In my class last week one mother shared about the mental illness that runs all through her family and about her own bi-polar. When her children were little she said she took medication because she had to be able to function to care for her family. She shared that eventually the medications weren't as effective as in the beginning and they were causing other health symptoms so she decided to try something different. She shared that she stopped taking her meds about 10 years ago but that she lives a very sheltered life, almost cloistered. She works at keeping their home a stress free environment for herself and their sick daughter. She said the husband who was sitting right there, takes care of everything. She said, "I couldn't do it this way without him." He pays the bills, files the taxes, oversees house and car repairs, goes to work each day....he said, "I am really high energy." She eats healthy, and exercises, and keeps her life at a manageable level of functionality. I loved it!
I was telling Molly about it and I was so excited....I felt like I had really stumbled onto something new and exciting! Eliminate stress from our lives and create our own place of refuge, be gentle with ourselves. It sounded so good, so kind, and so logical. Only do what we can reasonably manage. I was busy explaining how our worth shouldn't be tied into all that we accomplish each day, that some people can't manage loads of tasks each day and "IT'S OK!!"
Then she asked, "But isn't he enabling her?"
I spent some time thinking about that and how we can take the enabling message to the point where any type of helping a fellow human being can be called enabling. I answered that when I think of enabling, I think of frantic fear driven actions. We are jumping around trying to head off a specific outcome. What this family was sharing struck me more as they had found what was working for them. There was no frantic anything, no resentful jokes....they love each other and these are her needs and they are working together doing what they need to do to keep their family moving forward despite facing some serious illnesses that are not only debilitating, but have a stigma attached to them that carry a lot of shame.
Obviously what they are doing, isn't an option for everyone. I was thinking about what small changes we *can* make to take better care of ourselves. To create calm and peace in our homes. I am already very protective over our living space. For me personally though... taking time for a nap, keeping my living area organized, having a plan and a routine and not allowing myself to become so busy that that isn't possible is really important to me. I battle these everyday because I am so busy. I am working at eliminating some of my commitments because I feel like my hands are full right now. I need to slow down and *live* through each moment....not just manage and juggle and throw together something that I can call "life."
I have had this re-occurring thought running through my mind....what if we all slowed down and pared down our lives to something manageable and calm and joyful? What would the outcome be on the big picture?