In love, it seems that often incongruity, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and triggered trauma are what engage us day-to-day and minute-to-minute. However, if you take a breath and submerge under all this, you are likely to discover the powerful and unwavering simplicity of indisputable, unforgiving love. When love is at work, everything else submits to it. We try to deal with it in all ways we can imagine and with all tools that we have acquired to this point. It might anger and frustrate us. It could scare or upset us. We will attempt to kick and push, protest, whine or pretend that we don’t notice. Our attempts to move away from these states, however, should not be considered as anything more than that. For we have no power to stop love when it has settled in our bodies and our minds.
Children are endearing to watch. They are funny. Cute. Delightful. Other people’s kids.
Three-year-old is Max playing in the sand. He dashes towards the road and looks back at his mother laughing. She sprints to catch him. Her face is tense. No trace of delight.
Charming smiles, tight hugs and sudden kisses, heartwarming love admissions. Squeals, loud cries. Expressions of misery and hate, grabs for the face and hair. A mix of pleasure, love and fear. Richness. Exhaustion. What was it like before – when she was just a child and not a mother? A distant memory she grasps on in brief off-duty moments.
Homework, backpacks, lunches, sports, play-dates, negotiations. Her eyes are no longer locked on her child. Her mind still follows him. The possibilities of future form, hopes of success and happiness…
She stands before the mirror and sees a woman who has nurtured, worried, and sat in the car for hours chauffeuring. Things are no longer the same. She heads toward her son’s room to remind him of something she has just remembered. A gentle knock. A loud yell in response, “Go away! Leave me alone! And you know what? I don’t like you.” She sits down. Waves of disbelief and rage sweep over her. Her knees feel weak. Her mind is empty. She stares in the dark space.
So, this is what it feels like to be a mother? Her soul aches. She is confused and grasps for answers. She tries to push back and revert the past. She wants to add control, to attack or even belittle just like her mother did to her. Or maybe she could just check out of motherhood?
She suffers yet she chooses to stay…close to her son’s experience. She feels theforce of growing up and changing. Her own self-hood is called to find answers, strengthen and expand. She must find a way to be that makes her happy.
Mother and son sit in the kitchen. Her son puts his arm around her shoulders. She looks up. Their eyes meet. He smiles so very innocently. “Sorry.”
Parenting is emotionally intense. Parenting teenagers is particularly hard. It could sweep the peace out of your home and throw you into a storm. Staying open to ideas when emotions run high is not easy. Part of your child’s job is to test your parenting fitness. If you are on your way to scold, lecture or insult your child marching to his/her door, you might want to turn around, take a walk or go to your room, and consider the following:
- What emotion am I experiencing?
- If it is fear, what am I afraid of?
- If I feel anger, what specifically angered me?
- If I feel hurt, what specifically hurt me?
- If it is something else, what exactly is the issue?
2. What other thoughts are coming to mind?
For example, if your child arrives from school with a low mark, you could think “He is going to end up like me. I think I was wrong to sign him up for this school. I failed him as a parent.” Or “I give her everything and she is not doing the one job that she has! Does she think it’s easy for me to work 50 hours a week. I hate this job…” You get it.
3. Could my emotions have anything to do with how my day has been going or how I have been feeling about myself recently?
An example would be when at work your team has failed to deliver what they promised today. You come home and find the tasks you gave your child are not done. You kept polite at work but you are enraged at your child for going against you, disrespecting you and ultimately trying to bring you down.
- Is my child demonstrating a repeated behavior? If so, have I set aside some time to think through what might be going on? Have I discussed it with my parenting partner?
For example, you have noticed that your daughter has started staying up late, her marks have dropped, and she is more abrasive with you than before. Fear overcomes you. Following Step 1, you have identified what you are afraid of. In Step 2, you have made connections to your past experiences and determined what your fear is based on. In Step 3, you have de-tangled the issue from your current emotional state. Now you can think more clearly about the problem, come up with some ideas of the reasons and potentially bring them up to your partner.
- Could I ask my child and how would I go about it?
In the case above, you could go straight to her and ask her to immediately revert her behavior, or you can sit down and talk to her. It would be of interest to understand when and why her behavior has changed, what is preoccupying her, and what she thinks about the change.
Finally, you may often get the steps wrong or skip them. Emotions often rule over our intelligent minds. However, when you are calm again and your thinking starts to clear, do tell your child that you have made a mistake. Admit that emotions took the best of you, and then talk to them. Keep trying and you will succeed.
