Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Desperately Seeking Serenity

Framed Serenity
Originally uploaded by

Therapy Tuesday.

Today's topic: Life's disappointments.

Apropos to yesterday's framework of discussion, 12 step meetings, I found myself dealing with the ongoing challenges, and disappointments, of parenthood today. It all brought me face to face with the fact that I have very little control over those things that are most important to me.

"God grant me the serenity..."

Without going into each of their histories, it is known that my children have many significant challenges in their lives. With each of these there are ongoing disappointments that seem to come my way. In dealing with my latest challenge, or relapsed kid, I realize how out of control I can become now that Michael is not hear to be my anchor. Throughout my years with Michael, we were faced with the ongoing turbulence that is my children's lives. I'm not talking about a sudden change of altitude turbulence, I'm talking about luggage flying out of overhead compartments type of turbulence. While I usually took the lead, as they were my children, Michael always stood by my side, either to give me strength, or to point out when I was trying to control those things which I couldn't.

"To accept the things I cannot change;"

When Michael was first diagnosed with his brain tumor, I quickly learned what the role of the spouse was when one is given a fatal prognosis. I was supposed to learn everything about brain tumors, and learn it fast. I was supposed to versed in the latest clinical trials, options in chemotherapy, and familiar with all non-traditional remedies. My main focus became keeping my husband alive, and as I soon found, the cards were stacked against me. As much as I wanted to believe that we were chasing down the right course of treatment that would put Michael in the 5% that lived beyond two years, I was also quite harshly reminded that I had no control over this. In time I realized what I did have control over, which was how he would die.

"The courage to change the things that I can;"

In all, I must say that today was a day of taking a good look at what life has thrown against me. This, of course, included lots of self pity, and plenty of tears. As my therapist pointed out, while it has certainly been a rough go for me, he has a hard time believing that the universe just has it out for me. Even in my pain and sorrow, I have to agree. The life I once imagined as a father, or as a husband, has been something I've had to let go of. The fact of the matter is, this is who my children are. They have these challenges for a reason. There is nothing I can do to change their history, and there is nothing I can do to control the outcome of their choices or dilemmas, just as there was nothing I could do about my husband dying. Things are what they are. I cannot will Michael back to life, and I cannot will my children's lives to be something that isn't so. All I can do is learn to accept what life has brought me, and find a way to keep moving forward. What I can control is how I respond to all of this. I can seek out the best way to take care of myself, so that I am available should my children need me.

"And the wisdom to know the difference."

Of course none of this is new, and none of this is easy. I suppose that's where the need for that higher power come in.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

1 comment:

  1. This is just such a difficult situation. No, there are things that you can't change, but do you feel that, if you go ahead with the relocation idea, you will have enough additional support that it will be easier to cope with the day to day stuff of living? I sometimes think that, when we are stressed by the every day grind of our lives, we have so little of our "life force" remaining that situations feel overwhelming and out of control. We can try so hard to control things, to get them right, etc.. but as you have stated in your example of caring for Michael, there is still so much that remains beyond us - that we just have to find that place where we can "exist" and be prepared to let things happen as the will. Easier said than done, but at least you have the awareness to know that is the case. It's my hope that, if you do relocate this summer, you'll have enough additional support that you will have some "surplus energy" to be able experience parenthood without so much stress and pressure.