Being Positive With US
I am consistently amazed by the situations that present themselves in order for me to practice each week. I anticipated Week 7 to be discovering a delicate balance with the people I spend the most time, and related it to a story from my teen years, where my mum and I won a trophy by winning a log sawing competition. Although we had no experience or practice, we successfully navigated a mutual effort toward being an effective team of log sawing maniacs. This trophy is not significant because we won a race. It commemorates one of the finer moments of harmony, teamwork, and friendship between me and mum. For that, I am truly and humbly, grateful.
This week’s practice had a lot to do with humility. I already explored happiness, healthiness, and hopefulness, all excellent pillars of what helps me build a day-to-day positive mindset. I am surprised that humility wiggled its way into the forefront of being positive with US.
Humility has been a trigger word for me since I was a kid.
First, there was a boy in my Grade 4 class who would tell me how conceited I was, to which I scoffed a response. I knew he was not flattering me, so I dove into a dictionary to find out what it meant. Since he was not trying to enlighten me, unlike most 10 year old boys…hah…. his opinion bothered me tremendously, causing me to figure out what humility might look like for this hot-headed, dramatic, 10 year old, girl.
Then, as I got older, singing and performing more regularly, to bigger audiences, getting accolades and awards for music, mum would tell me not to get too proud, to stay grounded…humble….and never complimented me on any achievements, other than academic; of those, there were few.
Lastly, and absolutely the most impactful impression upon my self worth, was the constant nagging of my ‘ex’ about being a ‘humble, righteous woman’, meaning I was not to be concerned about my appearance, should always submit to ex-husband’s opinions, and obey all his “suggestions”. Whenever this did not happen (as I occasionally had a thought of my own to share), I was rebuked for my lack of humility and implored to seek immediate forgiveness from him and God. Not only did I develop a growing bitterness toward this man who appointed himself in judgement of my ultimate salvation, but I also started to believe the loving and graceful ‘God-friend’ of my childhood was no longer such an amicable relationship. In fact, I was exposed to this barrage of criticism so much, I was certain there was nothing left in me to be proud or happy about, making me useless and unlovable, even for God. The only one who could actually care for me, was this ‘god-man’ who, for reasons he could not say, took pity on my poor, damned soul and determined to ‘love me anyway’.
Thankfully, I can look back at all these memories now with insight and clarity, and not be upset or deceived by their motivations… but when it was happening, in real time, those moments were torturous!
Did I find myself being tortured this week? Well, yes….and no.
because we are facing another teen prematurely heading out the proverbial door, and although he is not slamming it in our face as he goes, he is making it clear that we are not what he wants. We do not make him happy. He wants to be somewhere free of people that try to stop him from harming himself through unhealthy situations and relationships. We have been blamed for all his problems and as a result, our family dynamic is changing.
Hubby and I are devastated. We work, play, and love full-on! Our kids have all they could want and need, almost never hearing the answer ‘no’. We spend time with them, engage in meaningful conversations, and lay out reasonable rules to be followed with normal consequences. Family is a priority and both of us have held off on career moves that would decrease our time to get involved in things they want to do. They know we love them and would do anything for them, yet two have chosen to leave us….run away….get high…..be free, from our carefully thought-out parenting plan. So my BIG question is this….how do I be positive about my family amidst this? The horizon looks stormy and scary…
But wait, what about the log sawing lesson….effort, then no effort; pull toward yourself, not pushing at the other.
we put out our best effort, pulling our weight of the ‘saw’ with integrity and compassion, balancing restrictions and release, responsibilities and freedom. If we pushed and felt the blade bend, we stopped to let our teammate get a grip and pull back in their own strength. In anticipation of snags that would hinder a smooth transition of blending our two little families, new hubby and I opted for help from a therapist, thinking we would need to help the kids with their new living arrangements. It soon became clear they were able to adapt and deal with tricky situations, by simply living out their own day. Accepting change, accepting their siblings choices, accepting that yesterday is done, having fun despite of todays challenges, and smiling at tomorrow. It turned out, hubby and I were the ones who needed the most help with the transition and the kids were fairly good at figuring out their relationships and boundaries. Great work, team!
When our middle boy left 4 1/2 years ago, he slammed the door and told us where to go, leaving no doubt he was cutting himself off from our team. His siblings felt confused for a while, asking questions about what was going on, but when no answers were known, they moved ahead and shaped their lives to fit this new mold. We still long for his return, yet have managed to regain our form, reshape our structure, in order to minimize the gaping hole left from his abrupt departure, and be OK. We have taught ourselves to let go of the pain, because hanging onto it, does not fix it. We could relive the pain over and over and still not have what we really want, our child back in his bed, safe and sound.
When I thought it was my duty as a mourning mother of a run away child, to suffer and grieve for the rest of my days, it did not bring him back. Being unwilling to release my suffering changed me, but not in a good way. I went from living a life of new love and gratitude, to creating a life a neglect. I neglected myself, my other family ‘teammates’, my work, my passions, and it did not stop the hurting.
It is only from the healthiest definition of humility, modelled to me by my kids, that I dealt with that loss and have been able to feel somewhat sane this week. Staring long and hard down another loaded barrel of pain, I realize:
Our team is not perfect, but it is my favorite.
We do not have complete victories or championship streaks, but I like our spirit.
We send well wishes and wait with open arms, to those who have chosen to find a new team, but we plod along with our most effective plays so far…..Friday movie and pizza nights, special Sunday suppers, extreme contact driveway basketball games, and story telling about our daily adventures.
That is the lesson this week. Accept where we are, accept we all make our own choices (even our kids), and accept we are not destined to live broken, shambled lives. Sounds pretty positive to me.
Find joy. Find love. Find peace.
Joy is waiting. Love is infinite. Peace is here.