PTSD and Ambiguous Loss 6

In When Someone You Love Suffers From Posttraumatic Stress, by Claudia Zayfert, PhD and Jason C. DeViva, PhD , they define ambiguous loss as a “term used to describe any situation in which a loved one is absent in some ways but present in others.” They further explain that this can be when a person is present physically, but is not participating in family life. This describes my family.

The thing is we are still a family and at times we still act like one. However, there are other times, we are not. This may sound like a typical family with a teenager to some of you. It is not.

I am not talking about typical teenage rebellion or pulling away. I am talking about a talented, kindhearted child, who wants to be alone, yet still wants me to be present. The two are contradictory I know, still there it is. She needs me to be present, yet invisible. She needs control of the boundaries she establishes, while at the same time she cannot accept that I too need boundaries. I frequently walk on eggshells as I try to help her.

The more I learn, the more I understand and believe me I understand more than most. Yet, I am at risk. I am at risk for what the book describes as “secondary trauma.” Many family members of those with PTSD have signs of anxiety, depression and PTSD themselves. This is why I get angry when I see people related to the year my daughter experienced bullying. They are all moving forward; this includes the bullies and their families.

We have done many things right to help my daughter. She still talks to me, she still has goals. We take baby-steps in positive directions. She has relived the events too many times already, and does not want to talk about it anymore. She received counseling after the event and was doing better until the school that previously had been supportive let her down completely.

She knows in her heart that it is not her fault, but in some ways the school’s failure caused her to start over at square one and to lose the years of progress. All of the professionals who let her down previously make it hard to trust any of them, and I understand this.

Today I found a wonderful book to help her,The PTSD Workbook. I am also trying to take care of myself, so I can continue to help her. My husband gave me a better camera for Christmas and I am taking pictures of nature as I take my walks. Like the faint rainbow above, there is a glimmer of hope.

Still Working on Forgiveness and Emotional Healing 5

I did not plan to do a post today, but I find I need to write. Yesterday was all about fun. Still, in the mist of having a good time with good friends, my anger about the bullying surfaced. I saw someone who triggered it. She wasn’t mean to my daughter, she was merely a bystander, so by all rights she does not deserve my anger, and I am not really angry at her.

Yet, somehow seeing anyone from that year, except for my daughter’s two closest friends, brings back the pain. Maybe it is because my daughter does not feel like she can go places for fear of running into those who hurt her.

Yesterday helped me to understand how she feels and why. Honolulu is a big city in some ways, but Oahu is still a small island and it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing someone who knows you when you venture out. Maybe if we were completely healed from the emotional pain this would not be a problem. Unfortunately, we are not healed.

This week I have begun to understand why. You see others do not understand our pain. The school has never apologized to my daughter for letting her down. They do not realize this causes her to suffer more. I suspect their reasoning is related to fear of being sued. This is the way society functions. No one admits their mistakes and takes accountability for them because of this fear.

We deny responsibility for our actions to protect our reputations and our finances. Doing the right thing rarely comes into play. Yet, if we did the right thing instead of fearing the outcome, wouldn’t the world be a better place?

Studies show that people do not sue those they like, so as individuals shouldn’t we work to become a likeable person? Shouldn’t companies and schools do the same thing? If we all did the right thing, couldn’t we avoid lawsuits and have a happier society?

I have to overcome my anger and contact my daughter’s former school and ask them for an apology and ask them to let me help educate them about ways they can avoid repeating mistakes they made with my daughter. I have to offer forgiveness too, so I can heal. I owe this to my daughter. It is time to truly heal the deep wound instead of letting it continue to fester.

Please come back tomorrow for a second guest post from Signe Whitson on bullying that includes some ways to help the bullied child. Please support the families who lost a loved one and the survivors of bullying. Send them an e-mail, a card, etc. letting them know you support them. Little gestures mean so much!