This Is Not My Plan
Updated: Apr 13, 2018
It’s an impossible story of survival, strength, love and faith. A teen fights for his individual and gender identity. A mom fights for safety, security and sobriety. Fear is woven into every thought as the parent tries to maintain some control in the home but everything she thinks she knows is being tested. She feels hopeless, powerless, exhausted and hurt. He feels angry, afraid, not respected and lonely.
There are moments when I can step outside of myself enough to admire the movie that is my life. In those moments I feel pride, compassion and love. I love all of the characters and the story line is incredibly entertaining. I can also feel empathy for everyone involved; each are doing the best they know how with the tools they have been given. I’m cheering for them all and can’t wait to see the happy ending.
Yet these are fleeting moments of bliss. In real life, I am the mom and most of the time, I am bursting with intense emotion and feel like I’m fighting the world. Managing (suppressing) my emotions is resulting in physical pain. My body literally aches; it feels tortuous and I think I may go insane if I can’t make it stop. My choices for numbing fly across my thoughts: a drink, food, prescriptions, sleep. Luckily I recognize each of these vices for what they are (self-destructive crutches) and what they aren’t (a solution).
Feelings are not facts but they are clues to pay attention to. I haven’t been doing this well. I have been shoving my feelings down and trying to ignore them. In part, I think I feel ashamed because anger and resentment towards my son are not the feelings I think I should have. I want my character in the movie to be loving and for people to admire how strong she is. Instead I feel constantly under attack by either my son’s normal attempts to individualize by challenging me or by the demands of my time, energy and money for countless doctor and therapy appointments while we explore transitioning genders. I feel like a hostage in my own life and am guilty of having temper tantrums comparable to my 15 year old’s.
Yep… if I were to judge myself I would say she is a nasty and self-centered person and so I try to hide this steaming pile of black bubbling up in my soul. Take a guess how this strategy is working out for me. It’s not good. I have moved from the realm of angry to explosive and it is evident I need to do something differently… NOW. My best and healthiest choice is to explore what I am feeling with loving curiosity. The below picture is my attempt.
It takes intention to peel back the layers of our complex feelings to understand what we need to do to bring about change. But once you get going it can be an easy exercise. You do need time, honesty and an understanding that you and you alone control your feelings and reactions. I could have easily listed my son’s actions in the why column as the reason for all of my feelings but that wouldn’t have been accurate or helpful. I need to understand my part so I can understand what I can do differently.
And what can I do differently? My chart points out that I am in my own way. No wonder why I feel like I am fighting the world! I literally am! My jaded feelings come from my thwarted attempts to control anything. My son has his own higher power and his own path. I AM POWERLESS and I need to understand and accept my role or risk losing my relationship and/or sanity. My role is to love and to guide followed by a big fat period. That’s it. Anything beyond these two responsibilities is harmful even if the intention is pure. This can still be a story of love and strength as soon as I decide to put my energy into my faith rather than my fears.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.