One struggle we all face, but especially when parenting traumatized children, is where to find the strength to keep going. Sometimes the problems our children face can seem insurmountable. The sheer magnitude of the damage they have suffered, and what sometimes seems to be their stubborn refusal to try to help themselves, can be exhausting. It often seems that nothing we can do will help, and there is no point in continuing.
I found inspiration in an unusual place this weekend. Our local movie theater is showing classic movies, and we went to see“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” I love the book and the movies, and this weekend a scene that I had forgotten struck a chord with me. Sam and Frodo are making their way to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, and atone point they are looking at all of the enemy campsites between them and the mountain. Frodo says, “There are so many of them. We’ll never get through unseen!”
Sam replies,“We have to go in there, Mister Frodo. There’s nothing for it. Well, let’s make it down the hill for starters, shall we?”
Let’s make it down the hill. That line has stuck with me the last few days. I have never faced literal enemies, but I have felt that I was battling thousands of problems for the future of my children. At times, I have despaired, fearing that I would never get through all of the challenges. Each time, what has brought me back from the brink of giving up has has been someone telling me some version of Sam’s advice. “We have to goin there. . . . Let’s make it down the hill, for starters.”
I had to learn to stop looking so far into the future, and to stop counting up all of the obstacles between my children’s present situation and my hopes for their future. Looking too far ahead only raises my anxiety level and puts too much pressure on a relationship. Today is all anyone can control. I know that logically, but I still struggle with trying to control the future as well. I have to constantly remind myself to just make it down the hill.
That is not all that we have to do, of course. We have to find ways to replenish our resources, learn techniques from experienced colleagues, and be realistic about how much we can accomplish. My friend, Amber Jewell, has some excellent advice about how to find hope in hardships. Other writers have helpful tips about how to renew your emotional energy here and here. All of it, however, requires us to concentration taking one step at a time.
Let’s make it down the hill, for starters.