"Shit happens" But I need to remind myself that there is an important nuance to this phrase. Shit Happens is different than "This shit always happens to me?" There is a level of acceptance with the the first one. I'm thinking of this after catching a passing interview on NPR last weekend that was really well timed. There was an interview discussing the perception of pain in subjects who were receiving a shock.
Each patient received 3 shocks. A three shocks were of the same intensity - but the people did not know that. All they were told is that they were either receiving a shock 'from the wall' or 'from a person pressing a button'. Interesting enough, those in the group who received that shock from the wall interpreted each successive shock as less painful. Classic habituation to the stimulus.
However, those who thought there was a person responsible for the shock they received rated each successive shock as MORE painful. Same level of shock for all conditions. I find this interesting. My interpretation is that there is a level of feeling victimized which alters perception. My conclusion. In situations in which we are not in control, it is better to accept what is happening rather than feel victimized.
With that in mind I through my hands up and accept that I am powerless. I cannot control everything in my life. I must admit that this mentality has helped me lately. There are things that I can control, but I need to realize how limited that is. I can control what I do, I can control who I see, I can control how I feel (most of the time).
To anyone reading this (I know I have a limited audience), what I am alluding to is my control over the health of my parents. My father has been struggling greatly with Parkinson's Disease. Over the past month he has gone from functional to a level where he cannot care for himself. It is incredibly difficult for me to observe. He was and is the strongest person I know. The man who knows how to fix anything, could talk to anyone, cares for everyone. He's a humble man with a gigantic heart. He is strong, he is funny, he is soft-spoken. He is the man whose image I can only hope to honor. He is my motivation to be a better person.
And while my concern is certainly with him, I really need to care for my mother as well. She is the one in the trenches. She has been by his side for 50+ years. She often gets overlooked and taken for granted like many mothers. She has her own struggles with arthritis and diabetes. But she too is strong. So strong that we take it for granted. In a family with outspoken daughters and soft-spoken sons, my mother has taken her share of grief from her children.
My mom is the hardest working person I know. (I find it eerily Freudian that the only person I know with a work ethic near hers is my wife) She worked multiple jobs, long hours. She raised 5 children while she obtained her Masters degree in counseling. She worked as an addictions counselor and family therapist. But she never had just one job. She'd work for Kohl so that she'd be able to get discounts on clothes to get us for Christmas, she had side jobs with Avon and Pampered Chef. She never asked for credit, she just plugged away. She listened to everyone's problems all day, then came home to care for us.
Part of my ability to accept everything occurring now is knowledge of how truly blessed I have been to have such amazing parents. I fully accept that I am a both a momma's boy and the apple of my dad's eye. I've had a special relationship with both - and I'm not sure that is normal. My parents had me later in life and were well broken in. They exposed me to tons of amazing experiences, where able to provide for me (spoil me rotten). I never questioned that they had my best interests in mind. To me they were always a hybrid of parents and grand-parents.
So what can I do to help them. I'll do my best. First off, I need to hold strong to the concept that I am not a victim here. I am not able to help if I can't be strong for them. It's my turn to give back - not because I owe them, but because they deserve help.