More musings, but from an upright position......

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've managed to get through the flu and get off the couch........nothing can make you more grateful for your health than a bout with an illness. I SO appreciate to be on the mend now.'

    While I was down with the flu I had little to do but hang out watching stuff on my laptop.........I watched every single episode of Jerry Seinfeld's 'Comedians in cars getting coffee'. I am a big fan of Seinfeld. I grew up in New York, a couple of towns from where Jerry grew up, so we share a similar kind of childhood. What really impressed me about the show is that Jerry is essentially doing what we all did as kids, call up a friend, "wanna hang out, go goof off somewhere?" Then he hangs out with these interesting, usually funny characters, often in diners. That's pretty much what I did a lot of as a kid growing up on Long Island, hanging out with friends, in diners, laughing. He laughs a lot, he's enjoying his life. Certainly, he has fame and fortune, but lots of people have that and are miserable. He's choosing to enjoy life. He said, "life is supposed to be FUN." For me, it was a huge reminder of what we discussed in another thread about suffering being optional......... life is to be lived, to be appreciated, to be celebrated, to have fun.

    I've had a lot of challenges in my life, suffice to say, it was serious "stuff" which buried me in responsibility and duty and pushed me into a lot of therapy trying to make sense of it all and recover from it....... and often squeezed the joy out of life. But underneath all of that, was this person, much like Jerry Seinfeld, who could see the humor and the irony, who was wanting to laugh and be lighthearted...and I think in spite of a lot, I was in fact, lighthearted and laughed easily........I always sought out people who made me laugh. But, geez, things were just so serious, a crazy, dysfunctional bio family, a crazy dysfunctional ex-husband, a crazy dysfunctional daughter.......whats' funny about that?

    I also watched all the episodes of a reality show on National Geographic called Life below zero. It's about these people who live in Alaska, they hunt their own food, live in isolated places, they have hard lives, very different from mine in every single way, except for their desire to be free, to be independent of circumstances where they have to answer to anyone. They all call their lives adventurous and fun. I love their attitudes and so respect the choices they've made to live these incredibly difficult lives so that they can, essentially, be free. I also relate that. While I was recovering from my crazy life, I was always trying out different lifestyles in order to respect my very strong drive to be......free.

    TV viewing offering life lessons for me. I love that.

    Something came together for me while I lay on the couch watching these two shows..........the recognition of my own deep desire to be free and to have fun. As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." In between my enabling and my own craziness, I have made a lot of attempts to live that way. And, now that I have 'cleared the decks' so to speak, I am free to go have that fun. Without the encumbrances and responsibilities of all of that 'suffering'.........life is not free of pain, but I can choose it to be free of suffering. It gives me such a feeling of expansion and possibility. I used to perceive much of life as a responsibility, to move through what was in front of me until I got to the other side.......however, there is always stuff to move through....to work out..........it's simply a part of what is......... but I can fill up huge amounts of open space with freedom and fun. This is how I want to live now.

    This is a new kind of thinking for me.........it feels like I've been trying to get to this inner me for a long time, this free spirit self, this lighthearted self, this person who wants to have more of those playful adventures.....even when life throws me a couple of curve balls, even when I could be suffering......but, I don't think I will...........I see it so differently now, that 'choice' factor.........I can choose my response to life........and I am choosing freedom and I am choosing fun.

    I've been doing a lot of practicing of living in the moment, staying in the now. One of the results, as was indicated in the books I've been reading and the CD's and videos I've been watching and listening to, about how to stay present, how to be still, how to let go of the past and keep my thoughts as neutral as possible, is that gratitude seeps in as a more natural state of mind...............and that has happened and it brings with it a lot of peacefulness.

