Me as Mr. “T”

As a husband who is deeply involved in my wife’s healing journey, I have become a defacto therapist. Even though my girls do not want to talk most things through with me, how I interact with all of them will profoundly affect the healing process. So here are some things I try to keep in mind.

1) Trauma survivors see the world differently than non-trauma survivors. In fact, everyone sees the world differently than I do. We are all unique. So it’s important if I’m going to be part of the healing process that I remember that I have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason: I need to listen to my girls twice as much as I offer my opinion to them about things. Listening to Karen, Amy, Alleylieu, Sophia and the other girls validates them and what they feel. When I listen to my girls, I also gain a deep understanding of them. Listening first makes it so much easier to meet their needs or offer help that is actually needed and wanted.

But when I don’t listen or if I argue with them and tell them “you shouldn’t feel that way,” I’ve just invalidated them. And whether I understand it, doing so places me in very close company to the original abusers who cared nothing about my girls’ opinions but only about their needs.

2) Trauma survivors will heal at the pace they are able to heal. Being impatient isn’t going to do anything other than make your girls feel “pressured.” And I’m preaching to myself here. It’s been 22 years that I’ve been waiting to have a healthy wife. I DON’T FEEL LIKE BEING PATIENT! But that is exactly what I must be.

I look at it this way. In a garden I can plow up the dirt. I can get rid of the rocks, stumps, weeds and everything else. I can buy the best fertilizer. I can plant the seeds in the optimal way. I can water it daily. I can pray for the right amounts of sunshine. But in the end, those little plants are going to grow at a certain rate.

So, yes, I can influence the healing process. I can provide an environment at home that is conducive to help my girls heal: one that is safe, peaceful, loving and meets the felt needs of my wife and the various insiders. But in the end, it is up to them. So if my girls say, “You’re pressuring me,” I try to take it seriously and back off. Otherwise, I’m becoming an obstacle to healing instead of a conductor for healing.

3) Trauma survivors have no reference point for healing. Think about it. Most people who have DID can NEVER remember a time that they weren’t traumatized. So they are seeking something that they have never experienced. That should help us have some empathy for the size of the task they are undertaking. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means not only do we need to be very understanding of the struggles they are encountering as they try to expunge the pain, hurt and fear out of their heart, but also the more we can do to model what healthy, loving and well-adjusted behavior is the more they will have an example of what they are trying to reach.

4) Trauma survivors don’t need preachers. I struggle with this a lot. Think about being parents. When we see something in real life that we think would be a great lesson for our kids, we often point it out and throw in a little sermon for free. How often are these sermons gratefully received by our children?!! Come on. I’m the parent with loads of wisdom just waiting to be dispensed to my children.

Likewise, just because I may be the “non-traumatized” spouse does not mean that my “free” sermons will be anymore gratefully received by Karen or the girls. Even though in a very real sense I am raising the insiders, I have to be careful how I offer my wisdom to them. Look for teachable moments and have a soft approach. And be sure to practice what you preach. It works a lot better than a well-rehearsed sermon.

5) When my girls actually do need to talk through something with me, I have to try to detach myself from the situation so that they can talk without fear of counterattacks. Alleylieu and I are in the middle of this right now. So I may try to expand this point in a future entry because it is really critical.

So I’m Mr. T. whether or not I want to be. But the therapy I “dispense” for my girls is really just positive life experiences. The better I follow these guidelines, the more positive and healing I can make these life experiences. I wish I could say I perfectly follow these guidelines, but I give it the best try I can.

Blessings.

Sam, I Am

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