Trauma can be a Gift

It was four years ago today.

We had not realized how fragile she was having partially witnessed her mother’s violence. I remember laying on the ground while on the phone with 911. I was on my knees with my chest to the floor, sobbing staring down at the ground as I was trying to speak and ask for help. I looked up, and she was on the stairs. I was mortified; my brain had not caught up to the fact that our children were upstairs.

My bonus first daughter was 11; my daughter was just four years old, a baby still, thankfully. Although, my energy coach Lydia says our children go through what we, their mother’s go through. My bonus daughter has suffered the most through this; she had to go through her version of it, what I went through and what her biological mother went through.

That’s what happens with mothers and children. Although not limited to this, it can happen to anyone who loves another so profoundly. We are literally mapped inside the brain of another. It’s that sixth sense. It’s how I knew that one day we told her she could not wear that ridiculously short skirt to school, she had gone up to change. Only to put the skirt in her backpack to switch back at school. Once she left the house that morning, I said to my husband you know she put the skirt in her backpack. He asked how do you know; I said I don’t know, but she did. He went to school later that day, and I was correct. We are mappped.

I do believe her mother has suffered a great deal through this and I do think this has made it exceptionally hard on all three of her children and will continue to be the case as long as she denies the damage that has been done to them as a result. But my bonus first daughter is the one that has been impacted the most. I am an adult, I am fully formed, and I have the life skills to help myself. Children who experience significant trauma have their developing brains rewired in ways that sometimes just cannot be undone.

I looked up at her and begged her to go upstairs. I begged her NOT to let her little sister come downstairs. I whispered loudly please (please) do NOT let your sister come downstairs. I pleaded with her through a shaky voice as I gulped my tears. I was unprepared to let either them see me in this condition. I was so naïve to think we could keep this from impacting them. I worry about what will come up for my daughter later in life. She knows on some level deep down what I went through because they both went through it with us.

My husband could not get her off me. He stands six feet tall and over two hundred pounds. But she is almost as big as he is, so it was equal. We hear of superhuman strength. How people can lift cars to say another’s life. We also hear of psychotic breaks. I am here to tell you they are both real. I am here to tell you that when someone has a psychotic break, they can also have superhuman strength qualities that could end your life. I thought this woman could scale the walls to get back at me after he pulled her off. She never let go of my neck. I fell away from them. That says something deep.

This woman was so enraged her strength was superhuman. She had a death grip on my neck. My husband struggled to pull her off me. I released from her grip only because he was finally able to pull her off. She grabbed me by the neck pushed me further into our garage and slammed my hips to the car and then with incredible force slammed my skull to the hood of the car. You can hear it on the voice memo that was being recorded from my pocket where my cell phone was. It was like a baseball hitting a steel bat. She was trying to kill me.

We slide down the hood of the car, on the police report, the officer observed the huge dust swipe of dust removed by my body. Once we got to the floor, she had her knee on my shins, and she slammed my head to the cement floor. As my husband got a grip on her, he pulled her off me but she would not let go of my neck, and I came up with them. I had lost consciousness briefly at this point and fell away from her grip slamming my head for a third time to the cement.

I immediately got to my feet and started screaming uncontrollably. A reflex, an alarm went off, and I could not stop it. I was in complete and total shock. I was vibrating. I was scared out of my mind to stay and leave my husband alone with her to call the police. Her response to my finally being able to say “YOU JUST ATTACKED ME,” was you told me to fuck off. I was dumbfounded. She did this because I told her to fuck off ONE TIME. What?!?! Honestly, once I lost my cool and did tell her to go F off. Does that honestly warrant a vicious life-threatening attack? On someone who weighs 70 pounds less than you and stands a foot smaller?

