I recently had a discussion with a friend on the subject of hope. She has been estranged from her son for five years, but she is upbeat and lives a good life. She shared that, for her, hope meant managing expectations. I think most of us would agree that it’s a good idea to balance our expectations with reality. But, then she added, “For me, hope also means keeping my door open without always watching it.”

This is a brilliant mindset and a wonderful way to stay positive and to stop torturing ourselves with how we think things should be. By cultivating this perspective, we can let go of demanding specific outcomes and relax and allow events to unfold organically, in their own time. We can practice patience and make room for miracles to happen.

Being estranged from my adult child has proven to be the most devastating, difficult and mind-boggling challenge of my life. As a result of working on healing and understanding the reality of my circumstances, I’ve grown and expanded my capacity for compassion, understanding and love. Through the heartbreak and subsequent, ongoing journey of healing, I’ve learned that I am good; I am kind; I am forgiving; I am worthy of love and respect. For so many years, I believed that I was worthless and unlovable – why else would my son forsake me? Eventually, I came to realize that there were many extenuating circumstances that had absolutely nothing to do with me or my worth, and I know that now. But it’s taken me a long time to get to a place of loving acceptance of myself and my own heart and soul. 

I have hope again, but it’s not the kind of hope I had when I was younger, when I wished and hoped for exact situations and perfect conditions. I have learned how to keep hope alive without being chained to any specific outcomes or circumstances. I no longer have the hope of a child, but of an adult, an elder, a survivor, an artist of life. I’ve had to learn to live in a state of gentle surrender and to trust, with grace, love and patience, that all will work out in the end.

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