David turns 20 years old in a few days!! Wow— it’s been two decades of love and light. It isn’t what I would have chosen but it’s been such a beautiful journey of healing and growing and understanding. David is teaching me what it looks like to be fully human. I am overwhelmed with gratitude (and a little overwhelmed with laundry if I’m being honest. But mostly gratitude).
As I celebrate and look back on his messy, beautiful life, I find myself contemplating these questions: What does it look like to help him live a full life with as much independence and adventure as possible? What does it look like for me to live a full life—caring for David, advocating for him, managing caregivers while having my own independence and adventures? These are questions I’ve been working through in therapy and practicing in real life every day.
Here are three things I’m learning…
1. I am not David’s savior.
For so long I truly believed I was—and it was a heavy, sometimes crushing weight. I am his mother, I am an advocate and I am a person with my own needs and wants. Letting go of trying to be God has been freeing.
2. David wants and needs independence. During lockdown in the pandemic David showed us how much he missed school, his friends and having his own life. He was blah and bored—laying on the couch all day, hardly smiling. It was a gift to see he wants his own life, his own people, his own experiences. I don’t have to be everything for David. Other people make his life better!
3. David tells us what he wants and needs—not with words but other ways. I am learning to watch his body language and to let my heart listen to his heart. I’m learning to pay closer attention, try different things and see how he responds. It’s imperfect but empowering for both of us.
Here we are two decades later, still figuring it out and finding joy in the midst of the what is messy and hard. I’m learning to let go of the guilt that has weighed me down, I’m learning how to let go of fear around David’s medical needs and I’m continuing to learn David is a powerful person. I’m grateful for the way David has mentored me in what it looks like to love wholeheartedly and live in the moment.
What are you learning about life today? What are the tools you use heal and grow? I’m curious—would you consider therapy as a resource to help you live a fuller life?