Parenting with Trauma & Sensory Sensitivities

Ugly crying and numbness mix with regret.

“Why don’t you leave us then?”

Self-judgement. Self-preservation. I just stare at the child who looked me in the eye, and asked me, “Why don’t you leave us then?”

I’m silent. I can’t apologize any more – they are tired of hearing it and I’m tired of saying it – I messed up again. I snapped and had a sensory overload meltdown. To them it was mommy screaming scarily.

“Why don’t you just leave us then?”

She has no idea how close I came just twelve short months ago. With brutal truth, I came back a few minutes later with “I did almost leave you, last winter.” I left out the part where I was suicidal and depressed, despite taking my prescribed medications correctly. I left out the part where mommy has alters and it’s not always the right one in the driver’s seat. I left out the part where just being alive was hard work, let alone the responsibilities and challenges of being a mom in a family.

I didn’t tell my daughter that just like she thought she could be better without me, I felt the same. That I could be better without me.

See as a mom, you can’t always do everything right. But as a mom with trauma you are extra-sensitive to that fact, and it becomes “I can’t do anything right” and that along with “the world is not safe” it’s hard to be okay with loud noises and screechy, moving little ones. And as a mom with sensory sensitivies, all of the touching and the loud hit us like an attack.

I want to paint and draw and write. I want to travel and think and make friends. But instead I’m cooking spaghetti. My sensory kids have their texture and taste preferences, so I cook what they will eat. I forget that I absolutely can paint and draw and write and travel (in the near future) and be a mom. I forget that I’m a person. I hear, “I don’t like this.”

“Not mine.”

“I forgot.”




Who signs up for this shit? But now I’m here. And I’m supposed to be the cycle-breaker. hahahahaha. I’m so hard on myself because my abuser taught me I don’t deserve to be treated like a human being. Anxiety and depression and other things that weigh us down, while we are supposed to be lifting up our own children.

‘Why don’t you leave us then?” Oh I wish I could at times, kid. But that’s because of me, not because of you.

One of my very first questions after my deconstruction from Christianity was “what if my marriage doesn’t survive?” I wanted a divorce so very, very much. I was not subtle about it, even offering it to my husband as if it was something he wanted that I could give him. I wanted to be free so badly from the suffocating responsibilities of a family. Not from the man himself, but from the crushing demands of wife and mother.

“Why don’t you just leave us then?”

Oh my god, you have no idea and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because my daughters’ aren’t supposed to have any idea. I’m mom. I’m strong. I’ve got myself and I’ve got you. I’m okay. She doesn’t need to know that I tried to kill myself when I was her age. She needs me to be a calm, open resources for her. I’m afraid I might accidentally say “the truth”.

My response to my daughter’s question was, “I love you, you’re a great person, I would really miss out if I left you.”

I know they love me and I feel so bad that they do. I wish they got someone better. Someone without cPTSD. Someone undamaged. Someone without sensory meltdowns and communication breakdowns and suicidal ideations…but it’s me, I’m the one. I’m the cycle breaker because my daughter’s are not meant to carry the weight of my burdens for me. Because being the cycle-breaker means lifting up my children, even when I get jealous that at their age I was trapped in hell. I lift my children as high as I can because I am the cycle-breaker.

I’m hurting. I’m overwhelmed. I’m on meltdown mode. But my kids still need to be directed through bed time routines and I still have to be mentally prepared to go to work with a solution-oriented positive mindset tomorrow.

Who cares about me? I care about me. I will continue to care about me. I now invest in me with therapy and hobbies. Hobbies like painting and writing.

I am strong enough to feel all of this mess, and to move on. I am free enough from my past to acknowledge its affect on me, and to move on. I am brave enough to say “I’m making mistakes and I need help.” I am hopeful enough to say, “wow, I’ve come so far in the twelve months since I almost did leave this family.” I am brave. I am strong. I am resilient. And so can you. You can learn to practice the pause and bring yourself back into the present moment, away from the shadows of the past.

I feel like it’s a legitimate question, “would my family be better off without me?” I am so frail and so torn and so strong and so brave and so tired and so hopeful and so overwhelmed.

So, I’ll share with you my secret for how I’m going to rally myself in order to be a loving mom for bed time – despite the fact that I prefer to go stone-cold and fake-affection on my kids. Because that’s another method I’ve perfected, the saying-all-of-the-correct-words but with emptiness. My secret for dealing with my children when I’m a hot mess express: radical acceptance and practicing the pause.

Here is a short poem Titled Bend, by Jamie

I am frail, like a feather.

And like a feather, I can bend.

I am soft like a feather,

And like a feather, I can mend

my shape, my color, my hue, my form

are soft, are golden, are purple, are warm.

So go ahead and bend. Go ahead and rise up. Go ahead and set some boundaries, go ahead and engage in a hobby, go ahead and do something to support your child(ren).

Some days it takes a good cry, a text to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, prioritize taking my meds, and a reminder that yes, the cards are stacked against me, but yes I am rising to the challenge.

I’m telling you, a good cry is amazing. We shed stress hormones when we emotional-cry that we don’t shed whencry from pain or allergies, etc.. It’s scientific and it’s proven to do me a world of good.

I encourage you to do what works for you and to applaud yourself for when you know you’ve done a good job. Keep going, keep shining. Thank you for being here.


Published by Surthrivor

Surthrivor: a survivor who takes control of their own recovery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: