won·der
/ˈwəndər/
noun
1.a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
“he had stood in front of it, observing the intricacy of the ironwork with the wonder of a child”
verb
1. desire or be curious to know something.  “how many times have I written that, I wonder?”

When family caregivers are in a state of fear, exhaustion, panic, worry and distress, it’s really hard to get past the suffering and be calm and regulated for a loved one with an eating disorder.

Seems rather an understatement when I read it out loud. Like, no kidding?!  And utilizing the tools we’ve been taught take a lot of practice and intentionality.

Imagine this scenario (I’m certain many of you live this daily): Your adult child who is very dysregulated, malnourished, depressed, angry, bingeing and purging, not following their meal plan, not sleeping is yelling at you because you don’t have the ‘right’ food in the house. You’re; exhausted, worried about managing the  pay-cut you got months ago due to the pandemic, worried even more about your job disappearing, scared your child will die, afraid to set boundaries because they threaten self-harm, no one on the team has told you your role, you don’t know what to say or do to help your adult child to not get sicker and you have to go to the bathroom and they pick a fight with you about this lack of the ‘right’ food in the house.

What if we were curious or in a state of wonder at the beauty, love, goodness and support that are present for us rather than fear? Easier said than done I know. Wonder is easy when all is calm, you’re relaxing on a beach chair watching a sunset in the company of someone who loves and respects you, you’re safe and the bugs aren’t biting.

With fear it might look like this:

It becomes a screaming match, you try to fix it and try to take away their distress, you both end up crying, you wet your pants, your adult child doesn’t eat or binges on grandma’s birthday cake instead of breakfast and you end up feeling like a total failure and your fear escalates. And your loved one is in their room self harming.

With wonder it might look like this: 

You take a very deep breath, pause, validate your loved one, don’t try to fix it, offer compassion and excuse yourself to the bathroom where you relieve yourself AND take some time to do some conscious breathing and gratitude. Then you find your way to wonder… And your loved one screams and rants and throws things and manages to find something else to eat or goes to their room and does some journaling or other soothing technique their team has taught them.

So, how on earth you might ask, am I as a depleted caregiver juggling; homeschooling my kids, working from home, managing my own distress about my sick child, trying to be a united front with my co-parent, supposed to calmly diffuse the situation and choose wonder over fear? Again, way easier said than done.

So let’s get some tools lined up to put in your tool belt so that when you’re depleted you don’t have to try and remember them, you can simply have a list handy to practice. And please give yourself some grace, you will not do this perfectly. It will take lots of practice. The good thing is that you’ll have loads of opportunities to practice finding something to be astonished by or able to admire anything.

In this photo what you cannot see is the week old baby I’m holding and had been looking at in a state of wonder. That is what brought that smile to my face.

Wandering our way to Wonder Tools:

  1. Having a sense of curiosity not judgment
  2. Giving ourselves grace
  3. A pause and a deep breath
  4. Choosing wonder
  5. Conscious breathing tools such as hand breathing or 4,7,8 breathing
  6. Noticing the discomfort
  7. Finding one thing to be in a state of wonder about
  8. Choosing the outcome you prefer
  9. Managing your immediate needs (ie- going to the bathroom)
  10. Finding things to continue to be in wonder about even when it seems preposterous
  11. Utilizing gratitude and finding at least one thing to be grateful for
  12. Letting go of trying to “fix” the other person
  13. Accepting what is vs trying to change it

These are simply some tools, there are many more that you may have or may have been taught or that you teach others. Feel free to share on my social media accounts. The hive mind can be a great resource.

If you’re looking for another resource, my Recovery Roadmaps partners and I are celebrating our December and January birthdays with $15 off on our 3 part webinar series now. The three of us all share tools to help family caregivers move from panic to plan. Purchase it here and use the code: RRSBIRTHDAY to get it now at $15 off.

If you’re in need of more support, check out the services on my website to see which product or service might serve your needs best.

Take care,