Tag Archives: love

The Abyss.

Tonight I want to talk about the Abyss. I know when I started this blog I briefly discussed what the Abyss is to me. It is the deepest level of my system. It is darkness. It is fear. It is anger and horrible memories. It is terrifying and can be very very unstable. I want to talk about this place because I am there as we speak.

I thought about writing this for a few weeks, but wanted to spare my readers from my current struggles…until I realized how silly that is. This is a recovery blog. This is not a sugar coated, everything is rainbows and unicorns blog. This is down and dirty, this is how it fucking is blog. This is a, don’t give up…keep fighting blog. I am human, just like each and every one of you who read this. Sure I have a lot of clean time under my belt for drugs and for self harm. Sure, I’ve made a lot of progress in therapy…and sure, a few of my alters and I have integrated. But I am still human and I am still recovering from horrible things that had been done to me repeatedly. Nasty torturous things most people don’t even acknowledge are real because their own lives have been so positive. Things you see in horror movies and documentaries. This is my life. I have great ups and horrific downs. The downs don’t occur nearly as often as they used to, but they still come around. I am there as we speak.

I want this post to be a raw look into a breakdown. I want this post to really help others understand the pain we survivors go through, the battle we fight to survive. I also want this post to speak to those of you who are currently in your own version of the Abyss and persuade you to keep going.

The reason I am in the darkness right now is because an alter who has been with me since I was about 4 years old and holds some of my most traumatic memories has decided to break her silence. Suddenly, after about four months of stability, happiness, confidence and silence within my mind…I hear voices again. I feel a war of emotions within me. I am anxious, angry and deeply hurt. This alter has shown me things that were done to me that I guess she feels I am ready to deal with. Human nature is to avoid the harder, more dark path right? I know I just posted about this recently in my blog post about taking the dark road. Well, now I am fighting against human nature to continue on this dark, horrible road…because it is the one that will result in growth and strength. I know I am more than capable of surviving this and I know what is on the other side is well worth the pain. This is just very hard. I am feeling the same fear and anger I felt then as a small child, being used and abused, neglected and tormented. I feel the intense rage that is too much for my small human body to bare. I must get it out…but in a healthy, safe way. I have been drawing a lot more, painting and writing as well. I told my therapist how bad I feel and we have gone from one appointment every other week back to two meetings a week. At first I was angry and disappointed in myself for this, but truly, this shows my strength. Only a year ago I would not have called him. I would not have told him I needed more help. But this time I did. There is nothing wrong with admitting you are struggling. Asking for help does not denote weakness, in fact, it shows what a badass you are. Because it’s downright terrifying to ask for help. If you are struggling with telling the truth about your pain, please know you have every right to open your mouth…and you are showing your strength.

I have been forcing myself to cry. Allowing myself to get pissed off and journal my angry thoughts and feelings. It can be very scary to see such anger come out of you, but I promise you, it is vital for your health and survival. Get angry. Allow yourself to feel that rage for what was done to you against your will. All I ask is that you make sure you express it in safe ways. Journal, free write, draw, paint, meditate, pray, do yoga, play hockey, punch the shit out of a pillow, write a story and kill off a character (sounds weird, but it helps), hold your loved ones close, call a friend, call your therapist, attend a support group, dance, listen to HAPPY (never ever ever ever EVER sad) music, play an instrument, play with a pet, go for a walk…do something. Writing a letter to your abusers can be very cathartic. Or write to your addiction. Be completely honest. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid of who might see it because after you’re done I want you to rip it up in tiny pieces and put it in something safe to burn (like a fire pit) and light that mother fucker on fire. Watch it burn. Realize that holding in that anger will eventually be the end of you in one way, shape or form. Let it go. Let it out and tell it to get the hell away from you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this one before…I bought a nice metal box with a combination code on it. It had a ton of makeup in it. I threw out all of the makeup and filled the box with things that made me happy, and things that reminded me of better times, things worth fighting for. I called this my emergency box. I still have it today. I highly suggest everyone make one and use it before you get as far down as I am now. It can really help you to slow down, calm down and put things into perspective. If it doesn’t help, move onto other coping skills that work for you.

