This is all going to come out as a big emotional whoosh and with these kids running about I don’t really have time to go back and edit it into submission so we’re just going to roll with it. Mmmkay?
I haven’t yelled in a week.
Andrew and I talked to Christine last week and the next day all was different. I think she brainwashed me via computer chat. (And I like it.) I again, highly recommend her and your spouse and having a session with her together. Your individual mileage with Christine may vary.
There have been a few loud moments, but that’s kinda par for the course of having three small loud children. I’ve raised my voice above them a few times, but it hasn’t been yelling at anyone. It’s been attention-gathering and then I’ve lowered my voice again. My self-control has been vast, although there have been a few times that my grip on it has been tenuous. I need a more succinct way of saying this so I don’t have to use disclaimers. How about this?
I have not externally freaked out at any child in a week and this is despite the fact that my daughter thinks my calmness is heaping burning coals on her head and is trying her best to get me to lose control.
No crazy eyes, no shouting, no scary mommy face, no rough “helping” a child get to the place that I want them to be/stay, no threatening, no aggression.
For two years those things have been happening and I’ve been drowning in guilt, shame, and self-loathing. I did not do those before we had a traumatized child in our home and it was certainly counterproductive to start them after we brought one into the family! I knew that, but all the knowledge in the world wasn’t enough to combat the stress. Two years ago I started slipping down that slope until I hit the bottom and found myself under water. I feel like my head is finally out from under that water and I am sucking in great gulps of fresh air like, well, a drowning woman.
You can congratulate me if you want to or tell me that you’re proud of me, if you want to. But please, don’t tell me that I’m an inspiration or your hero. I don’t deserve those words.
I don’t know how I stopped yelling. I didn’t “do” something or come up with some grand plan to stop acting like a maniac. I just stopped. It just happened. I might have gotten sucked up by a whirling vortex and dropped in No Yelling Land for all I know. Telling me I’m so great would be like Alfie Kohn’s example of parents who praise a child for “great sliding!” The child has no choice. They are acted on by gravity. That’s how I feel. I didn’t do anything. I’ve been acted upon by anti-yelling gravity.
I know this is what has happened because frankly, it’s been (kinda) easy. I really hesitate to say that, but overall, this has not been as hard as it should have been, not as hard as anything I’ve tried before and this happened without any grand declaration from me. The first few days were the worst, it was hard then almost the entire time, but after that it’s felt more like, “Oh, this is what we do now.” Most of the struggle is knowing what to do in response and not the not-yelling part. It is still hard and my adrenalines ratchets way up in that moment when I see the gauntlet laced with landmines being thrown down at my feet by my curly-haired girl, but I feel somehow more able to response-able than before. I have this sudden mysterious ability to stop,
drop, and roll, think and respond instead of reacting. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I’m just sucking in the newly non-toxic air in our house.
I’m remembering the me I used to be. My husband and I are talking and laughing more. We are on the same page. My boys are more peaceful, are happier, are dealing with their sister’s struggles more easily. My daughter is still going bonkers, but in those moments that she’s calm (yesterday was our best day yet despite two hair-pulling incidents…her to me) her calm is deeper. I’m getting out of bed when I want to for the first time in more than two years. It seems possible to get the daily household jobs done instead of just something to write off. My quiet times are happening every morning. I see possibilities and potential again. I feel better. I can breath. (I’m also eating ice cream for lunch every day as a stress-relieving tool, leaning heavily on some friends, and dreaming about Karyn Purvis… just to be fully honest here.)
(This is my shocky post, but I have one rolling around my heart that is much more about the Creator of the calm because I seriously feel like I could have written the book of Psalms over the last two years.) I feel like we are putting down roots in this place. I want this calm to last longer so the roots can spread out and thicken against winds that will surely come again. I’m amazed. I’m grateful. I’m humbled. I’m doing a lot of praising. I’m breathing deeply because I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect not to get swept under ever again, but for now, I’m filling my lungs and life with the goodness of inner peace.