    I am aware that there is a lot of struggle and pain in the world, I am not discounting or minimizing that. There is a lot of that on this forum..........none of that can be denied. I am only speaking of my own journey to a different perception of that pain and struggle in my own life and how it in fact, has lead me to a different way of looking at it and experiencing it. I am not, in any way, shape or form, making any statement about how hard life is right now for many of us........ and how it can take you to the end of the cliff where you really do want to jump off........I've been there, I've wanted to jump off........ I know that devastation, in many different forms............I am talking about my own transition from having that devastation define my life or lead me to a place which offers me a new possibility to live a different way.........it's my way........not THE way.

    Buddha said, "the only difference between fear and excitement is breath." Somehow, the fear has subsided in a way which allows me to have that excitement, that awe of life, the recognition of the sheer preciousness of each and every moment and how I can choose to see that beauty, see that grace, experience the wonder and ........really, enjoy it and have fun.

    husband was looking at a trip to China last night and we've been pondering whether we "should" take the opportunity to go........it's funny to watch my thoughts..........can I really just take off and go have even more fun? Can I allow myself yet another vacation, is that allowed? Will my frivolity somehow lessen my also deep need to be of service, to be on my own spiritual path? Can I let myself have THAT MUCH FUN? It's a weird push and pull of moving into this new land of lightness........... is it okay?....... will there be a consequence, is there a payment for joy? Old conditioning still peaks it's head in.............but I'm gonna move through that old voice............freedom and fun..........yes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  2. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    husband and I are pondering a night away for this weekend. Nothing fancy just drive a few hours away, stay in a hotel, and eat. Honestly I look at it as a time for us to become "us" again. We have spent so many years as parents dealing with kid drama that we kind of lost time for ourselves. I am now making an effort to spend time with husband without the kids. It's weird but it is almost like we don't know how to talk about anything but them and our house. We "need" time to bond again and talk, cuddle, and just be together.

    You go right on with your happy self and visit China! A happy your makes for a healthy you and I am sure that helps with a happy marraige as well.
     
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  3. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    RE what a great post. Sometimes getting sick can do wonders;)

    It's amazing how when we finally break free from our difficult child's and really start moving forward that we are able to take our lives back. What does that mean taking our lives back?
    For so long our lives have been consumed with our difficult child's and all that entails and we the parents lose ourselves in the midst of the chaos. What is left is shell of our former self.
    Some have lost friendships in the process as they could not bear to share the truth with them or they, the friend, could not handle the truth that was shared with them. Some have had family turn against them as they could not understand the need we have to detach, to stop enabling, to stop being an ATM machine, to stop bailing them out and "fixing" their problems for them. They do not understand that we are on the verge of losing our sanity.

    Here is where we take our lives back. It begins slowly and feels odd. We find ourselves enjoying life once again and engage in doing things we used to love and discover new things, but then you feel guilty. You think, how can I enjoy my life when my difficult child is still struggling? Again, it is a slow process to take our lives back but each day that passes we work through those emotions and the chaos that once consumed us is replaced with calm.

    I remember when husband and I started to take our lives back, it was an odd feeling. Where in the past the majority of our conversations revolved around our difficult child. We started taking long drives on the weekends, you know the kind where you just head out and explore. We would drive through small towns and find the local diner, stop and have lunch then head over to the antique shop and wonder around, or we would drive to the shore of Lake Michigan and just sit and enjoy watching the waves. It's simple, it's peaceful. We still love to take our weekend drives but we have also started traveling again which is something we both love to do.

    In the beginning I had some leftover feelings of guilt which I quickly dismissed. I reminded myself that husband and I have worked very hard to have the life we have and it's ok to enjoy it. There were some other key factors in helping to cement in my mind that life is short and I have to live in the moment. When I have opportunities I need to take them.

    We have dear friends that always stood by us and never passed judgment when we were dealing with difficult child. 5 years ago we 3 couples went to Mexico to celebrate our one good friends 50th birthday. We had a wonderful time. That was in January, in April that same friend called to tell us he had Pancreatic cancer. Sadly, he passed away just after Christmas that same year. I will forever be grateful that we took that trip.