I know it hurts to be where I am now, and where I’m sure some of you are, or have been. I know it feels as if someone is cutting into you with a scalpel, hitting you upside the head, all sorts of horrible things. But I swear to you, it will pass if you fight. Refuse to let this be your end. I know as I write this I am feeling so many negative, scary things. Some of these feelings are mine, others are feelings of my alters who have not let dealt with their abuse. Yes, I won’t lie, I am struggling with urges to self harm. I am dealing with a lot…but I absolutely refuse to lay down and die here. Hell no. This is my life damnit and I am going to fight for it. I will get past this…this is just another burning in the process of rising from the ashes. The pain is immense, but as we speak I am becoming stronger, wiser and more enlightened. I am removing what doesn’t belong, confronting my demons and growing.

Don’t give up. You are not alone. Help is always okay to look for and it is only a text, phone call, email or message away. There is always help. Those voices of doubt in your mind will try to convince you this is not true…but they are liars. Don’t listen. You’re a warrior! You CAN do this.

I love all of you, Dandi

Suicide hotline: 1(800)273-8255

http://www.fortrefuge.com

http://www.pandys.org

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.stepchat.com

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline

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You deserve prince charming and he does exist.

Hello everyone! I’m very sorry that so much time has elapsed since my last post! Today I wanted to write about relationships. Specifically, why every woman deserves a prince (or princess) charming. First off. Yes, he exists. Or if in your case you are looking for a woman, she exists too. For this post I am only going to touch on males simply because for a very long time I believed good men (and therefore prince charming) didn’t exist or was already taken. I also believed that if I did come across a good man who was single, I did not deserve him.

This is one of the many lies our brains tells us when we have survived trauma. We have had these untrue notions beaten into our very brain wiring so hard that realizing a simple truth is very hard. For most of my life I believed that I didn’t deserve a good partner. I only amounted to someone who beat me, tortured me and belittled me. I believed that if a good man presented interest in me I was to save him from me and push him away. During my extremely traumatic marriage to a bad man I befriended another man. I met him through another friend of mine while I was visiting her in the hospital. He was immediately warm, friendly and quite funny. What really caught my eye was how respectful he was. Not too much longer after we met I learned another side of this man. He was protective. He was protective, not possessive and he knew the difference. He could see the abuse I was barely surviving and he helped me. During the darkest times of my life he brought light and hope that I could rise from the darkness. He knew of my mental illness, my addictions and my suffering. Instead of fearing me, he worked to understand me.

A few years passed. We spent less time together as my life changed and I had a child. Then we became close again. Next I realized I had fallen in love with him and that he had with me. It was liberating, beautiful, spiritual, celestial…but it was also terrifying. He was a good man. Understanding, loving, respectful, protective and encouraging. He worked every day to show me the strength and beauty of my soul, mind and body…but I wasn’t ready to believe him. I still very much hated myself and believed the lies I had been fed my whole life. At one point we found ourselves very close, sharing embarrassed, kisses, deep conversations and love….but my fear of not being good enough for him, or breaking if I lost him turned me away. I made excuses, I pushed him away…I hurt him deeply. To this day my heart aches that my fear touched his life at that point in such a negative way.

Just shy of two years passed and I had cut him entirely out of my life. I thought about him almost every day. And at night the pain would become unbearable at times. I wanted to forget about him and to stop loving him but I was incapable of such actions. Finally, I came to the realization that the man I believed God had made for me was him…and that I had thrown him away. I broke down, I cried and screamed. I journaled and talked in therapy. I went to God and I begged for further enlightenment and growth. I grew and learned and grew more. After nearly two years, learning to love and respect myself and realizing that my happiness didn’t have to be based off of someone else I gathered the courage to contact him.

