June 3, 2019 | by Tricia Parido | Master Coach at Turning Leaves Recovery Life and Wellness Coaching
So, 2019 has, so far, turned out to be a year filled with reward! For our family, this is very welcomed as none of us are strangers to facing challenges, big and small. With this there seems to always be a gamut of emotions; fear, uncertainty, frustration, overwhelm, anticipation, anxiety, relief, joy, satisfaction, and down right over the moon happiness.
In the last 6 months, we have had college graduations, career advancements, press recognition, recovery milestones, the first opportunity to produce a film, a miracle birth, and a newly appointed Attorney at Law. None of which came without struggle, sacrifice, hard work, perseverance, sadness, or anxiety.
Every one of us has had to overcome over the years. We have embraced what it means to be a blended family. We have looked grave diseases in the eye and tackled them head-on. We have faced financial hardships and pooled funds. We have taken devastating side effects and educated ourselves about how to lessen the severity. And we have embraced the need to be prepared for the unknown. Luckily for us, we have each other.
What I think is crucial to talk about, I mean really bring a full illustration to, is what it can look like when a family unit is faced with cancer, rare auto-immune disease, chronic illness and the aftermath they leave in their wake. As parents, we are just not prepared for the emotional distress of not being able to “fix” or “cure” our children. Or how derailing the “I don’t know what to do” can be psychologically. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but this comes from the perspective of one that endures on a personal level daily as well as a parent watching their children endure as well.
Watching a child battle cancer, win, embrace the lifelong side effects, such as survivors’ guilt, poor immune functions, and infertility for 14 years (half her life), for me was not only emotionally trying, it was strength building and awe-inspiring. Because you see, our daughter did all of this with faith and grace. Her early teens spent in hospitals and clinics. Chemo, a bone marrow transplant and a lot of immune therapy put her AML into remission. As a family unit, we all were humbled by just how fragile life can be. A large family with 5 children operated as if we were pros. Nobody shied away from pitching in to keep the home safe for her. She went on in determination to be successful in all she wanted to achieve. So, this year, when she miraculously became pregnant without any extraordinary measures and gave birth to a healthy baby, I was reminded again of just how incredible life is when you embrace each day as if it were the only one you have.
Walking beside a child who has diligently worked their whole life to become an attorney only to feel it all slipping away as the control over her own body functions, sight, speech, swallowing, and more, became severely impaired during the most important time of her journey, the Bar exam, was heart-wrenching. I felt disempowered, unable to do anything more than guide her toward paying attention to what was happening at any given moment. Meaning, watching what she was doing at all times to see what, if anything, contributed to an increase of symptoms. I could do nothing but listen to one doctor after the other come up with no real or logical answer. I could only be empathetic to her fears and frustrations. That is until her symptoms became life-threatening. She could not swallow. The next stop, the ER and admittance to the hospital until they figured it out! The diagnosis, a rare auto-immune disease, Myasthenia Gravis. The treatment protocol; symptom control medication, high levels of steroids, and major surgery to remove her thymus. What did she do? Embraced the reality, worked hard to manage the anxiety, kept her expectations realistic, did a great deal of research, studied differently, and persevered! Now an attorney and with her prognosis in from pathology she knows she will have a normal life with everything she wanted. She just must listen to her body more intently than before.
As an individual that has faced one ongoing / incurable auto-immune disease after another since the age of 18 and having experienced a few life-threatening moments, I could empathize with the emotions our daughters were introduced to. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the raw fear a parent endures keeping them in a state of fight or flight when they can do nothing for their child except trust complete strangers to have their best interest and well-being in mind. Thankfully I engaged in psychological study and therapeutic work over the years that enabled me to develop a strong sense of life balance rounded out by impulse control, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.
These life skills, that I practice almost every minute of every day, on the surface sound quite simple. I always know my core non-physical feeling and what is driving it. I use the art of pause as often and for as long as is necessary to formulate an appropriate response to keep from being reactive. I validate assumptions through positive inquiry. I monitor my stance ensuring I am operating as a learner instead of a judger. I listen to my gut because my intuition serves me well. And I trust my ability to be in an internal locus of control.
What is important for you to know is that I have devoted more than 6 years of my life creating this way of living. Studying coaching as a psychological practice, maintaining my credentials as a Master Addictions Coach, Addiction Treatment Counselor, Professional Life Coach, Interventionist, and Case Manager with high levels of ethical regard. Writing and improving my life coaching “curriculum” Building Milestones every step of the way. Observing and tracking data for how it not only works in my life but how it serves those that seek to work with me in their lives. I don’t know if the work will ever be truly finished. I believe that I can always pursue improvement. What I can say is that I have concurred many things that used to terrify me. I have learned how to take what I can use and leave the rest. And finally, I know how to do what works and be effective.
Of course, you don’t have to be faced with situations quite this extreme to feel the need for guidance and support. Parenting and family units present with challenges in unique ways every day. If you are feeling stuck, alone, anxious, overwhelmed, or lost, just call. I am happy to help you determine which way to turn.
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