I see trauma everywhere in my house.
I see it in a punch to the face when I’ve offered a loving touch.
I see it in a no reaction when I pick up from nursery.
I see it in opposition to everything.
I hear it in ‘I love daddy I DO NOT love mummy.’
I see it in a poo left for me to find.
I see it in a wary look when I say ‘I love you’.
I see it in never wanting to come home.
I see it in never falling asleep in the car because she’s terrified where that car might be taking her.
I see it in not being able to play without controlling every aspect of that play.
I see it in never being able to make a decision.
I see it in eating everything on her plate all the time, just in case.
I see it in violence directed at her younger sister.
Most (some?) of the time, I can be a good opposition for trauma. I can be calm, patient, therapeutic, healing. When I’ve had enough sleep, when the wind’s behind me, when I’m not trying desperately to keep everyone’s heads above water, I can see past the trauma and remember what it is I need to do. Remember to see the little girl behind the trauma.
But sometimes I forget to remember.
Because trauma is clever. It doesn’t reveal itself to everyone. Often it hides in plain sight, but only those looking (or those who want to look) can see. When professionals observe or talk to, it pretends that its ‘fine’ and that it is the over protective mother, the mother that can’t cope, the mother that can’t ‘discipline’ her own child, that needs help, not it.
Trauma saves itself for those that are closest to it. It feels the need to ‘protect’ and to keep from harm, to not allow another person to care. Trauma is stopping me from getting close because I am one person too many. The anger and the violence and the hurt and the indifference are effective ways to keep people at bay. It has worked this way before and it can work this way again.
Trauma also knows that sometimes one body isn’t enough, and that secondary trauma can create rifts where once there were none. Secondary trauma can deflect from where the real need is. It can shift the focus onto someone else.
Sometimes I find trauma overwhelming. Sometimes I worry that I can’t keep everybody’s heads above the water. Sometimes I worry that trauma will outsmart me one too many times and it will be one too many for my little girl. Sometimes I forget to remember what I need to do.
Then I remember the day we talked about ‘happy tears’ or the day she said ‘I had fun at the beach’ or the smile she had on her face when she rode her bike for the first time and these things help me to remember to keep going. Or a sentence from one of the many books I’ve read will flash into my mind, or I’ll remember to take a deep breath or Little will randomly blow her harmonica and I remember. I just need to remember to remember.
The best bits
I’ve not been very well this week. Little asked me if I would like a cup of tea. Thinking she would get me a pretend one from her ‘little kitchen’, I said yes. “DADDY, go and get mummy a cup of tea!” she shouts. She’s going to go far that one.
This is a strange best bit. Yesterday, Big and I did not have a good afternoon. I could not work out what she was upset about. At nursery today they told me they were proud that she had come to tell them that ‘they said I was trying to push someone off the pirate ship but I didn’t.’ On the way home today I wondered aloud about whether she was so upset yesterday because someone had maybe got hurt on the pirate ship and this might have made her feel funny inside. She didn’t say anything but she let me say my bit which is probably the first time she’s done this. Today she told me that she had taken someone’s feather. While obviously I wish we weren’t talking about taking things, I’m amazed and a little bit hopeful that she told me.