Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hard Stop

Damn you brain!  I remember hearing a quote that we only use a small portion of our brain.  Well, my small portion is full and I'm interested in up-sizing.  It's not like I have really useful information in it anyway, unless you consider Bret Michaels birthday useful, which it would be if I would have been chosen as his Rock of Love. I really need to clean house. Much like when I'm looking for something in my own house, say my favorite wine opener, I can never find it. I can only find the one I was given when I was a waitress at P. F. Chang's. So every time I want to open a bottle of wine I am reminded of how I spilled an entire drink on a blind man.  He didn't see it coming, but his partner did, and so did my manager who made me pay for his dry cleaning.
I should really just get rid of it, but for whatever reason I keep it around just in case I may need it. If I exercised any amount of patience I would discover that the good wine opener is pushed towards the back of the drawer, but in my haste I grab the crappy one.  The same thing happens with my thoughts.  Someone may have complimented me on a dress I am wearing, but by the time I make it to the ladies room their kind words have been archived and the ones closest to my reflection, are those of someone asking when I was due, a year after giving birth.  For whatever reason, my mind feels more comfortable in the hurtful thoughts.
Recently, we have agreed that our three year old needs to spend more time outside.   This is a really touchy subject for Don and me.   We don't have a large backyard and our front yard has a sidewalk and seems to be the place the boys covet as the best play spot.  So last Sunday we let him. Don was supervising and it appeared to be all good.   I trust my husband but I was watching through our front window as I folded the eternal pile of clean laundry.   I don't trust my newly three year old.  He fears nothing (except his own bed) and recently refuses to wear pants.
I watched as he approached the street and without a beat, crossed it. The entire time Don was exercising the belief that Oscar would stop. Well, he didn't.  He just walked right across.
Thankfully there were no cars anywhere in sight, but that didn't stop me from a full out Jackie Joyner-Kersee sprint even leaping from our front stairs and possibly over Don meeting Oscar on the other side of the street.  I probably had a higher chance of getting hit by a car than he did.
When I scooped him up I told him "no"and marched him back home passing Don with a look that could kill.
This is where I need to implement a [hard stop] policy.  Thoughts that are stored way back in my hard drive occupying quality space surface out of nowhere.  I think about images, and experiences I have had first hand regarding children getting hit by cars. Some didn't survive.  Are these thoughts helpful to me? No. So what I have been trying to do is to implement a hard stop of my continuously streaming thoughts and redirecting it to gratitude.   Before I visited gratitude, I have to admit I took a pitstop at blame.  That look I mentioned earlier that I directed toward Don now had words attached to it.  People may be surprised to learn that I am a wordsmith when it comes to attacking the people I love most.  If you have been on the receiving end of my wrath, and you are reading this, I apologize and am thankful you still love me enough to know that all the things I was saying to you are truly directed at myself.
Don is by no means tolerant, but by now he assumes the role of a sponge and just absorbs a flood of emotions directed at him. Knowing it is just a matter of time before I squeeze him and ask forgiveness. This time was different though. In my selfish worry I neglected to remember that when his brother was  five he was hit by a car and almost died.  I don't need to remind him of what could happen because he has witnessed it first hand with someone he loved. I didn't need to make him feel bad, he still blames himself and was already feeling worse than I could even imagine.
Another example of where a hard stop would have come in handy. I just want to duct tape my mouth shut sometimes.  Actually this hard stop thing may work the next time any sort of alcohol is near me.   In that case,  its not about just stopping my mouth, its stopping my mind too.  If I have any thought that is not going to help me or anyone else out I need to just stop it in its tracks. If I see an attractive man walk by I do not need to indulge in a fantasy about what our life would be like if we were a couple. Seriously, girls do this. Guys see an attractive woman and imagine having sex with them, girls (at least me) think of sitting in our spacious (clean) kitchen watching him make my favorite dinner all while pouring me a glass of wine and telling me how sexy I look in my pajama pants and simultaneously discussing Oprah.... See? There I go again. HARD. STOP. HARD STOP!
All too often, I creep into the easily accessible belief that I'm a shitty mom. Its easier than accepting the truth, that way, if something does go terribly wrong I won't have to far fall from my podium and I don't have to act surprised. After a traumatic parenting FAIL Don and I will hash out what went wrong and whose fault it was. This time, we agreed to just let it go. Everything was fine, Oscar was running around pant-less, the dogs were barking, Jack was drawing something I would misinterpret as a phallic symbol and the others were engrossed in Minecraft.  I appreciated that moment in time when we were all safe, happy and warm under one roof and we had skirted catastrophe yet again, I gave thanks that Don has a heart big enough to love his family so deeply and gave gratitude that I had the PF Chang's wine opener still works after all these years of repeated abuse.
Next time I decide that self-doubt is easier to feel than confidence I am going to dig in my heels and create a dead stop. If I  push aside all the junk I'm sure I will find that what I have is really something I should treasure.

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