This morning I was thinking about my dad. He suffered his stroke almost 2 1/2 years ago. His life was forever changed on that day. I’ve blogged about this on many different occasions but the journey our family has had to take watching a loved one adjust to a radically different way of living has been an eye opening experience. If I had to pick two important lessons that have been solidified in my heart because of this journey, it would be this:
1. Sometimes we are powerless to change a situation and the best thing we can do is acknowledge it.
2. Mobility is a gift and I never ever want to take if for granted again.
Today, I want to focus on that first lesson.
As I look back on other seasons in my life when I was powerless to do anything about a situation, the first thing that comes to mind is my mom’s illness. I remember the day she sat me down in our living room and told me she had breast cancer. I was 13 years old. I remember how my young mind took the news extremely well. I simply told myself that she would have surgery and be fine again.
Of course that’s how it would play out.
Other families experience the unhappy ending…not my family. This plan worked for a couple of years before it started to unravel. Even though I thought I was fine, today I know that deep down I was anything but fine. I was terrified and I was unable to process, in a healthy way, just how powerless I really was to do anything to change the situation.
Today, I believe this is one of the reasons I struggled with an eating disorder all through high school. Food and exercise were two things I could control in my young life. I fixated on eating just enough food to survive and then exercising obsessively. I went from a healthy 126 lbs to (at my lowest) 88 lbs.
My parents were concerned about me the entire time. My mom took the gentle, loving approach. My dad took the forceful, yelling approach. They would ask me how much I weighed and I would lie and tell them 100.
I hit my first “bottom” the day I stepped on the scale and, even though I had hardly eaten anything the day before, I had gained a pound. I tried to stick my finger down my throat, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I finally told my mom I needed help. She took me to a nutritionist. (Umm, what I really needed was a shrink!) The good news? I did stop starving myself but I never learned a healthy way to deal with situations where I was completely powerless to change the outcome. In college, and after my mom’s death, I turned to alcohol instead of food. I used it as an escape. I numbed my way through life and managed to avoid the tough or hard decisions for years and years before hitting my second “bottom.” But, in my attempt to run away from life, all I did was dig a bigger hole.
So let’s go back to my original statement: Sometimes we are powerless to change a situation and the best thing we can do is acknowledge it.
I’ve had to learn this many times in my life. The biggest takeaway from the journey I’ve taken is this: The worst mistake we can make is to run away and hide from the truth. Running and hiding only prolongs the pain and delays the healing. Instead, we must look our fear in the face and acknowledge it.
Believe it or not…acknowledging our powerlessness gives us power. And, it’s the only way out. It’s the only path that leads to freedom.
Question: When it comes to tough situations, do you tend to run, hide, or confront?