April 4, 2020
Image Credit: ©VadimVasenin - Deposit Photos
I created it from my lowest moments. I dabbled in spreading it. I attached a charity to it. I talked about it. I shared the cold, hard, honest truth of it with anyone who would listen.
I had developed the skills to get over, around and through it. I wrote about it. I learned how to recognize my negative emotional states creeping up on me. I learned to ask for help and support when I was falling into patterns I knew did not serve me.
I first heard the expression "ripple effect" at one of my many real estate investment meetings. As a visual learner, I immediately recognized the impact of the rock hitting the water and sinking... and the ripples emerging from the disturbance from larger to smaller as they worked away from ground zero.
I was seeing my life play out from the moment I realized that my daughter was self-harming, choosing drugs and alcohol and becoming more and more defiant by the day.
I was seeing myself in the reflection of that water - I no longer saw the happy, loving mother, full of life and love for providing her children what they would need moving forward. Not the material provisions, but the fun, the excitement, the love, the kindness and the hope that comes with the joy of being a parent.
That reflection looking back at me was haunted. Those eyes looking back at me had hardened with sadness and guilt. Those eyes were ashamed and in deep pain. That face looking back at me had aged a decade and was tightened in fear of something it still couldn't fathom having seen.
I sat and watched the tears roll down her cheeks and realized that the reflection was me. The reflection was someone that looked like me, lived my life and was suffering with what she couldn't put into words. She was grieving.
At that moment, that time stand still moment, of looking into my own eyes, I made a decision that I am still working on daily, three years later.
I decided to support her fully. I decided to walk with her daily, with eyes wide open along the path that lay ahead. I decided to show up for her and all that she was within. I decided to get curious about what we could do together to change not only our situation, but the story that many other parents were facing daily, alone, ashamed, fearfully and with so much guilt.
I through the first of many stones and started working on that first ripple.
I'm now a few ripples in. I've thrown many a stone into this pond I'll call mental health, parent coaching, parent support, empowerment and living.
I'm still here because in being out there sharing what I went through, a funny thing happened... my voice got stronger, louder and more people started to listen. My story opened their curiosity about possibility vs. shame. My sharing allowed them to scratch that scab and verbalize what they didn't know how to put into real, conscious words and thoughts.
My sharing my journey gave them hope and recognition.
In the end we all need a few simple things.. we all need to feel heard, loved and that we matter. For any parent, we need to know that our best then, in those moments, in these moments, that we are absolutely doing the best we can.
So don't be afraid to throw a stone, just make sure you learn from and enjoy what the ripples have to offer you.
I am also very aware that many parents reading this are barely keeping it together. The guilt from just finding out your daughter has been self-harming for days, weeks or months has taken your ability to breathe away.
You are visiting the local emergency room now because your child doesn't feel safe and he cannot articulate why, but he knows he is going to kill himself tonight. You will get no sleep and you will show up to work tomorrow and swallow all that shame, fear and pain and say nothing.
The ripple effect in keeping it all in has dire consequences and therefor I am offering initial one on one conversations to other parents that are in any of these circumstances... reach out now because you deserve to be heard. You deserve to share your feelings. You deserve to know that you can get through this, but that it doesn't have to be alone.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your assessment questionnaire to allow me to help you during that first call.