A few weeks ago, I was reading email as I waited in the waiting room, while my son Louis saw his therapist. Typically Louis goes in without me, but it had been a pretty upsetting car ride over, and if I hadn’t gone in, it wouldn’t have happened. Louis had a meltdown over paying for parking near the Taqueria we always got dinner at on therapy days. Louis’ anxiety around this issue had been worsening over the course of several months; he was deathly afraid I would get a ticket, and nothing I could say or do would relive him of this fear. So I forwent the weekly walk I typically did at this time, and spent the next 40 minutes hashing it out with Louis. As disappointed as I was not to exercise, it was actually a breakthrough session. Louis had been unwilling to talk directly about most of his serious issues, especially the OCD/Sensory ones, which he claimed were too embarrassing. For example: loosing it when his family was eating, or; protesting restaurants that required paying for parking. But his therapist threw him a curve-ball and left him little choice. Louis was refusing to let me leave, which was fine as per his therapist, as long he was willing to talk about “parking.” If he didn’t want to, fine, but I would have to leave. So……. Louis chose me over his anxieties, and we talked about “parking.” It was miraculous! The last 15 minutes I slipped away and sat in the waiting room, reading my email.
I was at quite a low. As I surfed my mail, I saw that one of my recent blog subscriptions had a new post. It was from Alana Shereen, a woman who wrote about grieving and pain and self-evolution. I found her writing inspiring, so I signed on. This weeks post was about a tele-retreat she was having. There was 1 spot she was giving away, and if you wanted a chance to win it, you need only sign up for a free shift session. A free shift session? I was intrigued, so I clicked on the bolded words, and it took me to an instant description of a shift session; a 15 minute phone call, where one can share any of life’s pains or difficulties, and then not only be held emotionally, but be given a definitive “next step ” in life. Now I was more than intrigued, I was in wonder. Getting to tell someone that I am struggling deeply? A definitive next step in just 15 minutes? What a gift! Before I could really think, I signed up for a “session” the next afternoon, shortly before I got the kids. I felt a light excitement. A person I had only read but never met, would call me to talk about me, with promises of a light at the end of the tunnel. I was at a low. I needed some light.
The next day at work I left myself a sticky note on my desk, so I wouldn’t forget: Alana Shereen- 4:30. The light excitement stayed with me for much of the day.
When I got home, I decided to write, and my most recent post, “Diary of a Serious Dip” was born (I told you I was at a low!). As I put the finishing touches on the post, my phone rang, and startled me. I had been in deep writing mode, and was feeling proud that I had completed another essay. It was Alana Sheeren. I put my computer down and we spoke.
It was strange-me talking to someone I barely knew personally, yet knew intimately through writing. I told Alana how I came to sign up for the session, and that I was looking for anything she could give me, even if it was just empathy. She asked me questions, and I answered. Then I started talking more, and a dam broke inside. Tears streamed down my face as I told her about my difficult ADHD+NVLD child (to learn more about NVLD, go to http://www.nldontheweb.org ), my sweet-angry-sick of his older brother-learning disabled younger child, all the therapy my husband and I deal with alone (6 a week last year!), my full time job, my woman’s group (did I mention I do this every other week or so?), my deep, deep, desire to become a writer. In the midst of talking, it suddenly struck me: I am tired. I never knew I was sooo tired. And then Alana said the magic words, words that have helped so much in the past 14 days:
You need to simplify your life.
You need to go somewhere quiet and alone, and let the answers come.
Simplicity. Something so simple as simplicity, had never occurred to me. I knew instantly at least part of what this meant, and I told Alana. Then we talked some more, and then it was over.
I thanked Alana honestly, and profusely. Alana did everything she said she would; she listened, she held me, she helped me find my way back through the dark. All in one, short, phone call. That is one amazing woman! And the tele-retreat, which I did not win, sounded incredible when I finally looked into it. I had been so wrapped up in the shift session, I never even knew what I signed up for. Like a shift session times 10, it sounded like, and I had to admit I was bummed it wasn’t me who won (to learn more about Alana, go to: AlanaSheeren.com).
Simplicity. This sounded achievable, I could do this. For now, quiet and alone meant time spent at home, as I rarely went away sans kids for extended periods.
Here is what I have realized since speaking with Alana 14 days ago:
Simplicity means letting go of some of the attachments I have for my children (back to Buddhism!): for Louis, that he get his social therapy somehow, someway, even though we have not an extra dime; and for Aiden, that he see a play therapist, someone who can help with the anger and pain he feels toward his older brother. These are things I have felt strongly must happen, no matter what for the betterment of their lives.
But it’s been exhausting me.
There is no money for more private therapy for Louis; I could let this go. Or, we could swap the new therapy for Louis’ current therapy, which we already pay out of pocket. You can’t have everything.
I could let my husband Paul do all the leg work to find a therapist for Aiden. I know it sounds crazy, but I am ok with driving Aiden to and from therapy. I just don’t want to make any of the phone-calls or visits required to make it happen. I did this extensively with Louis.
I could let these things go, I really could. I could learn how to love my life the way it is, all the sludge and all the sweet, in this moment.
So I began to let the answers come.
Here’s what I know: One of the difficulties I have with mindful living, is that desiring to make a living as a writer pulls me into the future. I have found (rather recently), that you can think about the future, while still aspiring to accept the present. The trick is to let go of any negativity felt towards any aspect of present life, for it’s this negativity that keeps one from feeling Zen. For me, it’s my job and my kids. All I want to do is write, write, write, and I can’t, as we are a 2-income family. But, I am lucky that I have had the same job for 12 years, and that I get 13 weeks of vacation a year. It’s during these times that I write the most. And my kids are my kids, I love them to death. No matter how much mental anguish or physical/bodily damage they cause me (I am serious, by the way). I am fortunate enough to know, through my day job, that there are children in the world worse off and more afflicted then mine. I will do my damndest to celebrate Louis and Aiden’s strengths, and hopefully, the rest will fall into place.
Besides, it’s not like I can give them away, although my husband and I have had our fair share of Craig’s List Moments (aka: CLM’s) of threatening to post…. “Rotten Children For Sale: $50 or Best Offer.” Making peace with my kids and my job are a big deal for me. I feel moments of it, and it feels good, although I am nowhere near whole. But I know someday I will get there; I am determined.
So simplicity, here I come. I call your name, as I hear the hummingbird singing in my yard. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicitysimplicitysimplicity…..a beautiful name you are.