Wishing you a Happy New Year while in my recliner, wearing a fuzzy pink bathrobe and fuzzy, pink pig slipper socks. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea…I was dressed, went to work, came back home because of a sick kiddo, busted out several hours of chores in my kitchen and this is my reward to myself. Comfy, cozy attire with my kiddo and pets nearby. This is bliss for me, a mellow time at home, with my loved ones and my computer. My new favorite playlist on iTunes is comprised of the songs from the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy. They are what I, at age 36, consider older songs. I especially enjoy “Spirit in the Sky” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” but they are all great songs. However, I find it a little hard to write while singing.
Wow. My last post was way back on December 18th. That seems like a very long time ago. Since then we’ve had lots of great family time. It was awesome to have Preston home this year, sitting next to me on Christmas Eve service at church. It was hilarious. He and I both wanted to sit next to my husband to listen to him sing the harmonies with the all the Christmas songs, so we kept playing music chairs. We were all completely engaged in service. Although I received many great presents this Christmas, that moment where my entire family was mentally healthy and experiencing happiness together, was incredible.
Now that the Christmas season is behind us for this year, there is talk of the new year and for many people that involves New Year’s Eve celebrations and New Year Resolutions. I prefer the quiet passing of one year to the next. We stay home as a family and spend time together and this year, we were all asleep by 9:30pm. To be honest, I’d rather stay on a “regular” sleep schedule and have time for introspection.
I spent part of New Year’s Eve thinking back to the challenges that myself as an individual and my family have faced. Mid-January was the hardest challenge I’d faced. While Preston had already spend 4 weeks in residential treatment, he still could have benefitted from more time when his insurance decided they were done paying. Even though he still had thoughts of suicide and self-harm, it was my turn to provide the 24- hour-a-day-supervision and emotional support and stability and provide a safe environment. What had been performed by a team of trained professionals, fell squarely on my soldiers. While I was thrilled to have him within arms reach, I was terrified and overwhelmed. Preston had done a lot of work in the 7 weeks he had been gone but was still a fragile, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed teenager. Having him home with his needs meant that my husband and I lived in a state of alertness that pumped our bodies with adrenaline and cortisol, that made me feel like I was hunkered down in a foxhole. I worked to learn Preston’s cues, use the right lingo, be available, appear confident and make decisions for him about outpatient appointments and follow-up and chaperone him nearly every minute of the day. The transition home was a long one. For awhile, he slept in my king-sized bed so I was close by and there for him. We talked each other to sleep, listened to music or read. When he was ready to go back to his own room, his choice, I slept on the floor in his room so I was available. Our whole family learned to live life at a different pace. On more than one occasion, I lost hope, couldn’t see the forrest for the trees and wailed in despair. I’ve never felt as broken as I did when Preston was broken. Parenting is always a large responsibility but when you are responsible for keeping a resourceful 14 year-old from self harm, it reaches a different level of critical living. Life was far from normal. My husband and I would grab a few minutes to talk to each other in hushed tones but quickly returned to the boys. We hadn’t found a book that was a very good guide for what we were tying to navigate. While Preston was sad/depressed/anxious, he still remained polite and respectful, which appears rare from many of the descriptions I’ve read about teenagers who experience a mental health crisis. If we said, you need to stay in this room, right there in that chair until I come back from the bedroom, he listened. The most worrisome times for me were if I tried to take a shower, I would be in a state of sheer panic the entire time that something would happen. This time of high intensity existing didn’t last long. Within weeks, we’d learned new patterns for communicating and behaving that helped Preston to feel loved unconditionally and safe. Asking ” Are you ok?” stopped happening and we asked for a check-in or directly “Are you safe?”. It’s really easy to lie and say yes to “Are you ok?”. I am pretty sure that Preston eventually learned that is NOTHING he can say or do that would make us stop loving him. I think he knows that we love him unconditionally and will be here for him in his life, no matter what. I keep showing up. That is what matters. I talk about the hard things. I am honest in all things. I model a strong faith and a commitment to continue to learn to love myself and improve myself so that I can be there for my family.
I choose not to have New Year’s resolutions. I embrace learning new ways of processing life, of showing love and living gratitude and peace no matter what day, month or moment it is. During some of the more challenging times of this holiday season, I slipped into old habits and forgot to do Heart Math. I suffered for it. Instead of feeling energized and hopeful, I became worn and depressed. I did somethings in a mindful and skillful way but in other things I fell far short of the mark. When I realized where I was heading, I made a determined effort to improve my situation by improving myself; coping, attitude, behavior and gratitude. It looks like I need more visual reminders of ways to live an emotionally healthy, positive life so I’m collecting Bible verses, internet tidbits, Pinterest slides and other positive, encouraging words. I will continue to use the Heart Math tools with heart focus and heart focused breathing. I also intend to share my positive attitude with others and spread less negativity when times are tough. Those may sound like resolutions, but I don’t care for the pressure that comes with resolutions. I give myself permission to fail one hundred times and one hundred and one times I will try to get it right. We do the best we can with what we know at the time. When we know better, we do better.
I can and will be looking past myself and my family to the needs of those around me, while maintaining my boundaries and not over committing to anything.
I wish for you a day, a month, a year, a lifetime of emotional wellness, peace and happiness.
Love and hugs, Rebecca