I’ve just been through another dark night of the soul.
I’ve been through them before, ones that lasted days, weeks, months, even years.
The intensity of my darkest night only lasted 24 hours but the ongoing situation is much longer.
My dark night was intense, powerful, transformational and illuminating.
As I reflect back, I notice how much stronger I’ve become and how quickly I turned it around.
I can see how necessary and useful it was.
It came about because of a situation that many go through.
We reach a certain age when our widowed, aged parent is no longer coping.
Somebody needs to step up.
Maybe we’re the only one who can or will do that.
We do our best to make sure our vulnerable parent is looked after, helped to find their best life, a life where they’re safe, loved, happy and able to live every day with the best quality of life available to them.
We explain all the options and make sure there are choices.
Maybe that parent cannot make the decisions we think are best for them.
Maybe they are choosing what is neither safe nor wise anymore.
Maybe it’s difficult because of dementia, mental health, or simply a stubborn disposition.
Maybe the parent has all those things going on.
Maybe there comes a time when we have to make tough decisions for them, just to keep them safe.
Maybe we place ourselves in the firing line to do it.
Maybe we’re the only one prepared to act according to their best interests and that makes us the villain, at least in the eyes of our parent.
Maybe we spent the last few decades knowing this time would eventually come and always wondered what it would be like, how we’d cope, how our parent would be.
If we’re unlucky, maybe our parent will turn against us.
We may falter. We may take it personally, who wouldn’t?
We may be criticised, blamed, accused, when all we’re trying to do is the best thing that can be done.
And perhaps our childhood selves will come to the fore because this is the parent our inner child remembers.
The one who criticised, blamed and didn’t know how to love us.
And if it happens like this, it’s not a bad thing.
If we go through this dark night, we face truth once more, seeing new light, allowing more feelings to be released.
We are cleansed further.
We are not the same as our childhood selves,
We have gathered many resources along the way.
We have learnt how to be our own parent.
This time, we are different.
We are not looking for anything from our parent now.
We are not needing anything now.
We find it inside.
We are free.
If we are by their side at all, let it not be because we have to be but because we choose to be.
Even when it’s the hardest thing to be there.
Even if we keep getting slapped in the face.
Even when they spit hateful words at us.
Or spread them about us behind our back.
Or when we see our parent is showering our sibling with loving words that we don’t receive, even though they make excuses and don’t show up for them.
We choose to forgive.
Forgive ourselves and forgive our parent.
Because we are free.
And they, bless their soul, are not.
[lmage: Owl heart reflection photograph by aol.co.uk]