I was twenty-five years old when I became a mom, and my world changed forever. Like all new parents, I suddenly realized the needs of our small bundle of sweetness would rule my heart and my days for years to come. Unlike most new parents, my husband and I soon had to surrender our son to the cadre of surgeons, doctors, and nurses in a distant city who could save his life. Before we could kiss him good-bye, he was on his way.
Our baby lived.
His recovery spanned five years, seven surgeries, dozens of tests and procedures, numerous bouts of bronchitis, and countless sleepless nights. He’s thirty-three now. He’s been on his own for years. The needs of our small bundle of sweetness who entered our lives in 1982 rule my days no longer.
But for many years the traumatic memories of his early days did.
When those memories returned, the stress turned me into one hot mess. Weepy. Sad. Irritable. Overly emotional. Until about a year ago when my very wise big sister, who happens to be a mental health therapist, suggested I see a counselor who could help me process the traumatic memories associated with our son’s early years. For about two months, I visited an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist once a week for hourly visits.
The treatment changed my world again.
The therapy didn’t make me forget our son’s early struggles or my own. But I can now think about them without reliving them. Without being sucked into a vortex of emotions that turn me into a hot mess. Instead, I can distance myself from the events surrounding his birth and treatment enough to think clearly and rationally about them. Best of all, I can now turn my thoughts to the needs of the parents of kids with special needs who are stuck in their own trauma.
Perhaps you are one of them.
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