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No Behavior is Maladaptive

February 21, 2020

There is no such thing as maladaptive.

No. Behavior. Is. Maladaptive.

Sure, there are LOTS of behaviors that have pretty big negative consequences…for ourselves and others.

But the way the human mind is so brilliantly working all the time leaves me with an unwillingness to negotiate the truth that all behavior is adaptive.

11 Million Bits of Data

In every moment, our bodies, brains, minds, and nervous system is taking in 11 million bits of information.  11 million!!!  Obviously, the very vast majority of this information is being taken in and processed without any awareness or conscious attention, right?  Imagine driving for a moment.  How much information is your brain constantly processing that’s allowing you to get safely down the road?  More than we could even speak to.  And thank goodness it’s done unconsciously or really…we wouldn’t be able to drive. 

So our brilliant brains are taking in 11 million bits of information every moment but only somewhere between 12 and 50 bits of information are we able to CONSCIOUSLY pay attention to!!! (Process explicitly).  The very very very vast majority of information coming into our senses is processed completely outside our awareness.

Neuroception- Knowing without Knowing

Then there’s amazing phenomenon called ‘neuroception.’  Neuroception is the idea that we are processing these 11 million bits of data unconsciously in every moment…and part of what we are doing with that data is determining if we are safe…or not.  It knows this without us even KNOWING it knows this.

In fact, our brains are doing this constantly.  At least four times every second.

It’s almost impossible to wrap our heads around ¼ of a second OR 11 million bits of data.

The brain is astounding.

Bringing Together Then & Now

Then our amazing brains blends the information that it is processing RIGHT EXACTLY NOW with all the information it has store in our memory networks.  Which is…A LOT of information.  Those two streams of information (then and now) merge together like two rivers merging together to create our conscious experience of NOW.  But see…it’s not only based on NOW info. 

Our brains are beautifully anticipatory machines…designed to guess what’s about to happen and how we should respond.  And yup…it makes that guess based on those two streams flowering together…then and now.

And our brain is absolutely 100% only interested in what is best for us.  Period.  End of story.

If we are safe, what is best for us is relational connection.  Because we are human and that’s just how it goes.

If we are NOT safe, what is best for us is protection from danger.

BUT REMEMBER!!!  We aren’t making the decision of safe or not safe based only on objective information that is happening right now.  There is a lot of ‘past’ that is influencing that decision.

This is true for all humans.  The past is always invading the present.  Thank goodness or I would have no idea how to even use the machine with buttons with letters to write this all out- let alone use it with any speed and efficiency that allows a little bit of ease in my life.

Integrated memories allow the past to flow gently into the present so I can ‘do something’ (behave) in a way that works, makes sense, and continues to meet my goals (staying alive, staying in relationship, etc. etc.). 

The dam of the past

Memories that aren’t integrated…often due to emotional overwhelm at the time of the experience….don’t flow gently into the stream of now.  They crash into the stream like a dam has been released, overflowing and overtaking…now our past becomes the majority of our now.

This obviously impacts the way our brain determines if I’m safe or not.  If my river is flooded with past unsafe, and that is a huge part of what is creating my experience of now, my behaviors are based on the past…on being unsafe.

We are ALWAYS trying to be safe.  We are ALWAYS trying to find our way back to connection.  ALWAYS.

But if my experience of NOW is overly impacted by my experience of THEN, it’s highly likely I’m going to behave in ways that don’t really reflect OTHER’S experience of NOW.

This will make it LOOK like I’m behaving bad, inappropriate or unsafe.  Even controlling or manipulative.  Overreacting.  Histrionic.  UNDERreacting.  This may be easy to label self-sabotage.  In extreme circumstances we start to label these behaviors as personality or character deficits. 

The behavior CERTAINLY LOOKS MALADAPTIVE.

