I am not one who believes everything happens for any specific reason. I am more inclined to believe that there are however, lessons within each new experience. I also believe there is a possibility that life will present similar experiences until we have a significant understanding of the necessary lesson.

Little Man had a rough day a week or two ago. After several hours of overly emotional, manic and angry behavior, he finally broke down. In his lucidity, he realized just how controlled he was feeling by this disease. He began cursing the Universe and asking what he had done to deserve to be so sick. He said he thinks the Universe must hate him. I held him and cried with him and I didn’t know what to say.

So much of my free time is dedicated to learning more about the disease process, about autoimmune illness, about coping mechanisms and innovative treatments, but that doesn’t address the issues that I recognize will linger long after his physical symptoms subside. How do I help him understand his lessons through all of this?

In order for me to help him understand his lessons, it has become important for me to understand the lessons I need to learn. I have always held a strong belief in the power of peace. Coincidentally (or not), my first name actually means “peace.” But along with that belief, I have subtly, yet purposefully avoided conflict. I had a substantial amount of conflict in my young life and I suppose those experiences molded me to believe that avoiding conflict was better than facing it. But here’s the rub. Avoiding conflict also meant stuffing my own feelings of anger, frustration, and general pissed off-edness (yes, that’s a word. I just made it up). It meant that I wasn’t actually avoiding conflict. I was ignoring it. I have been a conflict ignorer and as such, I have found myself in some pretty difficult situations with people who have taken advantage of or challenged my lack of engagement and seeming indifference. I was constantly seeking out more peaceful experiences.

While I do not struggle to vocalize my own upset in business interactions or on behalf of others, I did find it far more challenging to address those who were closest to me. And then, PANDAS arrived.

There was absolutely no way to hide or ignore my raging child. Nothing I said or did could bring about the peace I was so desperate to find. Conflict was everywhere. All the damn time. His food was touching. I looked at him wrong. I didn’t hear him. I didn’t tell him I had to go to the store. And on and on and on.

At first, it was very difficult not to engage. I urge you to try it sometime. Allow someone to scream insults in your face and attempt to punch you and kick you and spit on you and see if you can remain calm and peaceful. And then have them do it every day.

Over time however, I began to understand that this was my lesson. If I was going to stand for peace, I had to be able to withstand it’s opposite. I had to look at intense rage and anger and fear and anxiety and allow myself to feel the emotions that I felt and still be able to find peace. I had to be the eye of the storm. Calm and peaceful amidst pure chaos. The center around which the storm could rage without sacrificing itself.

I learned that true peace cannot be defined by external environments because it comes from within. Though I knew this on a cognitive level, there is something about this particular experience that I believe has brought insight I do not think would have been possible otherwise. On some level, I can empathize with what it might be like to be a tortured prisoner who must stand their ground. I know peace in an intimate way and I know how to find it in the midst of conflict rather than outside of it. And I am a stronger woman because of this.

As for his lesson, only he can decide what that might be. Little Man continues to make progress with a few new protocols which I will share once we get a bit further in recovery.

In the meantime, I wish you peace, health and healing,

Mama Bear