For the past couple of weeks, I have joined Rebecca on The Consciously Parenting Podcast to talk about Healing Stories. I have always loved the concept of Healing Stories, and have been privileged to help several families to heal from difficult births and other experiences with this tool. It’s something we do in our family every single day, to heal the small hurts as well as bigger hurts. Today I want to share more of my own experience with Story Healing after there’s been a trauma.
My story may be triggering to some, so please read (and listen to the podcast) with caution. While everything turned out just fine for my family, many of us know families that were not so fortunate.
This is a story of a near-drowning experience with a toddler, so if that is something likely to trigger you, please go slowly and pay attention to how you feel while you listen, and slow down or take breaks if needed.
My story is about the incredible power of Story Healing and how my family was able to get through a really tough time with the help of this knowledge. I am forever grateful that I was able to help my daughter (and all of us) to heal emotionally from her difficult experience specifically because of the support I received from Rebecca to do this work.
It was January 26, 2010.
My son was almost 5, and my daughter was 19 months old. The short version of the story is that they started the bathtub without permission and, within the span of a few minutes, went from playing happily to my daughter not breathing.
Thankfully, my son alerted me immediately that she wasn’t ok and I was able to get to her in time. I had been trained in CPR and was able to perform rescue breathing on her and she began breathing again very quickly. She expelled the water she had swallowed and was physically just fine within a few minutes. However, it was clear that she was not ok emotionally – none of us was!
I had been working with Rebecca at The Consciously Parenting Project for a few years and knew a lot about healing trauma because of that. On this day, I went from being the mother of children with no trauma history at all, to the mother of two traumatized children. Additionally, my husband and I were both deeply affected by the incident. We had a lot of healing to do.
I spent hours holding my daughter skin-to-skin, alternating between nursing her and watching her sleep, and that’s when I called Rebecca to tell her what had happened and get support for what to do next.
The days and weeks following included many sessions of Story Healing. My daughter was pre-verbal at the time, so in addition to telling the story, I used a baby doll to act out what happened and try to give her some words to make sense of her experience. It was deeply moving to see her reach for the doll herself and do the same things I had been showing her, such as breathing on the baby’s mouth and patting its back. She acted out her story over and over to show me that she understood.
We began to share Stories every day, and it became a very connecting time for us.
We would snuggle up and I’d tell the story of each child’s birth, of different things we had done, and often I would tell the story of the bath again. Sometimes my son didn’t want to hear about it and that was ok, but other times he was open to it and I would tell it.
His experience was so different from hers, since he was older and felt a bit responsible for what had happened. I never blamed him, instead taking all of the blame myself (which I still sometimes have to work on) but he knew he had been the one to start up the water. I would tell him the story about how he came and got me right away so I was able to get there in time. He could have been terrified of getting in trouble for disobeying and kept quiet, but he didn’t. Instead, he spoke up and that helped save his sister’s life. That is a really important part of his story and of his healing.
Due to the immense power of Story Healing, my daughter has absolutely no lasting emotional effects from nearly drowning as a toddler. That very summer she was jumping in swimming pools and having a great time with no issues going under or having water in her face. To this day I still sometimes watch her swim in awe that she was able to get through that without lasting trauma. I am so grateful to have known about this and that is why I wanted to share it. I hope it may be helpful to you in some way.
For more information about Healing Stories including a 4-part On Demand Course detailing the process and how to do it with people of all ages, click here.