They should change, and I know what would help them. Really? What if there's more to this story?
I had a most fulfilling and profound Inquiry last night with a few parents. We questioned the thought: "They (my child) should make healthy friends". Well, that is good advice. I mean who wants our children hanging out with "friends" who will feed them drugs, expose them to risky situations, condone or join their addiction, right?
But when we question the thought that they should make healthy friends (when in reality they are not!), what we come to realize, and what they may have told us, is that they feel understood and accepted by the friends they have. They fit in. Their shame is not a burning pit of pain in them, and can continue to be avoided in the groups and activities of their current lives. That's a very big deal! To be accepted and understood, not more shame heaped upon the shame they already have that they should and must change. Many times they already know this. It's a very tough way of living. It's lonely and desperate. And equally as desperate to get the next fix even when they know they should stop. For me, this is a very important concept to understand, and accept. And when I do, it makes a lot of room for compassion, for love, as is, without conditions. Because there is deep understanding of the reality of things, a movement towards what is with clarity not the confusion of control.
Let's be honest though, we'd be happier if they hung out with healthy friends because then they'd be healthier ... and so might we, right? Not necessarily true though. This thought that we know what they should do (except they're not doing it) is putting us in direct opposition with the way things actually are in reality at this time. The problem is that they can't (until and if they ever can and will). They will do it for themselves, and certainly not for us. So how does it feel to impose this kind of pressure onto their lives so that we can find relief? It is confusing at best because we simply can not control another human being. There's an energy to this controlling and fixing that says "you're not good enough as you are". It's not to condone the addiction! It's to say that we may be pushing them away because we don't fully understand or accept them. And, they're getting that acceptance somewhere else, somewhere else where they don't feel the pressure that they must change, they don't have to make anyone else happy, they're around people who get it and meet them where they are, as they are. That's a tall order for us parents though isn't it? Yes, it surely is, and that is the invitation to notice what we do with all our advice and energy when they're not meeting our standards ... more separation, more hurt upon the hurt. So, how instead can we try to meet them as they are, stay present and not in the fear of what if's and future images and just offer kind love without fixing and control?
Notice....just keep noticing with an open heart, and open mind, invite that compassion of understanding. It's not about condoning, or changing them. It's about seeing things as they really are, under the layers of fear. Notice, if you had to make new friends, would it be easy? How do you do it, where are these new friends, how do you form a bond with a new acquaintance? Is there a relationship in your life that isn't as healthy as you'd like it to be? How easy is it for you to change that one, or let it go? If you're like me, you may be realizing it is not so easy. It takes a lot of guts, effort and courage, time and skill to walk away from some friends and find new ones. Is this really what we're asking our kids to do? It's a pretty tall order isn't it? Understanding this helps.
Notice also...what kind of healthy friend are you to yourself? Do you fully accept you as you are, treat yourself in healthy ways, nurture your healthier activities, put yourself around other healthy friends, go to meetings regularly to meet new friends and invite them out to bond with them? How easy would it be if you had to start doing something that challenges the isolation, the fears, the moods, the stories we all have running through our minds that we don't want exposed to new and healthy acquaintances? I mean who would want to hang out with us if we did that, right? Not so easy. Yet this is what we ask of our children. Just notice. Understanding with compassion helps.
And notice too...what kind of healthy "friend" are we offering our child? One who says "I understand how very difficult this must be for you, and I accept you. I love you as is, always. You don't have to change for me and I'm going to really try not to try to control and change you. I'm here if or when you want to create some change in your life. I trust there's ways to do that. I love you now, and I'll love you then. So, if or whenever you're ready, I'm here for you. Or is it this kind of "friend"? Is there blame, a need for them to take care of you and suffering in agony when they don't (can't), the one who is so full of fear that we see only pain and miss the opportunity to be with our child as is for as long as is, to send love, not fix or change, just send love or offer a warm hug, a sandwich, a bottle of water? Is it a friend who contributes to the insanity or meets it with understanding, a clearer mind and more effective choices? Just notice and meet all this with understanding. Give it some love and acceptance and know that if or when, you can take steps to be a friend to yourself, and to others.
Notice, in this place of truly unconditional love, there is acceptance and understanding. And it does not mean we would engage in violence and support using. That's not kind. It means we love them because we understand. And we may understand that since we can't control or change them, we let them be and offer them our kindness, not our fear and control and giving things we know in our heart just isn't helping. We allow their life's journey, and start taking care of our own, and offering support not fixing. We're loving ourselves because we understand that unless and until we do, we will suffer even more and continue to control and fix someone we can't. And, who knows what kind of power and change this can inspire in our relationships. My experience is it makes a whole lot more room for connection. And it feels a whole lot kinder, peaceful and fulfilling than the emptiness and fear of disconnection.
So, how can you be a friend to yourself today? Let's all send some friendly energy to our child, to everyone's child. We are all children in a way trying to figure out the next step in this journey of life. It's not an us/them. It is a we, and it begins with each of us to create more space for this unconditional love we talk about. A space where there is understanding and acceptance. A space where love thrives.
Wishing you and your family peace.
10/11/2017 11:45:48 am
This is the religion I choose. Developing compassion and acceptance for all we sojourners. Thanks for lighting up the process.
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