempt to purge herself of what she saw as undesirable within herself. Although she initially felt better each time she did this, eventually the undesirable things piled up again and the urge to atone for them returned. Bloodletting became a circular trap she found no way to spring on her own. Short of perfecting herself, there was no way to permanently get rid of everything undesirable.

I’m grateful to Caroline Kettlewell for writing down and sharing her experiences with cutting. I read her memoir several years ago, near the beginning of my quest to find some way to comprehend something I’d never heard of or encountered before. She is a terrific writer and was willing to uncover a very difficult aspect of her life to help the rest of us understand what takes place inside the mind of someone dealing with self-harm. It was a comfort to me to find in her words a first-hand expression of what my intuition was telling me about self-injury and the path toward true healing.

I cut with painstaking, deliberate slowness and a mounting sense of —excitement? Anticipation? Expecting to cross, at last, some final threshold, to realize some permanent escape. A blood sacrifice substantive enough to articulate the depth and breadth and conviction of my despair …

… Once again, I wanted to kill something in myself, wanted to bleed it out until I was left with the bare, clean baseline, the absolute zero from which point I could rebuild a better version of myself. 

~Caroline Kettlewell, Skin Game

I’ll never forget the joy I saw in Tessa’s eyes when she described what it meant to know that atoning for her sin was not up to her.

Jesus — the Passover Lamb, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the Earth, the Lamb of God — offered Himself and His own blood on her (and our) behalf as the final sacrifice to atone for sin. No other sacrifice since that day has purged anyone of any sin in God’s eyes. The Book of Hebrews tells us all about this in detail.

You Are Not Alone

Discovering that your daughter struggles with an issue like self-injury disrupts your equilibrium. While more and more families are affected by this issue, it’s still uncommon enough that it can make you feel isolated, alone and misunderstood.

I felt desolate and devastated when it all started. I had never heard of self-injury. I knew nothing about it and was totally baffled by it. Why would someone consider hurting themselves?

I started trying to educate myself, but my sense of isolation was actually compounded by my research. I kept finding psychological banter laden with heavy doses of guilt about the types of family situations or life events that made people want to resort to harming themselves. Our family didn’t match the profiles I read about, but I couldn’t help absorbing shame and guilt and culpability nonetheless.

For the sake of my daughter, myself and my family, I made up my mind to continue reaching out until I found the sources of empathy, support and wise counsel we all needed. I wanted real answers and real solutions, not just pills and positive thinking. I found what I was looking for. Best of all, I found out what powerful things God can do in these situations. He put incredible people upon our path who walked alongside us and helped us tremendously. Our sense of aloneness gradually faded. Healing began for all of us. God is good.

You can find the support you need too. I invite you start here. Send me an email at spoudazo.blog@gmail.com.

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