I just finished the latest practice run in dealing with aging-parent-health-crisis syndrome. It wasn’t my best act. At times, I must admit, I was petty, ungraceful, inarticulate and detached—I just wanted out and I wanted out now. But I got through it. And, in truth, I did so in better form than I ever thought possible .
Last week my 88-year-old father underwent emergency surgery for a perforated bowel. And, even though he was up walking less than 24 hours later—there may actually be truth in that old participaction ad about the sixty-year-old Swede—there were some tense moments. He’s home now and life goes on. Like I said, a practice run for those less then star-studded recoveries that we all know lie in the future. But, with all practice runs, glitches are found. This one was no different, especially those found in me.
If I had to narrow it down to the biggest glitch, the one that fed all others, it would be my tendency to live in the future. From the moment I heard that my dad was on his way to emergency, I started racing down the track of ill-fated possibilities. Possibilities, mind you, that had nothing to do with my father but were all about me. I was the protagonist in a story where the ending was a foregone conclusion—no plot twists; no hero saving the day; no mystery—all sacrifice and sorrow; rage and emptiness. My dreams left by the road side, I saw myself the bound caregiver for years on end: nothing but a lost freedom coloured in grey to feed my shriveled soul. Yes, it wasn’t pretty but then again, neither was I.
I’ve been through this before but this time, thankfully, was different. This time I made a choice. I allowed myself to express. Not just to the cells within my overactive brain but to others. I raged to a friend, expressed fears to my siblings; then wrote and cried about it. I let all my parts (different aspects of myself) be heard with non-judgment. Moreover, I validated them. Not that they were always speaking my truth but that they, these living, breathing parts of who I am, have a right to their opinion. And then I sought solace. I went to the forest.
The forest is my sanctuary; the trees where I seek guidance. They have never failed me and this time was no different. I allowed myself to be engulfed in nature's embrace, felt the trees' support and heard words handed down by loved ones long since passed. I found all I needed to know and the courage to act upon it:
Be in the Moment.
I took a breath and then another. Love flowed through me. It was all I needed to know.
My dad came through with flying colours and, in the end, I am glad to say, so did I. But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without slowing down, expressing my fears (however irrational), and filling myself with love and compassion. I put up boundaries, decided my priorities and, whenever I was dragged out of the present by fears of the future (and I often was), I took a breath and gently pulled myself back to presence. It worked, not just for me, but for everyone involved.
What more, the lessons learned are lessons I can use everyday:
Be in the Moment.
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p.s. Much gratitude to the years of training with Pietro Abela. His teachings not only provided the foundation for my BodyMind Practice but continue to help me find my way back home whenever I get lost.
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