    3 years ago my husband out of the blue started having Grand Mal seizures. It was a terrifying experience and a tough year. With the help of medication the seizures were kept under control. He is now seizure free. Once again I was reminded how short and fragile life is. Last year we celebrated our 25th anniversary and took a trip to Italy.

    The first week in March we are going to Antigua.

    We have fought the battle, we survived, we have taken our lives back. Now is the time to live in the moment. Do the things you want to do. Don't let "stuff" get in the way because then you are left with regret and life is too short for regrets.

    YES, YES, YES!!! Take the opportunity.
     
  4. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    RE -- Nailed it! Beautiful post! I tell ya, I think you and I are in sync this week. First, I've been battling the crud (officially diagnosis'd as viral laryngitis......no voice, oh, the horror! LOL!). Second, on your China trip...........WOW! Take it, take it, take it! Aaaaaand why do I say this (said the woman who just returned from Disneyland)? Because......wait for it..........wait for it.......... We just booked a trip to Rome last night! No kidding! husband is masterful at finding the cheap deal (how we go most everywhere....standby, the cheap deal, haggling, etc.....because our plan is to go everywhere that's not war-torn or ebola-ridden). We booked Rome for April and are going to use our tax return and save our pennies. We've always wanted to go to Rome and, well, like you said........

    Life is for living!

    I love your Seinfeld bits, always. I just discovered "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" about a month ago. Watched a handful of episodes online and enjoyed them immensely. I enjoy Jerry's insights. I heard recently that he attributed many of his insights to feeling certain he was on the autism spectrum to some degree, in being more observant of the micro than the macro. He took that uniqueness and developed it into a talent. I believe all of us have our own mix of uniqueness which we can blend into our own talents. The world is not only a better place for our diversity, it needs our diversity. Diversity also offers infinite combinations for appreciation, enjoyment and fun!

    Life is for living!

    I once mentioned some months ago that I had cancer (concluded tx in May, 2012). Yes, the news was scary at first. Yes, surgery, radiation were no fun (although, they were quite doable and if it ever returned, I'd gladly do it with gusto all over again). But what began as a struggle, emerged as one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had. Why? Because I DETERMINED to give everything I had to my health and my happiness. At the time I was taking care of my 84-yo father (assisted living) and difficult child was 21 and, well, you know, being difficult child. He wasn't living with us, but, well, you know.... I told my brother he was in charge of Dad for the next 3 months and I told difficult child he was completely on his own for 3 months (no contact). I took the advice of others I knew who'd emerged from their cancer treatments. One of the best piece of advice one gave me was, "ALWAYS, without fail, make time to laugh EVERY day." I took at her word. I scheduled in time to watch: I Love Lucy, The Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and every great comedy movie I could find (Galaxy Quest, Austin Powers, Mel Brooks' films, etc). Easy to schedule that down time post surgery........ 'cause, you know, you have lie around a lot. But there's always a way to make that into an enjoyable time! And I ate all the tasty food I wanted (my cousin from SC sent me chocolate-covered strawberries to die for!).

    Life is for living!

    What I concluded about my cancer time was this............. Because the diagnosis was so intense, my quest for health and happiness was so intense. When I truly sought it, I found it. The surprise was in the abundance in which I found it. My father and my son both gladly respected me. I was filled with an outpouring of love from so many I value so deeply. And I accepted it ALL. I did not question how much they should give or how much I should accept. I just accepted it ALL...........completely in the moment. I savored those moments. I took time to give gratitude for all of the wondrous things I'd experienced in my life! How I scored marrying husband! How we, who are not wealthy, have found a way to travel so many places (travel adventures with husband are the best!), and how I, who'd had miscarriages, was blessed with difficult child. Yes..........BLESSED WITH difficult child. Even when I was at my wits' end and difficult child was a swirling vortex of mayhem, I'm still grateful for the opportunity to be a mother. His mother. And I'm still grateful to be his mother -- with boundaries. Boundaries make it better. Boundaries are not the enemy. Boundaries are our friends -- some things only mix so well in certain scenarios for so long. That's not harsh. It's making the most out of when it DOES work --- even if those are only for minutes at a time, those minutes are sacred.

