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.
I honestly did a great job accepting Joana’s condition and understanding 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 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 lousy job (for me) if I stubbornly claim that I only need to accept and work on myself and be open to seeing all the blessings in disguise. I am 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 the 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. 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. This is happening because 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 creates for us (nobody else actually thinks all this about us) makes us feel worse and even bitter sometimes.
So, not just do 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 sat in her wheelchair and started to cough. I got up to help her, and I decided to inhale her. The procedure is to put a little cooking water in the inhalator’s cup, hold it in front of her face for 4-5 minutes, and let the steam come to her bronchi. As I held that and studded in front of her, I took her hands and put them in the inhalator so now it looked like we were holding it together. For a moment, I thought she could continue to hold that alone, and I put my hands away, and her arms just fell down because she had 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). It was “She can’t even hold…” and I started to cry. And I let myself be in that self-pity moment for a while because I know that emotional state can change. I know that my body needs to react properly because I know it will worsen if I start to be mad at myself and 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 I felt more and more relieved physically.
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 was 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 responsibility for how I am 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 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 lasts 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, kiss her, and feel her energy. I appreciate her will to live and rise above many health challenges in the past few years.
I appreciate her ability to not push against and enjoy her life from her perspective.
I love her, and I am very proud of her so much.