There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, that I reacted to the storms of life like a 3-year-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store after not getting the candy. We’ve all witnessed a scene like this and thought, “oh, that poor child.” It causes quite a commotion and affects all the people around, especially the parent.
So, ahem, yep, that was me. And it still is IF I forget to pause.
I’m going to shed some light on a part of me that ain’t so cute. I put myself out there like this, for all of you to see, when I feel like I’ve had victory in a particular area of my life. When I’ve made progress, I feel equipped to share about how I did it. I’ve walked through divorce, breakups, abuse, assault, alcohol addiction, surgeries, body image issues, financial bankruptcy, loss of pets, and the death of a parent. I’ve been through some of the big ones. These storms in my life enable me to understand and empathize with someone else going through the same thing. I can relate to those people on a different level, and for me, that’s the gift of adversity.
Even though I’ve been through some situations that gutted me, I can still react to small things with an insane lack of grace. I’m not perfect, but I’ve come a long way compared to my throwing-a-fit-in-the-market days.
Eight and a half months ago I took some necessary steps to clean up my life. I detoxed substances and relationships and behaviors that were dragging me down, holding me back, and blocking me from the life of my dreams. This post is about one behavior in particular that was so hard for me to let go of.
Like I said, it wasn’t cute. When I was faced with a situation I didn’t like, my first line of defense was to freak out. It was a full on hot mess meltdown, except I wasn’t three, I was a grownup. Freaking out attracted the attention of those around me. I got noticed, recognized, pitied, validated … loved. I wanted you to think, “oh that poor child.” I didn’t have the tools to carry myself through storms in a healthy way, so I relied on other people to do it for me when, well, that wasn’t their job. I acted out because looking outside myself for love was the only place I thought I’d find it.
We all know what happens to a house built on sand when a storm comes through.
I’d get knocked down and re-build on sand. It was only a matter of time until I’d get blown over again. Eventually it occurred to me to re-build my house on a more solid foundation.
Re-building took a really long time. I don’t think it will ever be complete because the foundation will always need reinforcement.
Today, I can gratefully say that for the most part, the little storms don’t take me out. I’ve learned how to pause and respond. What’s more is that my storms don’t take out all the innocent bystanders around me like they used to. Sorry about that btw :)
It isn’t a question of IF life will send me another blow, it’s a question of when. That’s life. All of this has been preparation for it. I’m not embarrassed by my past behavior if it means I can use it to do good.
Maybe someone reading this is exhausted from building and building and building, over and over and over, only to have the smallest gust of wind take you out again. I know I was.
But if I can find solid ground, then you can too.