Lessons From a 3-Year-Old
I recently went camping in a beautiful part of Utah. The trip was timed well, I was feeling weighted down over some personal challenges. I knew time in the outdoors would help me get my bearings again and felt hopeful that being in nature I would be more open to the guidance I felt that I needed. At the last minute, we had two extra companions join us. Our three year old grandson and his two year old sister.
I quickly gave up on the idea of a tranquil retreat that would allow me to rejuvenate with much needed rest and decided to instead focus on the world through a child’s eye. If you have ever been or currently are a parent to young ones you know that what that really means is that every moment is spent putting together a toy, kissing a scraped knee, sweeping the spilled chips off the floor, separating children, giving toys back to their rightful owner, sweeping the spilled goldfish crackers off the floor, taking muddy shoes off, finding muddy shoes to put them back on, soaking up the spilled orange juice, explaining why it’s not nice to pull your brother’s hair to a child that does not yet have language skills, holding tired bodies, continuing to search for the skeleton hot wheel car when seven other hot wheel cars somehow won’t work, hearing the word, “No” a record amount of times, staying close by just in case they decide to dart in front of the trailer pulling in, staying far enough away so they can “Do it by myself.” Actually making statements like, “Don’t lick the mud off your shoes, it’s gross” and a myriad of other details in the days spent with toddlers. Truly, my absolute admiration to every parent out there!
In the midst of all this chaos, I decided to take these two on a short walk. I must have had a small moment to reflect and it was just enough time to again feel the weight of the struggles of the day. As the three of us approached some giant boulders, my grandson went up to the very biggest one (See picture.) bent down and tried with all of his strength to lift it. After his unsuccessful attempt, he stated matter-of-factly, “I’m too little, it’s too big for me.” He then happily went to several other rocks each a bit smaller in size until he could lift one small enough to throw.
As I watched him try to lift that enormous rock, I realized he was visually teaching me the lesson I was seeking. His example of self-awareness (“I’m too little.) with his honest assessment of the situation, (It’s too big) and his ability to persevere (He happily just moved on until he found just the right sized rock) helped me to see exactly what we all need to do when we find ourselves trying to pick up rocks in our lives that are simply too big to move on our own. We need to search for the ones that we can pick up by ourselves and the ones we can pick-up if we allow someone to help us. We need not have any shame at what we can’t pick up yet, no concerns that it might take several attempts to find what we can pick up and we should look for joy in the journey and in the moments we find ourselves picking up the right size boulder for us.
How do we find the ones we can pick-up? If you are new to recovery, this may be difficult to determine. Make a written, detailed inventory of what is on your agenda today. Doing the dishes? Putting a filter on your computer? Changing your office so your computer screen is visible to visitors? Contacting a qualified therapist? Attending a 12-step meeting? Making a call to a sponsor? Checking in on rTribe? Whatever your list holds, give each task an honest assessment. What can you pick-up today? What will you need help picking up today? For example, you may need to reach out to a 12-step member and let them know that you plan on changing your office layout as soon as you get into work. If you are left on your own to pick this boulder up, it may become too heavy before you even walk through your office door. So, be humble, make a call, reach out, get help lifting that boulder.
Remember the path of recovery is too big to pick up and carry on your own. Recovery is meant to connect you to the real world around you. We can find the same joy my grandson experienced as we correctly identify what we can do.
About the author:
Kathy Kinghorn, is a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist and Supervisor. She specializes in working with individuals struggling with sexual addiction, intimacy disorders, betrayal trauma. She has spoken nationally on the topic of sexual addiction to train therapists, educate the public and/or to be an advocate for this largely misunderstood population. Because of a need for more trained therapists, she devotes a significant amount of her time to training therapists. She believes there is a reason for hope, and that this battle can be won!