“Try not to resist changes that come your way. Instead, let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
I have struggled to allow life to live through me and not want to influence its direction. I have aspired to do as Rumi instructs and not resist the changes and challenges that seem to flow endlessly into my life. Recently when facing new challenges, I have reminded myself that I have overcome so much worse and can survive this too.
One of the most difficult challenges I have faced in my life has been supporting my daughter Fiona through a lifetime of health challenges and chronic pain. Since her first seizure that lasted 55 minutes and nearly took her life at age two, there have been many times when I thought she might not live through the night or might give up all hope that things could get better. Living in constant crisis management transformed my sense of normal and left me feeling perpetually that my life was turned upside down.
One constant that grounded me during all of the chaos was my role as Fiona’s mom. I fined tuned my role as her primary health advocate and wellness coordinator, counselor and emotional support, teacher and school advocate, most enthusiastic cheer leader and hope holder, and the one responsible for finding the solution for her suffering. There were so many times I wished I could take on her suffering, as it was far more painful to witness her suffer and not being able to do anything to stop it, than to carry the burden on my own.
When Fiona went to live in Australia for a year after high school, I was so proud of her for having the courage and strength to travel while still in chronic pain. Although it was difficult for me to let go of all the roles I played in her life and my sense of purpose in being her mom, I knew it was essential for her to live out her dream and possibly even heal herself.
That was four years ago when I felt my life turn upside down. Amazingly I survived and found purpose in many other aspects of my life, including parenting her younger sister Zoey. Fiona has since returned from Australia and is now vibrantly healthy as you can see in the photo above, but now her little sister has left for college and I am officially an empty nester. Letting go of Zoey and my day to day role as her mom has been incredibly painful and I am so grateful to remember the lessons I learned when Fiona originally left for Australia.
What I learned is that in order to stay grounded in the midst of change and not resist it, we must honor the loss. When we acknowledge the experience of death and loss that occurs with every major change in our lives, we can then open to the possibility of something better on the other side. Honoring loss and the emotions that arise is critical for our self-awareness, growth and healing.
Making enough space around ourselves to feel all we do is so important in the practice of self-nurturing. When we honor all of our emotions instead of rejecting or ignoring them, we open to the healing power of self-compassion and loving kindness that quiets our inner-critic.
When I make enough space around me, I can honor my joy for my daughters, my gratitude for their ability to live their own lives, my sadness at not having them live at home, my ambivalence about not playing a central role in their lives anymore, my deep appreciation for the young women they have become and how inspired I am that they are living their dreams!
When we acknowledge all of the messiness of our experiences and feelings, we are able to embrace our authentic truth and cultivate peace, joy, and hope.
I invite you to reflect on the following questions:
What losses might you need to honor and grieve?
What conflicting emotions are you holding about these losses?
How can you show yourself compassion and loving kindness as you honor your grief and process your feelings?
As Rumi asked, “How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
Although change can be deeply unsettling, we can remain grounded by acknowledging the loss, processing the emotions and then looking to the infinite possibilities in front of us. We can choose not to resist the change but instead turn toward the possibilities that change provides in our lives. I am committed to doing just that and staying grounded in the midst of change!
Remember, “Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.” ~Teresa Tsalaky
May you have the courage to let life live through you, and nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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