BOOK REVIEW, FOCUS ON YOU, UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS

Complex PTSD by Pete Walker

Without a properly functioning ego, you have no center for making healthy choices and decisions. All too often, your decisions are based on the fear of getting in trouble or getting abandoned, rather than on the principles of having meaningful and equitable interactions with the world.

How does one review a book that is so deeply personal, a book that shifted me from wandering around in despair to starting a healing journey? I know, I’ll write him a thank you note!

Dear Mr. Walker,

During the most difficult time of my life, I started searching the terms “depression,” “anxiety,” “panic attacks” etc. to try to figure out what was going on. I knew I needed help, but I couldn’t seem to find help that actually—well—helped. I also often seemed okay; I know how to fake it very well.

Needing anything from others can feel especially dangerous. The survivor’s innate capacity to experience comfort and support in relationship becomes very limited or non-existent. This is despite the fact that many high functioning survivors learn to socially function quite adequately.

It wasn’t until I found your website that I felt truly understood or even knew what kind of help I needed. I wrote to you and asked if you could take me on as a client. You very graciously answered me immediately with empathy for my suffering but also that you did not have room to take anyone else on. You suggested that I read your book, so I bought it right away and started reading.

That was a time in my life when I thought my brain was permanently damaged and that I would never be able to function normally again. Your book gave me hope and a path. It somehow normalized a lot of what I was struggling with and both reassured me that I wasn’t weak and gave me cautious optimism that it was fixable. Until I read your work, I couldn’t figure out what it actually was.

The inner critic commonly increases the intensity of a flashback via a barrage of… attacks… Flashbacks can devolve into increasingly painful levels of the abandonment depression. One attack can repetitively bleed into another and tumble us further down a spiral of hopelessness. It is awful enough to take a single punch in a fight, but when the punches keep coming, the victim is severely thrashed.

You named a condition that seemed to explain more to me than any other word or phrase. Most of the other terms I was searching just seemed to describe symptoms. Other books just wanted me to be more mindful, feel gratitude, or learn to think differently. None of them were wrong per se (and you make those suggestions too); however, the positive effects of doing those things didn’t seem to last and I couldn’t seem to get to the source of the nonstop triggering from so many potential situations, many of which seemed benign on the face of them. Why was I always so tense and ready to fight? Why did I always want to run away? Why do people scare me, especially if they pooh pooh me or, even worse, if they LIKE me and want to be my friend?

The person who never wrote in her textbooks could not stop writing notes in your book. The person who thought she could never sit through an entire book ever again read your book from cover to cover. The person who never reads the appendices in books pored over the toolboxes.

In summary, your book was exactly what I needed when I needed it and helped me heal and turn my life around. Thank you for what you do.

Sincerely,

Sherry

FOCUS ON YOU, PODCAST INTERVIEW, UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONS

Healing from Complex PTSD

Heal from CPTSD with Linda Meredith as your guide.

Linda Meredith is Australia’s first Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and the founder of the world’s first Trauma Recovery Academy. She is the mother of three grown children and about to be a grandmother!

Through her own healing journey, Linda has developed a gentle but powerful way to heal CPTSD – at one point, she lost all her cognitive functions. Her recovery is miraculous, but even more inspiring is what she does now to help people.

Linda has made her courses, worksheets, resources and videos available to the public.

She is a coach and a counsellor who is working to make the world an emotionally safer place for all of us, as individuals, parents and children. What a thrill it was to interview her at her home in Brisbane, Australia.

Healing from CPTSD with Linda Meredith

Of course I got the time difference wrong, so I was sitting around waiting for her and had an entire hour free from distraction (what a gift) as the husband and the kids were told to give me quiet time in the kitchen after dinner. I used the time to watch a few more of her videos and ended up getting engaged, the hour went by in a flash. Linda’s videos are short, personable, and accessible. I felt completely heard, understood, and supported. And this was BEFORE I had actually spoken to her in person.

