Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #6

Radical Gratitude Challenge #6 – Ultimate Gratitude

Perhaps nothing leaves us feeling more helpless and vulnerable than watching a child suffer.  Whether it’s from illness, or injury, or from crazy, bad choices that kid is making, we are cut to the core.

My elder son, Steve, began sliding down the sleep, slippery slope of drug addiction when he was fifteen.  Poor grades.  Being expelled.  Arrested for fencing stolen property.  Counselors. Court appointed therapists. Being awakened at 2 a.m. (when I thought Steve was asleep in his room) and told to come bail him out of jail.  Cash missing.  Blame heaped on myself and by others for being a “bad” parent.  The nightmare seemed unending.

Although I wouldn’t wish this story on anyone, some of you have experienced this.  We could exchange horror stories.  If enough time has gone by, maybe we could even laugh together about the dreams surrendered…the lessons learned.

I’m not sure I was very grateful during those years.  I think it may have been all I could do to just hang on for the wild ride.  

Eventually Steve was hospitalized with congestive heart failure due to 15 years of “speed” and anything else he could get his hands on.  At first he was not expected to live through the night.  He lived. He came home to stay with us.  For two and one half years, I cared for a person still thinking crazy druggie thoughts.  I knew every day could be his last.  What good could come out of this, dear God?

And then a miracle.  He accepted that he was dying.  He decided the only way he could die with self-respect, was to die “clean.”  He quit everything.  Cold turkey.  And the Steve I once knew as kind and sweet returned to me.  We had almost four months of regaining the loving we had lost in the chaos before he died.  We each let go of things we couldn’t control and couldn’t change.  We surrendered judgment of ourselves and each other.

Without my recognizing it at the time, Steve was one of my most profound teachers. It may seem a small gift in exchange for his life, but my gift from Steve was a lifetime of lessons that are briefly shared in my book, Pungent Boundaries.   I learned what I had to do to disconnect from codependent behaviors.  I learned how to take care of myself, rather than always running to take care of him.  I learned a level of humility that was painful, and infinitely valuable as I coach others in similar circumstances.

Is there something so painful happening to you right now that you can barely breathe?  Does gratitude seem impossible to conjure up?  Is the tunnel so dark that even the thought of possible light ahead seems unrealistic?  This is when Gratitude can begin to work its magic in your soul.  Even just saying the words, while pounding a pillow, can open up space inside for a miracle…if not in the circumstances, then in you.  If you are blessed with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, or if you are not, I invite you to join me as I set aside that day to practice gratitude.  You can say, “Thank you, even though I hate this, thank you.”  I’ll say it with you… and send you my love as you stretch beyond what seems possible.

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