My Trauma. My Triggers. My Children

Yevette Christy

December 15, 2023

Something that causes someone to feel upset and frightened because they are made to remember something harmful that has happened in the past: A trigger is something or someone that sets off a flashback, transporting the person back to the traumatic event.

Because of the title of this blog, I must first express that I am in no way blaming my children for triggering me. I understand triggers are not about others; those discomforting feelings that arise in me are reminders that my heart still needs time and attention. I could never blame my children for how the vicious cycles of my addiction, abuse, neglect, and familial trauma continues to impact them and circle back to me like a bloody chakram. As I observe them unpacking their trauma, I viscerally feel what my insanity deposited in them; there is this traumatic exchange of violent memories tracking between us that causes my old wounds to burst open–repeatedly. As young adults whose personalities and passions are emerging and who are encountering the world in new ways, I am seeing what I did to my children come back to torment them and haunt me. In the places where I once felt forgiven, I am now experiencing a different sense of guilt and shame. In the places where I once felt successful because I turned my life around, I now feel like a failure.

Long ago, new in my recovery, when my children were young and showing the symptoms of their trauma, I remember thinking that as I healed, my children would heal, and although I knew this to be true, I now know their pace will be uniquely their own. Once complex trauma is experienced, we are powerless to determine how those seeds will bear fruit in the lives of our children. As resilient as children are, their healing process cannot be timed, nor can we, as parents, control how and when our children begin to heal or what their ever-evolving version of healing will even look like. As mothers (parents) in recovery, we can do our best to address the harm we caused by asking for forgiveness, wrapping our children in clinical/therapeutic services, initiating age-appropriate conversations, intentionally creating space to nurture a relationship with God, fostering healthy community engagement, and loving them completely with healthy boundaries in place. Still, there will be variables out of our control, like DNA, the impact of family narratives, cultural influences, and the autonomy and agency of a child who eventually becomes an adult.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself, “What do I do? How do I stay present with my adult children, who are working through what I’ve done to them? When does appropriate support become enabling?” I don’t have all the answers, but I want to share what I’m learning…

  1. Remember, you are forgiven. I must admit that forgiveness for self has been difficult for me during this season, but I’m doing the work to remember and embody that I am forgiven. Forgiveness does not acquit me, but it liberates me to participate in my children’s healing journey–if I cannot forgive myself, I contaminate our ability to heal.
  2. Do not be offended. My adult children can now share their version of me and my addict behaviors, and it hurts, but I cannot turn away, and I must not be offended. I must own my past behaviors and not try to minimize what my children saw, felt, and heard.
  3. Find appropriate support. I shared my feelings with another mother, who immediately said, “All parents fail their children. You gotta stop blaming yourself.” Her response was not helpful to me; I failed my children for decades, to the extent that, as children, they were removed from my care for years. So please find a therapist, pastor, spiritual director, or trauma-informed friend to process this with; not all support is appropriate for what we carry.
  4. Remember your own season of questioning. My mother was the first to hand me drugs, and she was always down the hall sleeping while I was being sexually assaulted in my bedroom as a little girl, so it has helped me to remember my season of questioning her. By remembering my feelings and questions as a young adult, I can better understand what my children may need from me now. By remembering how my mother stayed present for the accusations and hard conversations, I am inspired to do the same for my children today. When we stay present, we heal our family and ensure that no family secrets remain to fracture generations to come.
  5. Don’t be afraid.  I have been both fearful and fatigued, feeling unequipped to handle this new level of reckoning and reconciliation, but life has taught me that fear turns pain into suffering when l ignore the symptoms. It is better to sit with this pain, process it responsibly, and wait for the virtues of grace and healing to flow. There is no dawn without the stillness of night, there is no spring without winter, and there is no transformation without surrender.

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5 comments on “My Trauma. My Triggers. My Children”

  1. Omg. I needed to read this! Thank you for your openness and transparency! I’ve dealt with this and STILL dealing with the guilt and shame… so I can definitely relate! This is powerful and I know this will help parents everywhere! May God continue to anoint you, your story, testimony and your vision! ♥️

  2. Every so often, a piece of writing comes along that not only touches the heart but also stirs the soul. Yevette Christy’s blog post, “My Trauma. My Triggers. My Children.” is a visceral and unflinchingly honest narrative that achieves just that. It’s a raw exploration of the impact of personal trauma on parenting and the subsequent ripple effects on the lives of children.

    Yevette’s courageous confrontation with her past—detailing the cyclical nature of abuse, addiction, and the legacy of trauma—reveals the complexities of forgiveness, shame, and recovery. Her profound insights into the longevity of emotional wounds and the intricate process of healing are both enlightening and deeply moving. Her voice powerfully echoes the thoughts many of us struggle to articulate—reflecting the dual struggle of grappling with one’s own past while trying to chart a better course for the next generation.

    What’s truly remarkable about this post is the balance Yevette strikes between acknowledging the pain she’s both experienced and caused, and her unwavering commitment to doing the work—for herself and her children. The nuanced understanding that one’s healing journey doesn’t necessarily align with another’s, despite the shared trauma, is a poignant reminder of the individuality of recovery.

    As Yevette bravely shares her journey, she also offers wisdom filled with practical advice for others in similar situations. Her tips on finding the right support, remembering forgiveness, and the importance of being present for difficult conversations are invaluable tools on the path to generational healing.

    This post isn’t just a blog; it’s a lifeline for those who are navigating the treacherous waters of reconciling their traumatic past with their present role as a parent. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a poignant illustration of the idea that, indeed, there is no dawn without the stillness of night.

    If you’ve ever faced the challenge of breaking free from the chains of your past to build a brighter future for your children, Yevette’s story is a must-read. It will leave you with a heavy heart, but also a renewed sense of hope, determination, and the belief that healing is an ever-evolving journey worth taking.

    1. WOW. Thank you for holding space for me so deeply. I love you and appreciate your presence in my life.

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