I was out with some friends, who have heard only a very small bit of my story of loving a child with an addiction, when that moment arrived. That awkward moment. We were out in nature, remarking how beautiful the landscape is, and basking in the great news of her daughter graduating from college, landing an excellent internship that will support her plans for med school next year. She's moving into her own apartment with a friend. Life is amazing. And then onto the next child who had a successful school year and is enjoying family life before beginning her summer job. Lots to share, lots to really celebrate, lots to fill my heart with gratitude for my friend and her joys. One remarks what great kids they are. What great parenting. And then the quick rationalization about luck. Was that for me?
Then it happens ... the awkward silence. There's someone else in this group with a child who is not being asked about in detail. And that someone is me. The child is my son. Sure, one of my intentions is to focus on my friend and her good news. And finally I do have some good news to share! But, still ... I thought my news would be judged, that there would be that air of pity, or risk the conversation just dead ending. Here's the thing though. It's not that they didn't ask about my son. It's that I struggled with the thought that they would judge my good news as a little weak in comparison, and that I would somehow make this exchange even more awkward. It had nothing to do with them or their stories!
What I understand is that these friends care about me and don't want to "make me feel bad" by asking about my son and risking that it might shift me from pleasant times to maybe not so pleasant. And maybe they're not in the place to shift into what could possibly be a sticky conversation, or they're just not sure if I would welcome it, or maybe they don't even know how to bring up a sensitive subject. We were after all out having fun. Oh, my goodness ... look at all the stories in my mind!
When I'm not in all of these stories and believing in comparisons or judgment, what happens? I am so full of love and gratitude that my friend is enjoying her children, that she has a sense of security about the current state of their lives. I choose to not share so we can all just enjoy her story. And I am full of gratitude, not caught up in any comparisons (theirs or my own). I have a child I love so much and can celebrate that he lives and his life has purpose (what that all means who knows, but I know it does!). He has courage, he is resourceful, he loves, he smiles and brings laughter, his growing wisdom is remarkable, his life experience is profound, he has graduated many life schools and his job is living and learning and growing and achieving. Isn't that what we're all doing? Other than all those stories, I am in a state of celebration. I celebrate those moments of connection with him, and the most important moments of all - when I get to love him without conditions, without stories. That's my work. To turn these stories around and return to love.
And, later on in our little gathering, I didn't wait to be asked about my son, I share my news because it feels right for me. I want to share myself with people who care about me, and who I care about. Maybe another time it might not feel right or necessary to share, but this time it did. Whatever the story might be, whatever the news may be, I choose to share love (spoken or not).
From my heart to yours,
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