Trauma Therapy Session 19: Post day 6. Opening up a Conversation.

I always knew I wanted to have this conversation with someone who was much more knowledgable and informed than me. I had little idea where to start but as is often the case it was so valuable.

My eldest daughter has always asked after her grand parents. Previously she would ask very direct questions. “Why didn’t I never meet Grandma? Why were you in foster care?” I would always respond with a generic statement like, it was complicated. We can talk about it some more when you are older.

I had firmly locked away any conversation about the past.

Well she is getting older. And recently her approach to enquiring has shifted a little, she is clearly looking for links to them. Now she will often ask if an item I had from my childhood was given to me by my mum. Or she will make open ended statements and leave them hanging, like “You know mum, like when you were growing up and…” I just fail to fill in the blanks.

It is so hard to open up to her. Partly because let’s face it I still have some learning to do in the talk openly space. Mostly though because I never wanted her to be hurt or upset by my past. But I know we both need this conversation and so I was grateful to have a sounding board and some advice in how to approach it. Here were some of my key take aways…

It’s an ongoing process…

The biggest learning from my discussion with Chris. This won’t be a Big Bang here is everything you never knew. It will be a process over many years. By the time she is in her to early to mid twenties she will know the main parts. Until then I just need to start slow and explain a little at a time in an appropriate way.

I need to stop avoiding it…

I need to set some time aside and commit to starting the conversation. It is so easy to get busy living life, working and frankly doing anything other than to face a conversation I don’t want to have. I need to find a suitable time and space and make sure we speak.

It’s ok for her to be sad about it…

I have to accept when she does learn about more of what I went through, it might upset her, and that is normal and ok. I have always struggled with negative feelings I want to extinguish them from the world. I long held an absolute ideal that I did not want to let my past impact my children in any way shape or form. Even them being upset by it will break that rule.

Finding a balance…

I need to find the right balance, between not down playing it, to seem like it was nothing and creating a concern for her that anyone can get whisked into care at the drop of the hat and of course not wanting to traumatise her. Chris suggested using the school curriculum as a bit of a guide, when they start talking about similar subjects in school that is probably an appropriate point.

I must admit I still wish I didn’t need to have these conversations. It remains a frustrating reality of trying to work through my traumatic past that it stings you on the way out. Like some sort of last hora of the abuse, to be free of it you have to confront it. Still I recognise we both need this conversation.

I also could not find much helpful material on the guidance from schools teaching on well-being, mental health and abuse it was all rather vague and I am not sure school will ever touch on some of the relevant subjects.

I think I will have to just trust my parenting gut and discuss and agree with the husband what is best to mention when. I will also try and enquire what she understands about subjects as that might be a good measure or her grasp on these difficult topics.

Wish me luck I feel like I am going to need it.

You can find further articles on a journey through therapy here…


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