Wednesday, April 06, 2011

SPACE blew my mind

(this picture was taken just as I was about to get on the TRAIN train ... not the "L" - it also may or may not be just before I lost Billy Kaplan's borrowed umbrella on my very first leg of my afternoon of sight-seeing in Chicago ... LO-SER!)

I have no idea what to say about this weekend.

I mean, I have so very much to say, but I don’t know where to start and I really don’t know that I could capture all that it was for me. There is no way. I will write about it, and those who were there will completely understand, yet I will never truly convey to the rest of you how it all played out, and how important the experience was for all of us (even though we all left with different things that made the greatest impact on us).

I went into the conference very excited. It was a conference for parents! You're surprised, right? Because I haven't said that 4,982 times already. I knew there would be plenty of value in it. I knew there would be quality information shared. I knew parents would be refreshed and leave feeling more hopeful. I did not know the level of intimacy it would take on. THAT took me by surprise.

After all the stalking vetting I had done with HCC, I also felt some pressure to ... well, to not suck! I knew what they DID was amazing, but I had no idea just how much one practice could be stacked with so many amazing therapists and support staff. Sure, they are wonderful at therapeutic techniques, but by “amazing,” I mean fun and engaging and the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. They have a powerful and distinct energy. I was thrilled as the introductions slowly happened, but I also thought, “I really hope they’re not disappointed in what I’m bringing to the weekend.” I knew how hard they had worked to put it all together. I wanted to add to it in a way which maybe made their lives a little easier - filled a gap. This was very important to me. I have nothing but the utmost respect, not just for what they do in practice, but truly who they are as people.

Over the past couple of weeks I had also managed to bully encourage several people who read my blog to attend. Parents ... oh my cow, I could hang out with other parents of trauma all. day. long. They are my peeps. My tribe. Even if they don’t find me funny, and my hair creeps them out, we still all have common ground, and PLENTY to talk about.

(these two gals, OH MY HOOCH, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, they had me at "hello" - they are so special and had the hearts of everyone who met them - I LOVE THE M & M!)

It gave new meaning to the word "humbled." When you know one lady flew from out of state to come because you encouraged it, this other person drove 10 hours, another mom bowed out of a church obligation to be there and strengthen her parenting, and on and on and on, you start to feel the truth in those journeys. I know what it takes to make a trip happen in my home. I know the payback that will come after. I know the details and the laundry and the shopping and the packing and, and, and ... There were plenty of local people, but there were also people who knew about it and came because I was there.

I felt that.

I felt it very, very deeply.

More than that, I can't believe I am now able to have them all as friends! I won't even dare to try to list them all, because I will surely leave someone off. They may have heard about the conference through me, but I'm just a mom who is muddling through like they are. I'm a person who covers up her insecurities with humor and happens to enjoy writing. I'm no different than anyone else. I suck and succeed and rock at it and blow it. This weekend, I met new friends who inspired me and I plan to harass on a regular basis (I have your cell phone numbers, ladies ... mwah-ha-ha-ha!).

(after two years of talking online and on the phone, it was about stinkin' time that Hannah and I finally wrapped our arms around each other, and yes - she is just as sweet and delightful in person!)

I posted a while back on the inclusion of an improv group as a part of the first day. Again, it seemed like a great idea. It sounded fun. Perhaps we would even all chuckle a little bit. What none of us were expecting was just how much we would connect during that time and go into lunch already feeling a sense of community.

(this is Lindsay, who I have just connected with recently, but am now locked to forever - go read her and give her some lovin')

There were plenty of dads there this weekend. My LANDS, I thought mothers of trauma touched my heart, but these dads blew me away. I have the world’s most amazing husband. I don’t say that lightly. When it comes to what our home needs to function at its strongest, he is “it.” He. is. amazing. I met so many “Michael’s” in that room. I met men who still struggle with some parts of all of this, but they made the effort to be there, too. They were changing themselves so they could facilitate healing for their kids. They don’t approach therapeutic parenting like the mom’s do. They each had their own “style,” and they were willing to try and to learn. As I sat, sipping coffee, 1200 miles from home ... I realized I had not worried for a second about what was going on back in the double wide. I knew my husband was on it. I knew what a gift these men were to their wives. My smile was so big it hurt.

(love these two guys, and they were not annoyed at ALL that I kept taking their picture during this exercise and making gay bar references ... nope, they found me HILARIOUS!)

By the end of the first night, when I stood up to share my own story, I felt completely and totally connected to every single person in that room. More than anything, I just wanted them to feel loved and valued and grieved for and encouraged. I wanted them to not feel like they were drowning, if for just a few moments. I wanted to cover their hearts with a balm of laughter and tears.

