There's no easy formula to get through difficult times with your sanity still intact. I'm sure each of us has our own method of coping (anything from self-medicating, banging our heads on a wall, contemplating creatively painful ways to make our source of pain suffer as much as we suffer, bellowing out a good old primal scream to quiet walks on the beach, exercising, writing a stinging blog post, listening to music, deep breathing, etc.) I find that when I try to control a situation or someone else's behavior I suffer immensely from frustration, disappointment and emotional exhaustion. It wasn't until I finally was able to let go and let live that I achieved a certain inner peace. I now pick my battles wisely. The small stuff I simply let go and the larger, more important things that need a change, I allow the change to come from within and not externally. I simply stopped looking for solutions in the eyes of others.
In the case of my mother who a few years ago drove me to the brink of having a nervous breakdown, I simply use common sense now. Her health and well-being are first and most important. The rest, like it or not are her decisions and wishes. Sure, she still does exactly as she's always done, but it's me who has changed how those things affect me. It's no longer a power struggle between us. I've discovered we can enjoy whatever time left we have together without a perpetual tug-o-war. The thought of my last memories of her being so negative didn't sit well with me. I knew I needed to change that. As for my siblings and their relationship with her...well, it's exactly that...their relationship and not mine. They are the ones who have to look themseleves in the mirror. It just isn't worth all the chaos and bad feelings it causes by placing myself in the middle and it rarely accomplishes anything positive for anyone involved. And I really do feel okay with my present stance. That's what matters most, isn't it?
About a year ago I taped the Serenity Prayer on the wall above my computer. I say it EVERY day and some days I say it MANY times. No, I'm not a religious person, but I do find a certain unmistaken wisdom in those 25 words. I'm not entirely sure about the "GOD" part, but in my case, I believe "God" is the inner peace and serenity I seek and not some ageless, mystical being sitting somewhere in judgment of us all. My God is forgiving and allows me to love unconditionally even those people who have hurt me the most in life. My God allows compromise. I no longer have to be right or have things go the way I want them. All that has fallen by the wayside as my perspective and priorities have changed. My God allows me to see that everything happens just as it's supposed to happen and that even the horrible, devastating things in life have a purpose by making me a stronger and more compassionate person. I've learned making mistakes is okay as long as I learn from my mistakes. I've learned NO ONE is perfect and that getting through the most difficult days is done by putting one foot in front of the other and not letting pain paralyze me. I've learned that I am who I am because of ALL the experiences in my life. I've come to believe that I wouldn't have these insights without the pain...or without the joys I have felt along the way. I no longer feel a need to apologize for my past or to place blame. It is what it is! I can either find comfort and strength in knowing I'm a resourceful survivor or I can drown in my own pain by allowing myself to remain an emotional cripple. I choose courage and wisdom! I choose sanity for the first time in my life!