Today is one of those days where I got twisted up about something a family member said to me. It was an inflammatory remark, intended to cause a reaction. I’m sure the one who made it is super pleased with himself because I did, in fact, react. I was in a twist about his comment, and then I was in a twist about being in a twist!
So I spent about an hour feeling all the feelings (read: anxiety) about the situation. I called my husband, who is the cool-headed one in our relationship, but he got angry about the remark, too. So that didn’t help. I had plans for the day that included lunch with a friend and possibly a visit to one of my daughters, but suddenly I didn’t want to do any of it. I just wanted to marinate in my emotions, watch Netflix, and twist my hair.
I mean, I know better. The method of operation hasn't changed. This person has been hurting me for as long as I can remember and after a lot of deep digging with a fantastic counselor, I now recognize his scheme and have a few strategies for not getting bent out of shape. I have come such a long way, and I’m nowhere near the easy target I once was.
I searched my memory bank for all of the lessons I have learned about dealing with this type of thing and came up empty. For that hour only. Then, something clicked. I remembered a few crucial things.
• That person’s behavior is not a reflection of mine.
• That person is mentally unbalanced.
• That person doesn’t want to understand; he just wanted to lob his grenade at me and watch the explosion.
• I can do hard things.
• I am allowed to be upset.
• I am okay because I have healthy boundaries.
A friend once told me that it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who is unhealthy. This family member acted within his character, so I’m not surprised. Just because I'm working to have healthy relationships doesn't mean he is.
What frustrated me was that I felt like I knew better and that my reaction was somehow a setback. The essential truth here is that even if you have healthy boundaries and great wisdom, pain still hurts. I expected that because I knew better, I would somehow be impenetrable, like Wonder Woman or something. Instead, I am tender, sensitive, and vulnerable just as I have been all my life. Just the way God created me.
What’s different now that I am learning to love and respect myself is that my recovery time from such wounds is a lot shorter. There was a time when an interaction like this would have left me undone, ugly crying, and stewing about it for days. That wasn't good for me or my husband and kids. Learning to put perspective on attacks like these, from people I can’t avoid, is like aloe to the soul. I heal faster and better than before.
If you are someone who has a family member, or just someone in your life, that has too much control over your emotions, don’t despair. The solution isn’t to change that person, change yourself, or accept your lot in life. The real secret of success is learning to love yourself and remember that 98% of the time, the situation you are upset about isn’t really about you anyway.
I have been walking this road for a long time, and I would love to connect with you if any part of this story resembles a struggle you have with someone or something. Please leave me a comment and let’s keep the conversation going!