Who Would You Be Without Your Story? Dialogues with Byron Katie, Edited by Carol Williams, 2008: "If there's someone who makes your blood boil, thank him. He's showing you what you need to know to become a kinder person. He's doing the best he can, and so are you."
Those are the words that Byron Katie opens her new book with. It is the perfect way to start my story of the recent two day trip that my husband Daniel and I went on last week. I am not writing about the trip. I am writing to share with you what I learned about myself.
Daniel is an adventurer. He swears he has Daniel Boone somewhere in his ancestry. He doesn't. He just wishes he did. He just shares the adventurous spirit and the same first name. When you go on any trip with Daniel expect to be tired when you get home. When I was younger, I recuperated much quicker than I do today. He puts as many activities and miles as he can possibly squeeze into each day.
On our recent trip, we went to Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Van Buren, and Bentonville in northwestern Arkansas and from Bentonville headed northeast to Springfield, Missouri. We spent the night in Springfield so we could tour the Wilson Creek Battlefield and National Park to do research on the Civil War battle that took place there on August 10, 1861. It was the second major battle of the Civil War. Daniel had some ancestors that fought there. Because of his hobbies of genealogy and Civil War reenacting, Daniel has become a little bit of a Civil War historian. This was research for a book that Daniel is writing about one of his great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier from Arkansas.
When Daniel asked if I wanted to go with him on this two day trip, I told him that I would go only on the condition that I could be home to watch the TV show Ghost Whisperer at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night. He said we would be. We were home at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening but only because I threw a tantrum and held him to his word.
Here is what I learned about myself: I still want what I want when I want it. I can be unbending and unforgiving when I don't get what I want. I can still rant and rave to get my way. I can feel guilty about my behavior afterwards. I do know how to apologize even when Daniel and I both know it probably won't be the last time that I will go off on him.
When I saw and heard what I was saying, that is when the ability to change came about. I can only change what I am aware of.
I still don't like that part of myself that can throw a temper tantrum when she doesn't get her way. I also no longer beat myself up for the behaviour. I need to be able to bend more and at the same time not be a doormat to others. I also don't need to treat others as my doormat. I don't have the right to treat others that way. I do have the right to stand up for myself. I can also do that standing up for myself with patience and kindness for myself and for the other person. I don't have to beat the other person up with my anger and words. It is ok to be angry without acting on that anger.
I can acknowledge that, yes, I lost my temper again. I can look at the reasons for losing my temper. How can I change that part of me or at least change how that part of me reacts to stress and anger?
Why did I lost my temper this time? I felt disappointed at the possibility of missing Ghost Whisperer. I felt disappointed that Daniel wasn't going to keep his word. I felt that he thought his time was worth more than mine. I felt devalued as a person and partner in our marriage.
What childhood pattern did this come from? My parents would say they were going to do something and then they wouldn't do it. I never had a say so of any kind in decisions made about me during my childhood. Younger children don't need this as much as an older child does. Decision making is how we learn to make decisions while having the safety net of parents to tell us that those decisions are appropriate or not. If you aren't taught decision making, you don't learn that decisions have responsibility and consequences. Chaos reigned in our household. Nobody was dependable. Nobody's word meant anything. They never did what they said they would. They yelled and screamed when they got angry, which was often. As a child, I felt that I had no value as an individual. Everybody else had more value than I did.
What did I find out about myself on this trip? I still sometimes react like the child living that childhood. Do I have to continue doing it? No. Will this behavior of mine stop immediately since I am now aware? Probably not. Why? Because I am not the perfectionist that I once was. Each time I become aware of it quicker until finally I will stop this particular behavior. Writing about it helps to reenforce the awareness. Do you still have some behaviors from childhood that you struggle with? How can you become more aware?