Once again, I have learned how easy it is to be sucked into the power of the past and forget that none of us is the same person we were in the past. The other day, my son called crying and then hung up on me and immediately I became concerned for him, his caregivers, and the other young man in his life. Why? Because I remembered all the other times he had lost control when he was with me and how he was. I remembered the time he nearly hit me over the head with a 2 x 4. I remembered all the other times he had become angry and became physically aggressive with myself and others and I assumed that this was what was happening again.
The next day when I spoke to his caregiver, I learned that he had not been physical at all. He had been far more appropriate then I have ever known him to be. Short of hanging up on me, he had told his caregiver he needed a time out, when to his room, shut the door, did his breathing exercises, asked to speak to his counselor, and worked through his anger. He then apologized to his roommate for yelling at him, called me and apologized for hanging up on me, and sat down with his caregivers and talked things through with them. As he explained all this to me, I felt this great sense of pride in him for behaving far more appropriately then he has in the past. He has come so far.
At the same time, I had to forgive myself for assuming he had behaved as he once did. It made me realize how powerful the past is and how easy it is for us to get sucked back in time without even realizing we are going there. He stayed in the present and dealt with his emotions and I was the one who was living in present emotions based on past fears. I realized I have to change my belief system. I have to know that who my son is now, is not the same as he was a year ago or even six months ago. In his new living environment, he is growing and evolving by leaps and bounds.
So how often do I get sucked into the past without being aware of it. Why? What is it about those memories that I allow to have so much power over me? Every moment I am living in the past, I am missing the opportunity to experience the present. Every moment I am re-membering a painful experience, I am missing the opportunity to experience joy.
Did I have a right to be concerned for my son, absolutely. At the same time, I have to remember he is not my little boy anymore. He is growing up and evolving and become so mature. I remember when my Dad had that same ah ha moment about me. It was at my mother’s funeral service. I had just finished leading the service and eulogizing my mother. After the service, my father asked me when I had grown up. It seemed that until that moment, I had always been this five year old with braids and pigtails. That moment, he saw me as a 40 something year old who was articulate, intelligent, spiritual and compassionate. It was one of those redefining moments in our relationship. While I no longer have the opportunity to create new memories with my father, he passed away in 2005; I do have the opportunity to live in the present with my son and to know him for who he is each and every day of his life, an ever evolving and ever changing member of humanity.
In some respects, this is the same lesson I had learned and obviously forgotten when my mom was losing her memory due to micro-infarct dementia. Each day, each conversation with her I was introduced to a different mom. She was never the same mother two days in a row. She taught me to love her for who she was at that very moment in time. My son has reminded me of the importance of loving people for who they are at the present, not who they were in the past. We are all ever changing, ever evolving people. May I always remember this lesson as I continue to grow and evolve in my own journey.