Monday, February 18, 2013
By this time next year my son will be finishing his freshman year in college. It seems like yesterday that I was doing the same. Time goes by in a flash. Seventeen years of my heart existing outside of my body; my world walking around in skinny jeans and worn out sneakers. Does he know how much he means to me? I hope so. That's all we can do as parents, right? We hope. But what if you realize you've had it wrong all this time? Is it ever too late to shift gears?
I was only nineteen years old when I had my son. Nineteen and determined to prove everyone wrong; everyone who told me I was making a huge mistake. Sean was going to be the brightest, most articulate, sweetest kid with the best manners. In my mind, if he is the best then that means I'm a great mom. I was so afraid of doing it "wrong", afraid of being judged. So I pushed and I pushed and I kept on pushing him. Stand up straight...try harder...study more. "Grow up and be something great," I would tell him. But the truth is, he already was. He was always smart and kind and loving. He just wasn't a great student. As parents, how do you know when to stop pushing? The answer is, when you see it's pushing them over the edge. Homework time became a nightmare. Lots of frustration, tears, yelling...and that was just from me. The boy who once bounced to my car at the end of a school day now skulked over, knowing full well he was about to be interrogated over the day's events. His light began to dim. I needed to make a change.
During my 18 months of treatment I had lots of time to reflect on my life. Like everyone, I've made some great decisions and I've made some crappy ones. I'm not going to try and be zen about it and say, "Well every decision I've made has brought me to where I am." Truth is, some choices were just plain bad and there is no sugar coating it. I knew they were bad when I was making them; I've had periods of terribly self destructive behavior. Others I thought were good and only in hindsight do I realize how damaging they were. I began to ask myself, "What do I really want for Sean?" I needed to put my ego aside and answer honestly. What I came up with was that I wanted him to have a happy life...whatever that meant. All this time I've had it wrong. I associated financial rewards with success and happiness. That's just window dressing. The house, the cars, the material things mean nothing if you're empty inside. And if you're fulfilled, they mean even less. I want Sean to have joy in his heart. I want him to know love; to give it and receive it. A life filled with friends and family, laughter and deep connections. I want him to be at peace.
Unfortunately, it took a cancer diagnosis for me to get it right. But, here I am finally getting it. I pray for time to teach him all I have learned in the last year and a half. For someone so young, he has endured too much trauma. I am awed by his fortitude. I want to show him this does not have to define who you are. A person can take tragedy and turn it into a beautiful life; and there is so much beauty in the world. I want him to go out and find it.
My dear, sweet boy. Whatever you do, wherever you go, hold me in your heart as I hold you in mine. Be bold. Be fearless. Be kind. Be you.
Monday, February 4, 2013
I believe in destiny. I believe in kindred souls. I believe in the healing powers of forgiveness and love. Yes, I believe in it all. This weekend, light and love and compassion washed over me like Holy Water and, yes, I felt reborn. On a three day yoga and writing retreat, I stood on my mat in a room full of "strangers" and spoke my truth, cried my tears and asked for help. They cheered for me and cried with me. They had my back.
Who are these glorious people? They are entrepreneurs, wives, mothers, daughters. They are my soul sisters. They are my tribe. Everyone should have one. You don't need to head to the Berkshires to find yours. Turn to the ones who elevate you. Look for people who reflect your light. Throughout my life there have been people who have drained me of energy. Literally. I would walk away from them feeling depleted and icky. I needed to get away from them but didn't know how to shake myself free. I couldn't find my voice. Even this weekend I was afraid. Having ended treatment a month ago, I didn't want to be seen as 'the one with cancer'. But the truth is, it's part of my story. It's not the whole story, but it's a big part and I wanted this weekend to be about getting to the truth. My truth. So, in front of 35 people I told my story and I listened to theirs. I won't share what was said because it is not my story to tell. I honored them then and will continue to do so. What I learned is that every single person knows pain and suffering. Disease may ravage your body, your heart may be broken, someone you loved may be gone or your childhood scars may still open and bleed but you, your light, never dims. And when you truly decide it is time to heal, the universe will send opportunities your way. I trust in that. In my soul I know it to be true. This weekend was proof.
As my friend and I drove back home we listened to my Road Trip playlist. As Let It Be played I told her about my connection to the song; how I played it during my treatments and I would give my fears up in prayer. At that moment a flock of birds flew in front of my car and just as quickly disappeared. We looked at one another and smiled. We may have left Kripalu, but it will never leave us.