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The Trail We Leave Behind

emotional resilience family love parenting story Mar 29, 2022

This past week I spent several hours on a plane while traveling home to Utah from my daughter’s house in Wisconsin.

I love flying. I’m fascinated with the way the plane feels, the tiny houses I can see below, the beautiful landscapes, and especially the clouds. There’s nothing quite as mesmerizing to me as clouds.

Flying along, I happened to notice something that I don’t remember seeing ever before. There was another aircraft flying slightly below, but alongside our airplane.

I thought it was so cool to watch it as it moved along. My eye was especially drawn to the trail the plane left behind and the pattern and color of it. It was beautiful! The trail went on long after the plane. I wondered what our airplane’s trail looked like. Was it different if we were above or below the clouds? Did it make a difference how big or small our aircraft was?

Mostly I wondered if the pilot could see the trail he or she had left behind.

As I sat and stared out my window, I started thinking about the paths we leave behind. We move forward in our lives going about our routines and schedules. Rarely can we see the trails that we are leaving, the effects of our actions, words, and examples, until we are far beyond the present moment.

I’ve had clients who have struggled with depression and slept through their parenting years leaving their kids to figure things out on their own and to raise themselves. Anger issues for one client and her husband has left their kids with similar anger issues, not knowing how to healthily display strong emotions to their teachers and peers. When I have a client with anxiety, almost all of the time their kids end up with major anxiety. Anxiety is extremely contagious in a family setting, and some kids can grow up worrying about everything. When clients have unhealthy body images, their kids learn words like “fat” and see food as an enemy instead of something that nourishes their body. Clients with addictions can affect their kids in a myriad of ways.

My dear friends, here is the hard truth. You must take care of your own issues to raise physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy kids. You can’t think that your own issues won’t show through your actions, words, and parenting styles. You will model behavior that your kids will pick up on, whether you want them to or not. It’s rarely intentional. It just happens naturally.

As a young parent, I was a perfectionist who struggled with anxiety and depression. For 15 years, I thought it was all my own crap, and that I was hiding my issues from my kids. The truth is I wasn’t. My first few kids struggle with many of the same issues I modeled for them. When my mental health got worse I started looking for help. The second half of my kids have been parented in a much healthier way. As I found myself talking to my 6th child about his grades this past week, I found myself actually telling him that if he got B’s it would be great. I wouldn’t have ever been able to make those words come out of my mouth with my oldest kids. My younger kids have tools to help them recognize anxiety, anger, and depression. They may still need help implementing those tools, but they are being taught healthy skills at a young age. They know they don’t have to be perfect to be loved and worthy.

The airplane who takes a path through the clouds leaves a beautiful trail. You, too, leave a trail in your wake. You may pretend it’s not there because you can’t see it. But when you get far enough along that you can look back at the trail you’ve left, you will see the impact that actions from years ago had on your loved ones around you.

Choose to make your own mental, spiritual, and physical health a priority. Choose to find a way to improve yourself. Look at areas that you may be turning a blind eye to and be willing to face them. It’s okay that things haven’t been perfect, and that you haven’t been the parent or spouse or adult you intended to be. Life happens and we go through things that are hard and unexpected.

But it’s never too late.

Do what you can now. Your posterity will thank you for generations to come.

I want to help others avoid the most painful mistakes I have made. I want to help you navigate your own individual path that you are flying. When you look back, I want you to see this moment as the moment you began to leave a legacy you can be proud of instead of a path that brings you regret and sadness.

If the time is right for you to improve your parenting skills by taking care of your emotional health,  let's hop on a call and see what that would look like!  ❤️ The process is a lot less painful than you might imagine and the rewards will benefit your posterity for years to come. 

Decide today to make your trail a beautiful legacy. 

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