Some time ago, I put a post-it on my fridge that drew some curious glances. It read, simply:
GIVE UP HOPE
It had been a particularly difficult stretch with my son. By difficult, I mean that I sometimes considered that we would be better off apart; I entertained elaborate fantasies of joining some monastic order or retreating to an ashram in the Himalayas for a few years.
Things were just superhuman-ly hard.
And the hardest part, I came to see, was the belief that things should be or were about to be different. And that it was up to ME to figure out some way to fix them.
The hardest part was the schizophrenic swinging between fear and desolation: “This is horrible, horrible, horrible! Worst situation ever. Something is seriously wrong with me! Something is seriously wrong with him!” Or manic hope for the magic bullet: “I’ve figured it out now! It’s about to get better! I have a great new plan!”
Perhaps I was espousing one of these new plans to my coach when she stopped me mid-stream and asked “What if it’s always this hard with Gabriel?”
My first thought was that she wasn’t a mother and therefore clearly could not understand that it had to get better! I had to make it better. If I stopped working so hard to improve the situation, things would certainly fall apart.
But the truth was, my efforts were not working. Fear left me paralyzed with shame and itching to escape. Hope left me hell bent on finding a magic solution.
I was running a very familiar story: that life would be smooth sailing once I got
this parenting thing figured out(fill in the blank).
I cried with RELIEF that day. It was such a relief to give up hope that things were about to get better. To just relax with what was happening. To stop figuring it out for a hot minute.
Courage welled in my heart from some dark and bottomless internal reservoir. I was not a victim here. This was my life, my boy. I choose him again, that moment. Which is to say, I chose myself. My life. This one.
Without some imagined future on the horizon, I could be available to my relationship with my son, moment by moment. Things did fall apart-mostly my fearful stories about what should and could be.
Here’s what I am learning:
Without hope and fear, we are available to reality, which is another name for God, which is always kinder than our thoughts and projections.
So much has changed in my parenting and my relationship with my boy as a result of giving up hope. For one, I trust myself as a parent. I mostly don’t know what I’m doing and I fumble and apologize and tell the truth and give a lot of hugs. But when I quit trying to be the parent I thought my son needed, there was lots of room to just be me.
And showing up fully? That’s community service. It allows others to do the same. Kids are no exception. Our relationship is stronger than ever.
When I look back, giving up hope has been prerequisite for every major shift in my life.
Life on life’s own terms is always more interesting and enlivening than the stories we tell ourselves about it.
Things come together, things fall epically apart. It seems to be that way.
What if that’s not a problem?
What if giving up hope lifts the veil from our eyes and opens us to clear seeing, deep courage, authentic compassion?
We can spend our whole lives picking at ourselves and our loved ones, seeing the world as a problem to be solved, an endless series of tasks to be managed.
We can postpone our real lives for some imagined future. When?
We retire? The kids are grown? We find a better partner? Or loose ten pounds?
It doesn’t have to be like that. We can choose to wake up. Starting now.
“The price to enter this love
is your hope for a better future.” -Adyashanti
I want in on the love. So, I am putting my post-it reminder back in place.
I’m giving up hope for the New Year!
I’m starting right here: giving up hope that my coaching practice should look any damn different than it does! Building a business takes some time. And I want to coach like crazy in 2015. In that spirit, I offer you THIS, which is a chance to do some intensive coaching work for whatever you can afford. Because I love this work and I love YOU!
If you want to wake up, shake off, and redirect for 2015, here’s your chance.
I wish you the very happiest hopeless New Year!