Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stories, pt 2

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I think that especially in times like this it's important to stop and list what we're grateful for. It's a tangible reminder to ourselves that even in the midst of chaos or trouble, we do have moments of joy, things that do—or could, if we let them—make us smile.

I've needed that reminder this past week. Today it becomes official—my son's move into the group home. And it's a good one. I was very impressed when I visited it—and I kept expecting to find things that upset me and was surprised when I didn't. He will finally have a chance to learn the social and behavior skills that could make his life easier and happier.

Still, it's a big change. And my son is scared. And it's hard to separate my emotions from his on this—even when I know in my head it's the best possible thing for him. Nor does it help when my ex-husband starts obsessing over who will have the right to handle our son's money (SSI, any paychecks, family gifts, etc.) because his fears trigger old patterns for me. We're telling ourselves stories, each of us, and it isn't helping.

I'm pretty sure this will be good for my son. He tells me the place is nice and he likes “hanging out with my guys.” They have lots of activities and seem sensitive to the needs of each resident. But he's scared. So I reassure him it's normal to feel scared when there's such a big change but he's loved and it will feel like home soon—if he lets it. And that he can and should tell me if there are problems. With luck, I'm giving him a story that will help him adjust. One that leaves room for him to let me know if there are problems.

I couldn't sleep last night and realized around 2 am that part of what I'm feeling is guilt—that I couldn't give my son everything he needed myself. And I realized that perhaps I've been punishing myself for that “sin.” More stories. Stories about what kind of mother I “should” be and stories about how I should treat myself if I fall short.

The irony is that by doing so I made myself less resilient and I had less energy to do things that might make the transition easier for my son. I realized that if I did things that made me happy, I'd probably be over my cold by now and I'd have more energy and more creativity with which to reassure him. And I'd be happier. Win win.

Which took me back to the story our culture tells us about life—that we have to suffer if we make mistakes, that we shouldn't be too happy, that if we fail to meet expectations we have no right to be happy, etc. At least, that's the culture I suspect many of us grew up in. And I know it's false. In my writing classes and coaching I teach that finding the easiest way, the way that brings us joy is actually the most effective. That's true in writing and it's true in life—even if it did take me way too long to figure it out!

When we are happy, when we accept ourselves, then we can be open to feedback and advice. When we are happy, when we accept ourselves, we are likely to have the energy and desire to help others—and to be able to accept them as they are. When we are happy, when we accept ourselves, then we are most likely to be able to be the kind of person that best fits our values, to live our lives in good and honorable ways.

But somehow I forgot. Not consciously but on the level I didn't realize I was making these assumptions and creating the sense of guilt for myself. As I say so often, IT IS THE ASSUMPTION WE DON'T EVEN KNOW WE'RE MAKING THAT TRIPS US UP.

So....today I'll make a conscious effort to do things that make me happy and focus on the good things in my life. And remind myself of all the reasons this change in my son's life IS a good one. Not that I'll stop checking with him that everything is okay and letting him know he can tell me if there's a problem. But I'll remind myself of all the reasons I came away from the group home knowing what a fabulous opportunity this is for my son. I'll try to notice the stories I'm telling myself and let go of them—especially the ones that don't serve me (or my son) well.

Here's hoping all of you are able to see the blessings in YOUR lives and find ways to be happy—every day! Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

April_optimist

6 comments:

mile191 said...

hey. what a big brave courageous thing you have done. i am sorry for the pain that it causes in the meantime. but, wow. you are such a dear. and if you need to write about your whoas once in a while, or more often, you should. I still think that everytime I read you I leave feeling so much strength to be able to go and do. you are amazing. so know that you have our prayers, good vibes, and wishes coming your way, to all your family at this time. thank you for writing about the senseless guilt we put on ourselves. i began to think of it as a sticker on my face everytime i get down on myself, I dont think I would want to walk around like that. So i am working on it too.

take care. and thanks for all you thoughtful thoughts to me.

jumpinginpuddles said...

in nodding head up and down furiously

gypsy-heart said...

I think you are right..your son will grow to love it there. I know a family that let their son visit a similar place..In time he fell in love with it and did not want to live at home. The adjustment was theirs to make..they were holding on to him. In time, all were happier!! :)

I've gone through the guilt stuff too...as many of us do. We all have our stories..eh?
I finally let go of them too. The only story that matters is the story of NOW! You know what my children are adults now, and they are fine..I finally realized that.

Follow your heart path..that is the right one.

Thank you for sharing this..good reminders for all of us!
Good energies and peace of heart to you!

gypsy-heart said...

Ps I hope your cold is all better.

April_optimist said...

Mile 191, Thank you so much for your kind words.

Jumping in Puddles, LOL. Glad you agree.

Gypsy-Heart, Thank you for that reassurance.

beauty said...

My son was in a near fatal motorcycle accident last year, and will never be the same again. Since he came out of his coma he's been moved from one place to another.

He's enough on the ball to realize that he's not able to live the kind of life he used to (not having the ability to work, drive, etc.) and this causes him much anguish. He wants to live with me, but I know that even if I didn't have Chronic Fatigue, it would just wear me to a frazzle to care for him 24/7.

I know our situations aren't the same, but from one mother to another, I know how much courage it takes to let our kids go, to not be able to do for them what we'd like to do in order to improve the quality of their lives.

Much blessings to you and your husband and you deal with the daily challenges coming your way!