By Brigitte Shipman | July 16, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Letting Go, Acceptance
As I have traveled on my own personal journey of living as a mom of a son with autism, there are times when life feels really big. I believe I am one of those people who makes life harder than it needs to be. I do not like accepting things that I do not want in my life. I go right into fight mode and try to change what is, even when I know intellectually that this is how it is going to be.
I have been told that this is a positive character trait that I have when dealing with my life challenges. As I get older, I believe that it is but I also have learned that I can fight and still enjoy life. That is a paradox, but it is true.
I used to tell my students this when I was teaching a life skills class: We do not have control over what happens to us but we do have control over how we handle it.
My overarching life lesson is acceptance and finally letting go. I have learned that letting go is not giving up. I can continue to problem-solve life tsunamis without running against the wind.
Accepting Joseph’s diagnosis was not in my thoughts. My heart was broken and I just dug my heels in and started sprinting in any direction that seemed like the best way to go. I never considered taking a look at how I personally was processing my son’s lifelong diagnosis that was going to be uphill for most of the journey.
I truly believe that if I could have managed the emotional damage that I personally was dealing or not dealing with, I believe our autism journey would have been a climb but a climb with more love and understanding. I would have been able to enjoy more of my life rather than swimming against the current.
I have learned that you can go with the current and still find answers. Letting go is not giving up. It is flowing and opening up to what is, so that you can see more and receive the answers with grace.
I continue to learn the lesson of letting go over and over again in my life. I am sure I will continue to have the opportunity to learn until I finally get it. The good news is that I am now aware of when I am going against the current. When I do realize this, I go to my visual in my head of sitting in a huge inner tube with a sun hat and a Mai Tai in my hand flowing down the river rather than swimming as hard as I can against it and going nowhere. This metaphor came from a conversation I had with my son Joseph.
He told me how he taught himself how to accept things in his own life. He described the current of the river flowing in one direction and he could either go with the flow or swim against it. He thought that it made more sense to flow with the river and see what the purpose was, rather than going nowhere in exhaustion against the flow.
My son is deeply profound. He is now flowing in his life and I continue to remember to flow in mine. This is not to say that life tsunamis do not suck because they do. However, it is what it is as they say, so why not flow with grace.
I do have a choice. I can choose to stay in fear and anger or I can choose to let go and flow with life.
The question is how to get to acceptance and letting go.
Here are 3 easy steps that I use:
Step 1: I become aware that I am fighting what is. To become aware is simply practicing noticing when I am deep with my head under water and not willing to look up. This is when I am angry and dealing with a situation in my life that makes no sense. I get over the shock and then I move into anger.
I rant and rave for a few days and then I realize that I have a choice to flow and let go. As I have this realization, I move into step 2.
Step 2: I create and use a visual mantra to get out of the cycle of swimming against the current. I take a breath and I can quickly see myself flowing with the current and enjoying the view with a big smile on my face. I can feel the stress release and although I do not have all the answers, I know that I will receive them. I always do.
Step 3: Go back to step 2 when I need it. I practice this and it works.
If you are swimming against the current, try these 3 easy steps to give yourself some relief.
Answer this reflective question: What is your life lesson that you are learning over and over again? Take some time and write your answer in a journal. I believe you will have awareness that will come to you. That is when healing begins.
I will continue practicing flow to let go until I have mastered it. My hunch is that it may be a bit longer before I do. In the meantime I am enjoying my journey more and more each day. I hope you do too!
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