Protecting my children has been one of my most important goals over the past 11 years. I have made it clear to my family and all other abusers that my children are not available to them. I have eliminated all contact with abusers in our lives. This required me to give up the only family I had ever known, a financial safety net, and all assistance with raising my children. But I gave it up to protect my children and it was the best decision I ever made.
There are a few reasons for my dedication to their protection. First, I am their mother. Of course I will protect them. I know what you’re thinking though. Not all parents protect their children. And I get that. My blog would not exist if parents did the right thing all the time. But there is an instinct underneath that trauma-based drive for personal safety. It is buried, but it is there. It whispers to protect them.
Second, my higher self has been talking to me. She can be hard to hear over the loud trumpeters that are my traumatized inner parts. But she is there. And she says I have a purpose. I have a purpose to break the cycle, to start a new generation within my family with new perspectives and beliefs. I sense it in my bones. I always have (even though I may not have always known what I was sensing).
Third, I have some really pissed off parts who are protecting some very traumatized inner children. They project that protection to my outer children. They wrap all their warped methods of protection around my children by default. But some of these methods have needed adjusting to truly break the cycle. The hovering has mellowed substantially. I don’t do everything for my kids anymore. It has certainly been a journey to find balance. Despite those struggles, my parts mean well. And they aren’t backing down no matter what.
But this passion for my children’s well-being can lead to monstrous futility. Why? We live in a seriously messed-up world. We also live in a world full of random occurrences we cannot plan for or address ahead of time. And I hate that. My controller hates that. I would give anything to protect them from the unknown. But things happen. They aren’t good things. People they love move away. People they love die. They get injured. They meet people who don’t treat them well.
I want so desperately to make it all better for them. I want to keep them safe from this world which can seem so cruel to trauma survivors. The harder I try to protect them from the inevitable cruelty of this world, the more I am hit with the futility of my desires. There will be no perfect life for any of us. Humans are not meant to live a life of pleasure with no pain. They are not meant to enjoy every moment. They are here to experience traumas. They are here to lose themselves just a little bit (or a lot). They are here to trudge through the muck of childhood confusion and find their way to the adult life they want. But it is meant to be messy and complicated and the furthest thing from easy. Even if I could find a way to create a perfect lab-created environment for my children to grow up, there would be problems. I wish it wasn’t true, but I have come to know that it must be this way.
So does this recovery work matter? Hell yes! It matters. It is our love that creates the resilience that will get them through life when it attacks them from 20 angles at one time. When our children know we will be there, that knowledge anchors them a little as they try to find their way. Hopefully, it gives them the understanding of what the world could look like if they have the courage to take it there. Our kids need us to break the cycles.
There have been moments I have sat with the futility of parenting and felt utterly hopeless in my efforts to give my kids a good life, a life that builds resilience. Life is coming at them and I can feel myself move in the direction of “Why Bother?” It seems an impossible task. And maybe it is an impossible task in some ways. But I’ll keep pushing. I’ll keep trying. I refuse to raise the next generation without the tools to make life their own. I refuse to leave them in this messy world without a way to navigate it.
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Thank you so much for writing this! It couldn’t have come at a better time!
I am so glad it helped Raquel!
Thanks Elisabeth. Important insights. I face the same challenges and I want to support my adult kids & grandson while leaving them the independence to make their own decisions and navigate their own course. In our complex world that is both essential and scary.
I want so desperately to be the perfect parent and ensure my son is protected from the pain I’ve felt. As you said, we can give them the tools. But we can’t control this world. My controller is so frustrated! And part of me wants justice for everyone in this world! Justice for all! But I’m only one person. And I try my hardest to break this cycle of abuse. I’m doing everything I can, but there are no guarantees. Are my efforts “good enough”? I don’t know. But I’m moving the needle forward as much as I can. And there’s a lot of guessing. And trial and error. I hope my parenting works well for my son. I love him! ❤️
I know you are a great parent for your son. You are doing so much amazing work to break the cycle. Sending love to you!
Thank you Elizabeth. This really holds true for me. And i appreciate your words deeply. Its almost like they’re the ones saving me bc i only persist for them. Id probably have given up otherwise..
I understand that sentiment exactly.
Elisabeth, what a great article. It is something I think about a lot.
I have a 12 year old and a 6 year old, and we do our best to make sure they know every single day they are loved, because I think that is more than half the battle of building resilience in them.
I also try to teach them about the world, both the good and the bad. I try to give them everything I wasn’t given growing up.
And you know what, it is a miracle. I can already see in my 12 year old that she is strong, funny, smart, and incredibly loving to all. So, what I am saying is those of us who show our kids love and are “good enough “ parents will produce kids who will make it. I can see it in my children. Knowing they are truly loved fuels everything else good in them. Sending love to you for writing this terrific article.
