I didn’t see/have my son, Drew, for two Halloweens in a row…. Although I have regular access to my son and our relationship is tight, that wasn’t always the case. I was given the task of buying costume materials and making his costume by hand, but not ‘allowed’ to see him over Halloween, which is not my holiday. It’s still a trigger for me, and from what I have learned about C-PTSD, these triggers are something I have to learn to live with. The hyper vigilance, feeling unsafe… all of it…. it isn’t something that goes away at all… I can honestly say I am doing much better now that I was 60 days ago. About 4 or 5 months ago I was diagnosed with PTSD, it was horrifying and embarrassing. It also explained so much of my behavior that had never made sense to me. Holidays without my son are triggering, but knowing this, I am able to make plans to distract myself over the holidays or any special day/event in which the little guy in my life isn’t with me. How do I survive them? I let go of the every toxic thought in my mind. It’s easier said than done. I have had to learn to dial my stress factor down before I reach my anxiety threshold. As I have mentioned before, I got very sick just over a year ago…. I was worn out… I had nothing left in me…. I was so worried about the son I never had access to, that I landed in the ER and stayed for a while. My iron, potassium etc were depleted. Transfusions etc were necessary for an extended hospital stay.
I was so worried when baby daddy began making trouble for me and my 3 month old. A disgusting excuse for a human being he was, and still is. My son had a speech delay. I forced through a court order I wrote for weekly speech therapy, that’s how I parented in those days, by pushing my orders through the court system till they tired of it. With my handy fee waiver, I found I could get the court’s attention by costing them an arm and a leg. Don’t knock the method, it works, I’m living proof and so is Drew. I was constantly so worried that he was hurting and couldn’t express it. I almost worried myself to death with toxic thoughts. I imagined the worst… A life full of all kinds of abuse at the hands of a man who didn’t think twice about abusing me in several ways, repeatedly. It was killing me. My son was subjected to maternal deprivation and attempts at parental alienation. I wrote a court order for co-parenting therapy and despite his sickening attempts to pussy out of it with a fake CPO, the court no longer caters to him. Title 9 pays out only once moms, never fear. I got my co-parenting therapy orders upheld, and have been in co-parenting therapy for a couple of months now. My son’s interactions with me changed significantly. I bring my son’s behaviors to the attention of the counselor who exposes every email baby daddy sends her in our sessions. We have a no secrets policy. Everyone knows everything. This was not obtained easily. The sessions are annoying and I’d rather be anywhere else, but this is what is best for Drew, and for me, that is all that matters.
Toxic thoughts are caused by extreme stress. Stress comes at you in the form of predetermined custody evaluations, judgements and thoughts of your child feeling abandoned or alone. Without communication with your children, a parent often feels guilty for smiling and resents things and people that cause them to smile, as if being happy without your child is a crime. It isn’t. In fact, it will be the only thing to get you through it. If you’re case is anything like mine (and I’ll bet you a million bucks it is), the non custodial parent gets a report that describes the life of a rockstar. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. I was accused of dating someone weird while I hadn’t dated up to that point since my son was born. I was accused of everything under the sun, why? I had zero affection or feelings ever for this man. I was about to leave the country for work, he decided he couldn’t stand me being with anyone else or being happy. So he took the son he had blackmailed me to abort. It’s punishment, he once told the court, for the way she treats me. She doesn’t deserve to see her son. Yes, baby daddy is a total loser and no, he hasn’t had a single date since I walked out the door. I have no had quite a few, and even a relationship. Despite my custody trauma, I have a life. Creating that other life is the only thing that saved me. The ability to let go a little has given me much in return: my sanity. Toxic thoughts are ANY thoughts that rob you of positive feelings, thoughts that leave you feeling negative. In order to win your battle, you need to survive it first, don’t you? This isn’t an essay on how to be happy, it’s about why you NEED to be happy to survive. Like Mario Brothers (yeah, I’m THAT old), it takes a lot time, determination and perseverance to save the princess. You need friends, pets, games and laughs to get to the last level…. and even when you get to the final level (court trial) you may need a few more tries before completing your mission.
Repression or suppression of toxic thoughts is how we temporarily deal with the emotions that are generated by anger, loss, sadness or trauma. This gives your mind a chance to catch up with loss or trauma by experiencing a temporary amnesia. However, the toxic emotions that are repressed don’t go away. You can bury your emotions, but you need to know you are burying something that remains alive, and that is a horrible prospect. It’s not surprising that your mind perceives suppressed emotions as fear. That fear remains unless you deal with it. You can consciously decide to deny or reject an emotion that is uncomfortable, but once you have done so, it goes into your non-conscious mind in a process called automatization: you first do it consciously and then train yourself to continue until it becomes an automatic reaction. This is not the way your brain deal best with toxic emotions. Repressing them destabilizes your brain’s natural chemistry and disrupts the multiplicity of feedback loops that usually expels toxic waste. In fact, unprocessed emotions impede that flow of they naturally generate, often referred to as the ‘molecules of emotion’. When stress prevent molecules of emotion from flowing freely, the automatic processes (digestion, breathing, immunity and blood flow) that are regulated by the flow of peptide will collapse into a few simple feedback loops. This causes the suppressed toxic emotion to become an emotional stronghold, the magic trees of the mind, that changes cellular memory within the cells of the body. It won’t allow you to function well on any level, physical, mental or spiritual.
So how do you keep these toxic thoughts at bay? DILUTE THEM. If you’re like me, and chances are you are, your life revolves around your child. And when your child isn’t with you? It becomes about politics and policy, media and communication or like myself and a few others I know, it becomes about the laws governing our family courts and getting yourself an entirely new career. Who were you before you became a parent? What personal hobbies, interests and career goals did you have? Do you have a social support system? Not an emotional one, but a sociaone? This is going to be your most valuable asset in the war for your sanity. You need reality checks, confidence and loyalty; friends are the perfect people to give than to you. Friendships are give and take, as females, we know that our job is to listen and agree when needed. If he or she pours their heart out for an hour, you know you get that same hour in return. and unlike therapy, your friends will tell you what you need to hear to get moving in the direction you need to head in. In the last week, I have gone out 4 times. Dinner and a comedy show on 2 different evenings. Dinner with a friend on Halloween and a wine tasting and tour a few days ago. I knew Halloween would be difficult, I anticipated this and planned accordingly. Having these friends to be weepy with made me comfortable, and that lead me to hours of laughter during days that would have been spent feeling sad, miserable and angry. Thanksgiving is coming up. I don’t know who will have Drew for that holiday, but I have a small trip to San Diego coming up the week before, so if I have to wait till Christmas, I think I’ll survive. It may be smoke, mirrors and window dressing, but I’ll survive. I have to, you have to, we all have to in order to keep going and changing the status quo, I first have to be happy to be alive, that wasn’t always the case.