For the past three weeks I have been away from my hometown of Brisbane and been on a self-discovery that centred on family health and care and relationship dynamics.
As an only child, I have a great deal of responsibility towards my parents. They divorced when I was 7 and have lived within a single-parent nucleus and its idiosyncrasies for 35 years. My Dad kept an active role in my life and we have a strong bond, in fact I have been told on multiple occasions that I am the “spitting image” of my father. So when my Dad, who is 77, had to have major back surgery, I offered to fly over to Western Australia to support him and my elderly step-mother. I knew it would require patience, perseverance and modified behaviours. It was not my house to manage and from previous family holidays, living with my Dad and step-mother for more than 5 days became extremely frustrating.
To counteract my feelings of sadness for leaving my husband, and then anger for being the only person able to help, I engaged a life coach. At first I wanted to develop strategies that I could deploy to ensure I would cope with these new arrangements and deal with different personality traits. During the coaching, I came up with compelling reasons to support my step-mum on an emotional level and recognised that focussing on a happy outcome for Dad to return home, was my main purpose. I was also shocked to be vocalising such negative thoughts and feelings and began to reflect upon the impact it was having on my home life and work.
I had an exceptional coach! In two hours I learnt to appreciate my step-mother for who she is and learnt to appreciate ‘her’ world. I let go of the past and removed my anger as a result of being a ‘child of divorce’. I can hear you ask, “How can you just move on so quickly?” I was committed to making a change and uncovering what was grounding me to past events. I consciously and sub-consciously chose to make this experience a positive and engaging time for all my family. I took on board my actions and the coaching helped me release 20 years of blame, excuses and bad memories. It was eye-opening to say the least and I felt alive!
I acknowledged my Dad’s love and the caring heart that my step-mum offers to everyone she meets. I put things into perspective, and knew that I had no control over other people’s actions, words or feeling. I let the little things wash over me, smiled, laughed, taught, hugged, ate ice-cream, went shopping, watched old-fashioned movies at dinner, travelled on trains and busses to visit Dad together and made joint family decisions. Sure I was exhausted at times however, I remained focused on getting things done that made life easier for both my Dad and step-mum. As a couple they have supported my life changes and decisions, so for now it was about providing encouragement, love and assistance during their time of need. I was truly grateful to be there with Dad during his recovery and rehabilitation.
What is over is over, and this family journey enriched my soul, my experiences as a coach and proved that life is always a lesson. If you do not learn, you do not grow.