Monthly Archives: March 2020

Rejected parents: In trying times, “check in”

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

adult son hates meSeveral years ago, I created a self-monitoring kit for a mental health organization. It was based on the concept of “checking in” with yourself each day. Testing the wind, so to speak, but about your own feelings. (Or is that “tasting” the wind, like Gingersnap is doing in the photo?) When it comes to nurturing our well-being, awareness is important. In troubling times, awareness can be a first line of defense. So try checking in.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, or any stressful time (such as estrangement), try “checking in.”

Notice your how you’re feeling physically and emotionally upon awaking and at checkpoints throughout the day. By noticing, you can then take steps to take care.

If you awaken worried, take note. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do in this moment to solve the worries? If not, is there anything you can do on this day, this week, and so on. Jot down any insights. Then, thank your mind for trying to work things out for you, and give yourself permission to let the worries go.

Check in later in the day, too. Are you unusually grouchy? Are you sniping at other people or gravitating toward Internet doom and gloom. Check yourself. Also, consider what may be fueling your feelings. Be careful of your media diet. While it’s never good to bury your head in the sand, it’s also not good to fill up on hype or hysteria.

Are you thinking about how much it hurts that your estranged adult child doesn’t bother to see how you’re doing, even in such a scary time? It is hurtful, so allow a few moments to feel those emotions. Cry or vent (a little) if you must. The intensity of the feelings will pass. And how you respond can help them move along.

Take good care of yourself

Sometimes, a negative mood, fitful sleep, or physical issues are best managed with good old fashioned TLC. Even if you’re staying in, get up, groom, and dress. You’ll feel better when you catch a glimpse of a tidied-up you in the mirror (rather than a slouchy robe and food-coated teeth).

Eat purposefully, too. When we’re stressed, it’s easy to reach for the chips and chocolate. Anything in moderation, but be sure you’re giving your body what it needs to thrive. You’ll feel better emotionally when you’re running on healthful fuel. If you’re checking-in with bodily complaints, take heed.  Indigestion: Could it have been all those mixed nuts? Sore lower back: Could it be from too much sitting? Connecting physical symptoms with behavior can help you gain awareness toward positive change.

Exercise is another way to care for yourself. Sitting around can feel paralyzing. Make your house and/or yard a walking track. (Try singing while you walk. Beats ruminating about everything you cannot change.) Try standing on one foot and then the other. Sweep the floor, clean the walls, vacuum your car. Exercise doesn’t have to be a standard fitness routine. Just get moving. All the better if what you do has a purpose (my car is filthy right now).

Get a dose of social connection

Confined to home in Italy, neighbors strummed guitars and sang from their balconies. Their social distancing while socializing nurtured a basic human need.

Reach out to friends by telephone or email daily. Share a coffee break by phone, or at lunch with a friend on Face time or by phone. Wave to your neighbors and your mail clerk. If you’re video conferencing from work, allow a few extra moments for each of your associates “check in” about how they’re doing personally before the work starts. If you go out for essentials, chat with the store clerk (they’re extra busy and stressed right now, too).

Members of the support forum here at RejectedParents.Net value the social support of fellow members. Internet forums abound. Do you want to do more gardening this year? Maybe it’s time to join a planting forum. Are you planning to restore a classic car? There are forums with like minded individuals who have lots of knowledge to share. Planning an RV trip? You’ll find a forum for that … and just about any other subject. Think for a moment: What do I want to do or learn? (Check in with yourself.) Then take action.

Look for the beauty

Whether that means physical beauty such as a sunrise, sunset, or blooming flower, or the beauty of the human spirit such as neighbors helping neighbors, seek out the good. Although the ugly is so often pointed out, there is also beauty—-take note, let it infuse you with compassion, joy, and a sense that all will be right with the world again.

In Done With The Crying, there are numerous strategies to build a happier spirit, take care good of yourself, and regain your footing when estrangement has tilted your world. During times of uncertainty (this Covid-19 pandemic qualifies!), turn back to some of those strategies.

What are you doing to help yourself? What can you share to help other rejected parents? Please leave a comment.

