By Susan Tofford

I was riding my bike on a hilly road the other day, thinking about all the ups and downs of my route. When I was going uphill on my bike, it was really hard, just like it’s really hard when my daughter has any type of relapse, be it mental health or drugs. When I reached the top of the hill, I was so relieved, just like I’m so relieved when it seems like she’s through the worst of it. Then I coasted downhill for a while and it was easy, just like life is so much easier when my daughter has a good stretch of time. But up ahead I saw another hill. I knew it was coming, but I prepared for it. I took deep breaths, brought my heart rate down, and told myself I was strong, just like when I have to prepare and remain strong for the next possible relapse. 

Our lives are journeys with lots of hills. But each hill is an opportunity to make us stronger. Yes, sometimes I feel like I can’t take anymore hills, both with biking and with life. That’s where self-care comes in. On a ride, I might stop my bike, take some stretches, and rest a bit. In life, I might visit with a trusted friend, take a hot bath, or treat myself to something nice. Acceptance of what is, instead of what we wish it could be, is important. Finding peace and joy in life, no matter what our struggling kids are going through, is important. I try to remember that I have my life and she has hers. I am always willing to be there for her when she wants me. I wish peace to all parents who have struggling children. May we all do our best to stay strong for the hills and be grateful for the times when we can coast.

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