Acceptance and Continuing
I had a good cry today.
I’ve learned that when those emotions come, I should release them, and don’t hesitate to feel bad from time to time.
It is true that I did a great job accepting Joana’s condition, and understand the bigger picture. I acknowledged all the blessings that came directly because of this situation. I know that I did a “great job” because I do feel happy most of the time. There is no more questioning “Why me, why her, why us?”. No more guilt, no more worrying about the future but living and enjoying the moment.
Still, an emotional state is not a picture in a frame, to stay on some shelf unchanged forever. I would do a bad job (for me) if I stubbornly claim that I only need to accept and work on myself and be open to see all the blessings in disguise, and I never ever going to feel “down” again. That is not possible and it’s not the point at all.
You know, acceptance goes both ways around:
On one hand to get out of the initial shock that your child will be facing mental and physical challenges, the first step is to accept everything as it is.
On the other hand, every time negative emotions come, you need to accept them too. There is no magic dust that will keep you high forever and ever.
And you have to admit that sometimes feeling bad, makes you feel good. It’s not such a rare paradox. If you feel bad, have a good cry, embrace your sadness, don’t push against it, and you will be relieved and feel balanced again in no time.
But this whole “crying/feeling bad” situation sometimes feels wrong to us because we end up feeling even worse. The reason this is happening is that we don’t give ourselves permission to feel bad. We think it’s a failure, not showing strong enough, not being good enough; look, we cannot even make it one whole day without crying. Biting ourselves up with all that negativity that only our mind is creating for us (nobody else actually thinks all this about us), makes us feel worse and even bitter sometimes.
So, not that just we need to learn how to be happy, but we need to learn how to be sad too.
Let me tell you why I cried today.
Joana and I were home alone, in our living room and we were enjoying a cartoon on TV. She set in her wheelchair and started to coughing. I get up to help her and I decided to inhale her. The procedure is to put a little cooking water in the cup of the inhalator, and hold it in front of her face for 4-5 minutes and let the steam come to her bronchi. As I hold that and stud In front of her I took her hands and put them in the inhalator so now it looked like we are holding it together. For a moment I thought she can continue to hold that alone and I put my hands away and her arms just fell down because she has no muscle tone.
That was a trigger. I caught the first thought before the tsunami (ok, I’m exaggerating a little, it wasn’t exactly a storm of emotions), and it was “She can’t even hold…” and I started to cry. And I let my self be in that self-pity moment for a while because I know that emotional state can change because I know that my body needs to react properly because I know it will be worse if I start to be mad at myself and to pretend that I am a robot. And I cried for maybe 2-3 minutes, still holding the inhalator In front of her face and I was aware that physically I feel more and more relieved. Until finally I even found the situation rather comical because, here I am, feeling sorry for her that she can’t use her hands and there she is, completely unaware of my sadness, sitting all cute with her chubby cheeks enjoying “Moana” and feel completely calm and enjoying the moment. Ok, I did smile a little when I pictured how I am going to tell my bestie about this over the phone.
The point is, unlike in the past, when these negative feelings would bring me to a very bad place, now I managed to come in balance in no time. Because it was a decision from two years ago that I will take the responsibility how am I going to feel and that I am going to let myself feel and process everything at the moment. And I don’t push against sadness and tears but I give myself permission.
So, as I didn’t fight the thought “She can’t even hold…” and I let my emotional reaction of that thought to come out, in a minute I let myself see that I am the one that causes the suffering I feel, by assuming that she is equally as frustrated because her disabilities as I am. And she was not frustrated at all. She was just enjoying the cartoon and looked totally content.
And now, I feel happy and relieved again and this sensation is lasting for hours which is way longer than a 3-minute cry. I am now acknowledging her from where she is. I enjoy that she is by my side, spending a nice Sunday afternoon together. I enjoy that I get to hug her and kiss her and to feel her energy. I appreciate her will to live and to rise above many health challenges in the past few years.
I appreciate her ability to not push against and to enjoy her life from her perspective.
I love her and I am very proud of her so much.