Monday, October 13, 2014

Letting Go of Hope

I’ve had an emotional week this week after facing another unexpected challenge in our life. It feels like these trials just keep coming. Sometimes it feels like we’re cursed.

I’ve lived on hope for such a long time, for years, celebrating the New Year with enthusiasm because, “This is our year when things finally get better.” Or getting through another hurdle telling myself that things will get better, “just around the corner.”

But after this recent setback, I find myself losing that hope altogether. It’s not that I’ve given up, but I think I need to move towards accepting that things may never go as I’d desired and what lies around the corner is another challenge I have to face. That the waves of trouble will keep on coming.

That realization makes me angry and sad. I’m so tired of things not going our way. I’m struggling with jealousy as I watch others move so gracefully through life. Seeing videos and photos of other families is painful, why can’t things be like that for us?

My boys are growing and changing so much and it feels like it’s happening faster than I’d anticipated. I think a part of me had always hoped that our life would finally achieve that balance and that we’d experience a period of peace instead of feeling like we’re, “hanging on for life,” all the time. This latest blow, makes me face the fact that my children may grow through their entire childhood with this weight over us. That we may never achieve that place of peace.

With that comes a feeling of being a failure as a mother. I didn’t get to nurture my boys the way I wanted to. I didn’t help them grow spiritually the way I’d wished to. I didn’t have enough fun with them the way I desired to. It feels like there were so many obstacles in our life that I didn’t get to be the mom I wanted to be.

At the same time, I realize that if I continue to sulk and complain about feeling cheated, I’ll miss this precious time left with my boys. That if I’m not careful, I will miss all the good surrounding me. I don’t want to look back on these years of raising my boys with regret because I didn’t appreciate all that I did have.

So with that realization, I’m working towards a new resolution of letting go of hope and trying to embrace what I’m blessed with.

Because I really do have it good.




14 comments:

  1. I can relate to this. Just when you think things are improving, things start falling apart. I look at others and wonder if we will ever be normal. How much more can we take when we are working so hard to survive.

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  2. I won't be too tired to repeat it, but your feelings are more common to motherhood generally speaking than you think.
    You think that "I watch others move so gracefully through life". You see them what you feel as "moving so gracefully through life", but apparences are sooooo deeply deceiving.
    Behind the door, you cannot know what really happens with family X or family Z.
    Maybe couple Z and their children, who look like the poster picture of the ideal family with mom and dad, well behaved children, spotless house.... are on the verge to divorce while keeping the perfect face outside home. Maybe family X's mom is going through depression with being a SAHM and the dad is on the verge to be laid off while the children are impossible to deal with.

    When you say "I didn’t get to nurture my boys the way I wanted to. I didn’t help them grow spiritually the way I’d wished to. I didn’t have enough fun with them the way I desired to. It feels like there were so many obstacles in our life that I didn’t get to be the mom I wanted to be.", I notice that you say the exact same things than many, many moms raising typically typical children. No mom is immune from such feelings, and I say this as a childfree. Even the "most perfect mom of the most typical children" have moments with these feelings.

    The fact that your children have behavioral difficulties brightens these feelings that are more often than not blasting out of proportions with the reality of life.
    Don't get me wrong, your feelings are very real.

    My point is that you compare yourself with the poster family with perfect parents and perfect children like you see in the media, then you beat yourself up with guilt and shame that is completely out of proportions with the reality.
    You seem to think that "because you have children with SN, you must be more perfect than the most typical family". It sets up for failure because even the most typical family cannot match these unrealistic expectations. I know I sound like a broken record, but even the most typical family you see in the medias does not actually manage to fulfil the expectations from the medias when you get to know them.
    If even the most typical family does not fulfil the medias expectations, your not fulfilling these unachievable goals of perfectionism is unavoidable. Your not reaching these goals have nothing to do with your parenting worthiness because no one measure up to them, not even the poster family you put on a piedestal.

    You don't do worse than the poster family and the poster family does not do any better than you do.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback Giulia! It's a good perspective to keep.

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    2. It is no secret that mothers are their own worst critics. You've been dealt a pretty hefty hand and from what I've read you've approached it with much faith, compassion, perseverance and wisdom. I have friends whose children clearly have mental health issues and they haven't even begun to think to approach it the way you and Papa Bear have. So while you may not feel as those you desrve credit... you really do. And I know that other readers cheer you on and admire you as well. Unfortunately, we shoot ourselves in the foot when we compare ourselves to others. Because what we're actually comparing ourselves to is the image. And many times that image is far from the real thing. I understand it's hard to resist the urge and especially in times like what you're experiencing right now. But, don't let go of your hope, whatever you do. What kind of faith would we have without hope? Sending many hugs your way. May God comfort you and give you an abundance of strength to continue the race with confidence. :)

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    3. Thanks Nemya, I appreciate your encouraging words. Just what I needed tonight.

