It’s been a really rough last few weeks.
I’ll keep the details mostly private especially when it has to do directly with my family and I’ll respect their privacy and my privacy as a dad. But I can say someone close to me is struggling and things have happened that have really been stressful. I know I’m doing my best. But my best doesn’t seem to be good enough.
These past couple of weeks have involved ambulances, police, emergency rooms, court rooms, counselors, and meetings. And during this time I’ve been asking – and screaming – for help. Help for my loved one’s mental health issues. Help to save us. And, sadly, most of the help that’s in place just points to the next organization and tells me they can help us.
Unfortunately, I am not kidding when I say we sat in the ER for almost three hours last week for the doctor to come in for 3 minutes and discharge us. He told us to follow-up with the non-profit organization that’s in place to help support us. So, I reached to them and they directed me to the County mental health department. So, I contacted them and the soonest appointment they could give me was 2 weeks out and they said if there is an immediate problem, go to the ER.
And so it goes.
A circle of non-support.
And then we wonder why people in this country – especially children – aren’t getting the help they need.
It’s because all the “mental health providers” are more concerned with avoiding lawsuits than actually helping people. Some of the individuals who work for these organizations are great and try very hard, but they make little difference when the organizations themselves are just concerned about making money.
Sorry, but that’s the truth.
And it’s sad.
And all of this leaves me feeling powerless and helpless. That leads to anger. And it leads me to worry. Worry so much that it sometimes affects every second of every day and every night.
If I can’t do anything else, at least I can worry. Right?
In fact, worrying in some way makes me feel like at least I’m doing something.
But the other night I had an epiphany…
As I haven’t mentioned enough in this blog, I also have a 14-year-old daughter. She is very active in theater and is running track and she currently has a GPA of 96 in school.
Yeah, that’s just 4 points shy of all of her courses being absolutely perfect.
And she showed me her latest report card and I praised her and told her how proud I am of her and how awesome her grades are.
But then I went right back to worrying.
Until I was getting ready for bed. And then I thought:
What if I go to bed tonight and think about my younger child? What if I allow myself to feel joy for her and to feel pride? What if I place my attention on excitement instead of worry?
And immediately something fired-up hard and hot inside my gut.
I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t focus on something positive while there was so much bad going on. I couldn’t feel good feelings when there was so much bad that might happen. Not when there was so much bad happening.
I had to keep worrying.
But then I asked an all important question in my mind. It sounded like a whispering voice in my head, but it felt like a shout in my heart.
I asked: Why?
Why did I have to keep worrying? Why couldn’t I just let go of the worry and place my focus elsewhere? Why couldn’t I just decide to focus on the positive? (After all, didn’t my younger child deserve to be celebrated? Wasn’t she worth my joy and my pride? Of course she was worthy! She is worthy!)
But it felt wrong. It felt like a betrayal to stop worrying. Yeah, a freaking betrayal. A horrible, backstabbing betrayal.
Stopping worrying feels like I’m walking away into the light and leaving my loved one in the darkness. And that feels horrible. It feels like the opposite of love.
But I know I’m not my feelings.
I know I’m the spiritual being overseeing my feelings… and my thoughts too. I do not have to believe my feelings. And just because I feel something doesn’t make it true. And it certainly doesn’t make it right.
But why do I feel like letting go of worry is a betrayal?
For me at least, I think it comes down to feeling powerless. I want to be able to help. I want to make everything okay. And I want it to be now.
I can’t do that. As much as I hate to write it even now, I can’t make everything better. And I absolutely can’t do it now.
But what can I do?
I can worry.
So the worry, somehow tricks my mind into thinking I have some power.
And it goes even deeper…
Worry is in all of our DNA. It’s an instinct that human’s have carried for thousands of years. And it was necessary for survival.
We as human’s had to worry about being eaten by wild animals. We had to worry about the coming winter and making sure we had enough food. We had to worry about keeping our children safe too. That worry motivated people to stay vigilant and it motivated them to do the work to prepare for what was coming.
So worry was necessary. And it was good.
And I think that’s why it feels right to me.
But it no longer serves that purpose. And it’s no longer good. In fact, it actually makes things worse. And it’s bad.
No matter how much I worry, it’s not going to help bring a solution. I can worry for the next 10 years and none of it will make any positive difference. But it will make things worse. It will drag me down. It will cause me to partially ignore the good. It will cause me to miss out on all the goodness that comes into my life. It will make me worse.
And not worrying doesn’t mean I don’t care. It’s not a betrayal. Though it still feels like it, it’s not.
Because I am not leaving my loved one in the darkness. I am just choosing to move into the light and reach a hand back into the darkness, extended to my loved one.
Of course I still care. I’ll never stop caring. And I’ll never stop trying to help. I’ll never stop advocating and asking for help and providing any help I possibly can.
And it’s not the opposite of love. It’s not indifference. Of course I still care. I’m just also choosing to care for myself and to love myself. And that will make me the best person, and the best parent, that I can possibly be. It makes me a better parent for both of my kids.
Letting go of worry will allow me to be happy and from that place I’ll be in a much better place to be a good person and, most importantly, the best parent I can be.
So I choose to focus from the bad to the good. I choose happiness over sadness. And I choose excitement over worry.
Because it is a choice.
Worry is a choice.
And it’s okay to choose to stop worrying. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s the right thing to do.