I was terrified, actually when we were on the phone my pulse was about 210 beats per minute. It was a scary situation, but it felt right. All he said at first was: “You talk and I’ll listen”. We talked for a long time. We both cried, we laughed…pretty soon many more conversations were had and now…we are together. I finally see the things about myself that he saw years ago and I finally can say I love myself. Now…I know I deserve a good man, my very own prince charming. Yes, I do not need someone else to complete me, but having him in my life I feel as if everything in my universe is as it should be. I can say I have never been happier, healthier or stronger. He builds me up as I build him, we build ourselves individually as well as a couple. I love him and he loves me. We deserve each other and I promise you, you deserve your very own prince charming.

One of the greatest things about my man is that he is patient and understanding of my illnesses and healing journey. When he doesn’t understand, he asks and strives to learn. He is gentle and kind. Just last night I accidentally dropped a dish and it shattered on the floor. I felt the muscles in my body tense immediately, ready for punishment. This wasn’t because I thought he would hurt me, but because the way my mind has been wired to react when I have made a mistake. I had grown very accustomed to verbal and physical abuse as a punishment…even for something as innocent as breaking a dish. Immediately he said: “it’s okay, it was an accident. Let me help you clean it up!” he even asked me to let him do it so I wouldn’t accidentally cut myself on the shards. We cleaned up the mess in a few minutes and he softly reminded me that everything was okay. This, my friends, is how you deserve to be treated. So you broke a dish or forgot an appointment, or to pay a bill. It was an accident and you do not deserve to be met with anger, hostility or abuse of any kind.

You have every right to stop accepting unhealthy and abusive relationships. Don’t listen to the poison abusers have put into your mind. Try to get to the bottom of why you accept bad relationships and then rewire your brain. It’s  often a long and difficult process, but it is very possible! The day I began to know true happiness was the day I started loving myself and believing the truth…not the past. Now that I have gotten there, I am ready for a healthy, happy and supportive love. I know you will be too. It takes time. Don’t give up!

The holidays

Hello everyone! I know! I know! I have been slacking again…It’s the holidays and like most people, things have been pretty emotional and busy for me. If you’re anything like me you probably feel ambivalent towards the holidays. You want to feel happy and excited, you think about the yummy food and the gifts you have bought for certain people…but then you think about the people you will be spending the holidays with, or the people you wish you could spend the holidays with. Then you start to feel very alone, depressed, anxious and downright pissed off. 

I have a very very small handful of blood relatives that I can say I care about and enjoy being around them. This is the number one reason why the holidays are normally very difficult to fully enjoy. Because of falling outs, attitudes and grudges most of my family does not want to be around one another at any point in time. I often spend holidays with my kids, my mom and step dad and sometimes a few others. (Most of these people I do not feel comfortable around and have to constantly tell myself it will be okay as long as I stay grounded). “Just get through it, just get through it”. It’s just…freaking annoying. I can’t stand being around negative people and people who judge others. BAM, that is most of the people in my family. Downright no-fun to be around. 

There are people I love dearly and consider my true family in every way imaginable. Most of these people live in other states, others live nearby but have their own little families to spend the holidays with. This also makes the holidays feel a little blue. Despite these two huge hurdles I face every holiday (especially Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah/all other holidays in December) I always find a way to enjoy it even if it’s just a little bit. 

I love snow…I live in Michigan. I can’t remember a Christmas where I didn’t have snow. So…that’s a plus! I have two children who I love more than anything. I get to spend most holidays with both of them (sometimes my son is with his daddy). That is a huge plus. It’s cold therefore I’m not nearly naked and still soaked in sweat and the humidity makes me feel like I’m drowning. Yay! Another plus! Doing nice things for complete strangers. Yet again another plus. Just a week ago I paid for the person behind me at Taco Bell. I didn’t know this person, I wasn’t even sure I should be spending the extra money. But I was sure about raising another person up, helping them to feel good. You never know who that person is…maybe that day they were contemplating suicide. Maybe that day they lost their job or their spouse. Maybe that one nice thing some stranger did for them made them decide it was worth it to keep fighting. I am ALL about giving people hope. A quote I remember seeing in high school that really hit home back then: “never deprive someone of hope; It may be all they have”. This is something we should all realize is very true and try to implement the meaning every day. 

