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Guest post by Judy Fiermonte

I was pulling my hair out. My daughter was 15 and in her room 99% of the time. I could not get her to talk to me, much less do anything with me. And I am a child and adolescent therapist! She ate only pasta, never exercised, called the out-of-doors a “foreign land” and never did any extra curricular activities at school. Yes, she had difficulties, but I was drowning in guilt, depression, and alienation from my friends with typical children. I didn’t know where to turn. Who could possibly understand what I was going through? My parents told me to go to Kaiser for meds….for me!

Then I met my friend Cynthia who has a child with autism and who is adopted from China. We started our own Mom’s group for US….Mom’s who are hurting, and sad, and isolated, racked with guilt about what they did or didn’t do, and Mom’s who needed to talk without being given advice or without being judged.

About 5 years later, Cynthia and I, both licensed therapists, decided to offer a group that could be like a sanctuary for these worn out, depressed, taxed to the max Moms who were suffering alone. What we offer is a place to reflect and share what it is like to raise a child with special needs…..what it is like for the Mom, as well as how it impacts their relationships with any other children they may have, how it impacts their marriages, and how it impacts their social relationships. But mostly it is about the Mom and Her soul, a place for her to reflect and gain some insight into who she is as a person, not just a mother.

I’d like this blog to be about that….the soul of us mothers who raise these children…..our hopes, our fears, our dark places, our light places.

One of our themes comes from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening: “Giving voice to what is inner is essential to surviving what is outer.” Another theme comes from Kristen Neff who wrote a book on Self Compassion. We hold ourselves with compassion and love, no matter what.

A way to get some resources internally for a troubling situation is to do a bit of writing, such as the following:

~ Describe in writing a safe place for you, real or imagined. Get it as detailed as possible.
~ Describe a nurturing person, either real or imagined.
~ Describe a protective figure or animal, real or imagined.
~ And finally describe a wise/spiritual person….real or imagined.

You can write about these, you can visualize them, you can collage them or paint them. And when you think of your troubling situation, you can use one or many of these resources to help you. Listen to them, observe them, see what they have to offer you.

Judy Fiermonte has been a Marriage and Family Therapist in Santa Rosa since 1980. She specializes in work with children and their families. Having had a child with special needs, she started a group with her colleague, Cynthia Hymowitz, for mothers of children with special needs, a group that has been ongoing for the past 3 years. She shares her experiences at blog momssoulsanctuary.blogspot.com.

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