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Thank you for reading,
Going for a dentist appointment is less painful than seeking therapy. We really don’t like talking about it. So we face our struggles alone. Sometimes for months, sometimes for years. Sometimes we never act. A few days ago, I came across a 70-year old answer to the question why that is. The excerpts below are from the book “The Psychiatric Interview” by Harry Stack Sullivan. The book was based on his lectures in 1944 and 1945.
Excerpts from “Cultural Handicaps to the Work of the Psychiatrist”
“…First, in attempting to be psychiatric experts, we are very much afflicted by the fact that all people are taught that they ought not to need help, so that they are ashamed of needing it or feel that they are foolish to seek it or to expect it. And along with this, they come to psychiatric assistance with curious expectations as to what they are going to get, perhaps partly because this is so necessary to prop up self-esteem.
Second – and this is very widespread in the cultural heritage, so that people are taught in quite generally – is the belief they should “know themselves”, know what a fixed something-or-other called “human nature” is, know “right from wrong,” and “good from bad,” and be able to see through others in respect to all these important matters.
And third, people are more or less taught that they should be governed by “logic”, or have “good sense”; or if they can’t claim particularly good sense, then at least they should have “good natural instincts” and “good intuition,” which ought to govern them in choosing the “right” way to act and to think about themselves and others”.
Another idea which is very generally ingrained in personality is that one should be ashamed if one has not risen above and overcome the limitations of one’s past, one’s misfortunes, and one’s mistakes; or if one hasn’t, then one should occupy oneself with producing a very rich crop of verbalisms to show why, in spite of one’s fineness and so on, these misfortunes were too much to be risen above and overcome.
Finally, as a sort of generalization of all of these, or in some people as yet another and separate antipsychiatric view: one should be independent. One should have no need for anyone else to tell one what to do or how to live…”
If you are still hesitating to talk to a therapist, these are five good reasons why. And there are more.
Тази статия е публикувана във вестник Български Пламък от 4 декември, 2015.
Повече хора, повече дейности, повече трафик, повече списъци със задачи, завишени очаквания и повече емоции отколкото обикновено. Това води до по-малко търпение, по-реактивно поведение и повече конфликти. Освен това, ако това е един от първите ни коледни сезони в Торонто, изпитваме повишен стрес от количеството нова информация и натискът върху нас да не направим грешка. Родителите са особено напрегнати, тъй като те получават допълнителна доза от списъци за подаръци, концерти, снимки с Дядо Коледа и детски забави. „Но нали това трябва да е един много красив и щастлив период от годината, изпълнен с радост и обич.“ Да, така е по филмите и рекламите. Макар и да ни носят удоволствие, те също могат да предизвикат мисълта, че нещо не е наред с нас, че се проваляме и да ни накарат да се чувстваме несигурни.
Как да се справим?
- Отпуснете се. Приемете, че този период е малко ненормален. Той просто е.
- Информирайте се. Развийте си нови нагласи и практики, както и начини за справяне като се учите от експертите. Има толкова много писано. Търсете, четете, слушайте и се опитайте да прилагате наученото.
- Не се опитвайте да се променяте през този месец. Ако все пак решите, изберете само едно нещо в даден момент. Нашата психическа енергия е ограничена.
- Ако не сте в състояние да получите достатъчно сън, не се притеснявайте, не се обвинявайте. Много хора страдат от безсъние. Има много възможни причини. За да резберете причината за вашето безсъние, вижте стъпки 1 и 2.
- Мислете позитивно за себе си, дори ако това е супер трудно. Най-вероятно, вие притежавате интелигентността и способностите необходими за да управлявате живота си. Ако сте установили, че не можете да се справите и сте решили да потърсите професионална помощ, това е умна и смела постъпка, която също показва стратегическо мислене.
Как мога да помогна на моя партньор и семейството?
- Въведете лично спокойствие следвайки съветите по-горе. Кажете на най-близките си от какво имате нужда, за да запазите това лично спокойствие и как те могат да допринесат за това.
- Дайте на другите пространство да живеят и правят грешки. Бъдете наясно с вашата нужда да ги контролирате.
- Наблюдавайте най-близките си, за да прецените техните нужди. Питайте ги. Правете това, което те искат, така както те го искат, ако можете. Не обещавайте преди да сте проверили, че сте спокойни и имате време на разположение.
Какво ще кажете за моите деца? Те имат нужда от мен през цялото време.
Не съвсем. Вижте от какво точно се нуждаят – вашето присъствие, успокоение, добра храна, рутини, или пример. Понякога не е очевидно.