I hold onto all of these positives and several others that I find. When you search out the positive and clutch it close to your heart it becomes hard to feel sad and down. It really does, I promise you. There really is a silver lining to every cloud, no matter how dark and ominous. Please know that you are not alone! Even if you don’t have friends or family around you right now, you are not alone. I’m fighting with you and there are millions more out there.

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule, and all the other seasons greetings!!! You’ve got this. I love you!

 

 

The night I ended my life.

Please know that all of my blog posts are potentially triggering, and please know that this post is highly triggering before you continue on. I want to talk to you about my numerous suicide attempts, and more importantly, the night that I was successful.

I was still active duty in the Marine Corps at the time, living in Pensacola, Florida. I had been raped by a Sergeant in my class and was having a very hard time picking up the pieces and moving on. Every day it was a battle to eat, get out of bed, do what was expected of me and even breathe. I hated myself, felt dirty and unworthy of living and was fearful. I was afraid to talk to anyone about what had happened to me. I feared no one would believe me or would think I was a disgusting whore. I did my best to act like nothing was wrong with me, but after a while I didn’t even have the energy for that. My addiction to self-harm was strong, I had quickly moved from scissors to straight razors and felt the need to cut myself even when we were “sleeves up”. Sleeves up meant that every Marine was ordered to roll their sleeves up, which obviously meant everyone could see what I had been doing to myself. Cutting because a nervous compulsion, a drug, a necessity to keep living. A lot of people started finding out that I was a “cutter” really fast. I’m sure some people thought I was doing it for attention because we were sleeves up, but the truth was I felt I needed to do it to keep going so intensely that I didn’t give a fuck anyone who knew.

I felt as if I was in this perpetual time warp of Hell. I wasn’t being given any tasks to do that made me feel like a Marine anymore and yet I wasn’t being discharged. It was limbo, which only made my feelings of fear and worthlessness grow and fester like a deep, open wound. The details of this suicide attempt in particular are pretty muddy in some areas because now it is apparent to me that one of my alters, Kristina had been the one to try to take our life. Some time before this suicide attempt I had been hospitalized at West Florida hospital’s Pavillion which was a psychiatric ward. During that particular stay my psychiatrist had tried me on an atypical antipsychotic drug to diminish the voices in my head. Needless to say the drug did me no good and had my blood pressure down to 60/30. If anyone reading this doesn’t know, a blood pressure that low is extremely dangerous. I was very ill and was confined to my bed until the doctor decided to take me off of the drug. I was furious that it took the doctors more than an hour to decide to discontinue the medication, in my mind they should have been in some sort of trouble for that.

At some point during the later part of the day I had switched and become Kristina. I did not know that I had Dissociative identity disorder back then, all I knew what that I heard voices and occasionally saw things that other people claimed to not be able to see. This was dangerous only because I had an alter (Kristina) who did not want the body/host (me) to be alive anymore. Because I was not aware of her, I was unable to stop her attempts at ending our life. None of my alters or myself are stupid, and contrary to what our abusers tried to beat into our head over the years. Kristina knew that this medication was deadly to us and she had found we still had a completely full bottle of it in our barracks room. During the time Kristina was in control, she downed the entire bottle. Sometime after this occurred I came to in the emergency room at the naval hospital. All I remember is that my heart was racing faster than I had ever felt it before, I was extremely dizzy, disoriented, sick to my stomach and absolutely terrified. I remember suddenly feeling it was becoming very difficult to breathe, and when I did breathe I could feel air wasn’t doing me much good.

My vision became more and more blurry and dim. This is when I realized that I was dying. I kept thinking to myself, My God, I did it…I’m going to die and I won’t be able to say goodbye to my Mom. I realized that I wanted to call my mom to tell her I was sorry, I loved her and goodbye but I couldn’t find the strength to ask anyone to call her for me. Then I remember not breathing and everything going black.

