What is that one thing that you went through in your life that really pulled the rug out from under you? The catastrophe or tragedy, or just something that forever changed your life?
I’ve had many but one that sticks out in my mind was when I found out that my unborn baby had spina bifida.
I remember that moment vividly.
At 17 weeks pregnant I was at my OB/GYN for my first sonogram. I was excited to see my baby on the screen and was disappointed that my husband couldn’t get off of work to observe this miraculous event. He worked in construction and if he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid. No sick days, personal days, or vacation days. No work=no pay. Not worth taking the day off for an hour appointment in the middle of the day. Surely everything was going to be fine anyway.
Lying down on the exam table with my lower belly all gelled up to pick up the impulses from the sonogram wand, Patty, the ultrasound tech was chewing on some Skittles as she performed the exam. I liked Patty, who was very talkative and friendly, in her mid-thirties, and much older than me at the time.
Patty began telling me, through all of her chewings, about a friend of hers who gave up all sweets like cookies, cakes, ice cream, and chocolate but still ate Skittles, lots of them, and lost 30 pounds! Wait, what? All of that sugar and she still lost weight? I asked.
Patty and I kept talking about the absurdity of this “diet” until she became unusually quiet. She stared at the screen and kept taking screen shots of my baby. Then Patty abruptly left the room saying she’d be right back…
Now I’m lying there in the dark room, my heart beating frantically, wondering what she found. Of course, I’m trying to crane my head off of the table and to the right so I can see any of the images she just took. I could see them, but didn’t understand them. It looked like a Rohrshak test to me. One that didn’t make any sense. None of this makes any sense, I thought.
After what seemed like an eternity, Dr. Turner entered the room. He looked at the screen for a few minutes. Grabbed my right hand and said softly, “Your child has Spina Bifida. He/she may not walk, may not have bowel or bladder control, may have cognitive issues due to the strong possibility of hydrocephalus and a need for a shunt in its brain to drain spinal fluid. You have 3 weeks to make a decision.”
I was in utter shock. My whole world came crashing down around me. Inside just a few minutes, my world would never be the same.
How could this happen? I was a young, fit, 23-year-old. Not drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Trying to eat healthily. What just went wrong? Starting my childbearing early in my twenties was not an accident. For some bizarre, innate feeling, I believed that I should have all of my kids before the age of 30, to ensure healthy pregnancies. (Past life? Karmic planning?)
Doc said that we actually don’t know why this happens. Neural tube defects, (which is what this is) are caused by either heredity or environmental issues. Usually a perfect storm of both. Three out of 10,000 live births, are born with this condition. My child was going to be one of them.
Shifting To Acceptance
Well, I could not kill him. I loved this baby and new that he was meant to be born. However, the next 5 months of my pregnancy were grueling. I prayed incessantly that this was just a mistake and that my baby would be okay.
Heck, I had heard stories from friends, one of which said that she went to her first sonogram where the doctor said that her baby didn’t have arms, but in the next appointment it did. Another said that her child had an unusually large head which could indicate Down Syndrome, but he didn’t. I was hoping and praying that this was another incorrect diagnosis. Except that throughout my pregnancy I had several sonograms, each time watching the sac of spinal fluid grow on my unborn baby’s back. It was not a mistake.
A Glimmer of Hope
The moment he was born and I saw his beautiful little face, his big strong shoulders, and heard his healthy cry, I knew he was going to be okay. God answered my prayers.
He still had spina bifida, in fact, the worst kind, Myelomeningocele. But, I could tell that he was strong enough to weather the storm. We would get through this together.
Acceptance didn’t just happen at that moment. Nope. It took years of blaming myself, blaming my luck, even blaming God, before I finally understood that our life’s biggest challenges usually turn out to be our greatest blessings.
How to Reach a Point of Acceptance
Acceptance. It is the core necessity when trying to deal with or overcome a difficult challenge or “life-quake”.
When our lives are being uprooted by a tragic or unexpected event, we need to get to a place of acceptance before we can move on and heal.
How do you do that?
Counseling, talking to friends, sitting in your pain and reflecting on it. Looking for the silver linings is also a way to get there…eventually. But, when things are raw, having a meditation practice that you can turn to is a great tool to have.
Meditation is key.
Power Through Acceptance
When faced with a difficult life challenge, the feeling of being in a free-fall without any control is what can be scary. Having the rug just pulled out from under you and not knowing what the future holds is very stressful and anxiety-ridden.
But, a feeling of being in control is actually a false sense of control. It is the believing that we can control the actions of others or unknown circumstances that gets us in trouble. Having a belief in a higher power, one that has been helping and guiding you for millennia is required.
At the core of any meditation practice is learning how to just observe thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, without any judgment. In essence, it’s the practice of gaining power through acceptance.
The more you practice acceptance in your life, the less stress you’ll have and the happier you’ll be.
Because a sense of control feels like it gives us power but true acceptance allows us to gain our power by not trying to control things.
By accepting life in whatever form it is presented to you, will help you deal in a calm and balanced way. During meditation, when allowing thoughts and feelings to come our way without engaging or judging them, we train ourselves to be less reactive, more accepting, and less at the mercy of things coming our way.
With a strong meditation practice, you’ll find that when things don’t go your way it is replaced with quiet confidence and the ability to let go and handle things when life hands you the unexpected.
This is how you can get to a place of acceptance and be able to embrace the true blessings that are in your life.