By MGAL Expert Theresa Robbins
A few years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom treading the waters of suburban life. I shopped, I lunched, I worked out, I cleaned, I volunteered, but mostly, I took care of my family’s every need.
I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do from there, but I knew life wouldn’t go on that way forever. Everything changes eventually.
But the change that came my way wasn’t a change I expected. My change came in the form of a wicked left curve that came out of nowhere. It knocked me down, left me dizzy and disoriented. It was the kind of change, I thought, that could destroy the most seemingly safe and indestructible facets of my life.
It started with such a simple little statement that it’s hard to believe that it could pack such a punch. It came out of the blue as we brushed our teeth that night, my husband casually mentioning that he was having trouble standing without locking his knees.
You just know that can’t be good.
It wasn’t. It was – it is – Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating, degenerative disease that could leave my husband relatively unscathed over the next 40 years or could render him a quadriplegic at any time according to his neurologist.
There’s nothing like a little uncertainty to stir up a batch of good old-fashioned freakout…so I freaked.
For about two weeks, I was a basket case. I couldn’t help my husband who had been the sole source of financial support for our family and I vaguely recall taking care of my kids most basic needs, but otherwise, I was unavailable. Emotionally unavailable to everyone.
The exact details are all kind of a blur, but the one thing I have perfect recall of is the fear.
It was overwhelming. Fear coursed through me shocking my body over and over again. My heart raced, it fluttered, it left me feeling breathless and ragged. I barely slept as my body went on a two week long adrenaline rush.
Occasionally I would temporarily forget the diagnosis and start to feel “normal” again, but suddenly, darts, jabs and stabs of pain and panic would pierce my heart as my mind reminded me to be afraid, be very afraid.
My head spun, it seemed, all day everyday. I ran all the possible scenarios for the future through my mind. I asked a host of questions to which there were no answers. What does this mean for my husband? For me? For our boys?
I thought about losing our sole source of financial support – our family business. I thought about losing all of our money, our cars, our home. I thought about my husband losing his ability to do everyday common activities and care for himself. I thought about how his loss of ability to wrestle and play with the kids would affect them. I thought about having to care for our children, for him, for our home, for our finances, for everything on my own.
I made it about what might happen, about what we might lose, about what I might lose.
After two weeks of roasting my skewered soul over the fieriest flames of hell, I knew I had to stop. I was killing myself through the slow process of emotional torture.
I knew that to survive, to be there for my husband, to be there for my boys, to be there for myself, I had to stop the fear and panic. I somehow knew that doing so meant living in absolute certainty of which there seemed to be none. Then it dawned on me.
The only absolute certainty that I’m aware of is the certainty of this moment.
It’s the right here, right now moment. It’s the one where things are exactly what they are. It’s the one where I feel safest and most secure. It’s the moment where nothing is lacking, I haven’t lost anything and things are manageable. In fact, in this moment, things are fine, just as they are.
As soon as I made that choice, it all shifted. The fear evaporated as light chases away darkness. In its place came a newfound sense of peace that allowed me the ability to live and function, to care for my family, to care for myself, to be happy.
Years later, everything is fine. True, things have changed, but not in the ways that had been projected on the movie screen in my mind.
What I originally thought couldn’t be good didn’t prove to be as bad as my imagination allowed. The fear had been created by my own head.
These days, I refuse to trade in my current well being for an imagined hell. There is simply no reason to do so. So I choose to enjoy today, appreciate what I have, and trust that I am capable of handling whatever comes my way.
© 2010 Theresa Robbins Life Coaching Services