Okay, Not Really Helpless

A few days ago I posted about my overwhelming sense of helplessness when it comes to my older son, Andres.

I’m feeling a lot better now, though. I’ve realized that there’s a difference between feeling helpless and being helpless. That’s an important distinction.

It’s true that I don’t have the power to make my son healthy and focused and productive. But I can still choose to love him and support him in the best ways possible under difficult conditions. I can still be the safe person for him to turn to, the one he knows will be there and accept him, even when everything’s a mess. That’s not meaningless. In fact, it might be a really big deal for him at some point, since his (loser) father doesn’t do anything for him. My ability to stay calm in the middle of his storms is something I can give him, and I’ve seen that it helps him calm down.

It’s hard on me, of course, but I also have the power to take care of myself when the Andres-stress gets high. I have my husband to turn to, of course.

(Hm, reminds me I forgot to write about the mini-disaster we had last weekend. Briefly: I tried to turn to my husband and express my distress and sense of helplessness. His concern made him speak judgmentally to my son, who freaked out again and flooded me with texts and phone calls. However, I managed to speak honestly and non-judgmentally to my husband about how his actions weren’t helpful, and I think he really got it. Last night he talked to my son on the phone and they made up, without me mediating. Minor miracle!)

Besides my husband, I have E, who has been hearing about Andres for years and knows how hard it is. I have my sisters, who have known and loved Andres since he was an adorable baby. They are less patient with him than I am, but they care about him too, while also supporting me. I have friends who will come over with a bottle of wine to distract me. I have yoga. I have meditation. I have Jessica Jones on Netflix.

It’s very triggering to feel helpless. It reminds me of genuinely being helpless in abusive situations. But I’m not a child anymore, and those times are over, thank god. Now I am adult with skills and tools and strategies and supports. I have learned to tolerate feelings (well, a lot of the time anyway), and I am more likely to remember that they come, and then they go, like waves on the beach. I think I’ve learned that I won’t be washed away with the tides.


CREDIT: Photo by Leo Roomets on Unsplash

One comment

  1. It’s so helpful to me that you write about this in such honesty because I am going through it and there is a difference in feeling helpless and the triggers of the past and we do have (most of the time) the capacity to be there for our children. Sometimes i am unavailable and that makes me feel awful but like you also said I am fortunate to have a husband who can step in when i just have reached my limit

    Liked by 2 people

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