N.B. this post does contain rambling. A nice word for it is “processing.” But really, I’m rambling. Hopefully your sexy mind and gorgeous heart will get something from my ramblings though.
Do you ever get upset? I do. Maybe worse, sometimes I don’t notice I’m upset, but I act on the feeling anyway.
Today I got upset with one of the kids I help raise. He has what can be deemed as “behavioral issues.” We all use self-defense when we feel powerless. If you’re around abuse and/or have it pointed out to you that you have a flaw as a kid you tend to try to defend yourself. I grew shy when I was growing up; I blocked people from seeing my emotions and hid away. My kid got angry instead. As soon as he feels powerless he gets angry and he feels powerless a lot.
He sometimes feels powerless when learning new things as he has a problem memorizing shapes. As a result he’s been told he’s stupid. When trying to do something he thinks is hard he gets upset as he thinks his difficulties are proof of his stupidity. He also gets angry when he feels he no longer has a choice or is emotionally vulnerable. As soon as I tell him to do something he doesn’t agree with, he feels powerless and gets angry. It’s situations that a “normal” kid wouldn’t get angry about, just like a “normal” kid wouldn’t hide from people like I did as a child. Like my boy, I had wounds as a child and when they were touched, I flinched in pain. A “normal” kid wasn’t wounded, so they didn’t react as they felt no pain.
When I’m at Little Angels these kind of behavioral patterns in children don’t disturb me, because I don’t have a close connection to the children. I see it as my job to bring a kid to their heart. At home…home is my sanctuary. Home is a place I want to call a “happy place.” You think you’re having a perfectly nice time and then suddenly there’s someone who wants to destroy anything in sight for a really small thing that, for a kid who isn’t wounded, wouldn’t lead to a tantrum. It makes me angry, because I want to have a nice time. And using reasoning, why destroy a perfectly happy moment with a huge tantrum? It doesn’t make sense on that level, so it frustrates me.
I also have an emotional connection to my kid – he calls me mommy, I call him my kid. When he gets angry, I get hurt. I also hurt for him because I know the remorse that follows the anger and how much he hates himself afterwards. It’s painful to watch.
My anger and hurt doesn’t help my kid – it only feeds back to what he believes about himself. To break the cycle, I have to respond differently. When he gets ignored when angry, or I’m still happy, he doesn’t get what he wants from me. He doesn’t get to think he’s bad, rejected, stupid, unloved, etc. He likes himself better. When he likes himself, he doesn’t get angry as easily because his wound is more healed. He can do something difficult without getting upset as he doesn’t see it as proof of stupidity.
My emotional reactions are my own. I’m old enough to see beyond behavior.
Changing your reactions and stop punishing, screaming, etc. have nothing to do with accepting the behavior – my kid know I don’t, just like your friend, husband, or parent will know you don’t. The thing is, we’ve been told since children that one should react emotionally in a certain way. We’ve also conditioned ourselves through our own life experiences, like my kid has.
For me, as I said – I grew shy as a kid. For those around me that was easier to deal with than anger, but it’s simply another symptom of a broken ego. And my broken ego has followed me in life. The whole “mom dying, not a good step-mom and bullies” (all a big “I’ve been rejected”) shaped me. If I show I care I often dress it up in sarcasm, or humor, because I want to defend myself just in case I get rejected. If I raise someone up, I’m ready to show I don’t care, just in case.
Those things aren’t things I do in an aware fashion. It’s like when I’m out walking – instinctively instead of walking up to greet someone, I sometimes hide, because the bullies didn’t say hi if you greeted them, but if you didn’t greet them they yelled after you asking you why you didn’t. Either way you lost, so it was better not to be seen I thought. Really, the best thing would have been to acknowledge their behavior didn’t matter. I was still a lovable person.
For years I’ve worked to change my patterns, but some are so hidden you don’t realize. You think you’re teasing someone, when in fact you’re doing it just instead of complimenting them. “I really love your heart, though you’re a total goof :p” Sounds cute enough, but you see what I just did? I raised someone up and yet made sure they didn’t get any “power” over me in the same sentence. And I don’t think about it. I think I’m playing, only to realize that there’s a protection mechanism woven into my language patterns. I mean, seriously?!
The thing I’ve realized is, when I’m confident in myself, I don’t need to play little games to ensure people don’t have power over me, because they don’t. When I feel good in myself I don’t have to be hard to get, intellectually superior, sarcastic, or whatever the heck else my mind decides to do (half of the time I have no idea I’m doing it). Imagine dating me – there’s a huge “fuck you, I’m fine without you” written on my forehead. It will appeal to guys who love a chase, but the moment I open up to them (once I’ve gotten over feeling like a claustrophobic person stuck in an elevator) they will run for their lives. And so my pattern continues, because I’ve now convinced myself that opening up is the wrong strategy.
If you’re an open person, you attract open people. They don’t freak when you open up, because you were always open. I’ve never been open to men, unless the situation has been such that I knew I wouldn’t get close to the person anyway.
When I say I’m not open, I don’t mean I don’t share my thoughts. I do. I even share my feelings, but I share them without attaching any emotion to them. In drama school we called it “cloning” – you describe an event that emotionally wrecked your life, but you tell it as if it was a walk in the park. You can say “I love you” to someone without any love behind your words too. Or, my favorite: you can crack a joke while you’re saying it, or add a sarcastic comment afterwards. My security back up line.
Now this isn’t just about language, it’s about reactions in general. About a year and a half ago I had a run in with my dad about something. When he said something to me, I got really upset. I mean crying all the way to Cape Town from Copenhagen upset. I didn’t show him that at the airport though. I figured if I said something I’d lose it. Instead I sat down in the plane and started crying, because I had PMS. Normally I don’t cry, but that time I couldn’t stop.
A few days later I called my dad. I called him to say he really could’t say things like that, but I did it sharing from my heart, not getting angry. I didn’t want to call him. I wanted to ignore it. Withdraw more to punish him. Not let him anywhere near my emotions, because he fucking hurt me. That’s my survival tactic, but I realized then, as I do now, that it’s not a tactic that serves me. I love my dad. He has ways that sometimes hurt me, but I am old enough to take responsibility for acknowledging he doesn’t mean to. The man loves me. I need to take responsibility for my reactions just as much as he has to take responsibility for his words and actions toward me. He’s worked hard, I’m trying to do the same.
Justifying anger, hurt, pain, aloofness, sadness, it’s all very well, but it usually doesn’t serve us. Acknowledging our reactions, feeling into them instead of suppressing them, serves us, but then we have to let go and look beyond. My kid isn’t trying to hurt me, just like my dad wasn’t trying to hurt me. And my friend walking down the street isn’t going to treat me like the bullies did, nor is the guy I date going to turn on me if I’m open from the start.
Emotions that are born in our ego, as opposed to our heart, can wreck havoc in our lives. Don’t let them. Put on your glasses and see beyond them.
On that note I’m going out to buy new glasses…
Image Source: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/507780926722190442/