I’m still not sure how much time had passed after that, but when I came to I was in the ICU and a nurse had been sitting beside my bed holding my hand. The first thing I felt when I woke up was the warmth of her skin on mine. I clung to it as if I was terrified letting go of her would allow me to slip back into the darkness. She was so happy when I woke up and took care of me. Yet again, I am not sure how long I stayed in the ICU, I have very little memory of it other than the nurse and being hooked up to an IV, a heart monitor, blood pressure and pulse oximetry. I don’t remember what else. After my time in the ICU I spent anywhere from a week to a week and a half (still not entirely sure) in the hospital. The entire time I was not allowed to get out of bed because every time I stood up my heart rate would skyrocket. They had special socks on my legs that would inflate every fifteen minutes to prevent blood clots from forming and that damn heart monitor stayed on the me the whole time. After a good chunk of my time there a nurse would periodically help me to walk around the unit to get me used to walking again.

The repercussions of my overdose were immediately apparent to me. I still don’t know exactly what I did because my medical records are still not with me, but I did damage to my heart. To this day I still have issues with my heart rate and heart rhythm. I’ve always had frequent PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions) of my heart, but now they are worse, more frequent and a few times they have caused me to faint. I wish that I could have stopped Kristina from the overdose, but it’s in the past now.

I am telling this for two reasons. One, it’s part of my journey and therefore must be told in order for me to heal, but two, it’s important that people hurting have some insight to a suicide attempt that actually worked. I am very lucky to be alive…I shouldn’t be here, but I am. I may have been very deeply depressed back then and yes, there were many days where all I could think about was how much I wanted to die. But the moment that I realized I was dying I was scared absolutely shitless. The feeling of the life seeping out of my body with each sad attempted to draw air into my lungs was terrifying and painful. I am very thankful that the medical staff there saved my life and that I am alive today.

Please, if you are hurting (or know someone who is) don’t ignore that pain, and don’t believe the lies your pain tells you. You do deserve to be here, your loved ones will NOT be better off without you (they will actually suffer intensely for the rest of their lives over your death), and yes your pain may stop…but you’ll be dead, so what the fuck is the point? And for those of you who say suicide is selfish and condemn people who sadly do it…please realize that people who commit suicide are not able to think logically, their pain has them in such a sad, delusional state they truly believe they are being selfless…not selfish. The definition of selfish is as follows: A person, action or motive lacking the consideration of others. Like I mentioned before, most people who commit suicide truly and honestly believe that their loved ones are hurt over them being alive and killing themselves will remove a burden from their loved ones. It’s very sad that this happens, but it does.

Like I always say, be gentle with yourself and be gentle with others (especially those who are hurting). If you’re contemplating suicide, please…I beseech you to read this and to trust me. It is estimated that 1 out of 25 people who attempt suicide actually succeed, and most of the survivors will tell you that they were sure they wanted to die until they realized they were about to succeed. I can say that I am one of those people. Please live, please fight, I promise you, if you want your life back (happiness, no more pain, etc) you CAN have it! It will be hard at times, it will hurt at times, but it will pass and you will be free.

Please

Please

Please

Live.

Know that you are loved. And if you believe no one else does, know that I do. I love you.

Dandi

Sasha, the love of my life.

It’s almost my son’s second birthday and I feel that this is a great time to write about him and what he does for me. Before I got pregnant with my son I was a very different person. I was deeply depressed, anxious and I hated a lot of things about myself, but couldn’t find the strength to change. I allowed my life circumstances to control me and get me very far down. I was still drinking a lot and had relapsed with drugs again. I knew I was relapsing, I just felt like I didn’t have anything worth living for, so why was it so bad to continue my addict ways? I didn’t have much family.

I loved the man I was with very much, but unfortunately, he was suffering very deeply inside just as I was, so we were keeping each other in a very dark and unhealthy place. In November of 2010 I found out I was pregnant with his baby. At first I was really scared and worried that his Dad would leave. I have been abandoned all my life, so that was my first reaction to everything back then. I had been pregnant once before when I had been married to a very abusive, cold man and I lost the baby very early on. The loss of my baby was very hard to deal with for a long time, so this was yet another reason why I feared being pregnant. I couldn’t take losing this baby. I quit drinking and smoking immediately and cold turkey, and I had quit drugs months before.

