My October Story: Painful Thoughts and Acceptance

Maybe October isn't my best month.

There's Halloween. Being estranged over holidays isn't easy - but for me, Halloween was the worst.

My 3 kids weren't around, 1 had cut contact. Our house was so quiet. A big change from the super-cuteness and excitement of past years.

And we weren't a part of our 2-year-old granddaughter's experience.

Halloween was definitely a woe-is-me, longing-for-things-to-be-different kind of night.

This year, I'm better prepared.

But what I wasn't prepared for this month was the one-year "anniversary" of when we last saw our granddaughter. Though we'd asked to see her for months with no reply, we unexpectedly had an hour with her last October.

I'd hoped it was a turning point. It wasn't. And last week, I had lots of thoughts.

The one that was most persistent: I might not see my granddaughter at all as a 3 year old.

Which led to more thoughts - that 3 is such a cute age, it’s so sad we’re missing it. That in spite of living in our house as a baby, she has no idea who we are. That they know how much we love her. They know we've taken good care of her. Lots of pain, sadness, longing.

Considering my thoughts, it was an appropriate emotional response. I know this. I know it's just my human mom-thoughts creating my pain. My thoughts may all prove true, but right now, there's no way to know. I do know these thoughts aren't serving me.

Since I've had a ton of practice feeling my feelings and managing my mind, it surprised me that I then felt a desperate need to take action. Much like the early days of estrangement. I wanted to figure out how I could "get" my daughter to allow us to see our granddaughter. 

Logically I know I can't make my granddaughter's mom and dad change their minds. Real change is what I want, and real change is up to them. But it was still tempting.

Truth: We don't need things to change to feel better.

Taking responsibility for the fact that it's our thoughts causing our feelings provides clarity, confidence, and strength. Taking actions with the hope of changing circumstances leaves us dependent, disempowered, and out of control.

I want to be clear: I'm not saying we won't take action. We might ask to see our granddaughter.

The difference is that it won't be a desperate or needy attempt to change circumstances to feel better or important or loved. Can you see how that gives all our power away? When we think we hurt because of external circumstances, we are dependent on things changing to feel better. But we can't control other adults or what happens in the world - so it's completely disempowering.

If we do ask to see our granddaughter, it will come from calm, confidence, and strength. Just because we want to see her. So with any outcome - including a "no" - we'll be ok. We know how to feel better on our own. It's a job we've taken on.

For the October anniversary, I decided to keep the pity party going for a bit. By choice. I owned my thoughts and feelings and went all-in on sadness and missing my granddaughter.

Then I went for a walk. And I thought to myself, "this is the way it’s supposed to be right now." I could feel the shift - all of that tightness of feeling we're missing out and sadness dissipated.

I get that thought may sound super crazy. Keep in mind I’ve been coached and worked on myself for quite a while. The harder I've pushed for how I think things "should" be, the more I've suffered. So I've decided to trust that things work out as they’re supposed to. For my good. I know I'll learn and grow through whatever comes my way.

I've chosen this perspective. For me, the alternatives don't work. I don't want to have Octobers of misery forever, and I know that's not required. Not a moral issue, just a choice.

To start, I'll be giving up the thought "maybe October isn't my best month" - as soon as this posts. That's a story I don't need anymore.

Here to help you, mamas. I know sometimes these concepts seem like a lot. If you want a guide to walk you though them and see what's possible, schedule a consultation here.

Happy fall!

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