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When Surrender is Not an Option

By: Danielle Daoust

Surrender, as a spiritual principle, teaches us to yield to a Higher Power, to give oneself up to the power of the present. I have often suggested to clients that they need to surrender to what IS … for example, if their partner wants out of the relationship, let them go, accept that things have changed so you too can move on in life. If the economy is dragging your business down, don’t try to expand, surrender to what is, tighten your belt, improve your service, work your client base and wait for better days.

Surrender, however, is not about giving up. You may surrender to the fact that a relationship just isn’t working but that doesn’t mean you are giving up on finding love. You may surrender to the fact that this isn’t the right time to try to branch out in business, but you don’t give up on the plan.

Surrender is not an option – nor a spiritual principle – when it is interpreted to mean that we should give up, or stop fighting for what is right. In fact, to me, giving up is almost an act of cowardice, an admission of weakness. And there are certain relationships and situations on which we must never give up … for example, with our children.

My developmentally disabled son, Patrick, is now 41, still living at home. We’ve been through hell together, not once, or twice, or even three times, but some years, day after day, week after week. We never knew when he would explode, or what might trigger him that day, and no matter how we tried, we couldn’t seem to help him find any satisfaction or joy in his life. It reached the point that he wanted to kill himself – or us. That was when finally, for true and sure, after some 38 years of fighting with him and the system for help, I was ready to throw in the towel.

It was hard enough when he was little – getting him into the right classes, doing everything I could to help this wildly hyperactive boy make the most of his abilities. But then he hit his teens and all hell broke loose when he realized that he weasn’t keeping up with his friends in the neighbourhood. Still, until he was 20, there was support from the schools and the psychologists, people to turn to when the going got rough. But he graduated … and then there was nothing. Yes, there was Community and Social Services, he could collect some money once a month; but they didn’t have answers to his bigger questions – where could he get a job, how could he fill his days, how could he start feeling like a real man, a productive citizen? These were the questions that plagued him – and drove me crazy for some 20 years. His biggest dream was to drive a semi, and there was no reconciling him to the fact that this job was beyond him. Day by day, week by week, he was sinking more deeply into depression, and becoming more and more volatile. The summer of his 38th year he seemed to completely lose it … rage took him over and wouldn’t let go. The third time that I had to call the police for help, I took him to the hospital, but after a few days they sent him home; saying he wasn’t really serious about killing himself or anyone else. I was at my wits’ end. I reached out to several prayer groups, and begged God for the strength to take him on one more time … and then told Pat that this was the end of the road; that if he didn’t find a way to get himself under control, he would end up in jail or on the streets. I gave him a month to clean up his act. That wasn’t the first time I had issued such an ultimatum. But he had been creating so much drama and anxiety in our family and the nighbourhood; this was the first time he really had no options. If I kicked him out, this time no one would take him in.

That was when the miracle began. Perhaps it took Pat hitting the wall, perhaps it was the change in meds that was introduced at the hospital, perhaps it was the way I changed at that point. More likely it was the combination of all of the above. But little by little, Pat started feeling better. The tantrums slowed down, he started contributing around the house, even discovered that he really enjoyed cooking, his friends started coming around again, neighbours started calling him back to do their yard work or shovel the snow – and he liked being acknowledged for his good work. Then miracle of miracles, he found a part-time job that he really liked – cleaning touring buses. The best part of the job was that he was trained to drive the buses and get to move them around the lot when necessary. Some time after his 40th birthday, I realized that Pat had become the man I knew he could be. We still had the odd kafuffle, but what used to trigger a week-long tantrum now cleared in less than an hour. And more importantly, we sometimes went a whole month without his temper exploding.

I wanted to give up, but I couldn’t The Mom in me kept believing that he could have a fulfilling life, and so I kept taking him on, and anyone else I thought might make a difference. It took a whole lot of prayer and getting past despair and desperation to reach determination and inspiration. And it took a lot of support, a large extended family – a whole community – willing to stand behind me, and especially behind Pat. But today, at 41, Pat is happy … that joyful, charming little boy of 3 has become a charming, funny, and very helpful man; a man with a job, friends, and a social life.

Surrender was never an option for Pat. I could surrender to the reality of his limitations, I could accept that brain damage made him explosive, I could accept that he might never leave home … but I could not give up on helping him to achieve all that he is capable of. I could not give up on loving him …

As a business coach and psychic, I often tell my clients to “keep pitching” … as long as you keep pitching, you have a hope that one of those balls will land a home run.

While you may surrender to the realities that face you, don’t give up on yourself. And especially don’t give up on the significant relationships in your life. One day, when you least expect it, there can be a breakthrough.

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