Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Self Care for Caregivers of Trauma Victims

Attended a workshop/retreat for advocates on Monday wherein the author of TRAUMA STEWARDSHIP: AN EVERYDAY GUIDE TO CARING FOR SELF WHILE CARING FOR OTHERS, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, not only gave a talk/discussion from her book, but also provided us with a copy of her book.

She speaks to the feeling of a caregiver/advocate not feeling that they can ever do enough, which can easily apply to friends/family members:

"The belief that 'I am not doing enough and I should be doing more' is widespread and often a powerful influence on our lives. As children, what messages did we receive about sustainability and lengevity? Did we get the word that "It's a long road - take good care of yourself, prioritize your health and your well-being'? Or did the repeated messages lead us to internalize the oppressive lesson that 'No matter what you do aor how you do it, it won't be enough'?

Nobody is immune from circumstances that instill a sense of inadequacy. Almost everyone has had to withstand negative teachings to some degree. At the same time, certain people are likely to receive these lessons more often and in more ways than others. Many of us are members of one or more social groups for which the oppressive messages are continually reinforced.

We can view this notion of scarcity and 'not enough-ness' from a larger framework of systematic oppression. Oppression is most commonly felt and expressed as a widespread, if unconscious, belief that a certain group of people are inferior. We often attribute such bias to individuals. But when such feelings as racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism are codified into law or integrated into the functioning of social systems, this become systematic oppresion.

. . .

A particularly powerful component of internalized oppression arises when victims come to believe in a notion of scarcity. They oppressor creates a climate in which people fear there is not enough room for everyone, and so they begin a desperate attempt to conform to the oppressor's ideals in order to survive. This can happen on an individual, group, community, or even societal level. People accept the negative stereotypes that say they are not good enough, and they begin to strive, largely unconsciously, toward a rigid idea of what my be acceptable. They may also attempt to impose their externally derived standards of right and wrong on other members of their communities, often quite harshly. Within targeted communities, this dynamic can contribute to pervasive and brutal strife. On an individual level, it creates people who are never able to feel that who they are is enough. These people may seek protection by striving for the trappings of an idealized life in which they might someday measure up as 'enough'. This looks different for everyone throughout the world, and yet at the risk of overgeneralizing, we can see some persistent themes." (pages 59-61)

Inside her book, she gives ideas of overcoming this feeling; after all, taking care of others begin with taking care of oneself!

If you, or someone you know is being abused by his/her intimate partner, please call (or have them call) 1-800-799-SAFE.

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