Today was a beautiful day for a bike ride. My husband attached our new bike rack to the car and we were off with some friends for a relaxing morning. The flat, shady trail was perfect. As our tires rolled over the paved path, birds sang and the sun shone warm on our backs. Gentle breezes and mild temperatures mixed together for the perfect outing.
I’m not the racing type. I prefer a leisurely, relaxed pace. It’s more refreshing for me that way. While I rode along today, I recalled how it felt (not too long ago) when I thought I would lose my mind over my troubled daughter’s behaviors and choices; when it felt like she was making me lose my sanity.
“Okay, our children don’t make us lose our sanity, but they make us feel like we could. You probably know exactly what I’m talking about. When you smell alcohol or weed on them and they just drove the car home – your car. When they’re spending a lot of time in the bathroom right before or after meals – too much time. You’re sure you heard the toilet flush, again. When you suspect they’re drinking too much or have a drug problem. When they call in the middle of the night from jail, begging you in tears to bail them out “just one more time”, promising it will be the last. But your gut tells you otherwise. Or the times you notice they’re really down, withdrawn, making comments of feeling hopeless and you wonder if they’re thinking of hurting themselves, ending it all. Oh God, how can I hold myself together?
The way we respond makes all the difference. We get to choose. When I faced situations like these I became angry and fearful. Grief and sorrow were constant companions. Guilt and shame drove me to isolate. Disagreements with my husband over what we should or shouldn’t do created huge amounts of tension. How to determine if we were enabling and over-helping caused confusion. Rushing around frantically trying to fix, change or rescue our daughter was a crazy-maker. Hovering and micro-managing became the norm. Insomnia and nightmares, when sleep did come, plagued us both. Heightened anxiety, PTSD symptoms, headaches, and digestive problems gripped me with intensity.
Any of these sound familiar?
None of us knows how to respond when things get crazy with our children. We’re strangers to the kinds of troubles and situations I listed. We do our best, but we tend to neglect what could help us the most.
We do everything we possibly can, within the limits of our persuasive powers and our pocketbooks – EXCEPT take care of ourselves. Yes, me and you: mom, dad, step-parent or grandparent. We neglect ourselves terribly.
I have some things to suggest you try to do when you feel like you’re losing your sanity. Please do yourself a favor and throw yourself a life-preserver. Think of it as a safety net that can keep you from drowning, becoming another victim. Your family, and others who care, will thank you. They don’t want to lose you, too.
4 Things You Can Do
1. Get outside for some fresh air. Enjoy nature or your surroundings: the balcony of your apartment, a park, sit by a lake, in your backyard or go to an outdoor cafe.
2. Get some exercise. Doing something is better than nothing, even a slow walk is good. Physical movement releases endorphins, the feel good chemical in the brain that is a natural mood enhancer.
3. Get with a friend. Talk if you feel like it or simply enjoy being together over a cup of coffee, tea or a meal. Being with someone who understands and cares can give you a big boost.
4. Get alone with God. Time with him in the Bible, prayer or silence, can revive you more than you would imagine. When I couldn’t concentrate to read I’d sit in his presence and say, “Here I am, Lord, I need you so much. My heart is open. Come, refresh me. I receive your love.”
I hope you’ll try at least one of these. If it makes a difference, share it with someone. It could be the very thing they need the next time they encounter a situation that threatens to rob them of their sanity.
A book that might help is: 90 Days of God’s Goodness: Daily Reflections that Shine Light on Personal Darkness by Randy Alcorn.