Life Happens

I feel like a fraud. Like a failure. Like I’m just pretending to have it all together.

I write quite a bit about emotional intelligence and stability so when I lost it a few times over the past couple of weeks I felt guilty and had a deep sense of shame. I hadn’t realized that the attitude of I ‘have it all together’ had snuck into my mind, my behavior.

Truth is, there are some days when I feel more lost than ever. I question everything I do. I don’t understand why I do the things I do. I don’t know if I should even continue to write this blog because I don’t want to give the false impression that everything in my life is perfect.

Oh, how I hate that word. I can’t tell you how big of a trigger that word is for me. Even now I’m twitching a little. I grew up with a woman who had to have everything ‘perfect’ for appearance’s sake. We were never allowed to acknowledge, even privately, when our world was falling down around our ears. That once, just once, we didn’t have it all together, we weren’t the perfect church family, and we needed to take a day off.

The pressure would build and build until one of us would explode and do irreparable damage to an already broken relationship. Aside from the years of therapy those three years I spent living with my parents and my grandfather shaped me in ways I’m just figuring out now. And when I lose it now I can always trace the cause back to that time in my life.

Part of me wants to forget, wants to put on the rose colored glasses, wants to paint my parents in the light of delusion because then I could be just as clueless about my behavior as just about everyone else. I could become the wrecking ball I used to be – damaging every relationship I have and not caring about the consequences. I could be an emotional time bomb letting loose all my emotions whenever I felt like it. Letting every circumstance carry me over the edge.

Some would call that freedom. I call it hell. I overreacted a few times over the holidays and I’m still embarrassed. I still carry the shame. I know each incident probably wasn’t that big of a deal and I did apologize right away but it was something that if I left unchecked would lead me down a path in which I didn’t want to go.

I don’t want to become that out-of-control, overreacting woman I used to be. I can’t and won’t pretend I have it all together but I also can’t fall into the trap of believing that there isn’t more work to be done. I can’t hide in my house thinking I’m this stoic badass when I lose it at the first interaction with another human.

So even though dealing with these negative emotions has been unpleasant I’m still grateful. It was a great reminder of the work I still need to do. I still need to practice what I preach. I still need to put myself in situations that will challenge me and my beliefs. That will test my decisions. So the next time situations and circumstances come up like the ones that caused me to overreact these past few weeks won’t bother me so much and I can add another layer, another puzzle piece to the life of peace and stability I’m building.

I know I can’t be the only one dealing with this right now. I also know how much of a relief it is to know we’re not alone in our emotional turmoil. We all make mistakes. We all have acted in ways we’re not proud of but instead of just sweeping them away without examining why, we need to consider what our emotional outbursts are doing to those around us. We need to take responsibility and apologize even if we think we were justified in our actions. Because there is always a better way to respond that just letting our emotions loose.

And isn’t that the point? Instead of striving for perfection and not ever making a mistake, striving for building the strength to handle any situation with kindness, grace, and emotional intelligence. Striving for ways to handle any circumstance with peace and joy, knowing that, good or bad, they are only temporary. Instead of having an iron grip on perfecting everything we allow life to happen. We allow for mistakes to happen – and then we learn from them…

And then we learn to treat everyone – ourselves included – with patience and respect.

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