The day our child was escorted out of the house and carted off to a therapeutic wilderness program was the day I began a new life. I just didn't know it at the time. When I walked back into the house, the outside January chill seemed to have penetrated our home. The silence was deafening. No more arguments. No more shouting matches. The stillness was eerie. No more lockdowns. No more fear of what was about to happen next.
My thoughts were strangely uncomfortable. I was disoriented and confused. Nothing was as it had been. Nothing fit any more. I had spent so much of my time, energy, and focus on living with and managing the extraordinary challenge of our child that I had never actually imagined what life would be like when he left our physical space.
At the time I couldn't appreciate how much I had been challenged. I could not foresee how much I would change as a result of what happened. I would change even more as a result of what was to come. I wish that I could have had the benefit of receiving help for myself; help not aimed at looking backward, but instead looking ahead. After all, my child was getting intensive work to create a different future. Yet where was I as an adult woman? My personal growth had slowed down in a quest for simply surviving the whirlwind of my life. And I felt I had no one to help me reconstruct a different future; one I could not even fathom.
The unfolding events and experiences of the next several years affected me deeply. I learned to shift a lot of my beliefs, assumptions and fears. I had to learn many important lessons that don't often find their way into life unless hit by the great "2 by 4's."
What would I bring to this phase of my life as a parent, woman, wife and leader? Who would I need to be in order to navigate this extraordinary and difficult time? What would have to shift in the way I viewed and experience my own thoughts and feelings? How had the toll of coping affected my body and health? What and how would I learn to repair it? These were some of the questions that plagued me.
I embraced an extended period of reflection. I took it one day at a time, and my perspective embraced curiosity. I began to look at it all as one giant learning lab. I forgave my child and forgave myself. I began to detach from the outcome, taking the long view and keeping a vision of a future that was very different than the past had been.
What is now available to me as I approach life is quite different than what I had at that time. Out of my pain, fear, isolation and yes, shame, I forged a new identity. One that accepts what is without judgment of myself or others, one that is authentic and more at peace than ever before.
I spent seven years moving beyond the deep, dark night of my soul. My hope is that I can assist and influence others, men and women, who find themselves in a similar position. I am committed to using my skills and experiences to make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting. Adults who want to change patterns that they know don't work anymore; who want to celebrate, yes celebrate, the gifts they have received from their challenging children.
My offer is to simply listen and learn, and in that safe and sacred conversation, something different will emerge. And different is where change begins.
About Susan S. Freeman, MBA:
Susan S. Freeman is a Principal and Executive Coach with Heads-Up Performance. She works with parents of children in therapeutic residential programs who are struggling to break the pattern of post-traumatic stress so that they can move from a crisis-directed life to a self-directed one.
Located in Tampa Florida, Susan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"My approach to coaching uniquely weaves through the mind, the heart and the authentic self. I combine the rigors of diverse business expertise with presence, creativity, and intuition for the sake of helping clients achieve breakthrough results. I boldly challenge my clients, while keeping it safe for them to explore new possibilities and create their desires."