The more I thought about this little life growing inside of me the more I realized I loved this little baby more than anything. I told my boyfriend the news. He did not take it well at first, and for several months he struggled with the idea of me keeping the baby. I finally told him, there is no choice for me, this baby was placed in my life and I am not doing anything to change that. He attended natural birthing classes with me and suddenly our relationship became deeper, stronger and a bit more healthy. We both were finally on the same page and were anxiously awaiting our sweet little boy to be born. Even before I birthed him, my son brought me peace and hope, two concepts that I had once given up on and once he was born he only did more for me.

I tell everyone now, “if you don’t have kids and you claim you know exactly what deep unconditional love is…you’re probably wrong.” I seriously mean this. When Sasha was born, I learned exactly what love was and felt like. I realized, this little baby in my arms…I would die for him, I would kill for him, I would do everything in my power to protect, love and nurture him and make sure that every day of his life is incredible. Everything I do in life is for him, including make myself a better, happier and healthier person. My baby deserves it, and so do I. He is the most wonderful person I have ever been blessed to meet or even know of.

Now I live everyday wanting to do nothing but be the best Mom I can possibly be, the best me I can be, and make a very happy, exciting and healthy life for us. I wanted to write this, not just in honor of my little love, but to tell others something very important. If you are at a place in your life where you just can’t justify holding on for yourself, find someone else to live for until you can. But do not let this be your reality forever. This is meant to be temporary…until you CAN live for you. Basing your happiness off of another person is not only dangerous, it puts immense, unfair stress on that person. Work to love and respect yourself…and live for you!

I keep seeing this quote, “I gave him life, and he gave me a reason to live”. That is exactly what Sasha and I have done for each other. If it weren’t for him, I may have given up and would have been dead three years ago. Thank the Gods for my little boy and every day that I get to be his Mommy. I can’t wait to live every day, experiencing life with him. Hold tight to your babies and love them sweetly!

Corporal punishment.

 Today’s post is going to be a bit different from posts in the past. I am going to talk about something that I am very passionate about and as of late have been verbally chewed-out for and debated with. I want to talk about using corporal punishment when someone, especially a child does something that you don’t like. I understand that this is a very heated subject as well as a controversial one, but I must express how I feel about this and give everyone an insider’s view. As a child, my father spanked me, slapped my hands and screamed at me when I would do something wrong. My mother, just to be clear, never did. She was spanked growing up and very often it went too far. When my parents divorced, the way my father punished my siblings and I was no longer seen by my mother…of course until we came home. I can’t speak for my siblings, but every time I came home terrified, ashamed of myself and hurting physically, emotionally and mentally. His spankings were very harsh and over the years they quickly evolved to hitting in the face, squeezing of the arms and violently shaking. The things he yelled at me and accused me of because I touched something that was off limits or cried when I was hurting was insane.

 

A lot of people don’t realize that it is next to impossible to spank/hit/slap your children without anger, and anger can get out of hand very fast. Many people usually say, “oh, that isn’t me, I am very much in control”. My response to that is simply, “why do you feel you must lay your hands on a child to correct or punish”? There are other ways that work much more effectively and do not cause psychological damage, as spanking has shown to do. In a recent study showcased in Pediatrics, which is the journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics has shown a strong positive correlation between childhood physical punishment such as spanking and the incidence of Mood disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Abuse/dependence of substances as well as Personality Disorders. The study can be read here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/2/184.abstract .

 

Besides the psychological damage physical punishment causes there are other ramifications. Some children learn that lashing out physically is an acceptable way to handle problems in the future. I have seen this in my own family. I made a promise to myself as a child that I wasn’t going to repeat what I was being exposed to, but unfortunately others in my family did just the opposite. It saddens me to see a specific family member who was a very sweet and loving child grow into a very bitter and physical individual especially when someone does not agree with them or do what they want. Frankly, it is extremely frightening to me as well. Children who grow up not repeating the physically hurtful behavior often do grow up afraid to express themselves, especially when they are hurting. I am living breathing proof of this. I was taught by my father’s beatings and berating that to express myself would result in pain and fear.

