I can still feel the fear. I can vividly recall a sense of not knowing what was to come and for how long. I had lost all certainty for my life. But eventually, I found a feeling of peace and the knowing that whatever was going to happen in my life – I could handle it and would make the best of it. I was finding resiliency.
In April 2014, I was indicted in federal court. Later that year, after much soul searching and coming to terms with the assumptions, rationalizations, biases, and bad decisions I had made, I pled guilty. I was sentenced in June 2015 to one year and one day in prison. In that instant, I collapsed on the ground and was hysterical crying, not because I was worried about how I would survive prison, but because of what the unknown would mean for my children. Would my absence affect their academics, health, mental and emotional state?
I have always been a control freak – not in a bad way, but in a type-A, high achiever, super planner, uber-organized kind of way. After making the life-changing decision to plead guilty, my life was completely out of my hands. I had no idea if the prosecutor and judge would accept my plea. I did not know if my community/ friends/family would support or shun me. I had no clue as to what terms my attorney would negotiate with the prosecutor as the worst-case scenario for my case. All of this uncertainty started with the decision to plea in August 2014. And until June 2015 – ten months later – I lived with zero control over the fate of my short-term future. Well, that is, the physical aspect of my being.
But, I NEVER lost the capacity to control and cherish my mental well-being. Let me be candid –when the case first started, I was held hostage by my fear. The fear of the unknown. My mind would create every possible scenario as an outcome and I would overanalyze the ramifications of each detail for my children and me. I obsessed over every little thing, including others in my case who were not named or included in the indictment. I was wrought with negative emotions, energy and feelings. I was developing ulcers and the stress was eating me alive.
Ways I Found Resiliency During Times of Uncertainty
- I began to meditate and pray.
- I decided to be present for my children.
- I made a choice to let go of my bitterness toward others in my case and recognized that their fate did not make a difference or change my life.
- I was meant to learn and experience certain lessons.
- I figured out how to self-soothe and pay attention to the good.
- I learned forgiveness for myself and for everyone else involved.
- I actively concentrated on the positive things in my life.
- I understood that every moment with my children is a blessing and, soon enough, a judge would decide my sentence and I would possibly be taken away from them for a period of time.
- I reveled in my day-to-day and time at home with the kids.
- I walked outside for hours at a time.
- I allowed myself to cry as I needed the catharsis. But, afterwards, I found the peace to look ahead.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the entire world into the unknown. For our children, this is a period of their lives that they will never forget. As a mother, I know that my children have already suffered, learned and grown tremendously when their mom was in prison. Now, collectively, we face another challenge. My kids have to forego their usual sports practices and tournaments and school. We cannot go across the street to my parents’ house to spend family time because it might not be safe for my parents, who both have underlying conditions. Many people are in a state of panic and behaving and making decisions reflective of this anxiety.
But, here is the thing…our children are watching. We must pave the way and be role models for them. Our own mental sanity and health depends on our ability to see the good in this moment. Is it disruptive and truly financially destructive for many – I know it is. But, I also have the faith that we can all try to find peace by trying in each moment to be positive. Lets spend the time that we oftentimes do not get with our children at home to do the very basic things – board games, taking walks, talking over dinner, and having dance parties at home. This is our new normal for a while. We can either choose to be negative and bitter – which is an option, albeit draining and sad. Or, we can decisively choose to be positive and full of energy as we spread kindness and help our children learn that they can and will navigate this uncertain time of their childhood and rise above. I am confident that finding resiliency is possible, the life lessons will be many, and our future is full of hope.
Rashmi Airan‘s mission is to help organizations create cultures focused on integrity, authenticity, and accountability by connecting these efforts to human performance, behavioral ethics and emotional intelligence. Rashmi is a keynote speaker and consultant specializing in organizational culture, reputational risk, and human performance. Contact Rashmi to see how she can help your organization.