Sunday, September 21, 2014

Presence


Of all the gifts that trauma brought me, the greatest is the ability to be present.

When my children were younger I was rarely present. They would chatter on to me and my mind would be a million miles away. I would realize, mid-conversation, that I had no idea what they had just told me. My body was there, but my mind was projected into some imagined future, far away from the mundane, discordant and often painful reality of the present moment.

Today, when my children talk to me, I stop what I am doing and focus on them. If I’m in the middle of something that requires my attention, I ask them to hold on for a moment until I’m done and able to be present with them. I don’t want to miss anything.

The shift was not a sudden one, but happened gradually over the past couple of years. The more I healed from the shock and injury of my ordeal, the easier it became to relax into the present moment.

My son is at a beautiful age where he is gaining his independence, but still loves to spend time talking to me. Sometimes he will accompany me to the grocery store and we will walk down the aisles and chat about everything and nothing. He drinks in my company like a thirsty traveler and I drink in his.

My daughter is now in the tween years and is often lost in her own world. I crave conversation with her where she isn’t distracted by a book or video. I find myself planning what I might say to her that will capture her attention for a while. I wonder if that’s how she felt all those years when I was never fully available.

Sometimes, I am struck by their beauty. A gentle smile, a unique idea, a witticism, the curve of a cheekbone, a spray of freckles over the nose. And in that moment I am overwhelmed with emotion.

Every day I wake up and I am grateful for their presence in my life. I write these words with hesitancy, as I know how they sound. Parenting is hard. It can be relentless, exhausting, thankless. But I also know that for a period of several years, I worried daily that they might be taken from me or, more likely, I from them. It was the stark reality I lived with.

Today, I can’t be in their presence without feeling a keen sense of gratitude. It is an honor to make their meals, battle with them over homework and awaken to comfort them in the middle of the night.

If I was granted one wish, it would be to reel back time so that I could be present, really and truly present, with my kids when they were younger. I would give anything to sit again with my four-year old daughter and play mind-numbing board games, or simply sit in the silence of an afternoon and hold my sleeping son, feeling his breath rise and fall against my chest. I did these things with my kids, of course, but my mind was far away. So focused on a distant world that I missed the bounty before me.

I realize that this was my way of coping. To be fully present, I would have had to experience all that was untenable in my marriage. I would have had to listen to the persistent voice of my intuition, telling me all was not right. I would have had to acknowledge, and then act on, the discomfort and fear. I wasn’t yet ready to do that.

Now, the present moment is not such a scary place. It is calm and unexpectedly beautiful. It is sometimes sad, sometimes lonely, often joyful, but never untenable.

It is a place that feels like home and one I don’t want to ever leave again.








12 comments:

  1. Beautiful. I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes my reality is still a little too stark and I need to hide from being fully present for fear it might tear me about, but I know it will still be there when I am ready to join in the stillness once again. xx

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    1. That's understandable and I think perfectly human. We all do it. For me, I think I needed to get to a point of forgiveness with myself before I could be fully present. I had to feel the sadness of missed opportunities, then the compassion and understanding, and then that freed up the space to be present. x

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  2. Just came back from an early morning walk with my boys - something we've been doing now that the sun is rising earlier. I can tell they appreciate having my undivided attention, and I appreciate their company also. A beautiful post and a great reminder to savour the moment.

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    1. Thank you, Shelly. I'm sure your boys love those walks and will remember them. And this fall weather is perfect for long walks.

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  3. Beautiful beautiful post, Kristin. I too am learning the value of being present, and the 'gift' of perspective from trauma. I can also relate to your feelings about not having been fully available or present for our children during times of extreme stress. I love your articulation of how you've come from dreading the 'now' to embracing it and enjoying it. I am still on that journey, hoping to truly understand this in a deeper way soon.

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    1. Thank you, Deb. I think many kinds of stresses, including illness, can pull us away from those we love. It's just part of the ebb and flow of life. I'm still on that journey too. x

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  4. Quite simply you are an amazing mom.

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  5. Not been around on blog for a while, but reading through some of your recent blogs, i am left amazed, and speachless at how you have coped and moved on, and are all looking relaxed and happy, share you experiences as often as you can, people need to see it is possible, there is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dark it looks. Be proud of what you have achieved and Thank you.

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    1. Hi Karen, it's so lovely to hear from you! Thank you for your lovely comment. It feels wonderful to be on the other side of that whole ordeal. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life. x

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  6. Ah Kristin -- long time no catch up -- don't be to hard on yourself - life has thrown some bricks at you and yet you've come out the other side and are there right now with the people who matter the most -- there's nothing we can do about the past but we sure can make the future count...

    I know I've not been around for a while and am entirely prone to disappearing up my own backside for months on end, but you are one of my earliest bloggy friends and I feel I've "known" you for years. Your kids have had the worst but they also have the best -

    You.

    Keep on being you --- Glen.

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    1. Thank you, Glen, for your beautiful comment. And my apologies because I just today found it in my moderation folder. Oops! You know, I clicked over and read one of your posts the other day and it cracked me up (the one about chocolate). You totally had me going as I though your marriage had crumbled and I was ready to rush in with tissues and there-there's. I should have known better.

      You know, I remember well the small circle of bloggers I first connected with back in 2009/2010. I remember all of you with fondness to this day and feel a special connection, as we were all starting out on this unknown journey together back then.

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