Hey Daily Feelers,
It’s Saturday night before my blog airs and I’m realizing I’ve seriously procrastinated on this month’s entry. I’ve known the topic I wanted to talk about all week but I didn’t have a clue what I actually wanted to say about it. It was personal but all I could think about. Then today, my therapist called for our weekly call and we chatted it through. Now I think I’ve got it.
My family’s quarantine began before LA got the official stay at home orders. It was beginning of March. My kids had different ailments that week. One had poison ivy really bad for the first time that just kept spreading. The other had a serious stomach bug. It spread through all of us. It lasted about a day. But the kids missed a lot of school. Ironically, by the time they were all well again, the schools were shut down. Long story short, we’ve been isolated for a while. It’s getting to each of us in some ways.
Disclaimer: I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “short-fused”. Well, I’ve been known to have a very long fuse. This is fact. I’m not one for confrontation. I will take on more than I should to 1) ensure it’s done and 2). make everyone happy. It’s not a good thing. I know. I do have a breaking point like everyone else. But usually, I can take some tough stuff and still smile afterward. It’s part of my charm or so I thought.
Now ironically at 36, I’ve noticed my long fuse isn’t what it used to be, especially since Covid-19 decided to lockdown Earth for all of 2020. Gradually, but very clearly, it’s been shortening. Now, it’s possibly non-existent when it comes to a few particular situations. I have a feeling I am not alone here. I’m sure someone else out there is also truly over it all from time to time and could care less if your 6yr old hates you because you forgot her zoom read aloud with her awesome teacher she misses way more than you do. (Not true. I miss her. Dearly.)
To be clear, I didn’t really like this shift in my demeanor. Snappy. Effected by small things. Edgy. It was embarrassing at first. I was always quickly following up with “I’m sorry I’m snappy.” But as time went on, I found myself running into similar scenarios in several of my social interactions. I started calling it the “Foot in Mouth” syndrome.
So, that’s where the blog title came from for this month. I wanted to critically think about my behavior in relation to my new found “short fuse” and why it was happening so much these days.
I saved this “study” for my therapy session. I knew my therapist would have a field day with this topic for some reason and as I suspected, he was highly intuitive and left me with a refreshing new perspective.
Here’s our Cliff Notes version:
I explained to him my epiphany; this crazy phenomenon that keeps happening where I raise my voice and snap at people when they do things that really just make me feel unappreciated or disrespected. That’s not me. I usually comply, try to resolve, or just do it myself to avoid the drama. But now? It’s like I can’t stop myself from saying just how disappointed I am when someone is inconsiderate.
So what would happen when this said “explosion” occurs? said my therapist. I told him I was overwhelmed with frustration. The audacity had hit a new nerve and I just had HAD it. I didn’t want my kids to talk back to me anymore so I snapped “no you cannot” after the 4th “no son, not right now.” I took all the devices away and demanded they respect me or they can’t have them back. Opposed to my usual self, where I took them away but gave them ample opportunities to earn them back. Nope, not this time. 🤷🏻♀️ I don’t care. No until I change my mind.
Or another time, I voiced my concerns about the way a certain situation was handled that felt unfair and mismanaged. Only issue this time was that my “venting” text went to the wrong person. And well, it got awkward for a bit. Let’s just say that. I wasn’t wrong in my testimonies of injustice, I just was venting to the wrong person. That moment was just plain comical.
Every way I turned I seemed to be butting heads with people I usually would bend over backward for in a heartbeat. Now, meh I didn’t care. It felt uncomfortable, but Im no longer willing to just roll with some of the extreme asks presented to me. It felt too much, from too many angles, with worn out pieces….like too many puzzles all needing to be built at the same time…by me. And well, frankly, I don’t think I like puzzles anymore. 🤷🏻♀️ or maybe I just don’t like THESE puzzles. I’ve built them for so long that the corners are broken. I have taped every tip now to try to make it still work. The picture I am trying to capture with these pieces is all blown out and abstract now. Hence, I’m short fused.
My therapist asked how it made me feel to be that “explosive” as I put it? And I explained I was afraid. I was afraid that if I told people how their behavior affected me that I would be rejected.
He then asked what was the outcome of these “Foot in Mouth” moments? Contrary to what you may think, I explained that after the initial heated resistance I tried to take a deep breath, game-plan, then chat through my situation. My feedback was well received by most. Those that weren’t happy with my very forward approach have only shown me where to build even more boundaries. That may take time and space. Is what it is. Overall, I was able to find a positive outcome to many of these incidents with minimal casualties.
Disclaimer AGAIN: I won’t share where my abandonment issues come from, but I got a few. It’s created this notion that I can’t rock the boat. I have a fear of being “kicked out” so to speak if I cause too much commotion. It’s old stuff. I’m working on it. Don’t worry. But as I am coming out on the other side of this life lesson, I am thankful I no longer have to live this lie I’ve told myself for so long.
Turns out, standing up for yourself in the moment is the right way to build REAL relationships. I’ll take a REAL relationship over one built on lies and half truths anyday. There is no need to be harsh or bitter in a real relationship. There’s no resentment that gets caught in a crack and roots for later. When I stand up for yourself (even if it comes off as bitchy at times), I am creating clear boundaries about what I will and won’t tolerate. This may change over my lifetime and that’s allowed too. I just have to be confident enough to set these boundaries ASAP and revisit them when they need a good touch up. This builds respect. It’s healthy. It’s not a Foot in Mouth situation at all.
In that very moment as I said this with my therapist, I felt tears roll down my face. Wow. I was so relieved. I didn’t feel like I had to have a short fuse to be heard. I just needed to keep confidently and firmly setting boundaries. That didn’t make me mean or ugly. It made me transparent, human, and authentic. It made me real. My feelings are real and I have a right to hold space for myself.
If you too feel you are suffering from Foot in Mouth Syndrome, there’s help for you too. I want you to look in the mirror right now and say this:
I share this story with you to hopefully help you exhale. Times are crazy. Emotions are flailing. Nothing is concrete. To say we are in a state of flux is an understatement of the century. What I will encourage you to do is hold space for yourself. You are allowed to be imperfect and have bad days. You are also allowed to say no if your plate is full and someone wants you to take on more.
Sending good vibes to you all in these unpredictable times. May you and yours stay healthy and safe.