FEAR is the monster that lives under my bed. I think he’s green, but he could be orange or even purple, hard to really tell since when he shows up it’s quite dark in my world. It’s scary, he often shows up out of the blue and without much warning. I have lived with some level of fear for the past 18 months or more. An elevated level, more than worry and at times pushing total freak out. This fear debilitated me for a period of time early in the process of my son’s illness. It felt as though I was on the world’s faster roller coaster; with more loops, dark tunnels and speeds that continued to take me from zero to totally freaking out in seconds and then back again. Faster than your average amusement park ride.
In fact, at the onset of this situation, I found myself going through a myriad of emotions. I vacillated between being scared to death and being angrier than hell (Not with my son but the situation). I wanted to kick and scream and run away from the situation. I wanted to claw the eyes out of every doctor, social worker and treatment team I came in contact with. And then I wanted to climb into my blanket cave and stay there until the whole thing was over. Back and forth I went: Anger, fear, anger, fear. At times it felt like I couldn’t breathe and other times as though I was breathing too much. You get the point. I was a hot mess. No other way to describe it.
Then I started to look at things differently, it was the beginning of acceptance, because I realized that this situation wasn’t just going to go away and things were not going to return to normal. I didn’t even know what normal was and today “normal” doesn’t look anything like what it did a year and half ago. I also realized that camping out in my blanket cave, not eating or sleeping was taking a physical and emotional toll on my life and I knew that wasn’t the way to help my son. I needed something that would really get my butt in gear and get me started on a path of self-care. I had thought about taking up running, Zumba, or going back to the pottery studio where I had been taking classes the year prior to this crisis. Nothing sounded good. Honestly, it was exhausting to even think about getting myself up and out. I was conflicted because my days revolved around ensuring that my son was ok, visiting him in the hospital, attending family meetings, school meetings, doctors appointments, etc. I made up excuses that I didn’t have time. I didn’t have the energy. Honestly, I was in a way punishing myself as well. There was a part of me that didn’t feel as though I deserved to take care of myself. Clearly I hadn’t been able to take care of my son. (And there’s the blame that I mentioned in this post –> The Stigma: Blame, Shame and Secrecy ) I wasn’t immune to it. Being an active parent for my children and doing the best I could for them has always been a top priority. In fact, it was more than that; it was how I defined myself as a “good” parent. And this is where the FEAR Monster rears his head again.
Still, I needed to do something different, what I was doing was not working for me. I was living in constant fear; I was hiding from life and not treating myself well at all. Then, I was told about a yoga program being offered by a local studio, Inspire Yoga (InspirePenfield.com) called “40 days to Personal Revolution” based on the yoga teachings of Baron Baptiste. I signed up immediately. Boy did I jump in with both feet! The program included a commitment to practice yoga six times per week, participate in weekly workshops and focus on mediation, journaling and improving diet. Now, I know that this is not the perfect recipe for everyone going through a crisis of this type, but it was absolutely perfect for me. Once I committed to the program, I was dedicated to participating full on. As I look back, the reason why this program was so perfect for me was that the intensity of it mirrored the intensity of what I was experiencing attempting to come to terms with my son’s illness and the physical, mental and emotional strength needed to support him. It created balance.
Since the program’s completion, I have stayed with my yoga practice and focus on a goal of 3-5 practices per week. This keeps me present and much more grounded, even when the FEAR monster rears his head. And rears his head he does, often. I realized through this process that my goal really wasn’t to make the fear go away, but instead to recognize it and use the tools I learned in yoga – breathing, grounding, staying present, and resting – to not respond and react to the fear. I no longer move from zero to freak out, though I still experience all levels of fear from time to time. I just keep coming back to my yoga mat and bring that practice into and throughout my day. Oh, and I have come to recognize and accept that I am a “good” mother; forgiving myself for my perceived shortcomings.
This continues to be a work in process. What I know for sure is that taking care of me is top priority. If I’m not well, I really cannot be present for my son or my family.
Join the conversation, follow me on Twitter @farfrmparadise or email me at FarFromParadiseBlog@gmail.com