My first bonus daughter was on our sun deck listening to the whole thing we later found out. But on this day I had not put it together. Once we were off the 911 call with the police having arrived, I was able to tend to my girls. I went upstairs and desperately tried to lie. Once I walked in my tiny daughter with huge wide eyes said “Momma! Did you hear that lady screaming?!” I immediately said yes I did it was our neighbor she stepped on a nail; I went to help her, she is okay. Her big sister looked at me with that look, that what are you talking about look. She then took control of the situation. She told her little sister to play on her iPad, a joy that is never awarded and she immediately turned to me and closed the door.

She took one look at me and said you are bleeding. I said I am fine, no. I am fine. She said no you are bleeding and we went to the bathroom to examine my ear and neck. I realized one of my earrings went missing; it was torn out during the attack. I was starting to understand what was happening and took my role back. I hugged her and said it is going to be okay. Please don’t worry. I am so proud of the big sister she was that day. She followed my direction and protected her little sister, my baby girl from witnessing her mother in trauma. I am forever grateful for this big sister.

Trauma is mostly misunderstood, undervalued and rarely recognized. Trauma is also misdiagnosed, mistreated and often taken on as an emotional issue. There are misguided approaches to healing trauma that lead people to feel like failures for not being able to handle IT. I was relentless to understand what happened to us because so much more happened to us than me getting strangled. I am distinctly different on the other side of this. We all are. But she is the one I worry the most about.

It is hard to be a mother figure to her for so long, be nearly murdered over it and have it go to no relationship whatsoever. Had someone told me then that this experience will strip me of everything I ever had in my life that was amazing I would not have believed them. If someone said to me that after this your bonus daughter would walk away from you and tell you, you are the problem. Never would I believe them. But it happened. This is yet another trauma from our Trauma that we continue to experience.

Domestic Violence presents an entirely different layer of trauma, a much more intimate violation. The reason I am talking about this is that there is an unprotected party of people that are unprotected. Step Parents in the state of California are not protected parties under our Domestic Violence Laws.

I was strangled and attacked at my house, in front of my husband by his ex-wife with our children and pets present. If I were protected by CADV Laws, it would be a felony because of how quickly you can die. But because Step Parents are not protected parties it was a misdemeanor and assault. No different than a “push on the shoulder” or spitting on someone. But you cannot die from someone spitting on you like you can from strangulation.

So California I ask you, can you only die quickly from strangulation if it is a man hurting a woman in a domestic relationship? This is how the law is written, and the law is written wrong, this is inequality. Everyone knows Step Parents are family. In our family, however, the law matched how she thought. Not all step parents are created equal as her children were required to love and RESPECT her new husband but she did not want them to love me.

People snap. People hurt other people. This is the closest I have ever been to violence. Violence is not okay. Hurting other people is not okay. Not allowing your children to love their other parents and caregivers is not oaky. I feel part of our role as parents is to teach our children to love without limits. Protecting our child’s emotional world is our top priority. We were and are still devastated that we were unable to protect them from this that day.

There is no preparing for something like this. All trauma has this in common. It is unexpected and overwhelming. But there are ways out of it. We are finding our way out daily, it happens one day at a time. One good memory at a time. One good hug at a time. It takes a lot of love and tons of EMDR. The girls both did EMDR immediately after. The baby snapped back and appeared untouched by it and grown into a fully loving stable, confident young firecracker. The big sister did too, but she has a mother on the other side denying her experience of trauma not unlike how she denied all the traumas she had before.

What I learned is that there small t traumas and big T traumas. They all matter. They all cause issues if not acknowledged and dealt with. They all cause your brain to operate differently. While the last of trauma is still clearing, we are befriending time and hope things will turn around. We stand with open arms waiting to welcome her back into our lives to get back to supporting and loving her. It’s hard but it’s been harder and once your trauma bands get super stretched your tolerance changes. Your thresholds change.

Now I say listen as long as we don’t go for the neck we are cool. That’s my bottom line now; it takes a whole lot to get me stirred up for a reaction. I look at this as a gift; I am much more tolerable human, calm mother, workable partner and effective business leader now so thank you Trauma.

I hope one day to help her find her gifts from this. It is not what happens to us that matters. It’s how we process it.

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