Okay well this week from Monday through Thursday my unschooled children and I are at an unschooling conference - the Life Without Instructions Conference - in New Jersey. I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone in a lot of ways, just by being here and honestly other than being a little tired and a lot anxious - I'm doing really well.
As many of you may know a few short years ago I struggled with a really bad breakdown of sorts after a long bout of depression - I ended up in therapy with my husband by my side clutching a stuffed bear the hospital gave me and the blanket my little Arlo Edward was wrapped in at the hospital (Arlo is the son I lost through miscarriage). I was unable to attend therapy for quite a while without my husband - I was really unable to do much of anything without him. This began a really dark period of my life that ultimately ended up with me in the hospital because I was trying to die by starvation. It was my third suicide attempt - feelings I thought I'd worked through in my teen years raised their heads again and this time I was ready for the help I desperately needed.
Why am I telling you all this? Well for a long time after that - years actually - I was too socially anxious to go anywhere without my beloved husband. I rarely, if ever went anywhere without him. Last year we started attending a homeschool co-op, the kids and me - without my beloved - that was a huge step for me. He eventually started attending with us (car issues) and I have to admit I was relieved because even after a few months it was really hard for me. Now I find myself hundreds of miles away from home, at a hotel, alone with the kids, pushing myself to connect with strangers. Luckily a couple of friends are here, so I have them to go to if I get too uncomfortable, but there are many, many many more people I've never met before.
Originally my beloved was supposed to be here with us and I've attended a bunch of talk sessions that blew my mind and I knew would be of great benefit to him as well, but in a lot of ways I'm really glad he had to stay home. I'm so proud of myself to putting myself out there and pushing beyond my comfort zone. I've met incredible people and I've shared of myself - I've let myself be vulnerable in a way I couldn't for a really long time. I'm also learning to trust myself again and to more importantly trust my kids on this journey of unschooling.
They, especially my daughter, has just blossomed before my eyes. The first day was really hard for me because I felt abandoned by my children - imagine my surprise - I really thought I was doing well at the letting them be free and trusting them to be off on their own making friends. I was wrong - I cried that first night in my room alone because they didn't want to spend time with me. I worked through it though - talked it out with my husband - shared my feelings with my teens. They assured me that they loved me and promptly took off to do their own thing. Isn't that beautiful, they are so assured of my love and my trust and that I know they love me, that they could take a few minutes to reassure me and then knew that I'd be okay. Wow! How far we've come from me sitting in a near catatonic state on the couch in so much pain I couldn't communicate with them - them on the phone with their father - him panicking calling my therapist.
I share all this not to gain sympathy, but to share my joy and serenity that I've come through the darkness into the light and now I'm able to be here, as anxious and nervous as I am, to share my light. I also share this for others who may be in a dark place in their life to tell them - to tell you - Don't Give Up - it does get better - it may take time and work and patience and love, but it does get better. I'm a great example of that.