Lashing Out

Geez is anyone still interested in this blog? It’s not like I have been. Facebook is easier. But for some things, I need more space.

I just related on Facebook that my oldest daughter Maddie, made 2 Christmas lists tonight. One “For Maddie” the other “For Poor People”, as they were titled. She thought we could tell the community what poor people want so people could help. I received comments saying we’re doing such a great job parenting and what a great girl we have. Yet 10 minutes after that experience, I was once again yelling at her for defying me. Ignoring me as I’m talking to her. Not responding to questions. Just a blank stare. Yes it is true that out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. (James 3:10)

That just weighed on my mind. I do have great kids but sometimes they take advantage of my inconsistency. While I’m in the midst of justifying our rules, considering compromise and becoming more frustrated, a thought(or a voice) blazes through my mind. “Why are you letting them do this to you?! You’re the parent. Get this situation under control!” At which point all the anger from those 3 phrases comes blasting out of my mouth. Its like touching a bruise. Or a memory. I’m sure I’ve felt this way before.

I hung on to this feeling for awhile to track it down. I wanted to find where it was coming from. An exercise I learned in psychotherapy a few years ago came to mind. When I would get these deeply painful emotions, my therapist would have me stop and think about the last time I felt the same emotion, and the time before that and so on until I couldn’t think of anymore. So, I tried the technique tonight. I journaled through incidents of my life where I’d been taken advantage of–a victim. There have been several. Some horrible, some not. The more I wrote, the more I felt. What did I believe about myself then? Powerless. Alone. Confused. Defenseless. And the more I felt, the more I wrote the truth of each incident. I stopped making excuses. Yes, I was the victim. Yes, I was wronged. No, I was not protected. No, there was no justice. No, there was no advocate. Boy was I getting pissed. And it felt great.

Here is the last portion of my journal:

So often the victim. Trained into it. Didn’t know I didn’t have to be. If I continue to live in the fear of fighting for myself or coming face to face with anger, opinion, contention, simple disagreement, then I run the risk of inviting my children into victim hell. They must stand up for themselves. Express themselves. Express their opinion even if it is solitary and misunderstood. They must speak out. They have a voice. They must be heard. They must not be afraid to sound silly or stupid or wrong. And may God Almighty be their amplifier and their guard.

The result of this exercise for me is that the memories don’t sting as much. Some I chalk up to learning a lesson. Others are mysteries and I will have to accept that for now I suppose. Hopefully, the next time the kids are playing me, I can respond as their parent, not their peer.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I could cry reading this, especially the first part which I totally and completely relate to. Thanks for writing that, and now I need to get my butt off the computer and go to work.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Tammy on November 9, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Very well said, Joni. I know I find myself in similar parenting moments. I’ve been trying to remember that when the kids are lashing out, it is their way of expressing themselves. A big part of my job is to help them understand how to do that in a more respectful way. But I don’t want to silence them so that they don’t learn how to continue to express themselves. It’s always a fine balancing act. Love your posts!

    Reply

  3. Love this, Joni!! Very insigthful, and something that I need to learn and remember!

    Reply

  4. it’s been a while (since I’ve been here) this one really, really speaks to me. I need to use that exercise myself. powerful insights Joni. thanks for taking the time to put it on your blog. DM

    Reply

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