Thank you Kathy! I can tell you are raising amazing kids and breaking cycles all over the place. Thank you for all your hard work.
This blog post really spoke to me. I’ve been working for years on not making decisions for my children based on my fears from my own childhood traumas. It’s so challenging. I love your level of acceptance of your process of dealing with your different part’s needs to protect & your resilience is truly inspiring. Thank you Elisabeth.
Thank you Marie! It is definitely a journey of acceptance and self compassion.
Thank you for writing this. I relate to it completely. I’ve raised 3 children on my own the past 8 years and after a long term marriage and very high conflict divorce from a narcissist. They haven’t seen their father since he left us then. It was difficult at first, yet now I know it has been for the best because I’ve been able to raise them without that dysfunction in the home. I knew they were witnessing dysfunction, poor communication, alcoholism, etc. That being said, I had to work hard at re-structuring my parenting, my family paradigm, etc. and with a lot of support that was very difficult to seek and ask for. It has been a ton of work.
For the most part they haven’t had anything to do with their father’s side of the family — unwell people. And my side of the family, too. Dysfunction, triangulation and high drama and conflict has permeated my adult siblings’ lives forever and I’ve seen it trickle down perfectly onto their children. My children have little to do with their cousins at all and mainly because we’ve established our own network of friends in our town and have kept busy that way. Our home has been no drama for a long time now and they don’t like it when they see it with anyone else.
I’ve watched my children, who are now young adults, choose not to participate with either family side or their cousins and not because I’ve told them not to. They won’t do social media nor will they answer texts that are aimed at triangulation. I’ve learned a lot from my own children in the importance of breaking the chain of dysfunction. They’ve seen things much earlier and more clearly than I ever did. I also attribute their health to their significant others’ families and how they have brought them into their activities and events and role models.
This all makes me sad, of course, because there really are no strong blood ties for my children. But it’s also been an opportunity for me to help them understand that family isn’t always about blood and that you much choose healthy people to be a part of your life. The other difficult part has been to re-define our family model (single mother with children and no extended family) as good and solid and functional and not ‘broken’ like cultural conditioning and certain religious and political groups like to hammer on. Took me a long, long time to set down the traditional family model and my feeling that I failed and instead embrace a new way of looking at family, healing, growth.
My biggest hope is that someday when I’m dead and gone my children will say that I was strong and courageous and that I was the person who said NO to dysfunction and as lonely and hard as it was I moved our family tree in another direction.
Thank you Trisha! Your point about redefining the single mother family model is so important. Society loves to blame this model for all the problems in the world and of course, that is not even close to true. The truth is that society is not designed to support our type of family (lower incomes for women, high price of childcare, etc). But there is nothing wrong with that model. And the alternative in our cases is horrific.
Hello Elisabeth, your blogs are so beautiful! My wish for today is for everyone who has commented here as well as those who have read the blog and comments and resonate with what is being stated to reflect on it….pause and take it in.
All of you men and women show such great strength, courage, love and empowerment yet it is not truly taken in.
Inhale it, feel it, accept it wholly into your being for that is who you truly are. There is no question, regardless of circumstances – the icing doesn’t make the cake. You already are everything, you already are all you strive to be….now just take it in.
Love to you all.
Thank you Wendy!
I have two grown sons – one 8,000 miles away and another with a very bad and rare autoimmune disorder. I took 10 years before consciously deciding I could be a mother. I still had (and have) baggage from a very traumatic childhood, but I try very, very hard to be mindful of its impacts. And one, of course, is that I want my sons to have perfect lives, but barring that impossibility, I hope very much that I (and their great dad) have laid love and strength to, as you say, navigate what lies ahead into the very marrow of their bones. So what your wrote here totally resonates with me in my voyage and as I sometimes participate (but always feel) their voyages. Thank you.
Thank you so much Bonnie. It sounds like your awareness is helping them so much.
I am in real need for this. I always try my hard to protect my kids, want to love them more more n more . I want the not to be hurt. but life has it’s own rules so things start heppening differently. they get hurt physically and emotionally and I try to protect them.
sometimes I can’t control my own reaction and I get angry on them then feel guilty.
I dnt know who am I protecting my inner sad hurtful lonely abused and abandoned child or my kids……
The issue in parenting is that we are often protecting our inner child from our external children. Our external children can be unpredictable and lack boundaries. It can feel unsafe when we are struggling with C-PTSD. This is why it is critical that we get help to heal our traumas. Otherwise, we pass the same trauma to the next generation. Love to you.