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October 6, 2022

Trying to understand the lesson to be learned and be a better person..

I was reading – as I often do – about how to perceive difficult life events, how to grow through them, learn from them – and become a better person because of all the newly gained experience and wisdom.

However, most of the stories I have read follow a rough theme. Clearly I am putting this simplistically and I am not devaluing or underestimating the enormity of the journey people find themselves on, often through no choice of their own.

So, this theme, as I understand it, sets the scene in which a person is either living under terrible conditions, or they experience a terrible event or events and consequently feel as though life isn’t worth living. Yet through their resourcefulness, resilience, and courage, they find the strength, somehow, to rise and overcome the challenge to get to their happy ending. In fact, not only do they become ok, they actually thrive and prosper.

My challenge, with both my husband and my son, is that there isn’t something to ‘get over’, because their conditions are continuous and render both unable to care for themselves – now and forever. My husband sustained a debilitating brain injury when he came off his motorbike in the 80s and my son, now 25, was born with autism and severe learning disabilities.

Due to their conditions, they both seem blissfully unaware of any limitations, but then that is probably best, otherwise how could they bear it I wonder.

I have been struggling to make sense of my life for many years, because it hasn’t followed the pattern described above. I couldn’t see how we could have a ‘happy ending’ because the only way I could see that working out was if I could fix them. Which I know logically is impossible, yet emotionally I felt ashamed and a failure for not having achieved that. I thought I had let them down.

So, in yet another attempt to find some guidance and discover how to move forward, I was sitting on my sofa doing a meditation with some prompts. I had to ask myself, ‘ What can I learn from this? What do I need to know? and How is this situation helping me grow? The written guide suggested I viewed my situation from a 3D vantage point by imagining I was floating above it in a balloon and looking down.

Well – as I sat there, in my imaginary balloon, looking over the side, feeling the gentle sway of the basket and listening to the roar of the burner, I realised that all I could see was a mist covering the land below. The mist was slowly rising, swirling round and round. And it dawned on me – in that moment – that the mist was love. I couldn’t see anything tangible or real, it was just unconditional love – gently surrounding and holding me.

And then, as I started crying, it hit me – how fiercely I love my husband and son. I get nothing back in return, which is hard, but I have always accepted that. I don’t expect anything and have to believe that that they probably love me in their own way, but there is no outward demonstration of their love for me, no recognition of what I do for them, or even appreciation. I love them absolutely, willingly and would do anything for them.

If I had my life over again, I would do the same.

I have no regrets and suddenly felt very lucky. How many people experience love like that?

Without realising what I was doing at the time, (I was just trying to keep everything together when he had his accident and my daughters were little), I have brought my girls up blessed with a huge capacity for love. They love me, their dad and their brother and have inherited my unwavering dedication to family. I am proud of my legacy.

Now the lesson I have had to learn is clear – finally. The acceptance of things I cannot change. So simple yet so complicated. I need to let my resistance go.  Why haven’t I seen it before? I can love unconditionally, yes, but I see now that I have only been able to offer that to others.

Now I need to work on loving myself unconditionally, accepting that I’ve always done my best and continue to make a difference to lives in a positive way. The thought of doing that is a challenge as it feels so unnatural to think of my own needs after being a carer for so many years – but that must be where my strength lies.

Does this resonate with anyone? How do you survive, thrive even, if this has been your pattern too? I would love to hear from you..

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Elizabeth Dun  |  Contribution: 2,405