Living authentically – creating a path for parents to embrace life with a mentally ill child
I was living the dream. To any observer, confidence was my hallmark. I had a law degree, a happy marriage, beautiful family and a successful career as a legal marketing executive with a large staff. Financially, I was living comfortably and could travel and volunteer. I appeared to be focused and “purpose-driven”.
My home life was a different story. My daughter’s behavior was becoming more erratic and I had to face the reality that her mental illness was an everyday fact. It was here to stay and I had to acknowledge that holding my life illusion together would require me to live more authentically – the only TRUE help I could ever be for her.
Chaos and denial were running my game. I was an over-achiever…certainly, I could handle one more level of performance, right?
I began recognizing a shift happening within me – the self-inflicted need to be, know and do everything to manage my daughter’s journey in addition to my own full life was taking its toll. No matter how much I felt I could control our family’s situation in some way, I was spiraling, feeling empty and hopeless.
Slowly and forcibly, I was feeling anything but courageous. I began avoiding conflict, not knowing how to advocate for my daughter’s journey – an ongoing struggle with significant mental health issues. I became very risk-averse, narrowing my life into a tiny channel. I was basically imploding, on the verge of giving up and had a hard time accepting that this was my life. It certainly wasn’t what I envisioned motherhood to be.
I sunk deeper. Internally I was exhausted, coping, paralyzed and frantic all at the same time. I had auto-immune issues. I was in crisis. It wasn’t until I was jolted awake with my daughter’s suicide attempt that I knew in every cell of my body that this is it – something must change in a big way. I was nearing 50 and began to realize that this could defeat me or I could defeat it. The spiritual warrior in me was lit on fire. It was now or never.
I needed alignment – with myself, my values, my passions and all that was deeply important to me. As educated and successful as I was, I didn’t have a logical way to proceed. I found myself asking, “How do I support my daughter’s journey and mine at the same time?!”, not having a clue where or how to start on a different path. By the grace of everything I know, my intuition and wisdom saved me. Like the Phoenix rising from ashes, I owned my power. The “how” I was asking about became a minor detail.
Fast forward to now:I’m Greta Kjos – here to tell you: As a parent with a child with mental illness…you CAN have your own beautiful life, too!
My history of ongoing anxiety, confusion and feeling continually out of control is now just that: history. History is a great teacher of awareness and now I have tools for change whenever past patterns that don’t serve me come up.
After my personal wake-up call and seemingly nowhere to go but up, I made some courageous choices, taking some baby steps, then larger steps toward a life I imagined was possible. I left my well-paying career of 22 years, went through extensive leadership and life coaching training to become a Certified Empowerment Coach and now coach and guide parents of kids with mental illness to move from survival to thriving. Each one of them have a spiritual journey – triggered by the hidden blessing their children have brought to them – to become expressions of themselves they would never know without their tough life circumstances.
I dove head first into reclaiming my authentic self, separate from my child, while recovering from the illusion I was living that left me emotionally spent. Slowly, I was able to rescue the very parts of me that allowed me to stand in my truth, which had a profound impact on those I touched.
My “purpose driven” life has now taken on a completely new vibrant energy. I have been approached by other parents who realize they deeply yearn to look at parenthood, wellbeing and life with a new vibrant lens! I’ve implemented the self-discovery tools attained during my coaching certification training with Coach For Life as a lifestyle and share them now for other parents seeking spiritual wellness and, from a practical perspective, mental and emotional sanity.
I began recognizing a shift happening within me – the self-inflicted need to be, know and do everything to manage my daughter’s journey in addition to my own full life was taking its toll.
The life coaching certification program, fully accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), supports my goals as a lifelong learner, and gives me cutting-edge tools to use as a service to my clients.
As a spiritual warrior with powerful wisdom and intuition, along with the help sparked by my daughter’s mental health challenges, I created the beautiful life that was waiting for me all along. I evoked my power from within using a blend of self-mastery, compassion, confidence, courage and more. These same beliefs, emotions, intuition and knowingness were used to develop the six essential shifts that became my signature Reclaim Your Life & Thrive program. Additionally, I created the Find Your Inner Warrior program to support parents with tools for the earlier stages of coping with a child with mental illness.
Are you ready to wake up your inner warrior and THRIVE? I’m here to support you as your coach, guide, resource and spiritual wingwoman if you are saying “yes” to you. When you are ready to take back your sanity, authentic life, and personal power, wherever it got buried, I’m here. Your light may be dimmed, yet it’s still flickering within you. I have walked your path and still do. Give your child the gift they need most – YOU – as you Reclaim Your Life and Thrive!
To support your courageous journey even further, check out Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known at the Start of My Child’s Mental Illness. There you can sign up for my weekly tips on self-care, coping tools, mental health resources, advocacy, ways to claim your inner spiritual warrior, taking baby steps toward your authentic life and more.
In addition to my roles as coach and parental guide, I am a national presenter, writer, aspiring author, and social entrepreneur, founding a non-profit organization to help families experiencing adolescent mental illness. I am a Reiki practitioner living in Minneapolis, MN, with my daughter and dog, Gabby. For fun, I’m on a masters swim team and enjoy anything outdoors.
As my gift to you for visiting my website, I created a 60-minute webinar (no, not a sales page) for you to take notes, absorb, pull out incredible self-care tips, and get a good feel about my style and expertise as a parent on a spiritual journey triggered by my child – just like you. Watch my latest webinar here.