- Mental Health
Serendipitous Serenity - going with the flow
"Life is what happens to you between your plans."
I heard someone say this to me one time - and I never could figure out where he got the notion. A Google search brought up a similar quote by John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." However, it doesn't carry the same sense as what my buddy said to me.
The last few days has been a prime example of life happening in between plans. Life was going on pretty much as planned, and then the bottom dropped out.
Our daughter injured her knee. It has yet to be diagnosed (all we know for sure is that there's no break and no bone chip), but she's in a leg brace from her ankle to her upper thigh to keep the knee absolutely straight because the kneecap has dislocated twice in the last two days (once at the time of the injury, and again after the brace was on, while she was trying to navigate the stairs into our house in the dark, in the rain, on her backside!!)
Our world was immediately plunged into chaos. Crutches hurt her under her arms, so she jury-rigged an office chair and used a cane as an "oar" to row around the house. She could put absolutely no weight on her leg and had to keep her leg straight - no bending that knee. Things we had taken for granted suddenly were huge obstacles: doing as simple a thing as washing her hair took re-apportioning of bathroom furniture and supplies, the purchase of a hand-held shower head, and the judicious use of a towel as a swivel point to transfer from her office chair to the edge of the tub.
However, currently, it is the ability to enter and exit the house which is our primary concern. The only way to safely get her safe access would be via a wheelchair and a ramp - but these are not easy to come by where we live.
When I called a local pharmacy where they rent wheelchairs, the lady on staff said that they had one in stock (miracle!) and that it would cost $10 a week to rent it. And, not only that, it was brand new....
Not too shabby!
She also gave me a line on a ramp supplier in our area. However, that place had no modular ramps available; they sent me to a different supplier who had none available either. They had what they called a "threshold ramp" for a step no higher than a foot - that would handle the lu-lu of a step (height? about 10 inches!) between the door and the deck. So ... hubby has undertaken to build a ramp; he designed and built a shed this past summer to house his ride-on mower, and this sudden need for a ramp has made his creative juices begin to flow again. He's already looking at designing a simple ramp with stabilization at the top step and the bottom step (anchored of course with long screws) plus roofing tile on top of it to provide traction.
And they told him he would be twiddling his thumbs when he retired! Ha!
The time constraints are fairly tight given that winter is coming - and this is Atlantic Canada, where winter starts earliest and lasts longest - since she will need to go to see the orthopedic surgeon next Tuesday (December 11, that's eight days away!). Her father is confident he will be able to get the wood tomorrow and cut it, then store it inside and put it together on the next sunny day, which is forecast to be Friday with a high of plus 4 Celsius (about 38ºF).
The temptation to "stress out" is strong, and I will admit that there have been moments in the last couple of days that the stress level has been high in response to circumstances. Yet... nothing like before.
A "today" approach
"Before" was awful. "Before" simply wasn't working. Prior to going into therapy in early 2009, everything was so much drama, intense over-reaction. I was constantly catastrophizing things (yes, I know, that's not a word but I read a psychological report recently that used it ... and I liked it, so there you go.) I worried about the future, and the flashbacks of the past plagued me until I was living in near constant misery.
I jumped on everything my kids did, in my efforts to protect and "guide" them so that their choices would be the right ones and they'd not end up twenty years from now in bad relationships with selfish, abusive people.
You know what? They were so afraid of my meddling and my controlling that they shut me out. They never told me anything. Ever. I spent a lot of time feeling abandoned. And it was all my fault - but I didn't know that.
Then I reached out for help on another issue - I'd reached the point of enough desperation to bring someone else into my inner circle and trust that person. I was fortunate - blessed, more like it - to have found this therapist, who understood what I was going through, having experienced much the same process. Slowly I learned to let go of my need to control every last thing about my loved ones' lives - and I learned to embrace the "today" approach. Just for today, I can let go of this. Just for today, I don't need to make a big deal about this. I am only going to focus on today's tasks, not tomorrow's, not the next three months.
It's a life of serenity. Life happens and in reacting to it by taking one day (sometimes one hour) at a time, even distressing events can be serendipitous - and produce peace and opportunities for gratitude.
Living like this, concentrating on the "now," has come to my rescue so many times. This most recent experience is only one. The best part is, those I love no longer fear my involvement, can trust my motives, and can open up to me ... all things they didn't feel free to do "before."
Like this situation. Accepting what is, what can't be changed, frees me by not letting me succumb to the temptation to play the blame game. Focusing on today and ONLY today helps me to concentrate on what needs doing NOW without beating myself up with what ifs and if onlys. Today, I concentrate on meeting the needs that present themselves. If someone can't do something for me to help me to help her, that's fine; I look at other options, live each moment in what has turned out to be an unexpected, serendipitous serenity, and let go of my need to have all the answers in advance.
"Before" is gone now. There is only "today." And "today" works. A lot.
How about you? Do you have a "today" story?