She joined the Zoom call and immediately I just felt, well, safe. She exudes this strong yet gentle, passionate but not overwhelming personality. She has a ready smile and great screen presence. She really knows her stuff and has helped countless people understand what they are going through. In our conversation during and after the interview, she made me feel important and that I had something meaningful to contribute to the conversation.

My journey of recovery from CPTSD has been greatly enhanced by exploring her website, Facebook Community Page, Instagram, and YouTube videos.

In our podcast, we talk about:

  • CPTSD (Complex Post-Trauma Stress Disorder) and how it comes from things like ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), inter-generational abandonment issues, or emotional neglect.
  • How unspoken rules like “When anything bad happens, we don’t talk about it” are so dangerous for children.
  • She shared some of the changes she made as a parent, such as, wanting to know her kids as individuals, even down to what they liked eating.
  • She touches on how unconditional love of children is non-negotiable; otherwise it impedes their ability to keep being curious, which they need in order to develop.
  • Linda knows what it’s like to be a single mom who struggles, has financial barriers, and wants better for her children. That’s why she makes so much of her work available for free.

Her Key Message: Believe in yourself! You have to be willing to make changes where you won’t see results until your children become adults! Your vision as a parent is to make changes that impact not just your children, but also your children’s children.

I hope you enjoy ‘working’ with Linda as much as I do!

LOVE FIRST

1,000 visits! Fried Rice Anyone?

YAY!

Since I started this project in August, there have been 1,000 visits to Sandwich Parenting as well as 100 listens to the podcasts. Thanks everyone for your support!

Doing this has been very healing. To be honest, I just hope that I don’t do my normal ‘thing’ where I celebrate a milestone and then get stuck on a plateau. It’s a self-sabotaging coping mechanism I think do because I fear success and the challenges that come with expectations. Working on it, working on it.

Random distracting thought (another coping mechanism) to the rescue…

NAME CHANGE?

By the way, should I change this site to “Fried Rice Parenting”?

Sandwiches are so Western, and I am Chinese. You take what you have in the house, chop it up, fry it all up, and you get a unique wok of fried rice each time. What do you think?

(I have a soft spot for fried rice. It’s the one thing my kids will eat, pretty much no matter what I put into it. As long as there is more rice than ‘stuff’, I can hide vegetables and they will eat it up with gusto. Also, my Hong Kong Rice Girl name was Flied Lice. But I digress!)

SANDWICH STORY

Ooh… but I do have a sandwich story from childhood…

One day in grade 2, I opened up my lunch bag and saw a really, really sad sandwich. There were two slices of bread and a slice of cheese and a thin slice of ham. I was really confused, as the sandwiches that my mom made for me were really chock full of stuff. A lot of stuff. Like a lot. But I ate it. It was really dry. I do remember having a moment of confusion before I went along my day, albeit, slightly hungry.

Towards the end of lunch time, while I was chatting away with my friends, the teacher made an announcement:

“Has anyone seen Andrew’s lunch? I think someone might have taken his lunch. There is a still lunch here in this paper bag. Does this seem familiar? I see a lovely sandwich, with tomato, fried egg, ham, lettuce, cheese… I see an apple and an orange in here too and some crackers. If no one claims this, I’ll have to throw this out in the garbage! What a shame, as it looks so tasty and healthy.”

It wasn’t until a few days later when I ate my normal lunch with a sandwich that was suspiciously similar to the one she described that something clicked in my head with a loud ‘DOPE!

I think of the way my mom lovingly made my lunch. An immigrant to America, with limited English, 2 kids and pregnant with a third, unfamiliar with Western food, making me a healthy sandwich for my lunch. She even added sometimes shredded pork in my sandwiches, which, weirdly goes super well with butter. She made me food I liked. She made food with love. And now I wonder about Andrew and his sandwich, which I considered sad compared to mine. But maybe it was the best that his busy parent could do for him.

I think I’ll stick with Sandwich.