Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017
Today’s thought from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is:
Say when it’s time to stop coping
In her book Recovering from the Loss of a Child, author Katherine Fair Donnelly writes of a man whose infant daughter, Robyn, dies from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The child had died in the stroller, while the mother was out walking her. The father had stopped to get a haircut that day and was given a number for his turn.
“It was something he never did again in future years,” Donnelly wrote. “He would never take a number at the barber’s and always came home first to make sure everything was all right. Then he would go and get a haircut. It became one of the ways he found of coping.”
I hate coping. It’s not living. It’s not being free. It reeks of surviving.
But sometimes it’s the best we can do, for a while.
Eight years after my son died, I was signing the papers to purchase a home. It was the first home I had bought since his death. The night before he died, I had also signed papers to buy a new home. I didn’t know that I had begun to associate buying a home with his death, until I noticed my hand trembling and my heart pounding as I finished signing the purchase agreement. For eight years, I had simply avoiding buying a home, renting one less-than-desirable place after another and complaining about the travails of being a renter. I only knew then that I was “never going to buy another house again.” I didn’t understand that I was coping.
Many of us find ways of coping. As children, we may have become very angry with our parents. Having no recourse, we may have said to ourselves, “I’ll show them, I’m never going to do well at music, or sports, or studies again.” As adults, we may deal with a loss, or death, by saying, “I’m always going to be nice to people and make them happy. Then they won’t go away.” Or we may deal with a betrayal by saying, “I’m never going to open my heart to a woman, or man, again.”
Coping often includes making an incorrect connection between an event and our behavior. It may help us survive, but at some point our coping behaviors usually get in our way. They become habits and take on a life of their own. And although we think we’re protecting ourselves or someone we love, we aren’t.
Robyn didn’t die because her father took a number and waited to get his hair cut.
My son didn’t die because I bought a new house.
Are you keeping yourself from dong something that you really want to do as a means of coping with something that happened to you a long time ago? Cope if you must, if it helps save your life. But maybe today is the day you could set yourself free.
God, show me if I’m limiting myself and my life in some way by using an outdated coping behavior. Help me know that I’m safe and strong enough now to let that survival behavior go.
You are reading from the book:
More Language of Letting Go © 2000 by Melody Beattie