But the brain just doesn’t work that way.  The brain doesn’t do maladaptive.  The brain takes then and now, mashes it together, and then does something next based solely on what it believes is best given how the then and now flow together.

Why is it helpful to consider that no behavior is maladaptive??

Well it certainly isn’t so we take pity on the person behaving badly and loosen our boundaries, allowing them to just keep behaving badly.  That just increases our resentment and does nothing to help their brain more accurately bring together the then and now.

It’s helpful to consider that no behavior is maladaptive because it changes how we look at that person.

It brings us to a place of compassion and understanding.  We depersonalize their behavior.  We don’t making sweeping character judgments. 

Every single one of us comes to know who we are by the mirror that is reflected to us through the eyes of the other.

So what would happen if people behaving badly had strong boundaries set with loving eyes.  With eyes that communicated that they were doing the best they can.  With eyes that expressed compassion at how the past is a tsunami on their now.

Sweet ones…this isn’t even about trauma.  This is about HUMANS.  We are ALL always behaving in ways that we believe are best in the moment based on how our past and our now come together. 

Oh yeah another reason it’s helpful??

When we understand that this is about how the brain is working, we can consider ways to help the brain work better.  To slow the tsunami.  To close up the dam.  To help the rivers of then and now meet gently, connecting in harmony to create something that has never been created before. 

And while there are lots of ways to support this gentle connection of then and now, you know what the BEST way is???

Compassion.

No, really.

Compassion is the energy that is needed to slow the tsunami. 

And eventually when a struggling person receives enough compassion (WITH BOUNDARIES) they begin to develop self-compassion.

And self-compassion is EXACTLY the energy that is needed to bring the then and the now together more slowly…allowing the then to inform the now but without knocking it on it’s keister and destroying everything in it’s path.

Rapidly flowing water has the power to destroy everything in it’s past.  But all it’s try to do is be water.

We become what we see reflected back to us.

See behaviors as what they are…the result of two rivers coming together in the best way the person knows how. 

The compassion will help the river slow down…

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

A Lie Detector Test…my hubby…and my parent's kitchen table (a new webinar on lying)

February 10, 2020

A very very very long time ago…when I was 18…my dad (a lieutenant with the county police department) became a lie detector operator.

In fact, he had to live in Austin, TX for a summer to get trained.  Who knew I’d end up living there for 15 years myself?!

So my dad becomes an expert on lies (which honestly, when your dad is cop, you really don’t ever try to lie anyway.  Even before his fancy training and machines, he was like some sort of mind-reader when it came to lies) and then one day he hooked up my husband.

At my parent’s kitchen table.

Before my husband was my husband.

He passed.  And even still agreed to get married 🙂  And my dad and my hubby are swell friends.

Lying as a Trauma Driven Behavior….Webinar

Lying is SUCH a crazy-making behavior.  It feels rude and disrespectful.  It feels outrageous.  At times it feels just plain RIDICULOUS as the lie is so obvious.  It can feel confusing…something wondering why on earth our kids would even lie about this silly inane thing.

This Wednesday February 12, you can join me for a 90 minute webinar all about Lying as a Trauma Driven Behavior.  Because even though all kids (ahem…all HUMANS…me and you too….) lie sometimes, the lying that we encounter with our kids who have experienced trauma is sometimes extremely head scratching.  And aggravating.  Even infuriating.

As always, webinars are only $19 AND everyone who registers receives lifetime and unlimited access to the recording so you do NOT have to attend live.  You can listen over and over and over again…always a nice feature when you need a little extra dose of understanding and compassion for our children’s maddening behaviors 😉

All the details and registration is available by CLICKING HERE.  Really.  I’m not lying. ~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

All Of You…Come…

January 29, 2020

What if I told you all of you was welcome?  I wanted to see…and know…every single part of you.

The parts you loved yourself.  The parts you were proud of.  The parts that bring you delight.

But especially the parts you try to hide away.

The parts you believe are bad.

The parts you believe maybe even hurt other people.

