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« What's so hard about de-stressing? | Main | Body language: who is your audience? »
Wednesday
Jun082016

Letting Go

Over the years he’s been labeled autistic and learning disabled, among other things. That didn’t stop him from working towards achieving his goals, including those that seemed to me unattainable, like driving or completing an AA degree (almost there). He’s 26 now, and his mind is set on volunteering in Africa for a few months. He’s been overseas before, but never too far from friends or family, so I was able protect him by proxy if needed. But finding him supports in rural Ethiopia is a big challenge for me, and my anxiety increases as the date of his trip approaches.

I can do little things, like make sure he gets vaccinated, and arrange for flights with only one stop and enough time to get from gate to gate. But as volunteering in an impoverished region goes, phone connection will be scarce and internet unreliable. My mind races from one “what if” to another, and then hits the brakes. No, there won’t be rabid bats or bullies or stomach aches… and that pretty Ethiopian girl he’s been chatting with online is a real person, and a nice one. Right?

I’m not a helicopter mom. I’ve said “yes” as often as I could, and kept my cool in the face of most disasters (“I hear you, honey, I get that the oven is on fire. Just call the fire department. They’re good at this”). But I feel like I’m stretching now like I’ve never been stretched before, and I try to advise myself to take a few deep breaths and let go. Find that fine line between protecting and supporting -- and allow him to be the brave and adventurous person that he can be.

I tell myself that in a way I’ve been fortunate. He’s been open to learning lessons about life for much longer than most young people: He wonders if he did something wrong or if his friend had picked a fight; he wants to understand why I voted the way I did – and then makes his own choices. We watch movies together (currently Ethiopian ones) and pause to discuss them. He’s been kind and generous and honest to a fault. He delights in every independent living skill he masters, like balancing his checkbook.

He’ll be okay. If he doesn’t fit in with the volunteer group he won’t be crushed. He’s built resilience. He’ll work as hard as always and have pride and satisfaction in that. He’ll wait for weeks, if needed, to post his photos on social media: he’s learned patience. He’ll make new friends: he’s always trying. He won’t be shocked by the differences in culture and environment, because he already knows that the transition and adjustment will take a while, and he trusts that he’ll adjust. His challenges have made him strong. I just need to remember that.

Reader Comments (1)

How beautifully written.

This is not only about him. It also speaks to the respect you've always shown him. And your expertise. And your deep knowledge about the many elements of natural health.

So happy for you both!

June 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRegina

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