Do you have those days, even weeks, where life just doesn’t quite go as planned? For me, it’s been one of those weeks. My previous post was written while on family holiday at Lake Chelan in Eastern WA. We had a frolicking, laughing, lounging time as a family with a few other friends in the mix. Lots of reading, playing card games, boating, tubing, jet skiing and soaking up the warm sun.
After last week I was looking forward to getting some things done at home: writing, getting back into yoga, yard work, seeing friends……Alas, my sweet eldest daughter came down with an ear ache on our drive home. I didn’t really think much of it and neither did she, until it became really painful while she was at work (her first day at her new job) on Saturday afternoon. Smart, self caring, young adult that she is, she took herself to the doc where they discovered that she had developed ‘swimmer’s ear’. She was given ear drops and came home. We started those drops and then at midnight on Sat she was in extreme pain. She and I spent the better part of 2 hours, until the wee hours of the morning at urgent care – more medications and hopefully some relief. It’s now Thursday and she is finally beginning to feel a bit better. There have been more trips to the doctor, more pain meds and antibiotics, not much sleep – what a week. Not exactly the one she or I had planned or hoped for.
I could have grumped and whined and been really pissed off (which I did, by the way, some of the time). But this is where my mom comes into play within me. She was, and still is, an incredibly compassionate woman. She modeled not only compassion for me growing up but also a certain sense of ‘going with the flow, being grateful for the good days, and having empathy for those in pain.’ We went through some trying times as a family during my early teen years: my Dad had open heart surgery, and then a heart attack a year later, my brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and went through years of chemotherapy and radiation, and there were other family members who suffered through various illnesses and death. It was quite a few years of unknowns, ups and downs, grief and loss, joy and sorrow, and still my Mom managed to care for my Dad and brother and engage with me in my life. It wasn’t something she would have chosen, nor knew was going to happen. She kept her sense of humor, love for others, and a certain lightness of being. Granted she’s got a few other ‘side affects’ from that time that I notice now as she ages but I am grateful and thankful for what she modeled through that time.
My challenge when things like this happen is to not be totally consumed by the circumstances and events so that I lose myself in the process. I’m a recovering codependent and need to remind myself to take care of myself and continue to pursue the things in life that I love in the midst of caring compassionately for others – in this case, my daughter. It is really hard for me to watch any of my children in pain. She’s the most stoic of my three and has an incredibly high pain tolerance, so to see her shaking in pain, sobbing and being nauseous because of the pain was really difficult. This is when I remember my Mom. She somehow navigated holding the pain that both my Dad and brother were experiencing and be present to me (a very healthy, questioning, fun loving teen), and she did that for a number of years, not simply one week.
So, this week I read a thriller/spy fiction novel while my daughter napped, took naps when I needed, went out to lunch and to my French class with my friend Kayce, asked friends and my spouse for help and extended compassion toward myself, along with hugs to my daughter, keeping track of her meds, etc. It’s been a full week and prompted the penning of this post.
Pema Chodron “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
Maya Angelou “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”
How are you with compassion? In what ways do you care for yourself when life throws unexpected turns?