Big hugs to you on this day that can be such a mixed bag. It makes me think of the metaphorical boxes we put ourselves in.
What boxes do we put ourselves into you ask? Victim? Rescuer? Caregiver? The Problem? The Solution? Bad/Good Parent?
As I’ve been wrapping myself around this new phase of the pandemic in which many of us thankfully are vaccinated, it’s a mind-bender to be back around people in close proximity. Many of us are feeling the bizarre time-warp like sensation of not knowing what happened in the past year. Or when things happened. Many of us were merely trying to survive in so many different ways. It has taken a toll no matter how privileged we are. Those who are less privileged have suffered losses most of us cannot even fathom.
We’re beginning to emerge from a time that none of us could have imagined. And the toll has been vast and will continue to be for a long time. The challenges to everyone’s mental health are being revealed. It doesn’t help that therapists across the country have full practices and people are not able to access the care for depression and anxiety that they desperately need. Eating disorder treatment centers have 4-10 week wait lists. So how do we manage until we can get whatever support we need?
A book that has made a big impact on my life is, “Leadership and Self-Deception” by the Arbinger Institute. They teach that our self-deception—our tendency to see the world around us in a distorted way is what keeps us “in the box.” This book is where I finally got it that we continue our own misery by blaming others for our failures and suffering. It can be hard to see when and how we betray ourselves when we’re exhausted and afraid so we can feel like victims and become the opposite of how we want to be for our loved ones who are sick. We start to blame others and get the results opposite of what we want. It’s definitely a process to shift to honoring others as people with needs, hopes, worries and dreams that are legitimate. When we make this shift, we can begin to be the caregivers we wish to be. When we begin to do this we can start to get out of our box of suffering.
It’s not all as simple as my short and imperfect summary. Little steps can make a big difference over time. Think of rain drops and how
quickly they can fill a bucket. Each one might seem insignificant but pretty soon a river is overflowing. What is one small thing you can do differently that can make a big difference over time?
On this Mother’s Day I am abundantly aware of what a painful day this is for so many in a multitude of ways and for many reasons…I see you and your grief over losses so indescribably painful. I took great comfort in Margaret Renkle’s piece for her column in the New York Times about Mother’s Day. I greatly appreciated these particular words, “…national fairy tale in a nation that does almost nothing to support mothers.” Indeed. Almost nothing. To make her article accessible to all, here it is in the Salt Lake Tribune. Thankfully there are trained people who provide some of that support. I have a list of clinicians across the country whom I trust and respect that I’m happy to share. And later this month we are training another small group of coaches to use the model I’ve been using for almost 20 years to support family caregivers of those with eating disorders.
May we all find more; joy…peace…calm…happiness…reduced suffering, fun and connection as we move into this next.