 

My question to parents is simple, “if there is an effective way to correct a child that does not require physical harm, would you use it instead”? Then my following statement would be, “there is, so why do you continue to lay hands on a child in a hurtful way”? If a child is screaming, instead of slapping him or her, ask them what’s wrong. Follow it up with asking them if they have suggestions for how you can help them fix what is wrong. You may be surprised, but every time I have approached an upset child in this way, they have matched my calmness and answered me. People, including children have a tendency to match your tone, your attitude and how you approach them. You scream and hit, they scream, hit and get angry. You appear calm, open and caring, they relax, open up and are more willing to solve a problem. Another method I have used in situations when a child has done something that is dangerous like run for the street, I do use a raised, firm voice to call their name and tell them to stop. Which almost every time has worked. I take their hand and crouch down at their level and again, remain calm, open and caring. I ask them why they ran for the road. After they answer I ask them if they know why I got upset. After that answer I then explain to the child on their level why it upset me and it should not happen again. Again, in my experience, this has been very effective.

 

Children are humans, just like adults. They get sad, angry, confused, hungry, bored, hurt and don’t feel well. We don’t spank an adult and yell at them because they are whining about being hungry, so why would you hit a child for crying because they are hungry? It’s much more effective and caring to talk to the child, just as you would an adult (but using words and terms that they can grasp) to ask what is wrong and what you can do to help them feel better. I’m speaking as an adult who has cared for children (other people’s and my own) since I was in middle school and as a person who underwent poor parenting and punishment from my father. I never trusted that my father would meet my needs nor that he cared, only that if I spoke up or acted out on something that was hurting or bothering me, I would get a beating. Do you want your child expecting to be hurt to express themselves, or do you want you child to expect you to care and help them manage their feelings and solve their problem? There truly is no need for corporal punishment, especially in children.

 

In toddlers who can’t always tell you how they are feeling, what’s bothering them and give you suggestions on how to fix the issue, I also have experience. I have a sweet little boy who is just about to turn two and with him (and toddlers I have babysat) I have found a few great techniques that are effective and loving. When a toddler starts to throw a fit, start with the basics. Look for something that may be hurting them physically like something they stepped on, a bug bite or teething pain. If nothing, then check the diaper, see if they’re hungry, thirsty or tired. If none of those are the culprit, hold them, kiss them and speak sweetly to them. Sometimes wanting you to hold them isn’t it either. Yes, this can get a bit frustrating if you are busy, but they need your help managing their emotions, not you screaming at them and slapping them. Sometimes all my son needs if nothing above worked is for me to say, “Honey, I’m sorry your upset.” and I will break eye contact and not pay attention to the tantrum. Every time my son has stopped after two minutes maximum, but usually under thirty seconds. When he is throwing a tantrum like this, I strongly believe that he is doing it to see how I react. In me not lashing out at him, but calmly refusing to put energy into fueling his tantrum, he trusts me and then stops.

 

Another technique I have been using with my toddler is helping him learn different methods of self-soothing. Self-soothing is using your senses to help put yourself at ease. I use self-soothing techniques for myself every day when I start to feel anxious. I have taught my son to run his fingers across his soft hair when he’s upset or tired by doing it to him when he’s fussing. Very frequently now I see him “petting” his own hair, or even mine when he’s upset. If none of the techniques above are working, and your toddler continues to cry and scream, there may be something going on that you can’t see like being ill. Calling your Pediatrician may be a good idea at this point, especially if they seem to be in pain. In my experiences as a parent and a babysitter, using one or a combination of these techniques has been enough to soothe a toddler and stop the unwanted behavior.

 

We are blessed with our babies to love and nurture, protect and teach and to enjoy life with them, not to instill fear and pain into them. There are many alternatives to physical punishment and I hope that this blog entry has opened your mind up to just a few of these alternatives as well as the dangers that lurk in using corporal punishment.