Getting to know you

Knowing a little bit about his personal number 3 has helped my son, Chris, get a clearer understanding of who he is and what he was put on earth to do. Learning that he is a  number 3 has helped me better appreciate Chris’s strengths and the areas where he may struggle a bit. The ancient Chinese astrology, Nine Star Ki, digs a little deeper, using three numbers associated with the atmospheric conditions present on the day, month, and year of one’s birth. It is based on the observed cycles of nature ( life force “ki”), which are nine year cycles comprising smaller cycles of nine months and even smaller cycles of nine days.
Numbers and astrology can be especially important to people who have experienced a prolonged mental health crisis. I believe cycles of nine resonate at the vibrational “gut” level, complementing compassionately spoken and intuitive words. Recently I had the pleasure of enrolling in the online Recovering Our Families course. One of the first reading assignments was authored by psychologist and activist Pat Deegan, and included the following quote: 
The goal of recovery is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we are called to be.
Determining the awesomeness of who we are and who we are meant to be is never an easy task, and one that is particularly hard for people who have been diminished – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – by a lengthy mental health problem. 
It’s not just the person experiencing the crisis who has been diminished – families empathy for, and expectations of, the person have also taken a grave hit. Many of us are more used to seeing violent and angry outbursts from our relative, silly or naive behavior, dependency, apathy, lack of self-confidence. We adopt a vocabulary of despair.
The course encourages the participants to try to consider ourselves or our relative in a different light, to see strengths instead of focusing on deficits.
We call our newfound attitude “conscious refocusing.” The course got us all started by giving us practical examples what it looks like to focus on strengths when the habitual response might be the opposite.
Example: “He is alone and isolated”  becomes “He is an individual who has a rich inner life and follows his own path.”
But, here’s the thing. Knowing the numbers will bolster any flagging conviction you may hold that you or your relative is beyond hope. It will bring you further down the road of practicing recovery and helping you or your relative become that  awesome, never to be repeated, human being.
Chris’s numbers are an instantly recognizable portrait of himself, and believe me, he is unique and awesome. He is a quiet presence, a deep thinker, who has a great need to serve humanity. He is a skilled manager, and a hard worker, something I had almost lost sight of about him. The early stages in particular of his crisis made me forget that he was once well-organized. He is extremely capable today, assuming charge of household chores while taking on more managerial volunteer jobs.

My middle son Alex’s numbers are a recognizable portrait, too, of an awesome, never to be repeated, individual. Had Alex been the one who underwent a mental health crisis, I’ve always thought that he would be a less gentle presence than Chris. We would have had many violent altercations, until we learned how to work together. His numbers do not lie. Amongst his other attributes, Alex’s numbers reveal that he doesn’t like being told what to do. Duh!  I’ve known that since he was a toddler. Properly channeled, being aggressive and not taking crap from anyone, is a positive thing, an entrepreneurial skill, but there is also a less positive side. The numbers also reveal where Alex goes when under stress, another recognizable self-portrait. Where we go under stress is never a good place, and not the side we wish to present to the world, but it’s instructive to how to handle our baser instincts, and the numbers help us out there, too. 

Numerology and astrology, for Chris and me, is much more than a frivolous pastime; it has proved to be a useful strategy that helps us both to maintain a positive outlook. 
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