I remember a few months ago sitting on the floor holding my son who was in the middle of an angry tantrum. I don’t recall what set it off but he had clearly lost control. His eyes were glazed over and he was saying hurtful, mean things while trying to hit me. It was an all too familiar Jekyll and Hyde moment when my son became someone else.
I sat there, holding him, and tried to not get hurt or become angry by what he was saying and doing. I remember thinking “This is our life now.” Things were never going to change. Things were never going to get better. For the rest of my life, I would need to be there to shield the world from my son.
Even when this episode passed, I felt like I would only be waiting for the next one. And there was a next one. And another after that. But with each of those episodes, I began to notice the moments in between. Those moments when we weren’t on high alert. The moments when we might have looked like a normal family. I tried to let myself believe those moments would become our new normal, but that didn’t happen, either.
My mistake was treating these highs and lows and my feelings and reactions to them as a permanent thing. When I was sitting on the floor holding my son, those fears and emotions were very real and very consuming. They were all I could see. When we were happy and hopeful, I held on to those feelings tightly. They were all I wanted to see. But in both cases, the moments passed. Those feelings fell into the stream of time and it carried them away.
The current of the stream is strong and unbiased. It takes away the good and the bad. When it takes away the good, it’s always faster than I want it to. Those precious moments sometimes disappear before I can appreciate them. When it takes away the bad, it’s never fast enough. The pain and heartache seem to consume me and linger longer than I think I can endure.
I’ve tried to control the stream. I’ve tried to hold on to those good moments longer by slowing the flow. But I wind up focusing too hard on not letting go that I wind up not being present. While I struggle to hold on to that one moment, others are floating by without notice.
I’ve tried to push away the bad moments. But the more attention I give them, the more they seem to stay with me. Instead of being pulled away by the current, they bob up and down in front of me, creating a compounding log jam of moments behind them.
The hardest thing to do is to give up trying to control every moment and, instead, to be in the moment. To be aware of how the moment affects me and my reaction to it. To be present in each moment and to take what the moment offers but then to let it go.
Also published on Medium.