I hope you all had a Happy Mother’s Day, whether you are a mom or whether you are simply a nurturer of any one. I believe it’s a day to celebrate all people, men and women, who nurture and care for others. I’m sure you’ve noticed how we moms have an instinct to protect our kids, and kids have the same instinct as well to protect their parents. Last night this instinct was demonstrated in me and Maddie. It definitely wasn’t one of my finest relationship moments. My husband, Steve, started to hang some new drapes before we sat down to watch American Idol, and then his drill lost its charge. So while it was charging we relaxed for a bit.
Afterwards, he resumed hanging the rod and drapes. Well, in the mean time, he misplaced a screw driver and he got frantic about it. We were both very tired. In fact, I’d fallen asleep on the couch. I tried helping him look for it but couldn’t find it. He got snappy with me and said some rude things. I didn’t appreciate the words but understood he was just crabby and I didn’t take it personally. But then, all of a sudden, Maddie started crying and got very angry with him and said, “Don’t talk to my Mommy that way!” He got mad at her for interfering, yelled at her and made a threatening gesture. It was over the top over nothing and just very rare for him to act like that!
Maddie had been in a bad mood because she’d been triggered by her dad earlier, and so Steve’s anger triggered her even more. When I felt he was being mean to her unnecessarily, I saw red. My mother bear instinct and my angry eleven-year-old who tried to protect my own mom from my dad’s physical abuse, came out full force. Maddie was trying to protect me, and I was trying to protect her. Steve felt ganged up upon. To say we exchanged some unpleasant words (in loud volume) is an understatement. I felt like all of us lost control temporarily. Maddie seemed to be fine afterward, releasing her pent-up anger. Steve went into another room, and I went to bed with an upset stomach.
I asked myself why that drama just occurred. It was a clash of all three of our “stuff.” The timing was ripe for drama and conflict. I was tired. Maddie was angry. Steve was frustrated with the drape project. An explosion seemed inevitable. My response was to go to bed and tap on my disrupted energy, cry a little and then quickly fall asleep. By morning, my head was clear again, and I decided to write Steve a letter of apology for my part in it. I also realized that when we are on the verge of a breakthrough, the ego often delivers tests to derail and distract us. I made a decision that I would not let this relationship snafu weaken my self-esteem or congruence with being The Relationship Renovator, a term people call me.
I learned from it and bounced right back to my mission of loving, giving and serving others. It has made me all the more vigilant as the caretaker of my emotions. I did set some healthy boundaries with Steve and didn’t take full ownership of the drama. Even when it’s tough, we still have the conversations. My mantra is “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.” Years ago, this type of argument would have cost me a week or so of productivity and would have zapped my energy. So assess your bounce back capacity. Is the time between trauma and recovery shorter? If so, you’re on the right track.
My wish for you is that if you have guilt and shame over your relationships with your spouse, kids, or whomever, ask yourself what you need to change about yourself so that you can bounce back quickly to what is really important in life.
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