This is just a quick update on the latest happening in this painful saga of estrangement.
I had a strong feeling the other night that I should drive by my kids’ apartment (my two daughters live together). This is something I never do because I’m trying to respect their boundaries. To my surprise, the apartment was empty! They’ve moved and left no forwarding address. The only reason I know they’ve moved is because I drove by. Otherwise I would’ve still thought they lived there. Honestly, they might have moved months ago and I wouldn’t have known.
I don’t even know what city they live in now. I’d been trying to hold out hope for an eventual reconciliation, but now I feel they’ve slammed that door in my face.
I feel ill. My stomach wants to heave. Thinking about my kids, my heart hurts. When will the pain stop? Will the pain stop? I hope the pain stops. My lamp went out for a bit. Hoping it’s coming back on. Just when I feel like it’s beginning to shine again, I remember and once again feel ill and alone. The house is quiet. The cats are sleeping. Only the sound of the aquarium pump and the refrigerator hum and the tap tap tap tapping of typing. I feel ill. My head hurts. My eyes are dry. The grey skies match my mood. The clouds obscure the sun. Obscure the Son? I wish I still had the faith to see me through these times, but I have no faith in faith. No faith in all things working for good. No faith in a benevolent Father who would never allow me to feel such devastation. God does allow pain. If there is a god. Which I now sometimes question. I used to have FAITH. All caps! Now I have doubt. Lower case. And pain. Was faith just a means to find relief from overwhelming guilt? What do I do now with overwhelming grief and pain? How do I survive day by day until that day when He wipes away my tears? What if that day never comes? What if all I have is now and now’s pain and now’s grief and now’s emptiness? I’m so alone. Not forgotten, but hated. Not ignored, but reviled. Not set aside, but forcefully put away. Dolls and toys have more meaning than I do. I am the beast that haunts their dreams and discolors their memories and stands in the way of them remembering their happy childhoods. They were happy. We were happy. Why can I remember but they can’t? Father God, you promise to bring all things to our remembrance. Could you bring the happy times to the remembrance of my kids? They have wiped their minds of any feelings of love for me. They’ve colored their past and rewritten the narrative of their lives. Of our lives. Rejection. A lifetime of rejection. Rejection at school. Again and again. Rejection of friends. Of husband. Of family. Of church. And now this ultimate rejection by the very lives I brought into this world through my own blood and pain. Do they want me to bleed forever? My eyes are no longer dry.
When I hear the word mindfulness, I tend to think of yoga or meditation. Although it can be part of both of those disciplines, it’s also something that can be practiced in daily life to help ease stress. Estrangement definitely brings stress to a life, so mindfulness is one way to help when the emotions are threatening to overwhelm your mind and heart.
The first time I was introduced to the idea of mindfulness, the term wasn’t used. I’d been in the middle of trying to tell someone about something traumatic and scary that was happening in my life at the time. The more I tried to talk about the fear, the more I started to feel panicked. I even started shaking. The person I was with (a pastor) gently asked me if I was afraid right then sitting in that room with him and one of the elders at the church.
No, I wasn’t afraid in that room at that moment.
He asked me if I could just spend a minute focusing on where I was right then. What was I feeling? Hearing? Seeing? Look out the window and see the sunshine. Watch the tree branches moving gently in the breeze.
As I followed his advice, I felt the fear and panic lift. Yes, there were reasons for fear and panic at other moments in my life, but this wasn’t one of those moments. In that moment I felt safe, protected, and cared about.
I took that lesson into my daily life and when I would find my mind wandering to things that brought stress, I would start observing where I was right at that moment. And it worked.
Funny how I never thought about applying mindfulness principles to my thoughts and feelings related to this estrangement until I read about the topic in Done with the Crying by Sheri McGregor earlier this week.
The following list contains some of the ideas I gleaned from McGregor’s book about how to begin using mindfulness:
take one long breath, then another as an anchor to the present moment
feel what you feel, but take note of what you’re thinking, feeling, and how your body is reacting
don’t judge, just observe
in time, you’ll be able to respond more purposefully when these thoughts begin, and then make healthier choices — but first, just be mindful, aware, and present in the moment
learning what you’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing bodily in moments of severe pain or panic will help you come up with a plan to make better choices in the future and feel more in control