one day at a time
I remember when I first started to see this. When our difficult children are doing what they do, it sometimes feels like it will never end. I actually remember thinking...seriously thinking this...that I would be better off if he died.
What kind of state are we in, when we think something like that? We are at the end of our rope. We are done. We are spent. We are past the point of reasonableness. We are in mortal agony. The hurt and sadness and grief and anger and disappointment and stark raving fear seem all-consuming.
I don't know about you, but living like this is absolutely terrible. People aren't supposed to live like this. It's the whole fight or flight thing---the constant adrenaline is just too much for our systems and our bodies and our minds and our spirits.
So...I see with many people that there is a bottom that we reach. Our drug addicted and alcoholic kids reach it, sometimes, eventually. And we do, too. When we are completely spent and sick and tired.
It takes a long, long time to reach the bottom because fight it, for a long, long time. We would rather do what we know...what is familiar...even if it doesn't work and has never worked, because we know it. Change is very scary and very hard, and when we are already scared to death for someone we love, and we are hurting badly, change is even harder.
Somewhere...we have to find the energy and courage to change one thing in our lives. We have to find the wherewithal to turn...and start walking in a new direction. When we are at our lowest. Let's don't underestimate how hard that is. So...it happens only when we are completely sick and tired. That is how it happens for them, too.
What to do when we are stuck in this quandary? We start realizing we need to change, but we don't know how, and we're too tired, and it's all overwhelming, and we aren't sleeping, and life is just too much.
A way to break the cycle is to practice living in the...right now. I know that sounds remedial and over-simplified. But it's truly a whole new way of thinking and living, and it is a good first step to take.
Right now...stop and lightly pinch yourself. You are okay. You are alive. Your heart is beating. In a minute, once you get past THIS MOMENT, you can let the bad stuff rush in again and take you over.
But right now...just for a minute...you are okay. This is a first step.
I remember when this happened for me, the sudden realization of this. My son was homeless, living on the streets in a city four hours away from here, it was Christmas, and it was very cold, and he was sleeping outside a McDonald's against the HVAC system. He was texting me from his computer, endlessly. One day he texted some 260+ times. He was relentless. The agony was relentless. I was still very hooked in to what he did and said and would agonize over every action or inaction. A mother's nightmare: son far away, outside, sub-freezing temperatures, Christmas.
I was hitting my own bottom of pain and I was truly completely sick and tired of every single bit of it, but I didn't know what to do. My absolute terror was all-consuming.
I remember somehow, reading something that penetrated.
Just for a few minutes...I truly could stop, realize that he was alive and I was alive, and move one tiny inch from my current position. I could be okay just for a minute or two by focusing on the...right now. Not the past and not the future. Now.
When you are in this kind of agony, it feels very lonely and terrifying and endless. It is paralyzing.
But...taking one tiny step in another direction can help start the cycle of change for yourself.
Because after that, realizations start to come more frequently. And even while the new ways of thinking start to be more frequent, the fear is still there, because it feels like we are moving AWAY from our own children who are completely broken, and that feels very wrong. Because that is not the way it is supposed to be. But...nothing is the way it is supposed to be, and it's time for something new to enter this dark situation.
We can start to see that...actually. things are always changing, even with them and with us. We have choices. It doesn't feel like we do, but we do.
The main choice we have is our own view, our own attitude, our own "thinking" and "framing" of the situation. I am not trying to say that the situation isn't still very hard and bad. The person we love is self-destructing. That is very, very, very hard to deal with, almost impossible.
But not completely impossible.
One inch will lead to another inch and then another. There is one friend I see in Al-Anon who is a great example of that. She was one of the angriest people I have ever known. You truly couldn't say anything to her without having your head snapped off. But slowly, slowly, she is changing. You can see it on her face, in everything she says, even in the way she sits in her chair. She is working very very hard to let go of a lot of things, and she is taking responsibility for her own feelings, attitudes and behaviors. Outside her, the situations that brought her in those rooms have not changed, except...except...she talks about the new way people...including the people who brought her into those rooms...are starting to respond to her. She is changing, so they are changing. It is a great example of our meeting the immovable object---our difficult kids---and realizing that if anybody is going to change, it first has to be us.
***Today, what if...what if we all made one small change?
***What if we just let go, and stopped doing what we have been doing, even for 5 minutes?
***What if we did one thing differently today?
***What if, just for a few minutes, we put the focus on ourselves?
Even though it feels like things are "never going to change" with our difficult children, things are already changing all the time with them. They are not staying the same.
Change/movement = hope. Even when the change is first in us.