The part of you that believes that the parts that should be hidden away are your true self.

What if I said please come?  Bring all of you?

And what if I just waited.

You don’t have to come.  But when you do, I’ll be here.

I’ll welcome all of you.

I will say thank you to all your parts.  Thank you for your hard hard work.  Thank you for doing what you thought was needed to stay safe.  Thank you for doing exactly what you believed was needed.

Thank you.

And if all your parts want to stay, they are welcome to stay.

And if any of your parts are ready for break…and are willing to let your true self step forward and risk being loved for exactly all your perfectly imperfectness….then I will rock your tired parts, whisper my gratitude, admire their bravery, and invite them to rest.

What if I told you all of you is welcome? And what if you believed it?

 

~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

WEBINAR~ Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain

January 12, 2020

Understanding the developing brain will change the world.  It really will.  When we understand how the brain develops in relationship and NEEDS relationship…when we understand the role of co-regulation and felt-safety…our beliefs about behavior and how we can support behavior change will complete flip on their head.

Understanding the impact of toxic stress on the developing brain?  Now THAT will REALLY change the world.

No brain develops in ideal conditions.  Many of us get ‘good enough’ conditions and our brain develops pretty optimally. But so many of us (up to 2/3 of the population!) have experienced at least some level of toxic stress in their childhood, which impacts their developing brain, their regulation, their felt-safety…all which impacts behavior!

You see…behavior is simply an externalization of inner experience.

Are you ready to be a part of this world-changing paradigm shift?

We need everyone- teachers, doctors, lawyers, case workers, daycare workers, sports coaches, parents, foster parents, therapists EVERYONE to understand behavior in the context of the brain AND the impact of toxic stress on the brain.

This 90-minute webinar will just be an introduction.  Enough science to convince you that regulated, connected, kids who feel safe behave well.  Enough science to help you understand how toxic stress impacts the brain and behaviors.  A few ideas about what to do to help support someone impacted by toxic stress.  Of course, this webinar is only 90 minutes so we will only go so deep 🙂

Maybe you already KNOW the impact of toxic stress on the brain.  YAY!!  You can support the movement by sharing about this webinar.  Let’s get all the teachers, all the daycare workers, all the case workers…everyone we can THINK of…to join our movement!!!

The webinar airs Wednesday at 12pm eastern time.  BE SURE YOU DO THE TIME ZONE ADJUSTMENT 🙂

It’s only 90 minutes!!

If you can’t make it live, you’ll still want to register NOW as registration will close on Wednesday after the webinar concludes. EVERYONE who registers will receive lifetime and unlimited access to the recording- you do NOT have to attend live!

Sound good?  YES, yes it does 🙂  I can’t wait to see you there!!!  CLICK HERE for all the details and registration!

Robyn

~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

NEXT WEBINAR: Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain ~ January 15, 2020

Regulated Connected Kids who Feel Safe Behave Well

January 9, 2020

No, really, they do. (We MAY have to adjust our definition of ‘behave well’ because we often have very inappropriate expectations for behaviors…but anyway….)

Let’s break this down.

Regulation.

Without going into the theory of regulation and all the nitty gritty that makes me confident to make such a strong statement (that would take longer than a blog post), regulation is about keeping the accelerator and the brakes of arousal in balance (Dan Siegel, Parenting from the Inside Out).  When we are regulated, we are mindful of ourselves and others.  Our brain is engaged at the level that is expected given our development (meaning, the regulation and engagement of higher level thinking of a three-year-old is quite different than a 16-year-old).  We can see multiple options, don’t feel rigid or controlling.  IPNB might say we are Flexible, Adaptive, Coherent, Energetic, and Stable.  We are connected to ourselves and to others.  We are NOT in a state of neuroceiving danger- we are experiencing safety and connection from the environment, from the people we are with, and from ourselves.  Dysregulation doesn’t HAVE to look out of control.  It could – but dysregulation exists on a continuum and could look, on the outside, quite calm.

