If there were ever a time for us to stop and look at what we are doing in our daily lives, the time is now. I am amazed at how much time I need to process things lately. I don't mean sit and stew over them, or over analyze stuff, I mean process. Allowing my heart, mind and soul time to soak in the details, acknowledge how God works in my life, and then focus on the next steps. I watch how parents and children are moving at the speed of light and then wondering where all this anxiety is coming from. The constant rush creates an unnerving amount of "busy in the mind." In fact, so busy that children are not able to process the constant barrage of media, schedules, screens, etc. There is no processing in their parent's lives and therefore the instability trickles into their lives as well
I was that parent. At one point in our lives, one of us was working outside the home and gone all week, only coming home on the weekends. Then when we moved out of our home, to a totally different state, our youngest took the biggest hit. She was uprooted from the familiarity and security of her life. She had everything kind of ripped up to start new again, and it didn't feel good to her. Anxiety settled in. She would have panic attacks before going to school. It was a daily reminder that this child of ours was struggling. She needed our support - and what I mean by that was stability - keeping a routine, being a parent, not a friend, modeling HOW to respond, not react... all these things that were quite challenging in our lives at that time. No wonder she had a hard time trying to navigate all the newness of high school. Let's not even mention the influence of the damn phone - Social media, chatting with friends until 1 am, all those little things that add up.
I struggled keeping a brave face. I couldn't sleep because I worried that I would somehow lose her completely. My past experiences with suicide left a hole in my heart that wasn't fully healed. I was so worried about missing something, a minor detail, a look, a phrase, any clue that would help me get to her before she chose a permanent consequence. The grieving process for me required that I speak my truth about the suicide of a dear friend in college. One that left this guilt that I carried with me, that I didn't know how to let go of. Through my gestalt work, I was able to fully release that trauma and actually speak about those times. Michael couldn't have imagined the trauma he caused when he told me he was going to kill himself and then followed through with it within minutes of telling me. I know he didn't want me to blame myself, but I did. I carried that with me for 28 years... and it hit me like a truck when our own daughter was afraid, telling us she wasn't sure if she wanted to be on this planet anymore.
I feel like everyone has these moments in their life - where it would be easier to just end it, get out of the pickle we find ourselves in. Taking action on it is a completely different story, and one where the people around us can help when they are educated to do so. Unfortunately, we want immediate satisfaction, a quick fix, when we have no idea how to sit with our own emotions, let alone respond to them. If parents have no idea how to process our emotions, how will our children? If parents "cope" by valuing image, a social life, and/or unhealthy habits - like drinking and smoking, what do we think our children will do? Are we putting the hope on them to change so we can throw in the towel? I often wonder about that as I see so many parents putting the spot light on their children's behavior only to see right through the veil of their own.
We have to give ourselves time and I wasn't doing that for many years. I kept going, like a machine, working, working, working, caring for my mom, caring for our children, caring for my beloved horses, and stepping up and working with my husband. I look back on my choices and wonder, "What the hell was I thinking?"
Honestly, I wasn't thinking, I was reacting. I was distracting myself. I didn't give myself time to process. I didn't give myself permission to keep a journal, develop friendships - and have meaningful conversations, sit and be still. None of that was even in my vocabulary. I realize now that what I should have done for myself was grow my own faith, look closely at my own behavior, and nourish my own time to process.
I have grown exponentially since then. I take my time on this earth very seriously. I hear my dad say from heaven, "Take it easy, Shmitty." and he is so incredibly right. We all need to take it easy. Lately, I'm enjoying the slow time with our children, our family, and our horses. I am grateful for the love of observation that I have. I value that time with everything around me. When we give ourselves the time to look closely at things from all different angles, we will see a new perspective, a broader scope of what is happening in front of us. Isn't that what is so beautiful about this life? No matter what is happening, the only time to be concerned with is right now.
God help me when she goes off to college in August. I am preparing as best as I can. I am so excited to see her spread her wings and go do her thing. It is a beautiful thing to watch your children grow up and live their lives on purpose. Embracing change that is always constant seems to be the gift of it all. I keep the Serenity prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis close to my heart these days. What do you keep close to yours?