I have successfully completed the first year of my masters program. One down and two to go. The first semester was very light on the work load side and a nice way to ease myself back into academia following a 20 year absence. The start of second semester classes, and the accompanying syllabi scared the hell out of me, causing me to consider quitting for the first time. I am thrilled that I stuck it out and a little proud of myself for earning in A in my most challenging course so far; Clinical Research Methods.
Next week I find myself in another type of classroom where the resulting grade has greater implications. I will be beginning the first of a 4 part series titled Reactive Attachment Disorder: Learning Alternative behaviors. The behaviors that I will be learning to change will be my own. The course is designed to increase the skills of parents who have children that have experienced complex trauma, negatively affecting their child’s ability to charter the waters of normal family dynamics. My objectives are few.
I will learn to keep my cool when I am being told to “shut the fuck up.” I will learn to take a deep breath when furniture is upended, walls are punched and projectiles are flying through the air, sometimes, but not always aimed in my direction. I will reaffirm the strength that keeps me from spewing the venom at my child that sits precariously on the tip of my tongue. Finally I will learn to count the blessings that I have and not just the years I have left until my child turns 18 and I no longer have to live this way.
My feelings as I prepare for this class are mixed. I have hope that I will experience the “life changing” effects that other parents claim to have experienced as a result of participating in this class. At the same time I feel hopeless and defeated. Is there really a magic bullet that has evaded me all these years, despite reading numerous articles and books, and attending countless workshops, therapy sessions and support groups?
My son’s therapist recommended an author to me after our last session. She is a Buddhist monk who teaches others to live in a peaceful way. I have the following quote of hers displayed on both my work and home computers.
“It isn’t the things that are happening to us that cause us to suffer, it’s what we say to ourselves about the things that are happening. That’s where the suffering comes from.”
These are words that I am striving to live by.