    Life is for living!

    So, I view life as a combo classroom and cosmic Disneyland of sorts. Yes, there are lessons which can be very difficult. But there's also a new spectacle and thrill ride (the fun kind, not the hair-raising kind! LOL!) around every corner. I don't want to miss any of it. It's all part of the package.

    When I was in college, I made a point of taking Tues/Thurs classes later in the morning (10 a.m. or later, as opposed to 8 a.m. on M, W, F). I intentionally left an hour early and walked to class (rather than ride my bike in 10-min, like M., W, F)............s-l-o-w-l-y and very mindfully. At first, I was doing it to just slow my life pace. But that first day, I saw a cat sitting on the hood of a car and I stopped to pet him. He purred. I purred. I felt soothed and invigorated concurrently (I'm a big fan of animals). And then I realized, "Ya know, my life should never be so harried and hurried that I don't have time to stop and pet a cat." I still try to live by that. And, fortunately, I every time I see a cat (and the world is loaded with cats, mind you!), I am reminded to re-center, touch that which is warm, fuzzy and fun, and always say THANK YOU for having the opportunity.

    Life is for living!

    Lastly, when I have difficult moments which devour me from the inside out (it happens....less often than it used to, but it still happens periodically) and I have trouble appreciating the moment I'm in.... Well, I create something enjoyable in my mind and my life which is right around the bend. Last night, that was booking tickets to Rome! I am grateful for this opportunity! And when I don't have that opportunity, we do exactly what you do, dstc_99.........point the car in any direction and just drive a bit for fun!


    dstc_99 ---- Fantastic! I love what you're doing to get away in the car, impromptu, no rules, just live by the moment, take some "you" time and have some fun with your husband! That's good livin', girl!

    Tanya M ---- It is an odd feeling at first, isn't it? But then, it was an odd feeling when we first started down immersing ourselves (comes with the parenting territory). But you're so right. Again, fantastic taking those impromptu road trips and explore WITHOUT being immersed in difficult child-dom (even in conversation). My husband had to teach me that because he knew better when to stop discussing difficult child. I did not. But I learned!

    It's so easy for us to lose ourselves in our difficult child's drama. But at a certain point, we can only do what we can do for them. It is what it is. But we can also do what we can do for ourselves! Our Free Will is what it is, too! Our lives matter, too. They matter to us and to all those who love us and grace our lives with abundant joy!

    Life is for living! :D
     
  5. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    RE --- So, when are you and husband headed to China? Can't wait to hear all about it!

    We're headed to Rome mid-April. Can't wait to go and to tell all about it! It's been a years-long dream for us!

    Seize the fun..........the big fun, the little fun, and all the fun in-between! husband always reminds me that difficult moments will happen (that's life). But it's up to us to squeeze in all the fun we can create and muster!
     
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate your responses.

    My husband and I needed to make room in our lives when difficult child was in full swing........we took a drive to 'anywhere' every single weekend. Those trips became my lifeline to sanity and our special time together. We would talk about difficult child for a little while and as the distance from home increased, we would let it go and start to enjoy the day. I look back on those times as the balancing point in the chaos our lives were in then. They were extremely important.

    Tanya, your path mirrors mine in many ways, from the weekend drives to explore together, to the initial guilt of not having life revolve anymore around our kids, to the recognition of the absolute joy in the moment and grabbing it and running with it. And, we travel as much as we can too.......

    "I believe all of us have our own mix of uniqueness which we can blend into our own talents. The world is not only a better place for our diversity, it needs our diversity. Diversity also offers infinite combinations for appreciation, enjoyment and fun!"

    HLM
    , I believe that too. Jerry also has been a meditator for 40 years, which makes him even more interesting to me.