Related Reading

Dealing With Uncertainty

When the world is scary: bend and twist

Parents abandoned by adult children: Shape your “new normal”

When the world is scary, bend and twist

Bend and twist (like daffodils)

By Sheri McGregor 

Right now, with Coronavirus in the air and on the airwaves, I’m working on relocating. Not the best time to be moving hundreds of miles but life doesn’t always go as planned. Of course, if you’re familiar with estrangement, you already know that. Whether you’ve only just been rejected or are years or even decades into the cut-off, the uncertainty of the times can make life scary. Some of you may be wondering about your estranged adult children, hoping they’re doing okay, or that this crisis will bring about a change of heart. Maybe you even call and ask because as a parent, you feel the need, but then are miffed when there’s no response or a very lukewarm or self-centered one. Or, you may have called so many other times that now, even if you’re wondering about your estranged adult child(ren), you refrain from reaching out.

Let’s leave all of that aside for the moment. You can only control yourself…. And even then, amid this Covid-19 scare, it’s a good idea to remain calm and flexible. That’s what this post is about.

Daffodils and you 

One thing I’m looking forward to after my move is the new climate where daffodils will thrive. Imagining their sunny faces on the gentle slopes of my new backyard has been a safe spot for me when the news of quarantines and stricter guidelines for social distancing has made me anxious. Thinking about planting daffodil bulbs had me doing some internet research. I learned that the flowers have a secret: daffodils can bend and twist. When storm winds blow, they’re flexible. They even dance! 

The poet William Wordsworth knew this and wrote about daffodils just as I imagine they will be at my new home. You can read his talk of them in his poem: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud . By the way, is his name a pseudonym? It’s too good to be true for a writer! Isn’t it? 

Long ago, Wordsworth wrote about something today’s scientists study. Researchers at Duke University are fascinated by the daffodil’s ability to twist and flex. Turns out the blooms have another secret: they turn their backs to the wind. The researchers put the flowers in a wind tunnel to discover that the force is strongest when the flowers face the wind. No wonder daffodils turn away from the storm. It’s a little like the idea I recently shared in this article: going with the flow.     

How can you bend? 

Staying supple is more than just a mental exercise. If you’re isolating at home, this would be a good time to consider your physical flexibility as well. The body and the mind work together. Even if you already have a good exercise routine, consider trying Feldenkrais. You can read more about it in a guest post at my other website written by a friend: Learning to Move Freely 

As you try this gentle movement, you may also find your thoughts and activities getting organized (in this time of world chaos due to the Coronavirus, or anytime). With that thought in mind, let’s consider a few other ideas to stay calm right now. 

  • Consider what you can control rather than what you can’t. Your response to any crisis makes it tolerable or not.  
  • Focus on the precautions you can take rather than worrying about possibilities that prompt anxiety and stress. Living in fear creates stress in the body that can hurt you physically. Learn to soothe your anxiety with a few deep breaths, guided meditations (look on YouTube), or a cup of relaxing herbal tea. A couple that I find useful are Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea and the Yogi Tea Relaxation Varieties.  
  • Come up with a few calming phrases (this too shall pass; we’re going to be okay; this is just a blip) and repeat them as needed. Or turn to a spiritual reference that gives you strength (Joshua 1:9, for instance). 
  • Limit yourself. A steady diet of news can make things scary. Tune in enough to see the latest guidelines or local information that can help, but don’t make the news a meal. Just as you consider what’s best to focus on in the wake of an adult child’s estrangement, prescribe yourself something helpful now 
  • Keep calm and carry on. Be extra careful. In times of stress, becoming distracted is common–and may be dangerous.
  • Use your time wisely. Many people and organizations are offering free services right now. Museums, lessons, even the opera. See the resources list below.  

This too shall pass 

Do take precautions. Wash your hands often, stay at home as much as you can, and practice social distancing. Stay abreast of news at reliable sources such as the CDC , NIH, Cleveland Clinic, or Mayo Clinic. Or maybe you know of a reliable local source to keep up to date on the Covid-19 pandemic in your own community (a good idea).

Beyond that, make the most of your time. Laugh as much as you can and enjoy your life in the present moment. Right now, when the world can feel uncertain and cause added stress, think of daffodils—and maybe even dance! Daffodils do. 

RESOURCES FOR TIME WELL-SPENT AT HOME 

Metropolitan Opera streaming for free

Georgia Aquarium Live Cams

Open Culture (free online classes, movies, books and more.

National Park Tours online

What will you do with your time at home? Let others know what you’re thinking about and doing during this time of social distancing by leaving a comment.