************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lessons in Powerlessness

This has been a week of releasing control. Multiple lessons, each bringing up their own flavor of discomfort, have presented themselves relentlessly. Lessons in letting go. Lessons in powerlessness.

Some were minor irritations.

Meetup.com was attacked by hackers. It was down on-and-off for a couple of days this week, making it very difficult to download the files I needed for my writer’s group. I knew I had a busy weekend, but I couldn’t do the editing without the files, so instead of getting to it on Thursday or Friday, I was up late very late Saturday night, getting it done just barely in time for our Sunday morning meeting. 

Another huge snow-storm followed by yet another blast of below-zero arctic air roared in for this first weekend of March. This has been a winter for the records in every category – snow, cold and duration. I love the changing seasons here in the Midwest, but this year has worn me down. 

So this weekend, each time I donned my parka, scarf, gloves and  snow boots, I took a breath and let it go. For me, that's easier when the upset is just about my own discomfort or aggravation. 

When it comes to those I love, it’s much harder.

Both of my sons came home this weekend, arriving Friday night before the most recent snow began. They came home to see their younger sister in her final high school play. My sons have busy twenty-something lives, so the fact that they made this effort made their homecoming all-the-more sweet to me.

The show went perfectly, but brought tears for both my daughter and me. This whole school year has been a time of “lasts”. All four of our kids went to this high school, and we’ve been through the letting-go process three times already, so I know what each senior-year milestone is leading up to. I can hardly look at my youngest daughter without remembering that she will be walking out the door and into her own life in just a matter of months.
Breathe… breathe

We drove home from the show at a snail’s pace in near white-out conditions. Almost as soon as we were in the door, my older son started packing up for a sixty mile drive in the height of the storm. He's twenty-four years old. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have let a snowstorm get in my way at his age. Still, looking at it from the wisdom of almost fifty-five, it was very hard to let him walk out that door.

The thing is, hard or not, I didn’t have a choice. He’s an adult. 
I took a breath. And another. And another.

No matter how old my kids get, they still look like children to me. My husband seems to have the same affliction. He was running through his own repertoire of tactics to try and get our son to change his mind and wait until morning to leave, voicing futile arguments and sometimes going beyond the scope of reason (in my opinion). Frustration radiated off of both of them as our son packed up his stuff and his dog and headed out into the night.

Even my husband’s reaction was outside my control. Another lesson in letting go.
Breathe… Just breathe…

As frustrating as this was, it was much easier than the lesson in powerlessness my husband and I shared two days earlier.

On Thursday morning, my husband was peeing blood. Not a dot on one occasion, but a steady stream, repeatedly.

He’s a doctor. He knows what blood in the urine can mean, and so do I. He called his doctor and they scheduled the necessary tests for that day. The word cancer was not spoken that morning, but it loomed huge in both our minds. 

You want to talk letting-go? You want to talk powerlessness? 
Many people have gone through this process, waiting for the doctor to give them the thumbs up or thumbs down while the specter of the Big C haunts their thoughts. That period of time between the first inkling that something is wrong and the final word may be the biggest lesson in powerlessness I’ve ever dealt with.

I held his hand. I looked into his eyes—eyes I’ve looked into for thirty-seven years—and saw a kind of fear I’d never seen before.
Breathe. Breathe.

And then, the tests were back and they showed nothing. Not a single unusual thing. This doesn’t tell us what the problem is. All they can do is rule things out, and thankfully cancer was one of those things. Cancer advanced enough to produce his symptoms would have shown up on the CAT scan, and it wasn’t there. Suddenly breathing was a lot easier again.

We still don’t know what caused my husband's symptoms but he seems to have returned to normal.  I hope he’ll follow up on this with the rest of the work-up his doctor suggested, but I have no control over that either. My husband has an amazing ability to compartmentalize his thoughts—to put those things he doesn’t want to see in a closed box until needed—and by the time he was chastising our son for wanting to leave in the middle of a blizzard on Saturday night, the mortal terror from a few days before seemed to be completely forgotten. He'd moved right back into a much-more familiar feeling of frustration.

We were powerless to change the behavior of our adult son.
There is no rational thing anyone can do to prevent another adult from moving along the path of their own free will.

Later, after my son had texted us that he’d arrived safely at his destination, I broached the subject of powerlessness with my husband. He’s a pretty amazing guy in a lot of ways. For all his old-fashioned bravado, I’ve found that even when it seems he hasn’t been listening it often turns out that later—usually much later—I find out he’s not only heard me but taken my words to heart. 

So, for now, I will breathe in the calm of this quiet moment and I will find some peace in my own belief that there is a time for everything, that all things are possible, and that the universe will continue on its path with or without my input. It’s a funny thing that seeing how small I am in that big picture can be so much more comforting than believing I am big and powerful myself. I don’t have to work that hard. I don’t have to force my own beliefs on others even when I’m certain I’m right. 
I don’t have to worry about everyone and everything.
I can step back.
Let go.
And just breathe. 


  1. Sounds like you have prepared your children for the future by giving them self confidence even if means driving in the snow. I wish I could be more like your husband and live in the moment. I am working hard on that these days.

  2. Breathing is good thank you for the reminder. I needed it today.


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Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.