Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeing their wholeness

One of my favorite pastimes is going to a movie. I get myself a large bag of popcorn and sit down and wait for the make believe to make me laugh, or think, or capture my heart. There are many movies I won't see. Hollywood can spend lots of money on junk. I just went to a very touching movie, The Soloist, based on the true story of a man who is homeless in LA. This man is a talented musician with schizophrenia. The movie story is not totally true to the real man, Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, but the heart of the story comes across wonderfully.

I like to find the truths in fiction. I like to be reminded of our humanity, and to see the hope in this sometimes very crazy world.

Mental illness is a crippling health issue that takes many forms. We have come a long way in our understanding of the multiplicity of disorders, but we are also still struggling to figure out what this means for individuals and families. Mental illness is still shrouded in mystery and fear. When we put our collective mental health on a continuum, we find that we all lie somewhere along the spectrum. Is there really such a thing as "normal" or are we all unique reflections of our makeups shaped by heredity and experience. What does each person need to feel comfortable with life?

And we still have a long way to go, to give each person, each child, the chance they need to develop to their own potential. These are "nice" words but the practice of this point of view takes a lot of faith. As a mother, I had times when I did not act from faith. I believed I had the answer and knew exactly what was right for my children. Of course, sometimes I did. But I also mis-stepped.

I guess my point today is that we need to keep trying to really see our children, our loved ones. See them as whole people. We need to admit that we can only do our best and that we are going to make mistakes in our relationships, in our lives. We can accept each unique being and remember it's not our job to change anyone. Heck, I have a hard time changing some of my own bad habits. I'm not sure where everyone in my family lies on that mental health spectrum. I do know that we're not neatly lined up together. And I'm convinced that love and acceptance are always better paths to take on the way to wholeness.

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