Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurt? Wanted it so badly it consumes all your thoughts throughout the day as you picture what it would look like over and over in your mind - so that you don't even notice or appreciate where you are? Well, I learned that's where I spent a lot of my energy in my life with my son, Rylan, and I hadn’t realized it.
Let me share a story with you. I remember when Rylan led me with closed eyes to his bedroom door. He threw the door wide open so I could see as he said. "Surprise, Mommy! You can look now!"
"Wow, Rylan!" I exclaimed with utter amazement, I'm feeling slightly stunned here, you've cleaned and organized your bedroom completely by yourself, AND, you are super happy about it! This is a delightful surprise!"
"You know," I paused to look into his eyes, "I want to acknowledge right here, right now, just how big it is that you cleaned and organized your room today independently. As a matter of fact," I continued, "I have been noticing several ways you have been taking the initiative to show up around here: feeding and watering the animals, taking out the garbage, cleaning up after meals, reading books in your room. Something's way different around here! I feel a little in awe taking it all in, Rylan. It means so very much to me to see you engaging in life this way. I'm curious, are you noticing differences in your body?"
Pausing a moment to reflect, he answered with a grin, "I am happy now!"
This is a moment, for me, which stands still in time forever.
After witnessing his struggle for years to engage in the simplest things, like putting on socks and shoes, brushing teeth, combing hair, or running errands. I dreamt of finding a way to support his ability to feel good in his own body, to feel calm and happy when needing to transition from one activity to the next, and for his friendship circle to grow. I truly believed this dream could become a reality. My vision was focused and fine-tuned, and I envisioned myself as his biggest advocate. What I didn't notice were the limiting beliefs narrowing my perspective or the subtle pressures I put on my son to change, to be different than he was.
I was helped in beginning to understand this after we moved to the Spokane area and we had more resources and support for our family, especially for Rylan. I remember feeling thrilled meeting new contacts and agencies that really "got" what it's like to have lived in isolation from a sense of community.
The experience of being out in the world brought me new realizations. I remember the first time I took Rylan to what I hoped would be our new Spiritual family (unconsciously bubbling over inside with expectations of "coming home" and belonging.”) As the service began with music being played by a band at the front, Rylan and I stood up with everyone else to sing. Suddenly, Rylan jerked away from my side and sat down abruptly, hunching down. With his head on his lap and his hands over his ears, he trembled in sensory overload. I remember moving to hold him, feeling my heart sink, and hearing my own despairing thought, "I just want to belong to a warm caring community! It's just not going to work no matter where we go."
As I sat, consciously holding myself with care, giving myself empathy and support for my disappointment and tapping into my body sensations, the next moment was like a kaleidoscope of stored images of my son passing through my awareness. As time stood still for me, I saw my son's heart, experiencing life right where he was, right here, right now, in sensory overload, needing support and to know he matters in the world. And this heart of mine expanded to a new depth of love where possibility flowers and I was able to see, hear, and feel things from a new and more expansive perspective.
I saw the courage it takes, being willing to show up in the world as vulnerable as you truly are, with no pretense, no illusions, or hidden agendas. What my son modeled for me on that day has inspired my continued journey to find the courage within myself to welcome my habits of wanting to seek control, approval, security or survival, of wanting to seek a sense of separation from not only others, but from myself, and, not make these habits "wrong."
Instead, I notice my body sensations as I welcome my habits, release all that I'm holding onto and acknowledging, back into life itself. The gift I receive when welcoming life in this way is a true sense of freedom within, liberating me from many layers of limiting patterns in my life.