With tears in his eyes, my son spills out, why doesn’t Dad want to hang out with me, Mom? Despite my best efforts to communicate with my ex husband the importance of spending quality time with his son, I’m afraid it has fallen on deaf ears. It is so hurtful for him at such an important age in his life and with everything he has been through to know that someone he loves and cares for deeply simply doesn’t make himself available anymore because it doesn’t serve his needs.
The absence of someone we love and care about is common place for many whether it be due to death, business travel or the ending of a relationship. How can we take these difficult times, the hurt and pain we feel and use it to make our lives better rather than bitter?
Although there is no magic pill one can take to cure this, there are a few steps forward that people can take to turn their pain into power.
Find ways to serve others.
This is a two fold benefit. When our focus is shifted elsewhere, we put our mind and efforts onto serving others in positive ways whether it be volunteering at the local homeless shelter, visiting the elderly in nursing homes or putting together care packages to send to veterans overseas. This strengthens our community one person at a time. It also helps to increase our moods by raising our levels of oxytocin and serotonin in our bodies.
So for my son, who continues his battle with Chairi Malformation, I have spoke to him about the importance of how he can spread awareness of this disorder and be a mentor and a friend for a new kid at his school who also has the same disorder. Helping him to see the opportunity to be a leader to many of the younger, more inexperienced players on his team is another way to create bonds and feel appreciated.
Get Your Body Moving.
When we feel strong physically, this helps us become stronger mentally and vice versa. Running, yoga, crossfit, team sports, biking, hiking or simply taking a brisk 30-40 minute walk every night helps to increase our dopamine levels and the reward centers in our brain. This is why, after we are done with a workout even though we may feel sore our mood is most likely improved and not focused on what’s missing in our life.
I keep my son moving by playing baseball, continuing with his physical therapy, swimming, and bike riding. This season I am now one of his coaches for his team so those kids sure keep me moving !
Ask for Help When Needed.
Unfortunately, it seems we live in a world where so many think that if we show our emotions, share our story and express a need for help, that we are somehow flawed… weak. Researcher Brene Brown states…
It takes courage to share your story, to ask for someone’s trust, to be truly present in their company, to listen, show empathy, provide support and encouragement where needed. Sometimes this help may need to come from a professional.
Or be the person who picks up the phone and extends the olive branch to friends and family in need and remind them that you are there for them not just during times when it is convenient but rather more importantly in the times when it is inconvenient. Perhaps when they feel others have walked out on them.