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REFLECTIONS FROM CHILDHOOD

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MIRROR IMAGE OR MIRAGE'

RECONDITIONING THE CHILD WITHIN

 

When we were children, we did not learn how to deal with our negative feelings when being told so many times that we were supposed "to be seen and not heard". We were conditioned to stuff our feelings inward so that when we finally reached adulthood, when we could have a choice to either continue holding back our feelings, good or bad, or sharing them - we instead, continue to resist positive change as a result of the old mental recordings from childhood.  The child within at this point is in need of intense reconditioning.

 

One tape that can repeat itself to the adult is the one where the inner child says:  "who would listen anyway".  This mountainous, emotional hike begun in childhood keeps many of us from knowing who we are meant to be and thus becoming all that God intended for us as our "authentic self".

 

I was encouraged by a past psychiatrist to write a letter to my parents about all my disappointments as a child growing up.  I did just that - wrote the letter to air my pent up feelings of long ago as a child growing up in a dysfunctional home, but I never mailed it.  It was very cathartic and did clean out the emotional cobwebs of sorts.  I highly recommend this writing exercise; whether you mail or hand deliver the letter to your parent(s) is up to you.  (If another person is the cause of your inner insecurities - write a letter to them.)

 

Many joke about the fact that each and every one of us comes from a dysfunctional home. The other side of this issue is that some of us experience more dysfunction than others and the quantity and quality of the variables that create our dysfunction have a lot to do with how we view life and come to understand what normal is. The dictionary describes normal as: "anything within normal means". Now that is a political play on words if there ever was one.

 

It is no different for either a man nor a woman when dealing with the ramifications of a dysfunctional childhood, except, women have a battle raging within them that men could not possibly fathom.  Hormonal warfare! 

 

It is not easy to explain why there is no clear cut answer for why some women float through the highs and lows while other women struggle constantly to keep the tide waters from overpowering them.  I believe that some of the answers lie within how we were conditioned as children to deal with life in general: stress, anxiety, loss, love, relationships (ACOA), religious training, mother-child bonding, father-child bonding, sibling rivalry, and so on. Each area has an impact on how a woman transitions to her new role as a "mother". And,

a woman's relationship with her own mother - good, bad or indifferent or

not having known your mother at all - all enter into how you perceive

motherhood for yourself.

 

For women who have also endured past abuse as children or as a young

adult, i.e. physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and psychological - their

view of the world and what constitutes "normal" will be greatly distorted. A woman has to be very resilent in learning to adapt in life when so many 

negatives are around her. Therefore, a woman's positive view of self may also suffer as a consequence of the negative environment surrounding her.

 

No one should have a past that includes being a victim of anything.  It is wrong of anyone to mistreat others, whether male or female. That said, imagine how much more difficult it is for a woman who upon becoming a mother has to nurture a child - when she has not been ever nurtured fully herself. Our mothers are responsible for teaching children right from wrong and what is seen as moral versus immoral issues. If the woman's own childhood was compromised by dysfunction and double standards - how does she acquire these overnight upon having a child of her own.

 

If a woman, having pasts that are strewn with more thorns than roses, adapts to her transition into motherhood fairly smoothly - she is just better at adapting to change.  For those who are not able to adapt more readily to change, i.e. bringing a child into the world, she may experience more than the usual anxiety, panic and fear surrounding maternal responsibilities. Further, when going to her doctor, if he makes light of her sadness and lack of appetite and sleep - it will only add to the self-doubt and fear she has. whirling negative factors already effecting the ability to transition.  Not quite a win-win situation!

 

For those whose past abuse(s) or traumatic experience from childhood or early adulthood are not yet remembered, medical care is compromised by not having this information as part of their medical histories.  Doctors cannot properly treat any mother if not having all the necessary information in which to properly diagnosis his patient.  These unknown factors also can hinder medical decisions for administration of medicines and the choices for treatment plans.

 

Women, who were ever physically or sexually abused as children, are at greater risk for experiencing a maternal mood disorder simply because their bodies never forget the pain from those experiences.  The physical pain experienced during labor and especially delivery (complicated by C-sections, and/or surgical repairs of areas torn during the birth process or surgeries done for emergence problems that arise) can mimic the pain once endured from having been physically and/or sexually abused, but not yet remembered. 

 

In fact, most abuse is not remembered for many years after the fact and the subconscious mind protects the conscious mind by omission - placing the conscious and sub-conscious at odds with each other - increasing the chances of depression and a post-partum psychotic state. This secret scenario adds to the already existing adjustments necessary for a smooth transition into motherhood. Without knowledge of past abuse and/or trauma, providing resolution becomes a guessing game between a doctor and his patient.

 

The ultimate goal would be to have each pregnant woman meet with a therapist to just sit down and talk - perhaps also doing a depression screening as well.  Thinking outside the box here, it would be ideal if doctors could develop a baseline for each woman regarding risk based on the type of environment she was raised in.  The other goal would be to do whatever necessary to reduce the intensity and quantity of depressive symptoms experienced by mothers.  There are some programs now available where nurses do follow ups for the first full year after a mother brings her newborn home.

 

The greater responsibility for society would be to increase the protection surrounding childhood and adolescence to decrease the percentages of future victims - so that when a woman decides she wants to become a mother, there are no "issues" to get in the way of a "positive mothering experience."

 

All this and much more continue to place women at greater risk for the darker side of motherhood, especially "psychosis" - postpartum psychosis keeps mothers from knowing their "authentic selves".  However, perhaps she had never reached that rung on The Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.  If that is true, how would a mother know to nurture herself to become "authentic mother". 

 

When maternal mood disorders continue to rob a woman of their very soul, taking them from reality to near or true insanity - how does society address this. It would seem that society blames the husband first - saying, "he should have known".  Soceity also has a big problem in keeping mental stigma alive that keeps a woman or mother from seeking help - even if just for extended baby blues. I'm here to tell you that society is wrong on both counts!

 

There are no victimless crimes - only crimes with unwilling victims.  Women whose lives were previously strewn with domestic violence, rape, incest are victimized all over again - when body remembers past pain upon giving birth.

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"No matter how rough the seas of life become - if God is your captain of the ship, your ship will never sink."   Vow Verse - "Vow Darling"  2005