What Is Your Favorite Form of Suffering?
Yep, you read that right. Every day, I spend quite a bit of time talking to suffering parents of children from difficult beginnings and working to support them to pull their chins up, stay in the parenting long game, and buoy out of the traditional parenting traps of power and punishment. Personally, I rarely feel suffering in the face of the shenanigans my children can produce and despite the grief and pain I encounter in my work with parents and children.
Anti-Depressants Do Not Stop Suffering
Full disclosure, being genetically predisposed to large mood swings, I take medication to keep me out of suicidal major depression. What medication does for me is it keeps me inside the normal range of emotion. Medication, however, does not keep me from suffering the feelings of fear, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness. I stay out of suffering those with a personal commitment to live my life fully every day. When I lost my mother in a car accident as a teenager, I made a vow to live every day as though it were my last. That was well before the pop songs were written. That vow shaped my adult life, so I have a fairly well-developed muscle for being happily alive.
Fear, Loss, Less, and Never
In my experience, most people have favorite forms of parental suffering that fall around four concepts: fear, loss, less, and never.
My child is going to prison in the future if I don’t get his/her behavior under control––Fear
I adopted a child that can’t be part of the family life I always wanted–Loss
Other people get to have reciprocal relationships with their children, and I don’t–Less
My children are never going to have normal lives–Never
I’m not saying don’t feel your feelings. Do feel your feelings, even share them with yourself, a loved one, or therapist. The sentences above are not feelings, they are thoughts that produce feelings. If you get stuck in that feedback loop, you will find suffering.
Here is the secret to a happy life with children from difficult beginnings:
- Feel your feelings for about 2 minutes tops, then bust the thoughts behind them for what they are (bad habits) and focus on some things you appreciate (good habits).
- Find gratitude for the very thing you are suffering over.
- Find your favorite form of suffering–fear, loss, less, never—and bust it, replace it, repeat the replacement, recycle.
- Vow to live your life with less suffering and more abundance of spirit for living.
- Realize that you are playing the parenting long game. Parenting is right now for the future.
I know Buddha said, “Life is Suffering,” but I think he meant everything changes so don’t cling to any one thing. To me, that is where the hope lies. Accept, let go, live.
SIGN UP HERE: Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held May 11th, 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm. Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Stay tuned for the exact dates.
Girl’s Empowerment Group (ages 9-11): Registration Closed. Begins April 13th from 1:00pm to 2:30pm for four weeks–$30 per session. Ce Eshelman, LMFT and Andrea Kersten, B.A./B.S. will be using art and improv to create relationship skills for making and keeping friends.
AUTISM Support Group: Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. NEW DAY: Every third Monday from 5:30 to 7pm. Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a monthly social group for the youth; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. There will also be occasional fun field trips, like bowling, ice skating, roller skating, etc. A donation of $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE. ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.
UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT: CLICK HERE to join our monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group, May 8th, 2019. Childcare provided at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827. Open to the public.
GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT. Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing. Buy from Amazon or order a discounted copy here.