Friday, April 22, 2016

Still Trying to Recover

It's been about eight months since we sent Jack to Open Sky. That event was the most stressful experience of my life. The entire time he was in wilderness the anxiety over his situation lessened, little by little. I was encouraged that eventually I would return to "normal". There's plenty of time when your son or daughter enters a program to second guess yourself about your skills and how you affect other people. Self-doubt is a common state for "wilderness parents".

Shortly before he completed his wilderness work, Lindsay and I had to make a decision about where he would go to continue his work. This part of the journey was unknown to me until the process started. The realization that Jack would not be coming home reignited the stress, mostly caused by separation anxiety I think. I also worried how Jack would react to his new surroundings. The idea of sending him to a program that he would resent and hate was heart-wrenching.

Fortunately, Jack has settled in at Montana Academy in a wonderful way. All of the kids there share some common experiences, including having been on an unhealthy path that ended abruptly when they went to a wilderness program. Many of the kids are musicians or artists. Activities like Magic the Gathering, slack-lining and chess are very popular. Jack fits in very well and when we talk to him he sounds calm and content.

I'm glad for him but envy his peaceful state. The long term effect on me of the last eight months (and maybe some of the time leading up to it) has not resolved in the way it has for Jack. I have not been able to shake the fear of "what's going to happen next?" I had no idea that my parenting was contributing to Jack's bad decision making. What other blind spots do I have that are going to cause a crisis? Do I have the skills and wherewithal to solve or avert other problems?

That kind of uncertainty is a cause of enduring anxiety for me. There isn't a single day that I don't fear that another crisis is on the way. My usual confidence has been rattled. Though I've been talking the situation through with Lindsay and others, I haven't been able to shed my fear that there are forces working against my happiness and well-being.

Of course, there are no such forces. We live in abundance and with continued hard work and mindfulness we'll maintain the level of comfort and peace we seek. Those of us that have been wounded by unforeseen events will receive the support needed to heal.

Everyone encounters challenges and set-backs in the course of their lives. We're no different. The value of such experiences is a function of what you learn from them and how you respond. In my case I think I was affected more deeply than originally thought. The road back is more difficult and longer than I realized. I'll get there.

Consider contributing to one of these funds so families that need help can afford it.

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