Monday, March 21, 2011

Mindful Monday: If Anybody's Still Listening

Well. It's a been a while. I think there's a 75% chance that this post won't get published but I'm going to let go of that notion for now and keep typing and see what happens. It's been so long now that I can't imagine anyone could care much about what I might write here anyway.

You know I'd forgotten that I started Mindful Monday posts until I went over to Rebekah's blog and saw that she's still doing it? Who needs some mindfulness? Me. Clearly.

Yonas has been home over a year now. We've come a long way. We have a long way to go. Nothing about it has been easy. Some of it has been beautiful. Some of it has been far uglier than I could have ever imagined. Most of it has been that strange mix of pain and beauty and progress and fear and revelations and missteps that life is so full of. I have tried my best for all my kids and come up short more times than I care to count. I haven't been compassionate with myself when I've been struggling. And I've struggled a lot. More that I care to admit, which is another reason I haven't posted here much. No one likes to admit they are struggling.

How do we strike the balance of recognizing that this parenting gig is the most important job we'll ever have and setting the expectations of ourselves accordingly while letting ourselves be human?

It's the balance I've been lacking. The balance that allows me to recognize when my well is empty, when I need a break, when everything seems to be falling apart, and yet I keep pushing through because if not me, who? I know that doesn't serve us as a family in the end. I know it doesn't cultivate spaciousness and calmness. But I can't let go of the idea that these are people's souls we're taking about. Their futures. Their lives.

I said it out loud last night. I'm struggling. Again. AGAIN.

For me, today, this is a love letter to myself. It's okay if no one else reads it. The balance I seek is mine for the taking. It's not my life that needs to change, but my thinking about my life that needs to change. It's okay if I'm falling apart. It's okay if I feel overwhelmed.

In her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron says this:

"If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundless of our situation. This is the first step on the path."

I feel groundless already. I might as well get comfortable with it instead of wishing it away, which is absolutely not working. It's a shaky first step. But here I am taking it.


Claudia said...

I'm still listening! That's the great thing about google reader.... even if you only post once a year, those of us with GR will still be here. It's good to hear from you again.

The first step is always the hardest, right? But you've done it. Keep going. Keep struggling. Keep balancing.

And keep writing.

Glad you're back.

Bridget said...

LOVE that you're back. And love the quote. LOVE that you're here.... We're still listening!! HUG!

rebekah said...

You know I'm here. And I have so much to share about this.

I remember being not home yet and reading you and feeling rock solid supportive of you and how difficult it was. And now here I am, 6 months in, and I get - GET - what you're saying. And I've thought all the things you're saying here and really can't wait to not feel like I'm struggling. I can't wait to listen to how my friends are doing rather than blather on about the latest crap my kids are pulling and then remembering I'm not supposed to complain about them, after all, aren't I the adult, the parent? setting a pretty shitty example I am.

About once a week I remember your comment on a post of mine awhile ago - something about fuck you pema. somehow that makes me feel better.

so you see, I am still unable to think beyond myself and the thick of it. I'm sorry. But it is so great to see you writing here. Thank you for this gift.

Christine said...

Listening, most definitely. Love your honesty and will read anything you care to write.

Shannon said...

hey ashlely;

im still listening. not writing,(don't have the energy for that) but listening.

In some ways it is hard to believe it has been over a year since we came home. im so glad we are on this side of a year though. i never want to be just coming home again. those first months were soooo sooo hard. i think i had this magic year mark in my head and all that i thought it would be. we have come a long way with some things, but still have a ways to go on others.

the kids are actually doing pretty well - it's me who still struggles so much. it's hard being the mother of six - finding that balance between them and me. i was silent for a long time and just went through the motions. let everyone believe that things were great. i felt bad complaining because so and so is dealing with things much harder than what im dealing with. until one day i couldn't do it anymore and i lost it. my mom told me that it's not a competition and that it is ok to say out loud how hard it is and to ask for help. once i started doing that - admitting that i can't do it all (all of the time), asking for help, saying it out loud, the burden started to get a little lighter. i started doing things for myself, by myself, and that has helped. it's not always easy to do because bear is sill very clingy and sometimes it's not worth the payback he gives me :) but he is learning that i will come back so it is good for him too.

i think im rambling. but just so you know i totally know where you are coming from. i know things will get better, because if i look at where i/we were a year ago and where we are now and it's night and day. so maybe at the magic two year mark we will look back and see how far we have come.

i wont ramble anymore here, but will email you with an update and pictures of our year home. the kids have grown like crazy and the twins will start kindergarten in the fall!!

hang in there!!


abaco1966 said...

All ears. The not wishing it away part – those are some powerful thoughts. I need to do a little thinking on that. Thanks. And hugs.

Ashley said...

i've taken all these comments and wrapped them around my heart. thank you all for your love and honesty.

InventingLiz said...

Also still listening thanks to Google Reader!

My favorite mantra along these lines is "choose what you have." As you say, it's not the circumstances we have in our lives that make us miserable, it's thinking that our happiness depends on having different circumstances - not choosing what we have.

PS - I read The War of Art, thanks to your dare.

Anonymous said...

I'm here and I'm listening and I'm letting you know you are NOT alone.

We have been home almost 2 yrs now and every single friggen day is STILL a struggle. My well emptied long long ago and only now am am I finally saying that I'm taking a break.

Hope things get better for you, just remember you aren't alone.

Janean Allen said...

Ashley, never stop writting. It is my only way to hear your heart. Love you!

Sha Zam- said...

Still here and still think about you and your fella often. Struggles are regular occurance in this house too. You are not alone. I keep trying to remember something that a friend reminded me- that as adoptive parents- sometimes it's intrinsic to apply extra responsibility and burden to our parenting than what we do with our bio kids (not that I have any... these were her words). I don't know if that is part of your journey- but I know the weight of what we do is heavy! And there are times when it seems to get heavier each day rather than lighter. Hugs to you.

MRK said...

Still listening and just want to echo what the others have said. We became parents of 4 when we brought home 3 and 6 year old siblings from Ethiopia 6 months ago. Did we prepare ? Yes yes yes and yes. Were we prepared ? Absolutely not. It's tougher than we every knew it could be. Having our oldest(birth) have extreme ADHD adds to the challenges as explosiveness, irritability, and ease of frustration are hallmarks of ADHD. I find myself in reactive mode all the time rather than calming myself down since I do, in actual calm moments, realize that my tone and approach is something the kids all react to...I can make issues snowball quickly into worse issues. I have known and felt everything in your post and am only 6 months into it, so I have a long way to go and integrating two kids at once just makes it...well, hard. I need to shake myself into choosing what I have as your friend has said. You said it all so well...know that it has touched many of us who KNOW what you mean because so many people don't.