How EFT saved my sanity and my relationship with my son.
When a baby will not stop crying, it is best to help the parents first. If you had told me this a few years ago, I would have been a bit confused. In tapping through my own issues, however, my son had a complete turnaround. This is my story, and my inspiration for becoming a tapping professional.
I experienced tremendous emotional challenges during my son's babyhood. He was the proverbial "difficult baby". He had gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is like colic to the tenth power. He had significant food allergies and cried all the time, no matter what we did. I remember at his first visit with the pediatrician, my husband and I laughed hysterically at a poster on the wall that said newborns slept 18-20 hours a day. Our son only slept about six. He had about three naps the first six months of his life, and we tried everything. My nerves were frayed. I was completely exhausted, and most importantly, I could not enjoy my sweet little baby.
The only thing I could do to comfort him was to nurse, literally, all day long. I felt like I was a prisoner or a cow, shackled to the couch, watching TV and staring out the window. If I needed a bathroom break or a meal, I faced heart wrenching, frenzied fits of hysterical crying, like he was going to die. I got very creative about carrying him around with me, still attached. Since he was a big boy and growing like a weed, that was no small feat. When he was about nine months old, I eliminated all traces of dairy from my diet, and then he was able to go an hour on and an hour off with nursing.
So what in the world was wrong? It started our first night in the hospital, so it could not have been anything behavioral that we did or did not do. The pediatrician could find nothing wrong, and assured us that he was healthy and normal. We tried numerous things: GERD medicine, chiropractic, elimination diet, and NAET. I read a dozen books. The only thing that helped was eliminating dairy, but that was not nearly enough.
Being a healer, I was especially horrified that I could not help my own baby. He did not want to have anything to do with my efforts. He just wanted to nurse. He fought any time we brought him to a practitioner. Leaving the house was a traumatic ordeal. My friends and family did not seem to understand how difficult it was, and so I did not get nearly enough support. Instead, I heard the standard platitudes over and over again: “It will get better” and “All that matters is that he is healthy”. With my husband's help (i.e., taking the screaming baby out of the house at just the right moment), I was able to hang in there.
When my son got a bit older, his behavior improved a little. However, instead of the crying resolving into happiness like everyone assured me would happen, it changed into continual whining, alternating with shrieking meltdowns. There was no apparent cause to the meltdowns. They happened out of nowhere, at any time and any place, and went on for any length of time. I tried different behavioral ideas, as the world is full of advice, but nothing worked.
I had learned EFT several years prior and had used it to amazing success with myself and clients. I was reluctant to try it much on my son, however. I was holding it in reserve as a last-ditch effort. I felt that if I really tried EFT, and it failed, I would have completely run out of options. When I did try a little EFT with him, it did not seem to work. I felt like he knew that I was trying to "change" him, even as an infant, and he seemed to get even more upset.
When he was about two years old, I was teetering too dangerously on the edge. I could not take the continuous, daily struggle anymore. I had finally come to my last ditch effort. I knew I needed someone objective, so I found an EFT practitioner and scheduled some phone sessions.
To my surprise, we focused on my OWN issues, not my son's. After a couple of sessions, tapping on my own frustration, embarrassment, and anger, I felt much better and a lot more human. I was better able to handle my son's crying and meltdowns. After my third EFT session, I had a breakthrough.
All along, I had thought that the problem had to be his: food allergies, his reaction to something that I did wrong, his very difficult birth, or some underlying health issue. But the major issue was not his "stuff" at all. It was actually my own!
What set me off was actually my EFT practitioner suggesting to me, as so many people had since my pregnancy, "you need to do something different”. Oh no, not again. She started to give me advice. She suggested more behavioral changes that I had already tried and had not worked. I had tried time-outs, setting limits, not giving choices, scheduled nap times, all natural food, distraction, toddler-eese, limiting stimulation, making sure he was never hungry, etc., etc. Very little helped, no matter how consistent I was. I had studied psychology in college, and even did a good bit of research on conditioning, so I know very well how reinforcement works. That was NOT the problem. I was insulted that yet another person was suggesting it was my own fault.
After that conversation, I did a lot of EFT by myself on my out-of-proportion anger. She did not get it either! It was only with tapping that I realized how much anger was inside of me. I had no idea. I was angry at everyone who had ever given me advice or thought that I was doing something wrong. I was angry at everyone who was not helping me. I was pretty much angry at the world. I felt that the world was judging me and my failure as a mother. I SHOULD somehow be able to fix it. It was my own fault that my baby was so difficult.
I tapped for a good 90 minutes, ranting and raving about all the things that were pent up inside of me. Then I stopped and realized, the anger was gone. I was absolutely relieved. EFT cleared out those feelings, and I felt light and clear. I trusted myself again! I did not care about other people's opinions, and could finally trust my own instincts.
That very afternoon, without consciously changing a thing, my son had a huge turnaround. He woke up and did not scream. He spoke nicely to me. He stopped being whiny and clingy. He stopped having unpredictable meltdowns over nothing.
He became the sweet, confident child that I knew was in there. Again, I did not change a thing in my behavior! He just became happy and more manageable. Most importantly, I started to really enjoy him. It was not perfect, and I still had some tapping to do, but the change was palpable. I shudder to think where we would be if I had not finally tried EFT.
He still has his moments of course-- he is a child! I still have mine, and neither of us is near perfect. He is still sensitive, willful, and too smart for his own good. He is also loving, well spoken, and quite often, a pure joy. The dramatic change that made life fun again came from healing something within myself-- something I had not even known was there.
It took me way too long to learn that the best thing for a parent at wit's end to do is to take care of herself first. Take care of her own needs. Trust herself. Our little babies feed off of everything. They respond to our guilt for not being perfect, our anger at our own helplessness, and our fear that we are doing something wrong. Processing and resolving those emotions through healing methods such as EFT can release the negative cycle of crying/guilt, crying/guilt, crying/despair.
We are told that when we become parents, we will know what to do. Then we are given advice upon conflicting advice. Then we are thrown to the wolves. Our society sends the message that raising our child is completely our responsibility alone. Mothers are reluctant to seek help, or even to admit that they are having trouble. We do not want to admit that we feel anger about all the freedom we have lost. It is taboo to say anything negative about having kids, other than “you'll find out” to expectant parents.
Our society has set us up for a fall, because as wonderful as having children is, it is not all sunshine and roses. There are moments when you doubt your own sanity. Expressing your concerns and your regrets and doubts should not be taboo. You should not have to hide that in the shadows, along with all of your guilt about your perceived failings as a parent.
Being a parent is HARD. Getting support for it should not be.
Healing those fears, doubts, uncertainties, regrets, and angers makes it a lot easier to find joy in a squirming, bawling, helpless infant who looks amazingly like you. Thanks to EFT, I have come out on the other side, into joy. I love helping others do the same.