DON’T Muscle Through
by: Gari Lister
I woke up this morning and checked my phone as I lay in bed (yes, I know it’s terrible. . . ) and here is what I read over and over again:
“I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”
“He’s killed the best parts of me.”
“I hate it. I even hate her.”
I so get it. I have been there – parenting traumatized children is really, really hard. Sometimes it absolutely, positively SUCKS (for lack of a more sophisticated word).
Here’s what you should NOT do: ignore your feelings. Keep trudging on. Muscle through.
I will tell you what I learned the hard way: Keeping your head down and muscling through your days with that kind of exhaustion and pain DOES NOT HELP. It does not help your child, and it does not help you – it doesn’t help anything, in fact. Muscling through works in short crises. It works when everyone in the house has the flu, or when you are moving, or when there’s a tornado. It doesn’t work when the crisis continues month after month, year after year.
Here’s what DOES work: Stop, Breathe and Re-Start. What does that mean when you are parenting an incredibly difficult little person (or bigger person who just acts like a small child)?
It means: YOU NEED A BREAK. In an ideal world, go to a moms’ retreat THIS WEEKEND. Get away with parents who get it and will love you and support you. Laugh and walk on the beach. Get respite, and go to a baseball game or a movie or just a long dinner with your husband or your best friend.
Sadly, we don’t all live in ideal worlds. We don’t all have respite, and we can’t all be refreshed with “just” a dinner. So what to do?
CHANGE something. ANYTHING. Start a new yoga class. If you can’t get to class, buy a DVD or download a class. Start going for walks and listening to podcasts. Pick a room and redecorate it. You don’t need to buy new furniture – try a new color paint. Move your furniture around – move your bed to a different wall, or switch up the position of your living room couch.
Ignore your significant other who might say un-helpful things like: “But the paint looks fine – why are we doing this?” (Or if you live in my house, “Not again?”)
Changing your daily routine and your surroundings can help give you a new perspective – both physical and mental. When I’ve changed my day just a little bit, when I’ve recharged my physical surroundings, often I have found that I start – just bit by bit – to have a different perspective on my child and what makes him act the way he does. And sometimes that switch in perspective is exactly what I need to find the next step on the way to healing.
So go out there and CHANGE something.