“Realignment” – Nathan
Good day again readers! I hope everyone has been enjoying the warmer days and (hopefully) sunny weather. If you caught my last post, I discussed the expectations that my wife and I have for our boys with CTD and how those expectations or goals have changed over time. As I finished writing that post, it kept coming back to me that the boys aren’t the only ones who we had expectations for that required some level of realignment. The other group that I realized had caused a shift in expectations were Jennifer and me. I will spare the long and drawn-out diatribe about how we started our early days like every other married couple, primarily because that wouldn’t exactly be true. Unlike most, Jennifer and I shared our vows and started out our lives as “us” in the midst of me unexpectedly leaving for several months. These early absences and the hardships that accompanied them, helped us realize that we could get through anything and come out better for it on the other side.
These early days, however, are the time when some pretty high bars were set. We learned how great it was to get through all of the challenges of life while also helping others through their challenges. This might not seem like too much of an extreme expectation to place on ourselves, but when we started really getting into some of the deeper challenges, we realized that there are times when we had to shift our focus more internally and just “get through” the challenges. This “getting through” was often difficult, and it was hard when we realized we had made it to the other side, but our energy was so depleted that helping others simply had to be set aside. Instead of getting out of the hospital and visiting friends, we occasionally found it was better for us to get out of the hospital, hit the couch, and maybe even sneak in a glass of wine.
This shift from external to an occasional internal focus seemed pretty small at the time, but as time has gone by, I have realized how important of a step this was. I firmly believe that the ability to quickly shift focus and priorities is one of the most important attributes we have fostered, and it has led to change in expectation that I referenced in my opening. While I still fully expect that we can get through all the challenges that lay in our future, our expectations have shifted away from the end state expectation of what will happen on the other side and focused more on our intention to, one step at a time, get through the challenge. The outcome is often out of our hands, but what we actually DO inside of that challenge is completely up to us. An analogy of this is being swept into a raging river or a strong rip current. How one gets into that situation really ceases to matter the second that you get swept up, all that matters is that you recognize the situation you are in and make a conscious decision as to what you expect to do to get out of the water. If you fight the situation and simply try to stay above water, you will quickly find yourself completely underwater or swept out to sea, but if you just identify your situation and allow the current to do its thing, you can apply the limited strength you have to change your trajectory just enough to get you out of trouble.
In the ten years plus that we have been learning and discovering our way through CTD, we have seldom been able to stop a major emergency or unforeseen development. We still find ourselves in hospitals, we still have three boys who develop emergencies in the same evenings, and we still get close to reaching exhaustion from time to time, but Jennifer and I have moved away from the expectation that we will get through yet another challenge. We have instead opted to hold each other to the idea that that the journey portion is the most important part of getting through. In this way, I suppose Jennifer and I have reached the same expectation of ourselves as we have for our boys, pretty cool if you ask me.