I’m in therapy. Well, I think the more appropriate term is “counseling,” but tomayto, tomahto. While I am a huge proponent of counseling, admittedly, I put it off far too long and still walk into each session filled with anxiety.
I decided to start counseling because of an explosive anger issue. Yep, me, the zen doula, who meets people in their wildest moments with calm and reassurance. We are none perfect. No, not one. While it maybe took me too many years to bite the bullet, I’m so glad that I did. Not every session is earth shattering, but most times I leave feeling so raw and vulnerable and free. Exposing my innermost failings and fears, but receiving grace and love and acceptance is indescribable.
What surprised me most about going to counseling for anger is that we rarely even talk about my actual anger, but rather the root cause of it.
Recently I have learned that most of my anger stems from guilt and shame. I have been holding onto guilt acquired during pregnancy. With my first kid. Five years ago. I have quite a lot of backlog. While I cannot possibly go back in time, I can extend grace to my past self and alleviate the guilt I feel presently.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine hosted a vision board workshop. During this workshop, a group of ladies and I flipped through a massive stack of magazines and cut out only the images that interested us. We were instructed not to question why the images caught our eyes, just cut and save. So that’s what I did. I didn’t really go in with an area I wanted to focus on. I wasn’t sure if I’d leave with new business ideas or if I would focus on my family, friends, or any of the other 800 pieces to my personal puzzle.
It wasn’t until my board was half filled that I realized I had cut out all images dealing with family, organization (a.k.a. peace), and inner wellbeing. I actually get quite emotional over my vision board, as it is filled with hopes and dreams for my family — and the memories we will have. It is also a reflection of all the ways I feel I am failing.
The next week, I took my vision board to counseling.
As I sat in my comfortable leather chair with eight tissues torn up and squeezed into tiny balls, I finally put to words the guilt that has been festering for years. I am absolutely, utterly terrified of the present memories my anger is creating for my children. Being my own harshest critic, I’m convinced the only memories my kids will have are of me yelling.
My entire life I have struggled with the balance between grace and laziness. I am approximately zero percent Type-A. Zero. But, I am an all-or-nothing kinda gal. For example, if I’m not able to play with my kids for 11 hours a day it’s just not worth playing at all. In my self-pity, I have convinced myself I can never play with them or love on them enough to make up for all the yelling. So instead, I avoid trying and stuff down more guilt and shame. See, all or nothing. Also completely unrealistic.
With this new revelation, my counselor gave me this homework: Write down 3-5 realistic ways I can unplug from busyness this month and connect and make memories with my kids. She reassured me that no one on this planet can possibly spend all waking hours playing with children. All I need to do is find little moments in the day to be present with them. Simple as that.
My Realistic Intentionality
So, here it is. My plan for realistic intentionality.
- A few times a week, I will set aside 20-30 minutes to play with my kids in ways they choose. Maybe my son and I will build a Lego tower, or maybe my daughter and I will twirl like ballerinas in the living room. I will set the timer on my microwave and let loose. If I choose to spend more time playing, I am free to do so.
- Once a week, when we have plenty of time, I will teach my kids a new game. I’ll break out the board games or throw a baseball or frisbee in the backyard.
- Each month, I will take the big kid out for a mommy/son date. My eldest and I have been going on dates for two years, but we have not been nearly as consistent as I would like to be. Now that his sister is getting older, she and I will start having mommy/daughter dates as well.
Everyday I remind myself that spending time with my kids is not a burden; it is a privilege. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It just needs to happen, regularly and joyfully.
What does intentionality look like for your family?