 

Connected.

As human beings we are absolutely positively designed and created to be in connection with others.  Our mind, brain, and body literally develops inside the context of relationship.  The vental vagus nerve…the nerve that eventually allows for what many people refer to as self-regulation, the part of the autonomic nervous system that allows us to rest into connection and social engagement…is literally myelinated (it develops, works better, faster, etc.) INSIDE the coregulated relationship.  Social Baseline Theory tells us that connection is our BASELINE.  When conditions are right, our baseline, our default, is to seek and be available for connection.

 

Felt Safety.

WAAAAAY below conscious awareness our brain is determining our level of safety.  This is subjective because below conscious awareness means without cognitive thought.  Neuroception is the term used to describe this process- and Deb Dana eloquently states that our unconscious system is searching “inside, outside, and inbetween” to determine if we are safe.  Inside means we scanning the felt-safety of our internal system.  Outside means we are scanning for cues of safety in the environment.  Inbetween means we are scanning for cues of safety in the relationship and the person we are with.  If we are safe, our system is open and available for connection.  Remember- it’s the baseline.  If we are not safe (again, this is subjective) our brain switches into a defensive stance- fight/flight/freeze/collapse is initiated (mild to severe…it could just be an on-alert orienting or it could be full blow aggression or dissociation).  Defensive strategies prioritize protection NOT connection (though we are looking for ways to find connection, still, because connection is one thing that brings about safety).  Oftentimes we think mostly about obvious cues of danger when thinking about safety and can feel frustrated with a child’s defensive behaviors because “NOTHING IS UNSAFE!!!”  But we must remember that this is subjective and the child is scanning the environment, their inner experience and YOU- the person they are with.

An important cue of safety is that the person I am with is regulated- THEY are not in fight/flight/freeze/collapse.  THAT person is neuroceiving safety.  If the person I’m with is neuroceiving danger, in a defensive state, or even in the most mild state of fight/flight/freeze/collapse, the child is unable to get a cue of safety from that person and the lose felt safety.

This is tricky because when children are acting ‘badly’, we as adult often flip into a defensive state.  We get controlling, annoying, irritated, angry, etc.  Now we have lost one important pathway of helping the child come back into connection and regulation- our own felt-safety.

 

If a child is behaving in a way that is NOT inviting connection (aggressive, manipulative, under-achieving, back-talk, ignoring, lying, stealing, controlling, lazy….any of the words we use to describe behavior we don’t like) then that child’s nervous system is either NOT regulated, NOT connected to themselves or other, and /or NOT safe (one, two, or all three of these…sometimes it’s hard to isolate them).

 

Period.

 

When we are regulated, connected, and feeling safe we are designed to be in connection, in relationship, and our best selves.

 

Sometimes we have competing inner-parts- a part that feels safe and a part that doesn’t….or we have secondary experiences (meaning…sometimes connection can bring about regulation and felt-safety but then immediately becomes a cue of danger and causes a child to LOSE regulation and felt-safety because of their previous experiences in an unsafe attachment relationship)….

But that’s an article for another day 🙂

Regulated, Connected Kids who Feel Safe Behave well is true about all kids, all humans.  It has nothing to do with trauma. Kid with a trauma history have more vulnerabilities to neuroceiving a lack of safety.  Their systems are developmentally delayed with regulation (because regulation is cultivating in secure attachment) and their experiences with connection have been frightening or dangerous.  But the idea that regulated connected people who feel safe behave well is universally true of all humans.  Beyond Trauma Informed, we are moving into an era of being Human Informed.

~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

NEXT WEBINAR: Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain ~ January 15, 2020

X-Ray Vision Parenting

January 7, 2020

Behavior is simply the externalization of internal experience.

What we SEE on the outside is only a clue to what is happening on the inside.

