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))))))),