Positive discipline, like going for a run, or studying, or writing a first draft—THAT I can do.
But negative discipline: NOT eating the chocolate, or having the second martini, or sleeping with the guy on the first date. That’s harder.
Then there’s accepting, moving on, whether it’s positive or negative. Integrating things I didn’t want to have happen and letting them change me and take me in new directions. The death of a child. A divorce. Like a lot of people, I’m not so good at that.
What I suck at most is allowing the good stuff to happen. What if it turns out I didn’t mess up my kid? He’s at college right now and apparently doing fine. He just got a National Science Foundation scholarship. He’s composing interesting techno music—a former perfectionist, he’s not afraid to put works-in-progress out there for the world. Not to brag; these are his achievements. However, it seems they might be at least partial evidence that he’s alive and well.
What if he’s all right in spite of the fact that I wasn’t the perfect parent, or the perfect wife?
I know. It’s a banal realization—there have been whole novels and movies on this topic—but there it is. I’ve been sitting stunned in my house since my son drove off to school last fall.
What if it’s okay for me to move on, too?