I have a quote up in my boys’ room telling me:
“I thought I would teach my children about life, but they taught me.”
And now we are a family of five, that rings truer than it ever did.
The years we were in the adoption process have been some of the hardest for my husband and me, and there was so much mess. So many difficult feelings, so many unanswered questions and grey areas. I feel like I learned more about living in the mess, and that’s not what we are sold as life is it?
We are sold that we can control so much, that we can live our best life every day, that we can speak our truth and it will materialise, ask the universe and it will manifest. But what about when it doesn’t? What about when pain, grief and uncertainty are prevalent and we are caught by surprise, time and time again? Like now. Like Lockdown part two. I am feeling lethargic, struggling to focus and overwhelmed about parenting and work.
What does this have to do with my usual harping on about diets? Recently I read an excellent book on parenting called “No-Drama Discipline” https://amzn.to/3921JBD (God knows I need all the help I can get to keep my shit together this year!). It talks about our lives flowing like a river with one bank being rigidity and the other being chaos. The river, itself, is us living with flexibility, adapting and acceptance.
The belief that we can make our body conform to an ideal that is beyond our grasp, if only we are committed enough, stick to it and keep on track. This is at the heart of every diet there ever was and ever will be. We throw ourselves into living this rigid life, following the plan, doing what we are told, keeping to all the rules. And, it doesn’t work so we bounce onto the other bank. The one where chaos reigns.
The one where we get to eat all the Christmas chocolates in November (don’t get me started on the Covid restricted Quality Street, WTF?). The bank is fun and free and we get to rebel against the rules and reassert our autonomy as a hormonal teenager only can. But then what? The hangover, the shame, the truth that this isn’t a way to live long term and we are flung back to the opposing bank. And so we keep going on living in this exhausting fashion.
Until we get on the boat in the river. The river flows and can be unpredictable, it can change course and the water becomes choppy. We accept that and we do what we can to stay safe in the boat, but we recognise we have limited control. We adapt to the conditions and we understand our limitations. This becomes a way of life that is fulfilling. And, sometimes there is mess that we don’t understand, but we cope.
My daughter and her arrival in my life are teaching me that I need to continue to journey on the river because that’s where I live and learn. The banks are just a holding mechanism to defer the reality, the pain and the best of life. I can live on a diet and bounce back and forth or I can accept the bigger picture of needing to learn to deal with the mess within and around me and grow as a human being.
How about you? What bank are you on right now? If you want to get in the boat and start working with the mess and joy, get in touch and we can begin.