Facial expressions.  Hand gestures.  Big and small.

HUGE behavior like tantrums, throwing, biting.

EVERYTHING we DO is simply an externalization of what’s happening internally.

 

 

With this in mind…do we really want to spend the majority of our energy changing the EXPRESSION of internal experience???

Or do we want to help change the internal experience so the behavior naturally changes?

 

 

To be honest, there is a time and a place to focus only on the behavior.  This has to do with where you are, who is in charge, how old the child is, how dangerous the behavior is, and how capable the child is to use thinking-based coping skills to stop the behavior that just isn’t working for the situation.

But even in the times when that is true, do we REALLY want to just stop there??  Is it enough to stop the behavior in the moment?  Or do we want to keep using our x-ray vision goggles, see through the behavior to whatever is happening internally, and try to change that too???

 

 

Regulated, connected kids who feel safe (and know what to do) behave well.  This is the entire premise of my work with children and families.  It’s the entire premise of my belief about humanity- those who have experienced toxic stress AND those who haven’t (and really….most of us have.  Research shows that between 45 and 67% of the population has experienced at least ONE Adverse Childhood Experience).

 

 

I’m often asked…”OK, I understand the brain and the impact of toxic stress, but I still don’t know what to DO!  Please tell me!!”

In a way, I get why that’s the next question.  NO ONE comes into parenting knowing what to do with some of the confusing, baffling, and bizarre behaviors that we sometimes see in children impacted by toxic stress and developmental trauma.

But I still invite you to marinate on what you’ve learned about the impact of toxic stress.  How it’s impacted your child’s sense of felt safety, regulation, and ability to connect.  What you consider those things, often times the ‘What do I do!!!” becomes more clear.

What is hard is that when WE get dysregulated, we want a quick fix.  We want something that will STOP an undesired behavior in it’s tracks.

I get it.  It’s just that it rarely works that way.  Quick fixes that stop behaviors in the moment usually involve fear and power.  Again…this might be necessary depending on the severity and danger of the behavior…but this is not a long term solution.

Building connection, regulation, and felt-safety takes a lot of time.  A lot of investment OUTSIDE moments of dysregulation.

Stopping bad behavior in the moment of dysregulation is actually the LEASDT important part of the journey.

But I do understand why it feels like the MOST important part.

Put on your x-ray vision goggles.  See THROUGH the behavior and be curious about your child’s internal experience.

Increase connection.  Increase regulation.   Increase felt-safety.

Assume that Regulated, Connected Kids (people!!!) who feel safe (and know what to do!) behave well.

And see what shifts for you…and how you may intuitively know what to do!!!…when you truly embrace that belief.

~Robyn

Do you feel like you could use a refresher in the impact of toxic stress on the brain?  Intrigued by the idea that regulated, connected kids who feel safe behave well?  Or do you know someone who could use an introduction to the impact of toxic stress on the developing brain??  Next Wednesday January 15 I’m offering “Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain” an online webinar that will provide an introduction to these concepts and offer a few ideas on how to increase connection, regulation, and felt safety.

 

~

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Like what you read here? To get even more support, click here to sign up for my newsletter! I try to send it out monthly. Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I don’t 🙂

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

NEXT WEBINAR: Toxic Stress & the Developing Brain ~ January 15, 2020

A Decade In Review…

January 6, 2020

When the ball dropped at the top of 2010, I was simultaneously dropping into a life that was being flipped on it’s head.

12/31/2009 was the last day my husband was employed by a company that provided a salary, commission, and health benefits.

He was sick…really sick…with an autoimmune disorder.  It seemed as though the stress of his job was slowly inflaming his colon until he began to…quite literally…waste away.  Combined with the reality that the job that seemed to be slowly killing him from the inside out was about to relocate across the country, we decided we’d had enough.

So he quit.

“I love my job!” I said. “I’ll work full-time!” I said.

So I did.

