I have a client I’ll call Lora, who has an adult son I’ll call Chad. (Note: My coaching sessions are always confidential. Express permission has been given by this client to use the following, with some details changed in addition to the names.)
Lora had always worried Chad wasn’t capable of taking care of himself, of being responsible, of making good choices. They had a pattern: Chad would call and tell Lora his problems, Lora would rush in to fix the problems and rescue Chad, and then he would end up being mad at her.
At some point, awhile back, Lora had recognized the futility of this. She decided to stop “helping” Chad in this way, and to instead trust that he knew best how to live his life.
Last weekend Chad called and told Lora he’d just spent the last of his money. Lora knew not to try to rescue Chad, and she knew she didn’t want to criticize or scold him. Bit she felt frustrated and upset, got off the phone quickly, and felt depressed for the next few days. She had a lot of “noise in her head” with thoughts like:
Chad’s not managing his money and his life
Chad’s in trouble, and I want to help him but I can’t
Lora had successfully avoided taking on Chad’s work. Now she was ready to take on her own work, and consciously look at what was going on within herself. Lora had worked through much of her relationship with her son over the past couple of years, so this session was mostly about remembering and realigning with the conscious decisions she had made for herself.
As we talked about her recent conversation with Chad, here is a look at how her thoughts developed:
I know how stuck he feels and how bad that feels
This is his life, it was always supposed to be his life
It’s okay if it’s hard for me, if I feel sad
I understand that it’s hard for Chad
I love him
I want to believe in him
I want to believe he is capable, that he can handle his life
I can hold space for him to be himself
I was struck by how beautifully Lora came around to discover for herself what she now could offer Chad. When she stops viewing him as unable and incapable, there is nothing to fix, no one to rescue.
I want to be clear: it isn’t necessary for Lora to see evidence of Chad’s success at financial planning, for example, in order to believe in him, to believe he is capable, to believe that he can handle his life, on his own terms.
Like all humans, Chad is learning life by living it. On the job training. He may be struggling with one or more of life’s issues now, and maybe he will his whole life, but it is his life to work with all these things we have to deal with on planet Earth.
And Lora gets to love him, enjoy him, practice holding space for him, practice believing in him and his amazing unique existence. She gets to support and appreciate and be interested in how he figures it out. She gets to feel the relief of letting go of judgement and frustration, of the need to fix and rescue.
She gets to just love her son.