Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Isolation and Connection

Recently I was listening to my secret pleasure radio program, New Life Live. It is a call-in show with multiple counselors who help people with serious psycho-social issues. I love it. On this day they were instructing the caller in the several layers of connectedness we as humans need to maintain or grow in our mental health. To be healthy and heal from trauma they listed something like: church (a larger community), a small group, several good friends who support your growth, and at least one close confidant. I probably didn't get that completely right, but you get the picture. Support.

The same day I heard this information, my husband went out of town. Just a three day men's retreat but it happens so rarely that it gave me some serious food for thought. And that is... HOW do single parents do it? Ever. But especially with special needs kids! I do quite a bit of parenting on my own. Don't tell, but sometimes it even seems easier. But he's always coming home in a while. It's not the same.

My mom was a single parent. She made it look easy when I was young. More recently, she has been raising special needs kids for years. Alone. Last month, her youngest celebrated 18. It was the first time in forty-six years that she didn't have a minor child. I am in awe.

It is so easy to feel, and be, isolated in this atypical lifestyle. We have to work so much harder to stay connected in healthy, nurturing relationships. Harder when our kids drive away (or worse, suck in) our friends and family. Harder when our kids can't play with theirs. We can't stand around at pick up time and fret over the same foibles...

Norma mommy: Can you believe it, yesterday Johnny and Susie
                             asked if they could play doctor!
Raddy mommy: Oh my gosh,  I know, don't you just hate when
                            you catch them having s**!.. ...Um..... Never mind. Norma?

Doesn't make for easy connection. And we probably need it more than most after years of living with their our trauma.

I would love to hear from single parents (or any trauma moms, caregivers, etc.),
  •  How do you make sure you limit the isolation?
  • How do you get a break?
  • What kind of supports actually help?
Because we all should be proactive in taking care of our emotional needs, we pour out and pour out to our kids. What are we doing today to fill back up!

And to the single parents...I'm not saying the words (angel, saint, etc.), but I am saying,
My hat is off, your hands are full.


  1. 1. This is a hard one for me...I don't want to open up to many people about my RAD life. No one really wants to hear it, right? So, to prevent isolation, I put on the happy face and smile and chat with my neighbors any chance I get.

    2. I get a break when my RAD kid as at school. And, there are times in the weeend when I simply look at my husband and say, "I've got to get out of here", and I take off for Starbucks with my Bible in hand. But, I find that what I need a real break from is my mind obsessing about living with a RAD kid. I haven't figured this one out yet, but try to by keeping busy with ministry work.

    3. God led me to another RAD mom here in town - we go to the same church. We encourage each other and chat weekly. That helps - except when day after day I have to face the reality that my RAD kid has "more RAD" than her RAD kid.

    Bottom line for my mental health is that I HAVE to turn to the Lord multiple times a day - simply crying out to Him to deliver me, and my son, from this life of bondage. When I begin to worship Him, praising Him for my circumstances and all I am learning, suddenly my attitude changes and my mood lifts. It's cool how God works that way, huh?

    1. Traci, Thank you for your thoughts! I so know what you mean about school being a break! And yes, RAD mom community is the ticket! We just keep gathering people to us in my area. Amazing how many are out there feeling so alone. I do know about the "more RAD kid(s), though." :(

      I find it sometimes amusing how God keeps stretching me in certain areas, and waiting for me to rely on Him.

      Thanks again.

  2. Hi I just found your blog via Claudia's and this seems as good a spot as any to pop on and say hi! I've been working on this very stuff lately. As the single mommy of a preschooler with assorted anxiety issues (PTSD, anxious attachment), I am constantly aware of how very true the saying that it takes a village is. My village includes my extended family, so single does not equal in it all alone. They don't really get it all the time, but I am blessed that they are always trying to understand even though they don't see the intensely difficult behaviors. I've learned that asking for specific types of help is what works best. I've recently lined up a couple of friends to mind my son for an hour at a time while I go for a long walk. For a while, we had an arrangement with a relative that I would nap at her house while my son played with her kids while she held down the fort. I just needed the sleep so badly, so I asked her very specifically could she watch my son while I slept. And a lot of my village is online, other moms of kids healing from trauma who do get it and remind me that I'm not alone on this road and share some practical strategies.

  3. Wow. Those are great ideas. I wish I was better at that kind of stuff. I have trouble figuring out what specifically to ask for. Good for you!

    Thanks for saying Hi. Thanks for reading!