Some of you may be shocked by my news. Many of you won’t know what to say. Some of you may judge me and my family. And some of you will know exactly how I’m feeling, because you’ve been there.
You’ve experienced the pain of an adult child going off the rails in some way, whether into addiction, mental health issues, crime, or all three. You know what it’s like to be a mother who loves and grieves for her child, but who is powerless to fix the situation.
For almost a year now our family has been waiting for this day. This day when our youngest son was sentenced to federal prison. For a period of time he will lose his liberty and we will lose our son. There will be an empty place at the table for holidays and family celebrations. We feel the sentence was fair and necessary. We are so thankful our son is alive and has an opportunity to turn his life around.
For the past year I’ve been holding this news close to my heart, not sharing it openly. I’m an open person and it hurts me to hold my feelings in. So I’ve decided to share this update for two reasons. One, so that I can let it out and begin to move forward with my own healing. Two, so I can share with you what I’m doing to take care of myself during this difficult time.
I had no idea that my reinvention after breast cancer, that the self care tips I learned and now share with others would become my lifeline for going forward. That they would be needed again and in this circumstance.
I had no idea that the skills I learned would help me today to find moments of joy and happiness despite the heart break I am experiencing.
So what am I doing to take care of myself?
I’m writing and sketching in my journal. I’m making sure to write What Ifs each day, to open my mind to possibility and to invite in wonder and abundance and creativity. (What Ifs is an exercise in both of my One Loop at a Time books and is described in this prior blog post.)
I’m taking life one loop at a time and thinking about what do I need right now?
I’m exercising and getting outside to turn my face to the sun. While I’m walking I’m looking for five moments that bring me joy – and taking the time to let that feeling settle into my body.
I’m giving myself permission to not be okay some days. To be the mother sobbing as she leaves the courthouse. To sit and watch the birds with my cat and a cup of green tea in my favourite mug.
I’m designing a new healing mat called This Cord of Love That Binds Us. It is about the invisible cord of love that connects us with our children even when we can’t reach them. It is one way I am sending my son beams of mother love from my heart to his.
And I’m writing a book about my experience. I’m hoping it will connect with other parents whose adult children are off the rails. I’m hoping it will be a source of inspiration so they feel less alone and can start to rebuild their own lives by learning to take care of themselves. So that they can learn to love their son but realize he is on his own journey.
I’m taking my own advice to reach out and am connecting with others who share my experience. I have joined a Moms group, for mothers of incarcerated men. They give me both practical and emotional support. And we laugh a lot.
I’m embracing and looking forward to the many good things in my life right now – my upcoming Craft LAIR (local artist in residence), a trip with my sister, sharing time with my husband, learning to spin and dye yarn for my projects, and so much more.
I’m taking good care of myself so that I can continue my work of inspiring others to engage in creativity as a vehicle for self care, and to keep moving forward one loop at a time.
If you are going through a difficult period, I hope you will take a look at the exercises I have found (and am finding) so helpful. I’ve provided links to previous blog posts above, and of course you can find all of these tips and more in my One Loop at a Time books.