Saturday, September 21, 2013

I still don't like what I do

It has been five years, five months and five days since we have had to learn and practice being "therapeutic parents."

I sat down to write this post having no idea, whatsoever, that it was going to be exactly five years, five months and five days.  Maybe that means something?  I have no idea.  But those of you with a love of numbers and their significance can enjoy that little tid bit.

I sat down to write it because after all this time, I still don't like it.  I don't like doing it.  I don't like what it asks of me.  I don't like facing my own issues to be a better parent for my kids.  I absolutely, positively cannot stand to pace myself and know that some of the struggles we are juggling will be life-long.

I can't remember how this concept landed in my brain, and I will happily give credit to whomever may have suggested it to me:  mini funerals.  I encourage others to do the same.  Most of us are surrounded by a world and society that constantly tries to avoid the negative feelings.  Yet, when you are having to learn an entirely new way of parenting, and your child is having to learn an entirely new way of coping and surviving, to say you feel "sad" seems like the understatement of the century.

I have, and continue to experience deep, difficult grief from time to time.

I don't like this.  I don't want to do it.  It looks nothing, at all, like what I thought it was going to be.  Granted, our kids could say the exact same thing.  Based on their individual struggles and histories, they had fine-tuned survival skills within themselves and they were working.  At the time.  They no longer need them, but they hate it.  They don't want to change.

I've learned to stop and focus on myself.  My own sadness.  My own grief.  I have learned to say it out loud, even if it makes some people uncomfortable.  I don't do it at parties, of course, but when asked, I am much more quick to say, "This week has been hell.  And I'm sad.  I sure would like a break from it.  Maybe next week."

I have mini-funerals.  I light a candle, pour a glass of wine, cry, write down what I feel like I've lost, write down the vision that has never happened,  tear it up, burn it, flush it, stomp on it, read it out loud, keep it to myself, think it instead of write it, don't cry, curse, sit silently ... whatever and however I need to, I let the feelings wash over me.  I feel them.  I don't fight them.  I roll around with them and let them happen and exist.  I let myself be good and sad.  Mad.  Disappointed.  Hurt.  You name it, I've probably felt it.


It just so happened that this week everyone was posting the video below from Louis CK.  The focus is cell phones, but his thoughts about sadness are brilliant.

"Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it."

"I got that sad feeling, and I started to reach for the phone and I thought, 'Ya' know - don't.  Just be sad ... stand in the way of it and let it hit you like a truck.'"

This isn't just true for parents with struggling, healing kids. It's true for all of us. Sometimes we need to feel our feelings so we can work through them. We all need (truly need) to give the bad stuff time and space. Only then can we start to have power over those feelings. Strip them of the authority we've given them in our lives.

Oh, and also, no matter how much I may be thankful after I've grown, changed and healed, I'd still prefer to do it without all this hard stuff.

I'm gonna' go light another candle. 


Colleen Payne said...

((((HUGS)))) I don't like it either. But I sure am glad there are parents out there like us who will do it.

E said...

I like what you said about letting yourself feel sad (and what Louis C.K. echoed). I think it's true that lots of people are scared of sadness or feeling alone. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom.

My8kidsmom said...

there you go again. being you. making me look at me. yep, I needed that....thanks.

Laura said...

thank you. Lord, did I need to read this today. again, thank you

Johanna van der Sterre said...

I saw this same video over the weekend and I immediately thought of the mindfullness meditations you suggested in one of our coaching sessions. So many of my meditations are exactly what Louis CK described - just sitting and experiencing crummy feelings. Trying my best to accept them. Thanks!!!

Unknown said...

I loved this clip from Louis. He is always funny, some times bordering on going too far, but this showed a humility I admire. An honesty you don't always get, mixed with an amazing sense of humor~

Sammie said...

Thank you for being, as always, so honest and real. I am 12 years into therapeutic parenting and am just applying now for a guardianship of my about to turn 18 year old son. He has come far but is not ready yet for full idependence, he will get there, maybe not in the way I would like, but he will make it in his own way. Having to let go of control and how I want his story to be, is very hard. Grieveing is so necessary for us as parents so we can continue to heal and grow along with our kids.

Thanks and a big hug to you.

kristin alvarado said...

Thank you.
We are moving toward the adoption of our foster daughter and it is THE HARDEST decision we have ever made. She seems to be coping beautifully while I am a disaster of emotions and grief.
I feel that I have put my most precious on the altar of sacrifice (my perfect-imperfect family as it was) and now God has thrown in a wild card (new daughter with issues) and I have no idea how it will turn out.
I am in the mean-time. Waiting. Grieving. Thank you for the encouragement to "feel the feeling". Going around instead of through certainly holds more appeal but probably will not enable much healing.

Shine said...

Okay. I'm super glad I'm not the only one that feels like this! I do this horrible guilt cycle where I try to be even an adequate parent, but the more I try, it seems like the more I resent having to be a therapeutic parent and I get angry over what is really happening as compared to what I dreamed/thought life would be like. I love the mini-funeral concept!