The Big 3 Energy Suckers

By Brigitte Shipman | March 12, 2021. | Autism, Mother Guide, Fear, Guilt

When I think back to my son’s journey to adulthood I am amazed that we both came out on the other side of our journey happy and living for the most part a peaceful life. I often think wow, how did I do all of that and work and raise another child?

Being a mom is challenging even with support. How do we do what we do? I believe it is what being a mother is all about. It is the greatest honor and privilege that I have had the pleasure of experiencing in my life. It is also one of the hardest things I have done. At times I wondered if I was qualified to be a mother. I quickly began to admire and respect my own mother on a much deeper level.

We love our children so hard and deep that it is all-consuming. When I was slapped with the reality that my son was autistic, I first was consumed with deep pain and grief, then came the 3 big energy suckers. They were always present and my hope for the future of who my son was going to be mixed with fear, anxiety, and guilt. These are the energy suckers that take over our minds, bodies, and spirits.

I became consumed with my own fear of what and how we were going to live our lives. How can we be happy when all I am consumed with is fear for my son? The fear grew and expanded to anxiety over everything. I questioned whether my son's needs were met for each minute of his day. What if I forget to tell his teacher something and then Joseph has a meltdown? What if he didn’t eat his lunch fast enough at school today and he is still hungry? The fear and anxiety were constant.

Then the third of the energy suckers, guilt appeared on a daily basis. I had guilt over my abilities to mother my child. I felt horrible if I didn’t spend enough time on therapies or if I thought I should have been more patient. Wherever there could have been a reason to feel my mother's guilt, I felt it. All I could do was feel bad and try harder the next day.

Even on our good days, fear, anxiety, and guilt were present. It was an exhausting way to show up each day but I did not know how to stop the big three emotions from consuming me.

It was difficult to feel joy and happiness because these emotions were blocked by all my negative feelings. My dad used to tell me on occasion when I was growing up, to be careful how to spend my energy. At that time I thought I had tons of energy, so I had no idea what he meant. He went on further to say, “ You only get so much energy a day, so be careful how you spend it.”

Soon after my son’s diagnosis, I began to understand firsthand what he meant. I could either give my energy away to stress, worry, or problems that seemed big and dramatic at the time, or manage it and realize each day was a new beginning.

The new day begins with hope and great possibilities to look forward to. Well, that was not true for me during most of my journey as a mother guide. I did not know how to manage my big 3 energy suckers. I felt drained and exhausted each day. The moment I opened my eyes, I felt my fear, anxiety, and guilt creeping in. I know that my body was suffering from living in constant stress. You can know it, but how do you change it?

I understand that dealing with yourself feels like adding to your big energy suckers rather than filling your energy back up. When you are in that place of living life with basically little or no energy, working on yourself feels exhausting. What do I mean by working on yourself? I mean developing ways to calm the energy suckers and knowing how to keep yourself filled up.

You may have been living on low energy for so long that you have no clue how to find your way back. I have been there. I will let you know it is simply by becoming aware that there is possibility and hope. I am encouraging you to begin to implement some daily practices that will refuel your mind, body, and spirit.

Let’s begin with going back to the basics. Rather than doing something big and then not finding the time or energy to do it again, step forward with a tiny refuel. Give yourself 5 minutes to remember what you enjoy about life. What are 3 ways to refuel your energy?

If you don’t know, then here are some small examples of what I found to refuel.

  • Walks in sunshine
  • Lavender bath
  • Use my gratitude journal.
  • Play. This can be with your child. How do you like to play?
  • Read a good book for pleasure.
  • Date night. This can be having a date night with yourself or with someone else.

I hope you begin to refuel your energy today! Remember, be careful how you spend it.

P.S. Enrollment for my 4-week one-on-one coaching program Walking Through Grief closes in a few days (save $100 when you sign up by end of today, 3/14/21 - use code EARLY). Click here if you would like to find out more.

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