Finally, last and anything but least, I had the honor and privilege of confirming that Billy Kaplan is, indeed, a truly amazing person. I'm still not sure why more people have not heard of him (as in, why hasn't EVERYONE heard of him?). I had no idea that I had a Jewish fraternal twin separated from me at birth, but apparently such a thing is possible.

No, really.

He has that spark and ability to truly connect with parents. He challenges without making them feel attacked (which is next-to-impossible to do when dealing with such hurting and pummeled adults). I listened to the man speak all weekend, and not ONCE did he piss me off by saying anything that put me on the defensive. Yet, he's also painfully human (admits it and celebrates it). So, if he were to have a slip of the tongue, he would fix it. I know a lot of you really struggle with therapists who have never actually parented trauma. Rest assured, there are some out there who "get it" and work hard to always be what you need. I found the crown jewel.

He also has the patience of Job, as I cornered him every chance I got and picked his brain about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I'm still a little terrified that I'll receive a bill in the mail in a few weeks. I may have taken advantage of this a lot bit. Thankfully, he also knows I will pee on his bill and send it right back (I have no problem talking smack, seeing how he RARELY reads my blog - obviously his greatest flaw).

Speaking of pee! Billy plays the baritone ukulele and has an amazing voice. He accompanied me on the Pee Song Saturday night. Oh yeah, he did! Only in a room full of parents of trauma would that happen and I overhear a woman refer to it as "dreamy!" HA! I'm telling you - my brother from another mother!

My children have already looked at me several times and asked, "Did you learn that in Chicago?" Perhaps it is because my approach has been refreshed, or simply for the fact that such a refresher has kept my head from spinning around and flames shooting out of my nostrils. In fact, I sat down with my oldest two this morning, and walked them through how to be curious with one another when they are working through a problem, and they did it!

(YEA! Mom's home!)

I think the staff at House Calls Counseling is currently in the middle of a two week nap, as they should be. Eventually, however, they are going to create some podcasts or videos/audio of the conference and make them available. You will know as soon as I do. In the meantime, mark your calendars for next Spring. I'll be there again ... hail, wind or high water.

Worth. your. time. money. effort. and payback.


Heidi said...

Thankyouthankyouthankyou so much for telling us about this conference. Receiving your encouragement - meeting amazing parents - learning from everyone - It was a huge boost. Super grateful to you for everything!


p.s. I had my first funeral yesterday. More to come :) said...

so glad that you were able to connect with so many other great parents who are doing the hard work it takes to help our kids heal. have a great week!

Kerrie said...

Ok, for SURE going next year. Is there a date yet? I'm going to snag my child care now.

Unknown said...

Oh, Heidi, our time was too short. WAY TOO SHORT.

But thank you for seeking me out. I have also had to have yet another (of my millions) funeral since I've been home.

Are we FaceBook friends? If not, would you friend me, pretty please?

Rachie317 said...

Ok, I'd heard about House Calls before - but after this rave review, I need to get to know them better!

Still bummed I didn't get to meet you this weekend - maybe next time!

Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

I just LOVE the picture of you and the kids…classic!

Annie said...

Thanks for saying everything I am now too exhausted and traumatized to say on my own blog. (Payback fever.) Anyway, it was splendid; YOU were splendid. My husband kept saying "This needs to be a week! This needs to be a week!" He's right, but I doubt most of us could pull that off.

The opening was amazing; the playing was delightful; I could not believe how giving the staff was. I almost want to weep when I think of it, thinking how I've struggles here to find ANYONE to give us any help at all... But - they took SUCH GOOD CARE of us.....

I think I chose all the wrong sessions, so I want to replay the weekend, but all that I did glean, strategy and info-wise, was splendid. SPLENDID!

But, I also realized - I could tell stories about my kids and life WITHOUT LEAVING PARTS OUT. It was amazing.

Seven From Heaven said...

Christine, I cried as I read this. So sorry I missed it.

Hannah_Rae said...

Wow. Thank you. The end. :)

I can't wait for next year's conference, but I CAN wait for next year's backlash. Ick!



Ericka said...

The kid's faces are priceless!!!!

Can't wait to hear about the funerals....I have a feeling this will become part of our 'normal' 'daily' 'talk'.


Mary said...

The whole thing was a precious gift. Worth.Every.Penny. (and we don't have many to spare!!) I'm really hoping that David will be able to go with me next year.
I've been looking for those "sparks of hoiness" and finding a few here and there. :)

robyncalgary said...

im interested in hearing more about 'being curious' through a problem? so great you and many others had a fun informative community time!

Billy said...

You, and everyone who was there and commented, bring me to tears. Thank you all. It means so much to me to read about the impact the conference had. We had this wide-eyed dream... And how amazing that you all found it helpful, challenging, and fun.

Sarah said...

Wow. I wish I had been there.