They say that the universe exists in a perfect balance of opposing forces. On a more personal level, it is also said that whatever energy you put out is what you’ll get in return. My relationship with Oliver is a microcosm of that macrocosmic idea.
It has always astounded me how closely he mirrors my moods and energy.
Since the very beginning it’s been a test in my ability to remain in a neutral place despite a torrent of emotions running through me at any given moment. In my past life as a “yogi” I would half-heartedly practice (poorly) the art of meditation. I would sit on my cushion, somewhat attempting to be present, but ultimately allowing myself to be swept back into the wild unruly river of thought that is so tempting for the mind to perpetuate. I honestly never had much luck taming this beast, but at this point I sure do wish I had tried a little harder. I wish I’d gotten closer not only to controlling my mind, but also to embodying the energy that goes along with that level of stillness. But alas, there is no time like the present.
It has always been apparent that whatever energy I put out to Oliver he will return immediately. Due to our refusal to medicate him early on, the first year and a half of his life was filled with nightly battles against sleep. Conrad and I would stay up until after midnight most nights pacing back and forth through our living room bouncing him in a certain rhythm that would ease his suffering. It was taxing to say the least, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. As he’d finally give in to sleep, the slightest deviation from the rhythm or our focus would send him into another screaming fit that could last for hours.
The same was true when we would lie with him in bed after we were too exhausted to walk anymore. All the external supports could be in place- darkness, silence, perfect temperature- but if our heartbeats weren’t steady, our breaths even and our minds still and focused, he would wake up in a rage. It seems that his brain injury gives him a higher level of sensitivity to these subtle changes, which in turn makes me painfully aware of the slightest blip in my energy. What a gift this could be if I can only use it for growth.
Now that he is medicated for sleep, I notice these things more during his waking hours. I feel the anxiety in my body when I know I don’t have anyone coming to help me and then I see it reflected in his heightened level of agitation. It’s a vicious cycle that only leads to more worry that I won’t be able to soothe him, that he won’t participate in any activity I present him with and that the hours will drag by as they used to when I was home with him alone all day. Those times were so lonely and isolating and filled with insurmountable waves of grief threatening to drown me. Even though it’s years later and I have built a support network and processed through many of those dark feelings, the remaining emotional scars still make it difficult to maintain presence and resist being swallowed up by that looming darkness.
I know he senses this inner chaos.
He comes home from school every day now with a smile on his face after a morning of one on one help, stimulation and undivided attention. As soon as I bring him upstairs and our household reality of one sleep deprived mom and two needy kids takes over, all the wheels come off. Many afternoons quickly degrade into a chaotic mix of whining, crying and me yelling above it all that I am only one person who can do only so many things at once. Lol Sighhhh….. But this is starting to change.
My practice right now is to cultivate presence. On occasion I am gifted a glimpse of what it would be like to let all the walls and worry down and just be still.
Be Here Now. It’s tough to do but every time I succeed, I am instantly rewarded with a shift in Oliver’s mood. I’ve noticed a significant improvement since I’ve started writing for this blog. It’s almost like, as I have channeled all of the emotion, sadness, truth, grief, love, etc into something positive, something that I am proud of and growing from, it has lightened the weight I have carried on my shoulders. Sharing in this way is beginning to change me and therefore is changing my relationship with Oliver from one of frustration and mutual irritation, to one of love and understanding.
My hope now is to let go of all that fear and pain from the past and just experience him for everything he is at this moment. He is my real world consciousness consultant and mediation teacher – how lucky am I that his services are totally free and available 24 hrs/day! Lol