    At one point in my life I worked with people who were dying. A number of them managed to move to a special place of acceptance which was remarkably beautiful to be around. We talked a lot about their perceptions of how life is to be lived, from the vantage point of someone who is having to let go of life. I learned a lot from them and I made a choice at that time to NOT wait until I was dying to appreciate life, to not wait until I was dying to accept life, to not wait until I was dying to enjoy each moment. I can see how facing cancer can pull one out of the everyday stuff and catapult one to a different ability to enjoy life. However we get there, it's a gift to open your eyes to the moment and to grab it and squeeze every bit of joy from it.

    All of this stuff I went through with my daughter has made me a person who is pretty present in life, pretty present in the moment. That presence keeps a lot of the extraneous thinking that circulates around my brain from gaining entry, so I am not dragged around by my own thoughts which go nowhere. In that regard, all that I've gone through has been a gift. It took me to a place of extreme pain...........and in my refusal to suffer, it released me. What a journey.

    I saw my daughter yesterday. Both husband and I continue to be amazed at her level of calmness. She has worked through something in herself and she is exhibiting a peacefulness and serenity. Perhaps she has accepted herself and where she is. I have accepted where she is. And, as I drove away, I was left with the smile on her face, just an easy smile. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but, for today, that smile really works for me.

    There is a lot of pain on these pages and at times I hesitate to post about joy and peace and the enjoyment of life.........I just want folks to know there is life after difficult child, that we can evolve to a place where the antics of another do not have to rip us apart and take us down. There are tools, there are options, there are ways to traverse this landscape and come out the other side.

    I am in the happiest time of my life. There are many new possibilities showing up which didn't have room to expand and grow when I was entrenched in the drama of my difficult child's life. Those doors are swinging open HLM, the possibilities are clearer. It is a lot of fun to explore, to dream, to have that sense of wonder and awe......... excitement about traveling, writing.........feeling free to go out in that vast universe and have some serious fun.

    We also spotted other trips to Ireland, to Australia, wow, now we are having to choose, China? Ireland? Where to go? It's a lot of fun to be looking at it all. Just the freedom in it. husband is the greatest playmate, the most fun guy, he cracks me up every single day, we also travel very well together...........we love road trips, we love flying somewhere.........we are both always on the same page about it all, I plan the trips and then he takes over once we get there, with the itinerary. Works out splendidly. Yesterday we watched the sun go down over the Golden Gate Bridge, from the headlands..........always a spectacular site.........then dinner in a funky Mexican restaurant which has amazing food. Life is good.

    Thanks for sharing your fun times. We have a lot to be thankful for!
     
  7. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    RE -- Thanks for this reminder. I, also, don't ever want to downplay the severity of difficult child-dom, nor the toll it can take on us all at times. I also don't wish to imply that parenting our difficult child didn't take me to "the edge". It did. Many times. And, sometimes, for prolonged periods of time. At a certain point, I just knew that I had to make a choice if I wanted to remain "on the edge"..........lest I accidentally slip off and fall some day.

    Preface: I know nothing about cooking, sewing, mathematics, or fashion. What I do know about is sports, art, language, philosophy and faith -- so those are the subjects from which I fashion my tools and coping skills.

    Before every sporting event, every team has a pep talk. When you hear me becoming a cheerleader about life, love, forgiveness and fun, you are just hearing my inner pep talk for the game of life I live every day. I'm no master at any of it. But I want to live large and love large. So I "pep talk" myself a lot. It helps me focus. If it ever seems annoying or offensive to anyone in this forum, please forgive me for that. Never my intention. I'm just walking this life as genuinely as I can. :)

    PS -- We went to Ireland in 2007. It was quite wonderful! We are not wealthy. We are thrifty with most of our life choices (including downsizing our house a few years ago, cutting our mortgage in half.......why? So we can travel more!). We live a very basic life, otherwise. But travel is a priority for us, so we try to go as many places as we can.

    I've never been to China nor to Australia.....yet! So far away, so exotic, so fun! Let us know whatever you decide, RE! :)
     
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