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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gifts That Matter: Letting Go, Finding Peace

My last blog post on forgiveness brought back many memories for me and it got me thinking about how I was able to forgive myself and other people in my life.  Not only did I begin to understand the cause of my and other’s behavior, I eventually had to let the past go. 

For years, I waited for peace to happen outside of me. I waited for Josh to start communicating. I waited for him to get better at putting his clothes on, brushing his teeth, picking up his room, the list goes on and on. I would still be waiting if I had not accepted reality and released the control I was trying to have over him. All of these things were outside of my control, but still I tried and tried to help him, trying to get him to do things he was not ready to do and trying to make it happen on my timetable. I was making myself miserable with the stories my ego devil told me.

When he can get himself ready in the morning life will get easier. You will have peace then.
When he can brush his own teeth more thoroughly you will have peace then.
When he can care for himself better you won’t have to worry about his future. You will have peace then.
When he can tell you about the things he wants and needs you will have peace then.
Strangers might abuse him someday because they have to help him with his hygiene. You will never have peace if he does not do this for himself.

These thoughts and feelings caused me to behave in ways I am not proud of. I was negative towards people at times because I was in pain internally. I was trying to control people in my life. I was miserable and thought that I could find peace and happiness by manipulating others. At the time, I was not aware that is what I was doing. My ego was not speaking to me through reality. It was speaking to me through an inner world that is not of reality. It was a made up world. I saw examples on TV of disabled people being abused in group homes because they could not care for or protect themselves and I convinced myself that Joshua’s future was at stake. In other relationships, I thought I knew best how others should live and I felt threatened, emotionally, by some of their behaviors. I convinced myself that if they would do certain things and not do certain other things my life would be perfect. My inner world was miserable much of the time. I fell into depression and did not even know it.

“Your eyes become adjusted to the level of deficiency present.” 
~ Iyanla Vanzant

This quote refers to a story Iyanla Vanzant told an audience about taking her grandson to the eye doctor. It was one of those places where you can get two exams and two pairs of glasses for one low price. She decided to get her eyes checked and buy a pair for herself, even though she did not think she needed it, simply because it would not cost her anymore due to the sale. It turned out she did need corrective lenses. Her eyes had adjusted to the level of deficiency present. She went on to explain that this is what happens in life. In our relationships we adjust to dysfunction, in our minds we adjust to our negative internal dialogue and this causes us to adjust to feeling depressed to the point we do not even register it anymore.

In my life, everything seemed fine on the surface, but I was so miserable all of the time that I could not see it. It felt normal. I felt normal because I had felt that way for so long that I forgot what true happiness felt like. The happiness I felt as a kid without a care in the world was no longer there, but I did not notice. Brief periods of joy were not enough to remind me. When I had a disagreement with someone I found myself arguing with that person in my mind. The person was not there, but I was fighting with them. I thought this was normal! My fight with them had no effect on them at all, but it did have an effect on me and on Joshua. It clouded everything in negativity.

Coming to these realizations has caused me to drop my agenda for other people. The only agenda I need to be concerned with is the agenda for MY life. My life is the only one I can live. Everyone else gets to live their own, including my son. I have found that a certain level of control is necessary when raising my child and in being his legal guardian, due to his disabilities, but I do not have to hold on with white knuckles to every issue. I have also found that in my relationships with others I do not get to choose for them – at all – and my manipulation only harms us both. 

“Ego, E – G – O, could stand for Edging God Out.”
“Let go and let God.” 
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Our family members have issues they are dealing with and they are on their own journey in life. We cannot make their choices and we cannot control their life no matter how much we want to. They must make their own mistakes so they can learn their own lessons and grow in their own consciousness. We must do as Wayne Dyer says – stop edging God out by trying to control others and let go so that God can guide our loved ones just as we are being guided. Our gift of accepting others as they are and letting them live their own lives is where we find our peace. It will eventually lead them to peace because it frees them to make mistakes and learn from the consequences. This does not mean you have to like their choices or even the people they become, but you must recognize that you cannot, should not even try to change them or allow yourself to enable them. You may offer advice and suggestions, but then you must release your attachment to the outcome of their choices. You must make your own choices to stay in the relationship or move on and you must not allow them to manipulate you or control the way you want to live your life. You must live your life for you and allow them to live their life. It may be painful to watch them suffer through their choices, but they cannot grow if we keep interfering.

Part of our own growth comes from understanding that our personalities will not love everyone's personality or the decisions they make. That is okay as long as we recognize and love the spirit within the person. We must recognize ourselves in them because ONLY the personalities are different, ONLY the wrapping is different, ONLY the things of this world are different. Our spirits are one and the same. Compassion for the growth of each person gives us the ability to let go of control, releasing our hold on them. We are now able to foster growth in them and in us because we recognize that each person is in charge of their own life and the only choice we can make is to love them and ourselves through it.

Having acceptance and letting go is our way to peace. Now that I have learned these lessons I have begun to accept any outcome before it even occurs. I still have feelings about it, but I know where the feelings come from and I release them because peace means more to me than anything.

May you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas and New Year!

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