When my mother passed on my world changed forever. I couldn’t imagine that anyone could understand the depth of my grief…until I saw the pain my grandmother, my mother’s mother, was experiencing. I felt the loss of my greatest source of unconditional love, support and mentoring but my grandmother was feeling the loss of her baby. I remember thinking that no matter how devastated I felt, I was sure nothing could compare to the pain of saying goodbye to your child.
Eventually, as time passed, my grandmother and I were able to find comfort and peace in knowing she was out of pain and at peace herself. During a conversation over tea one afternoon, my grandmother said “Denny, this is the circle of life, the way Nature intended it to be, and when you allow yourself to be a cooperative participant in the flow of Nature, you will always find inner peace and external joy.”
At the time I knew I would want to remember what my grandmother had shared and so I wrote it in the first page of the “Parenting Notes” my mother and I had created during the last year of her life. I read it again and again after that day and found myself drawn to looking at every situation and experience from a perspective of “allowing the flow”. For me it became an art of recognizing what was in my control and what wasn’t. And what happened to other’s by virtue of their choice or not was something no one could or should attempt to control.
Even during the most challenging times that came my way I learned to find an ease and comfort when I let go of what I thought should be or should happen. Feeling that inner peace my grandmother told me about became my goal.
When my daughter was around 11 yrs. old I was completely blind-sided when her father suddenly announced his decision to leave. Within 24 hours he had left me, our home, our business and our daughter and did not provide a forwarding address. Within a short period of time, as a result of an overwhelm of sadness, grief, fear and confusion I was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a complete nervous breakdown. I have no memory of the first week in the hospital. My mind had shut down to protect me.
My first clear memory was of the psychiatrist asking me to share with him about my parents…and that is when it all came back…the words of my grandmother as loud and clear as the day she spoke them to me. “Denny, go with the flow, find the peace and you will receive the joy.”
I was soon released from the hospital and back home with my daughter again. Her father had returned to care for her in my absence and so we had an opportunity to talk. He was civil. I chose to be my grandmother’s granddaughter and follow her advice and example. I expressed my sadness over his unhappiness, did not ask a lot of questions and answered his as best I could…always seeking the flow. I wanted that inner peace back more than anything in the world. Yes, he could take his things. Yes, I would continue to manage the office at our business. Of course he could come by to see our daughter whenever he wanted to. And no, I would not seek alimony.
My focus was my daughter’s well-being and regaining my inner peace.
And then my soon to be ex-husband announced he was in love and planning on remarrying as soon as our divorce was finalized. We had accumulated an enormous amount of assets in two different states which meant a long process of sorting, splitting and dissolving. He wanted to divorce immediately which would mean he would be free to re-marry but we would continue to settle the accounts after the fact. I agreed.
My daughter needed stability and I needed to be at peace and the best way I saw to do this was to “allow” his chosen path to unfold as he wanted it to.
He wanted my help in introducing his soon to be wife to our daughter and encouraging her to be open to this new relationship and so we all got together on a regular basis to ease her into the new situation.
One day, while he had stopped by to get something, we got into a playful mood as had been our way when we were together. In the midst of a spontaneous burst of laughter over something that had been said, he looked me straight in the eye and asked, “How can you be so calm and act as if nothing bothers you, if this had been reversed I would never be able to handle it like you are?”
I knew then I had succeeded. I had myself back because I chose to see this as a part of life over which I had no control.
Maintaining this perspective and continuing to apply it in all of my relationships with people has made it possible to remain at peace which has delivered as my grandmother said it would, bringing with it great joy even in the midst of challenging times.
We were not put on this earth to control others. We are intended to love and serve and nurture one another. Approaching our relationship with our children with this same perspective is what will determine our level of success as a parent. See them as individuals on their own journey in life with preferences that even though we may not agree with need to be respected. As a parent, nurturing and guiding them through the offering of options rather than attempting to control and dictate their choices creates a relationship that will follow the flow of life as Nature intended which ultimately rewards you with the greatest gift…inner peace and joy and your children the opportunity to create a life of their choosing.