My son didn't want to go to school today. He struggles with anxiety (unsurprisingly). It ebbs and flows then, on days like today, he experiences a storm surge.
What can I do to help? Experience has shown me I can encourage and comfort and cajole, but ultimately the decision to continue with the day's plan is in his hands not my own. If I force him we all lose.
How does one decide to move into the day when it feels unfaceable? To be willing to recognise at last that one's life "is what it is"? That at this particular moment there is nothing really to be done to change it, and time's a-wastin with regard to what must be accomplished today. How does one get the oomph to get up and go?
It's like a rocking chair. You have to keep rocking backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. We rock back to acknowledge the reality of where we've come from and not deny it. And then in the acknowledging, the pendulum swings us forward into the possibilities of the present. To rock forward far enough to move into the present, we have to have gone back far enough to own what has happened in the past.
Back we go:
Yes, this is sad.
Yes, this sucks.
Yes, this is not how I thought my life would be.
Yes, this is not (yet) all that I hoped the future might be.
Yes, I miss all that I've left behind.
Then the backward rock sends us forward to glimpse something new:
If I wasn't here I couldn't have met so and so...
Now I'm here I don't have to deal with that...
Who is that girl I don't know the name of...?
I've still got the dogs and the dogs are awesome...
I don't know everything - could I be surprised...?
The key is not to stop rocking back and forth in our thoughts. Or to rock too far back that we topple over and can't get up, or too far forward and the same. The rocking works only if the back and forth is equally acknowledged. Balanced out. And the momentum to stand up and move forward is only built up over time.
My son did finally go in to school. I dropped him off and took our dogs for a walk in the austerity of winter, hands deep in my pockets, head tucked into my coat.
"Thank you, Lord," I thought.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.