Today I’m going camping. I think they call it glamping – as in “glamorous camping” because we’ll be in cabins and have electricity. But I’ll be away. This trip is epic because all 8 siblings from my husbands side and their families will be there. Were getting together from Israel, South Africa, NY and Baltimore for 4 days in the woods.
I know I’m really lucky – Thank you dear G-d for this trip. I’m so excited yet have a little anxiety about this trip – bringing along my one child who needs structure – when there will be none. And bringing along my child who needs space – and there will be none.
And then there’s me. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about ADD lately and self diagnosing a a bit. There are definite ADD streaks running through my family and my husbands family and recently my MIL gave me a book to read on the topic. There were a few things that jumped out at me, but this one story was startling.
They were going to meet up with friends at the slopes and spend a few days together. They arrived at the slopes and the guy panicked. He told his wife “I’ve got to go” and he jumped back in his car and drove back to the city to his office.
She was at her wit’s end of course – he had done this so many times in the past – just left situations without a moments notice – and he felt horrible as he told over the story.
As they spoke to the psychologist, a pattern emerged when they described his “escape escapades.” What was revealed was this man’s ADD and his tremendous need for structure. People with ADD don’t have inner structure – their mind is scattered and brilliant and jumping from one thing to the next.
When faced with a situation that had no structure he literally felt ungrounded – and he returned, like a thirsty man to the world of inboxs calenders and his familiar place at the desk. As the author says, you could clearly imagine him relaxing his nerves unwinding as he breathed in the familiar scene and tasks.
The first thing I did when I read this was jump up and show this to my daughter. While she wouldn’t escape a situation, four days of hanging out and being together makes her skin itch. She is elegant and lovable and productive is her thing. This scene described her exactly.
Then, over the weekend the story kept playing itself in my head and I had to admit that it rang true for me too.
I used to find myself at family gatherings, miserable. While I loved everyone one on one, the open endedness of it all and the multiple dynamics at play made me feel ungrounded and confused – it was like I lost sight of who I was for those hours. I literally couldn’t remember how to be. And I was really ashamed.
I would retreat, go to my bedroom or accidentally fall asleep with the kids as I put them to bed. Once or twice I was crying, writing furiously in my notebook. My husband would come looking for me. He couldn’t understand it – and either could I. I would feel so immature. Actual grown ups don’t do this, do they?
Things have gotten a lot better over years – as I solidify and deepen my relationships seeing my siblings doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Although thank G-d, with all the nieces and nephews there can be over a hundred people there, it no longer feels like ungrounded chaos. I don’t exactly look forward to gigantic gatherings but I find my one on one’s and I find my peace in meaningful connections.
Which brings me back to the camping trip – 50 people and 4 days. And while I’m looking forward to it, I’m thinking of all this and I’m thinking of my kids- the ones who got my genes.
How do I make them feel balanced, safe and grounded? I’ve seen what it looks like when they’re not and misery is not too strong of a word.
We also bought her a bunch of art supplies; paint canvas etc so she can self soothe and create and generally feel at peace.
Having it be a topic that we speak about is also helpful. She was going to skip this trip – it was just too taxing on her emotionally – too much stimulation but she’s feeling pretty good about this set up.
I’m so grateful for these ideas – they don’t come from me. They were guided help from the Almighty. Like I overheard my oldest daughter explain to someone “Noone is born a mother – having children makes you one.”
As for me, I want to own this thing. Even though I have come a long way, I still slip back into what I call weirdness when these get-togethers are prolonged. And I want to tackle it.
One of my greatest fears is being seventy and being insecure. When I ‘m a grown up I want to be a grown up.
I’m looking for shelaimus – wholeness and that means that I need to grow this part of myself up. I’m willing to let go of this part of myself, the part that wants to run away when the feelings are too intense.
One of the greatest things I learned from 12 step participants is the power of being willing vs trying.
Here’s a small excerpt to illustrate what that means.
Willingness involves acceptance.
Trying involves condemnation.
If you are willing, you are open to receive.
If you are trying , you are closed to guidance.
If you are trying you will fear failure.
If you are willing, even ‘failure’ may be used as a teaching device.
If you are trying, you will fear not being able. You will judge yourself a failure.
It’s a magical thing, willingness – its free of judgement and open to possibility. It’s the courage to step into the unknown and not try and control it.
That’s why for these four days I’m not bringing my phone and I’m not bringing my computer. I’m going to go camping in the woods and be willing to be fully there. And I’ll bring my notebook, because that’s just me – I may still need a little time away but I’ll be going back to myself, not running away.
I’m seeing this as an opportunity to be fully there for my kids in mind body and spirit – which is a rare and precious treat. And I know myself – it will be uncomfortable. There will be moments when I feel ungrounded and hours where I just want to go home.
But I’m willing to be with those feelings.
I’m so happy to be doing this and to have this chance to look myself in the eye, put my arm around my shoulder and say “It’s okay sweetie, it’s safe to grow up now.”
And my kids will get a much happier mother too! (And my dear husband won’t have to go looking for me, which he’ll love!)
So that’s it. I’d love your feedback if you can relate to any of this – but I won’t be able to respond right away because I’m going glamping:)