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    4. Generally speaking, medias are fooling ourselves into thinking that women, and especially mothers, can be and have to be perfect if they want to be happy. Perfection means for them :
      - thin but not too thin, otherwise you're not a "real" woman
      - you must wish children and you must have them between 30 and 40 yo, otherwise you are not a "true complete woman". Not having children means for them that you must have some sort of psychological problem solved with therapy
      - you must be a social person, otherwise you must be a selfish, entitled, superficial, therefore deserving neither friendship nor love.
      But these sexist standards are only lies to make us feel unhappy. It gives latitude for medias and ads to sell us what they want us to buy.

      Actually, a "real woman" must not do anything special.
      Actually, a "good mother" deals with the children she is given, not trying to treat everyone the same. No matter what medias-liars try to make us believe.

      We are all our worst critics with ourselves. Medias and ads only exacerbate our being over-critical.

      What you are saying about your sons is embedded into a bigger pictures : women are more often than not taught to feel guilty when relationships go wrong with people.
      Women are taught that if they are not beautiful and don't want/have children, they must be worthless and selfish to the core.
      Statistics show that women with +1DS IQ score (115 and over on Wechler scale) have -21% - 25% odds to be parents. IQ have no impact on parenthood for men. (source : http://reason.com/blog/2014/07/31/smart-women-dont-have-babies)
      Women are taught that if they dare to be intelligent, they cannot be "true women" because it means shadowing men's success. If a man with high IQ is seen as bragging, women are even more vilified and judged.

      You do not deserve any of this, no matter what holier-than-thou claim all the time.
      For having BTDT, being part of a targeted group for medias bashing makes easy to be trapped into guilt : "if medias say so, it has to be true and of course, I must deserve feeling this way". It's very difficult to see clearly how wrong this situation is, especially when people you've BTDT spout on you how normal is this situation and how happy you should be happy to receive charity, so don't badmouth about it yada yada....
      When I read you and how guilty you feel for "not doing this and that as any good mother would do", it reminds me much about medias bashing on mother and ppl with mental illness.
      I still go throgh the same thing in France for people taking ritalin for ADHD (with its denial of medical care and lost friends).

      What medias say about all this has nothing to do with feeling better and everything to do with getting more $$$$$$ in their pockets.
      So, contrary to what medias and holier-than-thou spit, you are a mother who is dealing with the children she's been given and does whatever she can do to raise them into very valuable people.
      That's all what matters, the rest is only literature as we say in France ! ;-)



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  3. Love your blog btw. I can definitely relate to you. My son also has bipolar and I also have it. I know I can’t fix my son’s issues at school. But I can insist that the school provides him the best learning environment. Just keep working with the school. At home give them the best environment of love and peace. The peace that my Grandmother would give me got me through school. College was so much better and life only got better as I got older. Keep hanging in there. Remember they have really little or no control over how to react in certain instances. Can a diabetic child control their insulin levels? No. They have eat the right food and monitor their insulin level. Just like your son. He can eat the best he can and take his medicine but after that he has little control how the chemicals in his brain work. Just provide him the best environment to help him through these tough years. Also, take time for yourself. If you don’t feel good neither will your kids!

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    1. I’m so encouraged to hear that efforts by others made difference in your life.

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  4. Don't lose hope, Mama Bear! Just think what your sons' lives would look like right now without you fighting for them every step of the way. Whatever additional difficulties come your way, whatever other blows or setbacks you experience, doesn't mean your hope was in vain. That's the hope that kept you going! However imperfect your family life is now, it's BETTER than it would have been, because of you and Papa Bear's efforts. Don't forget to celebrate the good stuff!

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  5. I just found your blog, and so appreciate your honesty in expressing the truth: how difficult it is to hold on to hope when challenges are continual. I started my own blog in March, focusing mostly on my experience with my 22-year-old son with autism, and have struggled with not wanting to be a "downer" and write only about the difficulties involved. But it is my experience that the painful chapters are what we most need to share, to escape the crushing loneliness and despair that can so easily consume us if we allow it to. This doesn't mean our lives, and our children, don't bring us joy beyond measure -- I can't imagine my life without my son, or my "typical" daughter -- but the dark places need the light of day -- need airing, so to speak -- to keep them from taking over completely. So, thank you for sharing your truth. It means a lot to me. Here's a link to a recent blog I posted about the loss of hope with my own son; maybe it will resonate. Thanks again, and hang on.
    Kristen Scott: http://www.goodmarching.com/?p=621

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    1. Thanks for sharing Kristin, I will check it out. You hit the nail on the head–we need to air out the pain so it doesn't consume our lives. I am so much better after I vent my struggles and I am a better mom after too!

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  6. I found your blog about a month ago during one of the hardest times we've faced with my son so far. To me this entry gave me hope and insight. It taught me to accept what we cannot change and be happy with it. I too need to "let go of hope" for the "ideal" life, and let go of all the regrets that I didn't get to do because of other obstacles. This gave me the passion again to appreciate what my family has and how we function together. We are closer and stronger because we fight together. I need to read this and be reminded ti stop striving for someone else's life and embrace mine. And yet it gave me permission to moarn the loss of wanting a "regular" life.

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    1. I'm so glad you found these words helpful. It is truly life giving to embrace what we have, I hope to continue this perspective in the new year. I hope the same for you too.

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