You deserve to be liberated; an end of year reflection.Dec 24, 2022
TW: Nightmares, trauma and neurodivergence.
Something I haven't touched on in regard to PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance, Persistent Drive for Autonomy) are the nightmares.
Many of our children will speak to us of their nightmares. These can be heavy and often confronting. Which really indicates how traumatic the experience can be for our children.
Last night, I had an awful set of nightmares that whilst I won't go into detail, were centred around being violated repeatedly. Inside the dream, I was in the presence of a very unsafe person, always.
When I wasn't with them, they knew where I was and what I was doing, who I was speaking with, etc. I knew I had to perform happiness in order to survive, for if I didn't, this person would know and my days with them would become harder.
It was a fate I grew to accept.
Within the dreams, there would be moments where I would reach out to people who I thought might help, and tell them about my situation without telling them details.
They would be concerned, but their concern would drop off very quickly because they didn't know how to help me, and also they didn't want to put themselves in harm's way.
I was completely alone.
There were also family members of this person that whilst appeared safe and approachable on the outside, were complicit in the harm I was suffering, knowing about it, but not seeing that there was anything wrong with it. They would smile, and give me money to buy food and other things to keep me smiling and quiet.
Toward the end of the dreams, I would have small moments where my abuser would lose interest and wander off toward another woman like me, and I would keep smiling and walking, trying to quickly come up with a plan to make myself safe. I would see people I knew, and try to communicate that I was in serious danger again, but they would be in need themselves and I would override my need for safety in order to help them.
One example was that two of my previous high school students saw me in a food court, buying food with the money I was provided after reporting my abuse (to buy food). They approached me and as I started talking, they told me how hungry they were, but had no money.
I bought them lunch and they went on their merry way, bellies full; yet unable to hear my voice or see my sadness.
Toward the end, something saved me.
It was my children.
In the distance, there was a park.
I started to remember I was a Mother, and as I remembered, my youngest started running toward me, shouting "Mama! Mama!" before running into my arms.
I felt my being fill with love. A love that gave me hope and meant I was able to continue on.
I knew I'd have to return to the abuser, but that I could be with my children from time to time to continue to heal.
This was a set of nightmares reflective of trauma.
Not just traumas that have occurred in the literal sense, but let me explain:
My abuser is society. It is a world that operates from behaviourism and does not understand demand avoidance.
It continues to violate and violate and whilst bystanders look on and know something is not right about the way neurodivergent people are expected to behave as though we are NOT neurodivergent; they too are conditioned to be complicit with those expectations.
Being given money for food and other rewards with a smile is not unlike life itself. We are also conditioned to provide extrinsic reward to those who are expected to behave in particular ways, dismissing the internal world of the human being.
Reaching out to people and asking for help without giving details is the representation of being a person who has an inner world without a language to communicate the experience.
We too, get caught up in those expectations of ourselves to be someone and something we are not. Internalised ableism means we are often self loathing, self rejecting and this forms early on.
We are taught to override our own experiences and needs in favour of making others comfortable. Hence buying lunch for the students in my dream, that I needed to share my situation of life or death with.
And my children..my babies.
They are in this world, unapologetically themselves.
I work on actively reparenting myself as I learn to parent them in the ways they need.
I work hard to hear them, to be present, to listen.
I'm not always great at this, I'm human and I am traumatised.
And yet, the care and consideration I put into parenting them differently heals me. Heals those wounds. Heals that dreaming figure.
Our children will often speak of dreaming that a parent is attempting to harm them. This is often an indication that they are feeling very little control and autonomy in their waking life.
Christmas can be hard. So hard.
The expectations, the changes, the pressure.
Be kind to yourselves, and to your children.
I want to end with this:
If saying No to others, leaving spaces you're not treated with respect and kindness in, setting boundaries when gaslit around yourself or your childrens' needs, losing your calm as a result of being undermined or having your experienced questioned or criticised, it is okay.
If other people think or insinuate that you are 'unstable' or any other ableist or sanist slur as a result of parenting your children in ways you know they need; just know this..
You are breaking away from oppressive systems and creating incredible change for the coming generations of neurodivergent people.
You deserve to be free, too.
You deserve to be liberated from the pressure of churning out humans that aren't showing up in the world as who they were born to be.
And they deserve a parent that is happy, and lives in the knowledge that they have done their very best to heal.
To all the families I have the privilege and honour of working with and sitting in community with, I am so grateful for you, for the sacrifices you make and the loss and grief you experience in order to raise neurodivergent children with a healthy sense of self and positive identity and culture.
I see you.
Sometimes, when people stop showing up or stop inviting you, it is the beginning of a liberation so that you can roam free until you find the spaces in which you always belonged.
We are here. We will welcome you with open arms.
- KF x
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