And just like that, we became a self-employed, family of three with a chronic autoimmune disorder that left my husband uninsurable.  Thank goodness for COBRA.

If I’m nothing else, I’m tenacious.  The tenacity (and a stay-at-home-husband) helped me build what has evolved into a successful business.  Financially successful, soul-filling successful, life-giving successful.  In the past ten years, I nurtured a private therapy practice that bloomed into a speaking, training, and hopefully in the very near future, writing career.  Oh how I loved being a therapist.  My clients.  My colleagues.  Austin was a dream city to be a psychotherapist.  What a good, good life.

Being in a female-dominated field, I’m regularly asked how I balance mom-ing and work-ing.  The truth is…I don’t.  In the past decade, I grew a successful business because my husband did literally everything else.  Paid the bills. Grocery shopped. Cooked.  Field trips. Doctor appointments.  Fixed our cars. The outside maintenance on our 5 aces.  All the mental-load of a stay-at-home parent-  and more.  Because he also did ALL the tech support in my business.  PC Load Letter?!?!  Just ask husband.  It got fixed instantly.  You know…I’ve NEVER paid for tech help?  And we rarely pay for car maintenance.  My point?  He does everything.

In the past decade, my husband (and subsequently our family) became intimately intertwined with a youth performing arts organization that changed our lives…for good.  This was a stressful gig that was off-set by fun and loving relationships.  A sense of belonging.  Making music with friends.

And then one day, that went away.  Which was traumatic for my husband (and subsequently our family).  He is still recovering from the loss.

In the past decade, my son went from 3 (at the turn of the decade) to 13!!!!  His feet are bigger than mine, and definitely hairier.  He start kindergarten in our little town, then we transferred him to the sweetest part-time school in Austin…which still remains one of our best parenting decisions.  Ultimately we outgrew the school and he transferred to a bigger yet still non-traditional and project-based school for 5th and 6th grade.  We (and by we…I mean my husband) homeschooled him for 7th grade.

Sometime in late 2017, I turned to my husband and announced “I don’t want to die here.”  That’s a true story.  I really said that.  We moved to Austin in 2004 for the job he quit at the end of 2009.  I then grew a very successful business and for a long time, the idea that we could ever relocate seemed impossible.  I could never leave my practice and continue to support my family.  We were stuck.

But suddenly, I knew we had to.  High school for my son was looming on a not-too-distant horizon and I really wanted to live in a community where he could go to public school.  So moving was definitely going to have to happen.  We investigated moving around Austin…always extremely disappointed by our options.  Too expensive.  Too HOT.

And then I realized…we do not have to stay here.  We have no ties here except my business.  I had to figure it out.

I started growing my speaking and training business so it could sustain us through a move.   We investigated multiple new places to land….Denver, Colorado Springs, SLC…and though never seriously in the running because my husband was dead set against it…Portland (too dreary).

Every single one of those places was more of the same.  Too expensive.  Too crowded.  We could be moving from the fastest growing city in the country (Austin) to the next fastest growing (Denver, or Colorado Springs, or SLC).  The cost of living in all those places was outrageous.  And my business wasn’t quite to the point where we could live rurally, three hours away from an airport.  One day, but not quite yet.

On January 5, 2019, we were in west Michigan visiting my family for the holidays.  It was almost 3pm.  My husband, kid, and I pulled into the grocery store where I had my very first job as a bagger.  While making the slow turn into a parking space, my husband and I looked right at each other and without speaking, we knew exactly what the other was thinking.  There was no one here!!!!  It was 3pm on a Saturday and there were literally three cars in the parking lot.  This is not a rural grocery store- it is a normal grocery store in a normal suburb of a city of about 200,000.

We walked the aisles of the grocery store, almost giddy.  It was like an unspoken game of hide and seek. Where are all the people?!  Are the other shoppers hiding behind that display of Diet Pepsi?!  Where WAS everyone?!

