My master’s degree is in therapy, which means I was trained to make my living off childhood trauma and the lifelong vibrations we feel from those chords being continually restruck. In becoming a mother and synthesizing these 2 worlds of knowledge and experience, I sought a parenting path that could provide a childhood my children wouldn’t need to heal from. This has led me to attachment parenting, unschooling, and what I have come to refer to as natural sleep, parenting, and learning. But life is a rich tapestry of experiences, holding a broad spectrum of emotional colors and textures. I would never want to pathologize or avoid that fundamental truth. So I’ve leaned back and observed my greatest teachers (my children) and dug a little deeper with my new perspective into the body of knowledge available today. What I’ve learned is that there is a natural path of trauma recovery. As with so many things, intuition, compassionate connection, and trusted inspiration can lead the way.
There is a nature to us that compels us toward exactly what we need. This intuition is strongest in the young. A newborn crawls to the breast, though he knows not why. A symphony of instinct, reflex, and desire play together in perfect harmony. This same deep, inner knowing remains with us our whole lives, but the noise of life, memories, and lessons learned drown out its wisdom. When a child says, “Hold me; I’m scared,” and we say, “No; you’re fine,” we rob that personal Gaia of her voice. Then we turn around and complain, “I don’t know what to do with him!” Hold them. They are scared.
The power of love cannot be understated. Your child will feel that tug of intuition and reach out for your hand so you may walk that path together. Will you take their hand? They cannot do it alone. “Hold me; I’m scared.” “You’re scared; I’m holding you.” A child whose attachment is not reciprocated is doomed. Or looked at the other way, a child whose attachment is reciprocated is heart whole, emotionally strong and healthy, and full of the resiliency needed to move through trauma intact.
There is no shame or failure in reaching out for help. As a parenting coach, I am that hand that meets yours when you reach out. Whenever we are challenged, guidance and support in processing and adjusting course when needed is invaluable. This might look like seeking inspiring solutions, discussing shared experiences, or getting guidance from a trusted source (trusted being key as a flood of advice of disconnection only undermines natural recovery). This might look like reading books on a topic or having a playdate with another family with a similar experience of discomfort. In other words: help. The key difference though between trusted inspiration and mainstream treatment is that a natural healing journey is not something to be halted or fixed. It’s something to be supported.
Bring it to Life
While on a family rewilding adventure on an island in the Pacific Northwest, West (4) was attacked by a swarm of wasps (you can read about that here). It was horribly traumatic both physically and emotionally. After navigating the physical recovery (“Are you feeling like you would like some more medicine to lessen the pain? Would your skin like another oatmeal bath to help with the itching?”), the longer road of emotional recovery really began. For him, it actually took the form of storying. He would tell every single person we spoke with that, “I was stung by a swarm of wasps.” I trusted that each telling of the story was important for his recovery. No matter how random or inconvenient the moment, I held the space for it. He told it again and again: the mailman, the grocer, the plumber, a friend . . . While he processed through storying, I spoke at length with the program guides about what happened, what was to be learned, and how we would navigate the next program day.
One month later it was time to return to the island for another family rewilding adventure. As we approached, he became increasingly anxious. When we got out of the car, we heard, “Hold me, Mommy.” I held him. “Would you like to sit with me in the car longer?” “No, just hold me.” We walked toward the circle of families. He closed his eyes for a while. Then he opened them. It was time to hike down the trail and we had a talk with our guide. I voiced that we would be doing things differently today. We would be staying on the trail and we would let her lead the way, staying well behind, so she could step first. Our guide reflected and agreed. I asked West if he wanted to walk. “Hold me,” and closed eyes. “Are you ready?” (I would have stayed behind with him if he said no, trusting him still.) “Yes.” He remained on me and my husband for the majority of that hike, getting down to see interesting things now and again, but by the end of the afternoon he was excitedly and unabashedly puddle jumping off the bridge along the big pond. He hasn’t told the wasp story since that day ended and shows no lingering signs of fear (though an increased awareness perhaps).
As much as we want to protect our children from painful experiences, we cannot. Sometimes bad things happen. That is beyond the realm of control. How you respond to those painful experiences – that is where the power for resiliency and thriving lies. Do you honor your child’s intuitive needs? Are you fully open and willing for compassionate connection? Will you reach out for a hand as needed?