I yelled at my kids this morning.
Okay, I assure you this is not a confessional sort of thing. I'm not feeling guilty or repenting for my parental shortcomings. I yelled at my kids and I feel the need to share because, well, it just felt SO damn good! No, no......I am not a cruel or sadistic type of person, nor am I looking to unload my negativity on others, but if you'll hear me out I can assure there is a point to this.
The details are incidental, so I won't bore you with them, but I do believe it is important to say that I yelled so loudly that both of their jaws dropped and I managed to grip their full and undivided attention for three solid minutes (WOW) and also important is that I walked away from the situation feeling like a bigger person; confident and unquestioning in my course of action.
I have come along way, baby.
Many years ago, I was a "yelling mom". I was a loose cannon, volatile and exhausted, and my precious energy seeped out of my being like air from a knifed tire. Back in those days my kids were jerks. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh......actually, no that's about right. Back in those days I frequently felt under attack and victimized. I often felt that my kids were inconsiderate, irresponsible, demanding and put on this earth to make my life difficult. I think it even went a little further than that....it felt more like they were predators and I was prey. Sometimes they sucked the life right out of me. Literally.
I'm sorry if this is offensive. I might be exaggerating a wee bit, just for the sake of making my point, but please don't give up on me. You'll be impressed by how things changed.
It's fair to say that we were in a mess. Here I was in my twenties, but feeling sixty, and wondering how the hell I was going to survive another 10-15 years with these assholes living under my roof. Sometimes it seemed like a pretty sorry situation.
But then something happened.
I became plagued with parental guilt. This was really NOT the person I was, nor the parent I wanted to be. I attempted to will it away. My resolve was strong and I decided that I had to change. Rather than yell at my kids I would suck it up and do the "right" thing. I became sweeter, quieter and more passive. This was much more like my pre-kids self. The problem was that I couldn't really discipline them the way I felt was truly best, because every time I tried it would end up in a power struggle and a yelling match again. This was exactly what I was trying to avoid. My only option, it seemed, was to be that super "nice", non-disciplinarian parent with hellion kids running all over the place, stomping all over people and disregarding all of the rules (you know, THAT parent). Not ideal, but at least I seemed like less of a psychopath.
Now it was just my kids that seemed like psychopaths.
Clearly the "either-or" approach was just not a satisfying solution to my situation. Luckily there is always a third option. It just took awhile for me to see it because it was right in my blind spot.
Now to get to the good part. The reconciliation. This is what has allowed me to look back this morning on just how far I've come. The third option I speak of really sort of sat in another dimension altogether....a secret place that was safely tucked away from externals and the influence of other people. This dimension became available to me only when I began to change my perspective on some things.
This morning I yelled. Guiltlessly. Confidently. Effectively. Not for a minute did I think, "Ummmmm.....am I approaching this the right way?" or "Ugggggh......I really messed that up." This morning I yelled to add to the gravity of a situation and to get my kid's full and undivided attention because they were totally out of line. Five years ago I would yell frequently and nobody would even hear me. Nobody would even flinch. These days I rarely yell, but when I do the Earth stops spinning, the birds stop chirping and all of time halts for a moment. This is not because I am louder or scarier than before, no, it's because the energy behind it is focused and very powerfully directed. Where before, the energy behind the yelling used to be reactionary and defensive and explode outwards to scatter in a million directions, weak at it's point of arrival, now it is laser sharp with power and intent.
So how did this change come about?
Well, it didn't happen quickly and certainly not without some struggle and some major soul searching, but I experienced a massive shift. I see the world differently these days and a lot has changed. Narrowing down the most important changes in perspective that have affected my parenting in particular, I have come up with 5:
1. I take nothing personally - I am the center of my own Universe, just as everyone else is the center of theirs. What others say and do is always fundamentally about them, not about me. And vice versa. My kids are not acting miserably to spite me....they are acting miserable because that is how they feel.
2. I am no longer a victim. Nobody is doing anything to me or taking anything away from me......unless I allow it. If I want to get sucked into someone else's drama then so be it, maybe it's serving me somehow, but that is a choice I make. This is like growing wings that can carry me above a situation, where I can actually see it for what it is rather than from stuck within it.
3. I see that on some level I have attracted, and am therefor responsible for everything that happens or doesn't happen in my life. I do not always know what's best for me........but I trust that I always get exactly what I need - including the hot-wheels thrown at, and embedded into the LCD screen of my TV.
(Hey, I said, "on some level")
4. I no longer expect anything. From anyone. Period. But I appreciate acts kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness and praise, and reward those behaviours in my children.
5. Last, but definitely not least, I have learned how to give to myself. Whatever it may be, I will find a way to take the time, create the space or come as close as reasonably possible to fulfill that need. How can I be helpful, loving, compassionate and productive when my own tank is empty? And it's always when things get really bad that we most need to step away for a refill. It seems contradictory and even selfish at first, but taking care of ourselves couldn't be more essential in contributing to the wellbeing of others.
It's likely that I've missed something here, but the bottom line is that I'm feeling healthy. Like a closed circuit. It seems that I am now provided with an uninterrupted, endless path for the flow of current. There is very little seepage these days and I can (and do) choose when to open up and allow spurts of my energy outwards with the most powerful intention. I send the energy outwards, but can also accept it back again from others without feeling at risk. But I have also become discerning - I accept what is given freely with love, and have become very adept at protecting my energy when dealing with the rest.
This is good. Really, really good.
Undergoing this shift myself, I see potential for this world that once seemed impossible. I see that relationship is truly our most valuable gift. Certainly it is not always easy, but why should it be? Sometimes the best practice is right inside of those situations that are most difficult to bear. The truth is, whatever it is that we believe is being taken from us......our energy, our peace, our sanity.......these things do not really come from others, nor can they be taken away from us. At least not without our permission. Our state of mind is always a bi-product of our perception. It comes from us entirely. This means that we are always in charge even though sometimes it may feel like we're not!
I became most open, loving (and powerful!) when I stopped believing that I had something to protect; that somebody could take away my peace.
All I had to do was change my mind.