Saturday, November 23, 2019

Changing Games

As a parent, there have been times when we're moving along thinking, we got this! Life is great, the people are great, everyone is doing and enjoying all the things. Then something happens.

I sometimes hear people say, well, something always happens. Or, some people don't get a break. Why me? Must be nice...

In my life, if something is going to happen (read: break, go on the fritz, not show up, show up wrong), it happens to me. Somewhere in my third decade I embraced my wanderlust spirit and just starting rolling with the crazy stuff that happens. It does happen to me, but it's part of the fun, part of the adventure. What a relief that was to just embrace the crazy.

 It's so easy to get caught up in why me, or why not me, to perseverate on the negative, and start to feel just overall defeated. The stakes are high. We're told to succeed. We're conditioned for perfection. There are even pictures of perfection for us: family pictures in fields, photoshopping of every model in print, any ad you pick up, television, make up, the family dog. (This family picture thing has gone a little crazy, but that's another blog post). 

So, we're going along through life, striving for perfection and never get there.  There's a huge cost for this never being perfect, never being the best, never being enough. It's your mental health.

Then you get hit with a big thing. Life changes. A factor that you don't plan for, one that's not desirable, it doesn't look like that perfect family picture in front of the barn that you had in your mind, and bam. How will we go on? How can I survive this? Why me? These things, they start to circle in your brain and your life, and you have to figure it out or it'll take you over. 

That's so much easier said that done.

Even as I sit and share these thoughts, I realize the date. Today, is my gramma's birthday. Today, she'd be 104. She left us when she was 73. It's been a long time, yet those vivid memories of why, how, the huge hole, they loom on a day like today. I was 13. How profound that is, as we are now helping our teen work through losses of a different kind, but heavy on the heart just the same. I didn’t think then about being on this side now. 

About a year ago, our teen had a seizure. We thought it would be a one time thing, though it hasn't been. Fortunately, they have occurred in a controlled setting, but that doesn't reduce the fear level, chaos, or unknown. 

Watching my child experience a seizure and not being able to stop it, just wait, is the scariest, most awful experience I have had in my life. I struggle with what to share after, how much she needs to know, and what if. I struggle with why. She struggles with why. It's changed how we function, as now we have to pre-plan our adventures and account for the meds clock, in all that we do. That is not how our spirits are and it's maddening.

I know there are those of you out there working through things that are so much bigger, heavier. I want you to know, that difficult change, the kind we just don't want to do, it can also be freeing. Change your game, instead of letting the game change you. The great thing about a game, is that it's never played alone.

I started this post talking about how we feel when things happen - out of control, ruined, hopeless; and, this discussion around perfection. What's the connection? 

It's easy to feel defeated. At work. As a parent. As a chef (yeah right, I'm no chef, but we're fed!) As a human. Doubt creeps in - you try to block it, hide from it, say you don't have it, but it's there. When these things happen, these game changers, and we're not ready to shift, oh how the grief (for what was or what could have been) is hard. 


When change happens, especially when it's not by our own choosing, we grieve. So, let yourself. Grieve the thing, the perfect picture, the spotless house, the dreams you had, the life you knew, your people. Let yourself do that. You don't even have to own it. Give yourself a break. Activate your army and just take it all in, be with whatever is going on to allow your heart and your mind to make peace with it. 

We forget to do this. I spent weeks drowning myself in work, creating the perfect routine, telling the story but never dealing with it. I kept the frustration, pain, guilt - inside, because I didn't want her to see it and I most definitely did not want to deal with it. I tucked this whole thing into a nice corner, questioned my decision to change jobs, questioned my performance as a parent, my self worth, and just kept pushing.

Let me tell you, that didn't fix things. I suppose I'll admit now that squishing the grief into a cute little box and duct taping that beast shut never does fix it, but for me it's nice to drown the sorrow in some work for a while, even soul work! (Definitely something I need to work on there...)

When I finally spent some time with my feelings and honored where I was with all of the stuff that comes with mandatory shift, it was freeing. It allowed me to change the game, to change my game, to change my perspective. I regained some peace. I traded in a little fear for joy. 

No doubt having a child who has some health challenges in her life, particularly ones that are not self-induced and we cannot control, requires a strategy. There is never a day when we can just go back to what we knew, but this new adventure, it's ok too. It's time for her to use those how to be a warrior lessons we've been working on all along. 

She's grown. She's got this (oh, was she mad!) It's not fun, perfect, simple (at all), or anything like what we thought the teenage years would bring, but it's the gift we've been given to use in a way that helps others. 

November is epilepsy awareness month. If you've never supported someone with a seizure, take this moment to learn about #staysafeside

The game changed. It even required change in us. We won't let change beat us. We've got this. Whatever you might be struggling with, you’ve got this. You're never alone.


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