Here’s the thing, people . . . the needs of every person change many times a day.
When the back patio door opens before Michael expects it, his needs increase instantaneously. Michael starts screaming and threatening and TRYING TO MAKE ORDER IN AN ORDERLESS WORLD when doors get unexpectedly opened.
Interestingly, Mason’s needs increase as well because he’s scared when Michael screams and threatens. And if he’s the one who opened the door, “causing” the chaos, well, Mason’s needs skyrocket.
So it happened again, but I was the culprit who opened the door. I was only trying to get inside, but I forgot the rules that we have all agreed to. The rule: Michael gets to open the door and go in first. Other rules: Michael gets dressed first. Michael gets in the car first. Michael takes his shower first. First. First. First. Are you seeing a pattern?
Michael is now in full-blown trauma mode. I’m the adult in the situation (mostly), so I have to step up and meet all the needs that have spontaneously shifted, as much as I can. At the Very. Same. Time.
I tend to go for Michael first because he’s the loudest. I’m not saying this is best by any means, but it is definitely the area that makes the most sense. A screaming kid is a force to be reckoned with. My ears! And people might be watching, so the screaming is typically first on the list.
Please note, it’s not that I care too much about what other people think. Really, I actually don’t, which is like its own superpower. But still, I do have to be concerned about my surroundings and a screaming child is something that we all prefer be stopped.
Okay, continuing on . . .
During these surprise moments, sometimes I don’t even think of Mason until much later because he’s so quiet—unless he’s screaming. If he’s screaming, then all of my attention shifts to him. If they’re both screaming at once, if I remember correctly, I scream louder so I scare each of them out of their emotional vortex. There is quiet. Then I just pick whoever I believe needs it the most. I’m not saying this is science, people; it’s real life and I happen to be living it.
For Michael, meeting his needs typically looks like constant validation. I say things repeatedly, like, “I’m so sorry I opened the door first. I didn’t mean to. I forgot and I’m sorry.”
For Mason, I touch him so he knows that I know he’s still here. He does this very interesting invisible thing, where he’s so quiet it’s almost as if he’s not even there. I try to assure him that he’ll be safe soon enough.
We made it through this incident. We’re a bit more battered and bruised, but we made it. And we’ll make it through the next time because that’s how it goes. Do you even know what I call these incidents? I call them traumas. It sounds like this, “Oh, wow, we’ve just entered another trauma. We’ll be okay and we’ll make it through.” Because really, that’s what they are. They are traumatic, shocking, scary moments that can strike at any time.
After the entire event is over and all the kids are cared for, then guess what? I have to actually take care of my own needs. Hopefully, I remember to do that.
11 Easy Activities to Heal after a Trauma:
- My favorite, cheapest, and most accessible comfort activity is to take a hot bath and sip a hot cup of tea. I can really reset when I do that.
- Write. Writing is a healing process for me and I always feel better after I write.
- Take a walk. I sometimes prefer to do this in the rain—I envision the rain washing off all of the emotional muck that feels like is all over me.
- Eat chocolate. I’m not saying all of my “nurturing” activities are healthy, but by golly, chocolate is a superpower food.
- Clean my bedroom. My bedroom is my most sacred place and I love being there. A good dusting, clean up, and sweep, and voila, I feel better.
- Call my buddies. I have different friends for different scenarios, so depending on what’s going on, I make a phone call.
- Sit and stare.
- Sip a hot drink. Hot drinks soothe my soul.
- Paint. I’m an artist and my studio is right next to my bedroom. Painting is an incredibly healing activity.
- Cry in my garden. Weird, I know, but I love my garden and I sometimes go out there and literally just cry.
- Build a roaring fire.
After I decompress and time has passed, I might continue to take care of myself by asking for an apology. Yes, I ask Michael for apologies. After these traumas, there is so much hurt, fear, and anger to deal with.
His brain works differently and I totally get that these traumas are often the result. They have a very real effect on the people who experience these events with him. I believe they have a direct impact on our health and well-being. He might not have meant to hurt us, but by golly, he needs to help repair the damage done.
I have taught my children very effective ways to apologize, and Michael is stellar at showing he’s sorry. I’ll share our apology ritual soon, but note this can include a verbal apology, helping around the house with additional chores, drawing pictures, and other such “restorative” acts.
Here’s What I Know
As our needs shift and change through each moment, hour, and day, it turns out that we receive a new opportunity to address our needs whenever they arise. I suppose I might even go so far as to share the cliché term, “live for the moment . . .” Because the truth is, it’s all we’ve really ever got.
I’ll hopefully be aware of whoever has needs in each moment, including myself, and actually have the skill set, patience, and resources to be able to handle them with ease, grace, and love.
Catch me over on Facebook to share any comments or questions.