Have you ever had an experience where you wanted to control the situation or person? You know the feeling, the frustration! Blood boiling, heart racing… What are you thinking? Why are you doing this to me?!
My husband and I have been studying Codependent No More by Melody Beattie for about a year now. Codependence, very simply put, is the desire to control a situation/outcome or person. Everyone is a little codependent and that’s not inherently bad, it stems from a good place. However, like many things, it’s when we fall to an extreme that things go south. It’s a big idea and I can’t do it justice here, I mean there are books on the subject.
A big sign you are in dangerous codependent waters is when you feel like someone is making you crazy. What do you do? Do you let them have it? Do you broadcast your anger to any ear that will listen? The recovering codependent, (Hi, my name is Jessie), would tell you to detach, let go. Feel your feelings, and then let them go. You don’t have to ruminate, you don’t have to re-live, you can let it go.
But that’s hard, and it’s really hard when you’re angry. And it’s close to impossible when you’re fuming and you’re baby is screaming on the top of her lungs because someone destroyed her nap. It’s in that moment though that you need to detach the very most!
A Sabotaged Nap
I was teaching a class to a group of very patient teenagers whilst my baby was in desperate need for some zzz’s. Now these teenagers were angels. Each took turns snuggling my baby, and the class turned out great. It was a tender mercy for me. With a sigh of relief, I grabbed the car seat, with my now sleeping baby, and left the class at its conclusion.
As I walked out in the hallway an excited youth rushed me and threw her head in the car seat yelling “I WANT TO SNUGGLE YOUR BABY.”
A bajillion illegal thoughts and emotions boiled through my blood before my daughter even screamed. I was on the verge of hot angry tears as I rushed out of there to avoid yelling (or doing) awful things.
I grabbed my husband and immediately dumped. He hugged me, then he looked at me and said “It’s done, there’s nothing you can do about it. You need to detach.”
It’s a lot easier to read about detaching and dealing with it in the abstract. But in real life? This was crazy in the making. Everything in me wanted to grab that girl and lecture her to high heaven. I wanted to fast forward to her first hard day out with a baby and wake them and see how she liked it (not my most angelic of desires).
I sat in the car after I buckled up all my littles, and thought, I need to detach. My heart felt I needed to. But how the heck do I do it? The emotions in me are so big right now, how do I just make them disappear?
I truly believe healing is in us, our hearts know how to find healing. We need to be in touch with that extremely self-honest space. For me, that’s where my connection with God is. There are answers for us inside when we ask ourselves the right questions and when we are honest about how things affect us. So I looked to that place, and what I got was to take three breaths, as slow and as long as I needed them, and feel everything I was feeling. At the end of those breaths I had to let go. It would be over, no re-living, no mental play-by-play, just gone.
I was skeptical, but why not. I took my first inhale and I articulated my hurt. This was helpful, having only a few breaths made me narrow what really made the predicament awful, rather than horrible-izing it further.
I had expected a break once the baby was down, and I had expected that this youth would leave the baby alone.
I was mad, it took so long to get the baby down and when she finally got down she slept maybe 10 minutes. That was the last nap of the day and she was likely to be fussy until bed.
I felt invaded. I wasn’t close to this girl, and she shoved herself in my space and in my baby’s space.
It was inconsiderate. She didn’t stop to see if her actions would be appropriate for the situation, she just hurtled herself into the car seat.
There wasn’t much room for more thoughts and feelings by the time the third breath ended. But what about all the other feelings? They weren’t priority during the breaths, so were they that important? I decided they weren’t. And I let it go. This wasn’t burying feelings, this was feeling them, processing them, and detaching. I wasn’t inviting my hurt or resentment to set up shop and stick around.
The peace was tangible. This incident was only moments before and the feelings were red hot. Now, there was still. And that’s when insight came. I remembered more about this girl, and I felt compassion for her. It didn’t make her behavior appropriate, and if it happened again I would take action. I don’t think it would be acceptable for me to act in that moment of anger unless my safety or the safety of another was in immediate danger. Anything done in that emotional space would be reactionary and would likely lead to resentment and hurt. Real correction rarely grows from a place of perceived hostility.
This is by no means a cure all or a “one trick doctors hate!” miracle strategy. It is an example, however small and ordinary, that you can be intentional and even detach in the moments where your emotions are super charged. Life needs less angry rants and lashings out and more time stepping back and taking deep breaths. That being said things didn’t magically change and we’re now perfect little robots. I still lose my temper and my kids make me want to pull my hair out. But I am taking breaths more, and trying to make it a habit and I’m already seeing the difference. Try it, you might like it.