By K. Hecht & A. Hysock & P. Berman
I have worked hard to help myself and Davy. I can feel good about that, despite my mistakes.
Claire has been thinking a lot about her decisions. The good ones like accepting help from people like the Carsons. The bad ones, like allowing Larry to dominate her thinking- despite his lack of good judgment. Dr. Berman had talked to her a lot about paying more attention to what she was doing right and forgiving herself for what she hadn’t. It was hard. Somehow all the mistakes she had made, pounded through her head whenever she wasn’t busy.
She had found it easier, to let go of worries, if she listened to music, that made her heart pound in a hopeful way. Her current favorite was “Firework” by Katy Perry (Teenage Dream, 2010). Perry co-wrote the song with Ester Dean and its producers StarGate. Whenever Claire heard this song, she tried to use her mindfulness techniques and allow some worry to pass through her mind but then bring herself back to the image of fireworks.
On good days, she could end her reflection time feeling in the moment that each firework was one of her aspirations- to be a great mom, to be a great daughter to the Carsons, to be a great partner to someone, maybe Larry, a firework, a force of heat through passionate caring, not pain.
Claire felt ready to go in. She had been able to sit out on the back porch behind the Carsons house and do her firework mindfulness. On most days, Claire would be with the Carsons in the living room now, having adult family time; she loved this time, it was so quiet and peaceful. But sometimes Claire needed to do some heavy thinking that she preferred to do alone- just to think it through herself.
Claire was proud that she had been able to speak up after putting Davy to bed and tell the Carsons she needed about thirty minutes alone to think something through. Claire wanted to be the kind of adult, and parent, who people could count on to take responsibility for themselves.
Now, sitting in the dark, looking up in the night sky, Claire began to imagine she could see fireworks going off. She had never seen a firework show until she moved in with the Carsons. She just loved them, so intense, so beautiful; so noisy but a safe type of noisy. It wouldn’t be long. The 4th of July was almost here, and they had invited Shelly and her son, to watch the fireworks together in the park. Claire had shown Davy pictures of them and he was very excited. These would be his first firework display.
Claire had been reading a parenting magazine that talked about the way young children, versus older ones, might experience fireworks. They advised young children to be given clear explanations of what would happen, what was safe behavior around fireworks, what wasn’t. Claire knew that Davy was looking forward to the colors. He needed to understand that there would also be loud noise, smoke, and heavy crowds- things he didn’t like.
Claire had been easy on herself this week in her session with Dr. Berman. She had asked for an individual appointment this time so she could just focus on practicing her self-care strategies. She had explained to the Carsons that she was learning about prisons, and what Larry might or might not be like when he got out. She said it was tough to read and she just needed a brain break, to let herself remember all the great things she and Davy had to look forward to. She assured them she knew decisions about Larry would have to be made soon.
Claire realized she had to allow herself enough time to work through something that was such a big decision- the role of Larry in her and Davy’s lives. Fortunately, Larry wasn’t coming home tomorrow. She didn’t need to know today what decision to make; even though she wished she did. Claire had time to learn and reflect.
Is Claire doing the right thing giving herself a “brain break” or is she using “avoidance coping” by not talking with the Carsons and Dr. Berman about Larry this week?
Do you know anyone who might be unsure about the difference between avoiding making an important decision and recognizing you need to use self-care strategies when you were working on making a very tough one?:
If you think someone might be using “avoidance coping,” which spirals a person down to further problems, consider suggesting the reading below. This article also discusses some effective coping strategies.
If you think someone might value reading more about self-care strategies and how they can help, consider suggesting the reading below. It shows the goal of healthy self-care which is to allow for more effective decision making.