Good morning.* So, it’s morning (ergo my salutation), the sun is shining, I’ve just had a run with only one extra walking bit thrown in, and my coffee is hot. *lesigh* C’est parfait. (p.s. As for yesterday’s grrr-fest, I told A Rewarding Life in a reply, I ended up just needing a nap. Oh, Monster….)
My bloggity post comes from a moment that happened to me and my daughter yesterday. She was swimming in her grandparents’ pool, where the day before, she had a traumatizing experience with a flying ant, which bit her sweet cheek twice and then held on for dear life while she tried to get it off. Poor girl. She had one large and one small welt, and needed to be cuddled for about fifteen minutes before she could bring herself to swim again. (I didn’t mind that part.) But for yesterday, the one experience with the ant meant she wouldn’t go to one side of the pool because ‘that’s where the flying ants are.’ She wanted something from that side of the pool, so I told her she could scare the bugs away, but she wouldn’t even try. Then I turned into the 4-year old and tried some tough-love, frustrated-mother, oh-my-gosh-I-don’t-want-to-be-the-woman-with-the-daughter-who-is-scared-of-every-little-thing kind of talk, which in all actuality just sounded angry and loud. I was so ridiculous (Have any of you noticed a theme here?), at one point, I walked to the far side of the pool and swatted the bugs away, looked across and said, ‘Okay. Now swim over here and get your squirt gun!’ My babe looks at me and says, ‘That just makes me more sad!’ And I say back, ‘Well, it just makes me more frustrated!’ She’s crying on the ladder, I’m huffy… I step away for a minute, walk back around to her, hold onto her at the edge and give her a kind pep talk. … The pep talk I should have given her from the very beginning. I told her how brave and full of courage she is. I told her she could do it, and that I didn’t want her to be scared of getting an owie when we know she will get better in a little bit. I told her I know she is a brave girl and strong. I told her I love her. And I told her I hoped she wouldn’t end up holding onto the ladder for the rest of the summer, because that wouldn’t be any fun at all. And do you know? She did it. Then, for the rest of the time in the pool, she would call to me and tell me how brave she is and strong. And it made me so happy and proud of her (and so irritated with myself that I took such a long way round to a solution).
So. What were the things I had power to change in that situation? … Primarily, and obviously, my reaction to my daughter’s fear and overactive imagination. My focus – caring for her concern before worrying about myself (i.e. the mother whose daughter won’t do something because Bugs). Approaching the situation with gentleness rather than frustration. And starting with gentleness. I definitely without-a-doubt made the situation worse by reacting so harshly at the beginning, which I then had to also mend rather than just giving her support from the beginning. … Gah. (Teeny Rant: I am such an actor, and I react to things so often before I actually think about a moment. A human characteristic I would like to trade-in for a better model… Drr.)
This little event got me thinking about sobriety, because my sobriety can sometimes feel like a 4-year old who is afraid of the idea of the unknown or who has a small understanding of what It is, but does not see or comprehend the scope or the entirety of the thing itself. Being the wonderful re-actor I am, (and I know my posts verify this), I am such a 4-year old. I’m quick to anger, fear, frustration, temper-tantrums, and whining. And so, what can I change? Or what do I do about those moments of quick-reaction?
First, I come here. I show up and write it down. I run off at the fingers (so to say) any- and everything I am thinking or feeling. I sit here in front of you love-ily folks and I temper-tantrum to innocents such as you are. This step alone is humongous. It feels so good to vent. And more so, to vent to someone/someoneS. Thank you for that.*
Next, I usually do something else. If I’m all worried and agonizing about sobriety and the crazy-amount-of-time it is going to last (i.e. Forever), then I put myself into a different situation and just stop thinking about it for awhile. I take a break. I put my energy into a place or activity in which I can make a difference, or accomplish something, and that feels really good. By the time I get back to thinking about Sobriety again, I’m usually over my anxiety and just tuck it away until it’s ready to come back and haunt me s’more.
Another tactic to these moods o’ mine is chocolate. I won’t lie. I have a little container of M&Ms, which I actually (without lying at all – swearsies!) am pretty good about. When I get tense or angry or itchy under my skin, I will reach in and eat them maybe 3-4 at a time. With each little taste, I wait to see if it does the trick. I actually haven’t needed too many, which is great. Yesterday was a ‘big’ day and I ended up eating maybe 20? Not so bad.
Chocolate doesn’t always magically fix the problem, so …. Afternoon naps with my babes is kind of my best, most awesome opportunity to treat myself gently. I have never been a nap person until sobriety. The hubs can fall asleep any and everywhere, and I would make fun of him for it when we were first dating because I just did not get it. Could not fathom why anyone would want to sleep during the day. … But now? It is my saving grace. I think I nap maybe 4 days a week now. (Thankfully I’m a teacher and have the summertime to nap.) And it is the Best. Thing. Ever. I wake-up and I feel like an entirely new person. Yesterday was one example of this. Such a difference!
Lastly, I try to anticipate the yucks coming in a day, and I get up and exercise. I’ve scheduled 30-45 minutes each morning before the hubs has to get out the door to work, which means I’m usually up around 5:50 am (another wonderful reason why the naps have been so successful lately), exercise until about 6:45, then come here and check-in with this beautiful bloggy world. I love the endorphins of exercising right away in my day. I love being outside (still working on Couch to 5K running program… made it to Week 6!), and I love the alone time I get. In my first couple of weeks, I listened every day to The Bubble Hour, but now I am back to my own personal favorite – This American Life. When I’m done, I walk into the house and know that I have already exercised for the day. Such a good feeling! And, hopefully, the moving and sweating is good for the rest of the day and will keep the crazy-monsters from showing up in my body for the rest of the day. … Doesn’t always work, but the first few hours are usually pretty good. Ha.
Okay, I lied. I’m not quite done. LastlyLastly, in my Sobriety, I have changed how I treat myself. That gentle voice I used with my daughter yesterday, is also how I am trying to talk to myself. As an awesome perfectionist and prover-to-the-world-that-I-am-the-most-super-human-of-super-human-beings-alive, my inner voice is pretty judgy-judgerson, i.e. fucking Mean, most of the time. I’m not good enough, or creative enough, or nice enough, or thoughtful enough, or…. Enough in any way, shape, or form. But that’s not true. And I know it’s not true, but the voice still shows up. A lot. … So, in sobriety? I have decided to be gentle with myself. I have lowered my expectations. Stuff doesn’t get done in a timely fashion. For example? The dishwasher has needed to be run for the past three days. Okay. Not beating myself up over it. I will get to it. Probably today. No big whoop. Not the end of the world. … Another example is that my cranky-butt-self tends to take itself out on my poor, supportive hubs. If we have a skirmish (of my own making), then I walk away and feel bad, but I don’t dwell on it. After a few minutes, or an hour, I tell him I am sorry, and I also own the crap-feeling that was going on in my body that made me lash out. Granted, it isn’t the best way to navigate every day – particularly for him and his well-being – but there’s honesty there. And it’s a little sticky and muddy right now and definitely not perfect, and that’s okay.
Wow. At the beginning of this, my thought was, ‘What the F am I going to write about today?!’ And now? I can’t seem to shut-up. … I’m done! I swear. … Ha. I swear a lot. Alright. So, soberitos, go out there and conquer! … But use soft voices. And be gentle. … Conquer Gently, friends. Ha. Yep, that’s the way.
Day 36, my weapon of choice is a soft, fluffy pillow…