In less than twenty four hours I am hitting the road for Pennsylvania. I am leaving everything in my husband’s hands and taking a weekend sabbatical. This will be my second time this year attending a Rejuvenate Retreat through ForeverHomes.org. These retreats are designed especially to nurture foster and adoptive moms. I get a whole weekend to myself to get massages, read a book, take a walk, talk uninterrupted with other moms, and even use the bathroom alone! Jealous?
If you think that is self-indulgent, when I get home I will spend the week preparing to travel to a cabin in the Tennessee mountains for a weekend with the family. My only goal will be to soak up as many beautiful things as I can.
At some point in my trauma parenting journey I began to feel as if I was at war in my home, with my children, and with myself. I had become an angry, control freak of a mom. I felt like everything had become survival mode, and as a result I was more of a prison warden than an effective parent. In “The Body Keeps the Score”, Bessel Van Der Kolk states that in order to “overcome trauma you must get back to your REAL self.” I had lost my REAL self by being immersed in trauma with no outlet. The same things that we are striving to bring to our children so they can heal, we must also learn to master and model ourselves.
In “Trauma Stewardship” Laura Van Dernoot Lipskey references that in Chinese medicine, there is a belief that dis-ease in one’s being comes in part from stagnant energy. This energy is our life force, vitality, your essence. “An important part of well-being in Chinese tradition is keeping the energy moving and not allowing it to stagnate around only one feeling or issue. This is an invaluable practice for those of us that interact with suffering: being able to exist with awareness amid radiating waves of pain. Rather than absorbing and accumulating them we can learn to let them ripple out and away.” An interesting thing that is noted is animals in the wild. When a threat is perceived, a great amount of energy is used for self-preservation. However, when the threat passes the animal is able to move on, “unfreeze” itself and go back about its business. Humans lack this ability. Instead, this energy gets bound within us, overwhelming our nervous system. Many of the symptoms listed in my previous post, “What is Secondary Trauma and are you Experiencing It?”, are the result of our effort to contain this bound up energy.
In order to get ourselves “unstuck” we must find a mindful and disciplined approach of detoxing, cleansing, and unblocking these energies. I, myself, am a runner. I find that my first mile is always the hardest. It is spent, first, in my head making a conscious effort to not quit, and second, to regulate my breathing. Really, a lot of the things I practice to find balance come right back to BREATHING. I enjoy nature, and especially hiking. Again, something that really pulls me into the present and makes me slow myself down and BREATHE. Yoga is another one of those things. I never make enough time for this, but when I do I am never disappointed with how much better I feel afterward.
Find your thing that rejuvenates you, that helps bring you back into balance. The purpose is to become mindful and intentional in emptying out the things that we are holding onto. Find some way to release toxic energy that you have built up inside you. To become mindful is to be able to hover calmly and objectively over your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It could be running, hiking, focused breathing, meditation, prayer, prayer journaling, yoga, gardening, dancing, just find your happy place. This weekend mine will be with other mamas like myself, REJUVENATING in PA. Namaste!