Question: “Do you ever still lose it?”
Umm, yeah. End of post. (J/K)
So, I had a phone altercation recently that wasn’t pretty. As in, I scared my dog. Again. The good news is that I have had my dog for a year now, and I have only scared my dog by raising my voice on the phone with this one person three times. In a year. That’s huge for me, seeing as I used to yell, like, several times a day, I’m ashamed to admit.
Mid-way through the conversation, we decided to get off the phone so one of us could gather some information and then we were going to get right back into it. And I called a friend quickly to ask her a question and I’m rattling everything off breathlessly and she said to me, “You don’t even sound like you.”
I wrote my mentor the next morning:
“She was right. I had reverted. I don’t fully know how to explain it other than I become sick to my stomach when I have to talk to him about anything (which thankfully is not all that often anymore, but still); I become flustered; I lack common sense; I become weak and vulnerable and apologetic (even when I haven’t done anything wrong) and very easily bullied and very easily agitated and prone to raising my voice. I cannot stand who I am when I am talking with him. Keep in mind, this was me prayed up before calling! It’s so very sad and it has got to stop.”
When I talk to him, I am not me. It’s as if some very weak version of me takes over and any strength I have built up over the past year or so flies out the window.
So, here’s what I did to combat that, because I have finally gotten sick enough of that feeling to attempt to do something about it.
I asked a few friends for prayer. There is a hold that must be broken and I believe prayer can break it. And because these sweet girls love me, I know they don’t want to see me continue in this pattern of pain.
I journaled. I identified the three circumstances when I feel this anger rise up in me and take over. One, anything that has to do with the safety of my children. But that’s more fear-based and I’m getting better at giving them over to the care of Jesus. Two, when I’m falsely accused. I hate this but I also remember the source, and I am more quick to replace lies with truth. And three, when I feel like he holds all the cards. BINGO. When I am in a position to have to ask for something that he can say no to, I’m a wreck. I’m guessing because it plunges me back to all of those years when that was my entire life.
I made a plan. There’s not a lot I can do about the safety of my children when they’re not in my home, but I can educate them and pray for them, and I do. And I can’t do anything about being called names or having lies about me told to me or told to someone else, but I can choose to ask God to protect my reputation and remind me of what’s true and how he sees me. But I canattempt to work it so there are less frequent instances when I’m at his mercy, and I am working on that. I’m also reminding myself to say, even outloud, “What is the worst that can happen if he says no?” The worst is usually not all that bad. It can be hard to remember in the moment, but I’m ready to try for next time.
The truth is…I may never become fully healed from this. This may always be my Achilles’ heel. I may always have anger rise up in me when having to interact with this person. Decades of behavior don’t change overnight. So I’m showing myself grace. I’m apologizing to my kids. And to my dog. And to Jesus. And I’m asking for help and strength for the next time, because Lord knows there will be a next time. God is making all things new, for sure, but it will take some time. Rest in that.
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.
Thank you Elisabeth. Folks need to hear that change is possible AND that it takes time. We all wish one prayer or one time of confession will do it. Much grace.
Thank you, Dorothy!
“It’s as if some very weak version of me takes over.”
Wow, that really made me think. When I have to have “those” conversations, even when I try to be strong, I feel like a weak person pretending to be strong. I wonder if this will ever change.