Celebrate: Breakthroughs #celebratelu

celebrate link up

Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration on her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.

I used to think parenting trauma was like playing Whack-a-Mole, the carnival game where moles pop up through holes and you’re supposed to pound them with a club. You frantically pound and pound as one mole after another unpredictably pops up, but you can never win. Trauma behaviors are much the same way: as soon as you get one behavior managed, your child is on to something else.

6098989854_1a5b837fdc_z

Photo CC-BY Jeremy Yoder

But Whack-a-Mole is kind of a negative way of thinking about my son, so I’ve given that metaphor up.

Now my metaphor for parenting trauma is the movie Groundhog Day, which happens to be one of my favorite movies. I’m sorry, Gentle Reader, but we are still in the land of the negative metaphor: No matter how much progress you make on Monday, you’re waking up on Tuesday only to repeat the day you had on Monday. Sonny & Cher are forever going to be singing “I Got You Babe” as the alarm blares. All the good work of the day before is gone the next morning as fear takes over the brain again.

This was a week full of Groundhog Days. There were a couple of moments where we experienced what felt like real breakthroughs. Acceptance, integration, connection, coming to terms. What we’re working towards all the time. But then the reset button got pushed and by the next morning, it was like those breakthroughs had never happened.

But here’s the thing about that Groundhog Day metaphor. Each day, Bill Murray’s life may look the same on the outside as events repeat themselves, but every day he’s changing on the inside in ways that take us—and him—awhile to see. Change—healing—isn’t linear. It’s not progressive. It’s messy. It’s sometimes brutally ugly. Bill Murray’s character makes things much worse—for himself and for others– before he is able to start making things better.

It can be hard to stay the course when breakthroughs never feel like breakthroughs. What’s the point of getting excited about a smart insight or a choice to use a new coping strategy when tomorrow you’re going to be right back in the same muck you were in six months ago? But it turns out that’s all the more reason to fully feel, appreciate, and celebrate breakthroughs when they happen. I used to think a breakthrough in healing was the destination—a place to settle in and rest for awhile. Now I think it’s a signpost, marking the way, charting our journey. And I’m grateful for moments, even fleeting ones, that let me know something is changing inside.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Celebrate: Breakthroughs #celebratelu

  1. Ah yes, I’m familiar with the “whack-a-mole”, “Groundhog Day” aspects of daily parenting. You describe the frustration as well as the hope so well. I like your idea of breakthroughs being a signpost rather than a destination, because you’re right – It’s important to celebrate those special moments no matter how fleeting!

  2. . There are points in the school year my teaching partner says he feels like he’s playing whack a mole. The Groundhog Day analogy is a much better metaphor. I’ll keep this in mind next year when I don’t see the growth I hope for. Thanks for reminding me to celebrate those moments, no matter how brief, as a sign of growth, inside.
    Your realizations help me in so many ways. Thank you.

  3. This post is filled with insight. I love that you have come to recognize breakthroughs as “signposts that mark the way and chart the journey.” And to celebrate them in the moment! I celebrate your growth as a parent and your willingness to start over every day.

  4. I often celebrated the moments with students, and gave my words freely hoping that some time later they would do the good I hoped for, maybe years later. I’m glad you’re watching for those moments to celebrate. “Now” is what we have, isn’t it?

  5. Elisabeth — THIS: “I used to think a breakthrough in healing was the destination—a place to settle in and rest for awhile. Now I think it’s a signpost, marking the way, charting our journey. And I’m grateful for moments, even fleeting ones, that let me know something is changing inside,” IS BRILLIANT.

    I’m coming to believe when a transformation is near…when the healing is becoming permanent…is the point when it’s all “Groundhog Day.” It’s like the cycle that’s needed for the new behavior, the new thinking, the new acceptance to become a permanent part of the child.

    Thanks so much for celebrating.

    Shine on,
    Ruth

  6. “every day he’s changing on the inside in ways that take us—and him—awhile to see. ”
    I think that this is so central to the journey you are on – this is what gives you the faith and hope to wake up and do it all over every day. Such an insightful post – about love, and what it takes to raise a child.

  7. Pingback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 7/13/15 | the dirigible plum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s