In my yoga practice I've been working on some hip opening poses. I've got really inflexible hips, and creating more strength and flexibility does wonders for being a balanced rider on my horse. In Pigeon Pose you go from a runner's stretch to having one knee bent near the palm of your hand, the foot and ankle flat and angled toward your other hand. Then you lean forward and place your hands flat on the foor and allow your body weight to sink on top of that stretching hip flexor. (Well, if you're me, you try to lay flat and you hope that someday, maybe years down the road, you might actually be able to do it all the way properly) This morning as I folded forward on my bent leg and hip, even as I felt the discomfort of a tight ligament that was struggling hard to stretch, I simultaneously enjoyed the sensation of breath, of quiet, of relaxing every muscle in my face and neck. It was a moment of pure sensation, both pleasure and pain.
I don't think its all counterintuitive that this discomfort, over time, creates great healing for my physical and emotional self.
I can't think of any time in my life prior to this when I wouldn't have spent the weeks leading up to SG's departures in a state of gloom and dread. That's just what I used to do, I'd have imagined the worst, dwelt on how miserable and lonely I was going to be, and I would have hunkered right down into a cold, deep bucket of miserable.
I don't think I'm in denial. I expect that the first couple of days after he leaves are going to be tough emotionally, and I'm sure there will be times when I will get to missing him terribly and it will hurt. But I'm not afraid of it and I'm not dwelling on it.
It occured to me this morning as I was brushing my teeth that we have just over a week left, and while I had a pang of sadness about it, I was also thinking about what a lovely weekend we've just had. The sad feeling passed, more quickly than you might guess. I have become a stranger to myself, but in such amazing ways. I have experienced a transformation and while I can't pin it on any one thing in particular, I have some thoughts about what's led me here.
I'm a parent of kids with special needs. Being the mother of these two amazing human beings has taught me a lot about patience, about accepting that I don't have the answers right now, about being in the moment, about realizing that normal is really just a word that describes everyday chaos.
I'm reading David Richo's book The Five Things We Cannot Change and he talks about holding our opposites in a two-handed practice: "I can hold my fear in one hand and my commitment to no longer act in a fear-based way in the other."
Fear in one hand.
Serenity in the other.
One feels incredibly sharp, heavy. The other light, no more than the exhalation of a deep breath.
Of course there are still things that hurt, that frighten me. I honor the fear and allow myself to feel the grief of struggling with the bad days when the rages come and the medicine gets thrown back at me, and at the same time I enjoy to the fullest that sweet kiss on my cheek my son gives me at night and the feeling I get in my very center when my daughter smiles at me and her face is completely bathed in light and beauty.
In one hand, my sadness at saying goodbye to SG until possibly spring, in the other the contentment of time spent together, making music and talking about everything and nothing, reading, working.
It requires acceptance and surrender, and while I've lived a lot of years being skilled at neither, I am capable of learning to do both. My children have disorders that make life for them and for all of us very challenging. I can't change that. Fighting it does no service to my kids. Only when I accept it, when I say "yes" to it, can I do the things that can be done.
Most of the parents I know who have children with special needs carry within them this same mixture of agony and hopefulness, anger and joy, fear and optimism. Sometimes the balance tips one way or another, but we achieve a modicum of peace by acknowledging that this is hard while celebrating the everyday beauty, the successes small and large, the moments where things go well.
Can you hold onto your challenges and your optimism with both hands? Try it. I bet you can.