A few days earlier, a friend of mine from childhood had posted a link to a Zillow listing for a home she had been involved in remodeling in West Michigan.  It was gorgeous.  Huge. On five acres.  Updated.  Modern.  Beautiful.

And it was in our price range!!

I didn’t think much more about it at the time except “Wow…who knew my friend could tile bathrooms?!”

But now…that tiled bathroom in the gorgeous modern farmhouse on five acres in our price range…and a grocery store with three cars in the parking lot on a Saturday afternoon?

Texas friends…HEB is just about the only thing I miss about Texas.  It is a DREAM grocery store.  BUT.  Can you imagine three people shopping there?!?!?!  Y’all…HEB is like going to the mall on Christmas Eve…every. single. day.

So we didn’t buy that farm house (it sold long before we were actually in the position to make an offer on a house) and although I don’t remember the exact address, I’m certain it’s quite close to the house we DID buy.

We went home to Texas a few days after we had the epiphany in the ghost-town grocery store, giggling to ourselves “Are we REALLY thinking about moving HOME?!?!?!”  We thought it might be best to sit on it for a few days.

On January 12, exactly one week after the grocery store incident in Michigan, my husband started demo on our house.  Some time that month (ugh I can’t remember the exact date!!) my husband flew to Michigan, looked at a property, made an offer, and THANK GOODNESS the owners of the home were unreasonable and wouldn’t negotiate because when I finally saw the house in March I HATED it.

The first week of February, when I finally came to terms with the reality that this was REALLY happening, I told my clients.  It was devastating.

In March, over Spring Break, we did a whirl-wind house shopping spree, initially disappointed and feeling like maybe what we wanted didn’t really exist here.  But then I stumbled upon our house- it had been on the market for two days.  Went to a VERY busy open house, decided within minutes that we must make an offer, made an offer for a LOT over the asking process- knowing that the seller would likely receive several offers that day, had our offer accepted (they did indeed receive several offers- one other in the running with ours but ultimately…we won), and found ourselves in front of a lender in Grand Rapids, MI…all in less than 24 hours.

We flew BACK to Texas, put our house on the market, and spent the next 17 days realizing that selling your biggest financial asset with a realtor who truly made me wonder if we were witnessing the onset of dementia (or just a truck-load of incompetence) is probably the most stressful thing anyone could do.

Now it’s April and we have to be out in FOUR WEEKS.

My dear husband and son moved to Michigan in early May and I joined them at the end of June, staying with a saint of a friend (my freshman year of college roomie!!!), her hubby (whom I’d never met) and their two cats while I finished up my life in Austin.  I had what felt like 8765 good-bye hugs, closed a completely full therapy practice which means I said good-bye to over 20 dear clients, thanked an empty office space for holding me and my clients for so many years, PASSED to the next level in my aerial silks class (MAJOR goal I had before leaving!!!), got onto an airplane…and never went back.

So that was 2019…and just the first half.

The second half was WAY less eventful, thankfully.  We settled in, boated a LOT, furnished our house.  I work from home and spend every day in comfy pants with elastic waists.

You know?  Since 2010, my husband has only had ONE autoimmune flare.  And it was after he lost his youth performing arts group…cue LOTS of stress.  And he doesn’t take any medications to keep him in remission…a lifestyle change keeps him in remission.    He has been primarily a stay-at-home dad since he left his job at the end in 2009…minus the time he had a youth performing arts group that was basically a volunteer full-time job 😉 and raised a kid who is pretty darn fantastic (and tall and hairy…and a great violist to boot).  There’s more to say here…but you’re going to have to wait to crease the spine of my very first book in order to read the rest.

2020…and the next decade…what on earth will you bring us????  I have a few ideas, some hopes…but mostly I’m open to just seeing what comes next.

~

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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S  is a blogger, teacher, trainer, and consultant for therapists and professionals working with children with a history of complex trauma.  

 

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