It’s been a strange old day.
Christmas Eve, and myself and children, my brother and my sister (plus children) have spent most of the day together at our parents house.
Various things have happened which have led me to some small but meaningful realisations.
First of all, I just wanted to touch on my Dad. Today was their wedding anniversary, and as well as buying them a card and flowers, I decided to give them one of their presents a day early… Only a bit of a joke present really, but it was the certificate of ownership of a yard of land in Scotland, making them an official “Lord and Lady”.
I had decided to give them the certificate early because it just felt… Apt. However, my Dad declared that it was because I felt guilty because I had forgotten their anniversary and had to buy them last minute flowers.
This is simply not true, but no matter how much I tried to tell him otherwise, he knew best. He assumed he knows me so well that he “knows my true intentions” and that clearly should override anything I am trying to explain to him.
I can see now that the fault actually lies with him, and not me. I cannot change the way he feels, and I know from experience trying to explain this to him is futile.
So – what did I do?
I simply attempted to stop myself from being affected by it. Where previously I would have been hurt and angry by being so openly invalidated (although probably wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint the exact cause of my emotions) I now understand that this is just him. He is 72 years old and I will never change him or his behaviour by explaining my needs. I need to learn to deal with it internally and not let it affect me if I am to improve the interactions with him.
This is a great use of a DBT skill RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.
A second situation arose regarding my 3 year old daughter. She has been having a difficult time lately with her emotions, and as a result if she is corrected in any way, even gently, she tends to collapse in a heap in the floor and it takes effort to connect with her and bring her back.
She did this a fair bit today, and on one occasion both my sister and my Dad proclaimed, in hearing distance of her sat crumpled in a heap on the floor, that she was having a “strop”.
Now, call me precious but as her mother I feel an all encompassing urge to protect her, not only physically but emotionally too.
My view on her behaviour, rightly or wrongly, is that she is experiencing some big thoughts and feelings right now, and in times of meltdown needs a quiet stoic source of support. What she doesn’t need is multiple family members effectively telling her that she is “stroppy” or “naughty”.
However, I understand my views differ from the rest of my family, but as time goes on I am finding it much easier to defend my views to enable me to advocate for my children’s emotional well-being. Perhaps this comes with knowledge, or perhaps it comes with experience… Or maybe even just quiet confidence in the fact that even if I screw this whole thing up, I did what felt right in my heart.
Take care and have a fantastic Christmas!