Friday, March 8, 2013

Irrational Fears

Last night at TBRI training we talked about implicit memory and how memory can be laid down early in life, as early as in the womb. Ok to remove the psychobabble: implicit memory, is memory you don't think about.  Remember when you were learning to ride a bike?  You thought about your balance, how to move your feet, how to keep the tires pointed in the right direction.  But now if you hop on a bike you just ride it. You are no longer actively thinking about all the parts and pieces of the act of riding a bike. Once you learn how to ride a bike you don't forget.   Implicit memory is that type of memory, memory you don't think about.

TBRI is encouraging us to look back and think about baggage/stuff we may have in our journey that can be hampering us or holding us back from a great attachment with our child(ren).  We as the big person need to face that stuff, realize it's there and move forward. It also helps us to look with compassion on our children when they are looking totally out of their minds.

I remember my first aha moment about implicit memory (tho I didn't call it that at the time).  When I was a child I hated to put my face in the water. I was in beginners swim lessons I believe 7 times! Go ahead feel sorry for my long suffering Mother :-)  In fact I remember the day my mom (made a very good decision) to just sign me up for advanced beginners. It was at the pool complex in E.A. I wasn't tall enough to look in the window without standing on my toes. Much to my shock and astonishment she LIED to the woman behind the counter. Well it was more of a lie of omission The lady assumed I had FINALLY passed  and Mom just let her believe it. I was a pest, I started to pull at my mom to tell her to correct the lady that I was still a failure and I had not passed. Mom shushed me with a twinkle in her eye. Can you picture my childish face with a big O of astonishment that my mom would trick them into letting me into advanced beginner classes. Still even more shocked, mom was deceiving the lady in the window!

As we walked back to the car I was adamant that I had not passed, My moms response was "Oh I don't like your teacher,  and you can do everything you need for advanced beginners it silly he's not passing you. It's time for you to move on."  I felt like mom believed in me, the teacher was right I had not passed one part of the test. I would not put my face in the water.

The teacher in advanced beginners was not so strict and only asked me to do it for a split second. I loved her, if I didn't put my face in for rhythmic breathing she wasn't so hard and encouraged me to do as much as I could. I also did not want to get left behind anymore so I'd screw up my face and try even tho  inside I just wanted to scream because it was so hard to do. I hated putting anything over my mouth. But water was the most scary thing on my face. I had no idea why water on my face was scary but it used to freak me out down to the core. Can we say irrational fear? I love playing at the pool but not if it involved putting my face in the water. I loved the back stroke the side stroke, the breast stroke etc. I even went on to become a life guard and everything. (Much to the astonishment of my long suffering mom.)

But I have a confession to make; every single time I'm swimming with my face in the water I'm counting 1. 2. 3. Breath! when I turn my head I get such relief Yeah Air!  Then I have to count again till I can breath again. I'm still deep down inside fighting that fear from rising and hating the water in my face. I'm in my late forties you would think I'd be over it by now. I'm not.

I had No idea for years why I have this deep irrational fear of my face being in the water. Till... one day were sitting around telling stories. Mom tells a story of me being 2 years old and falling in a pond. I wasn't in long and she pulled me out by my diaper. (Inside I was saying THAT IS IT! that is why I'm afraid.) Mom said I was fine and nothing bad happened.  I mentioned my aha moment and Mom dismissed it as You can't possibly remember that, you were to young. You young lady were just stubborn. (I'll grant you she was right I was stubborn oh boy was I stubborn!)

To this day I still hate water in my face. I won't put my face under the shower cause why feel so stressed that early in the day. I love swimming but I will get out of a pool if my face gets too splashed by the kids. When I swim I use life guard strokes. In life guarding you keep your head out of the water so you can keep eye contact with the victim. I rejoiced when I discovered the lifeguard strokes were like that. I did a happy dance inside.

So here I am, I have this irrational fear from an event that took less than 3 minutes (cause I'd be dead if it had taken longer) it was probably only a few moments that laid down this memory that is so nebulous it is only emotion water in face = fear, I do not have enough air. No I cannot recall it as a moment in time and relive it and re-experiences the sounds and sights but I do have an implicit memory.

So much of our adopted kiddos history and behavior is wrapped up in these types of irrational fears. I need to learn too not dismiss my daughters fear of tornadoes. She really thought we were going to get hit and die. We didn't and nothing bad happened. I need to recall dark clouds and high winds and the monthly siren test will give rise to this fear in her.  I just need to let her talk it out, express herself and hide my rolling eyes and desire for her to be over this already.  Rather I need to think back to how I still feel about my irrational fears and look with eyes of compassion. I can ask her to "Tell me about about it." and then shut up and listen with compassion, because ultimately that is all that is needed.

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