Lessons from a Hurricane (4)
On my way home after the ‘hurricane’ first blew through my life, I found myself wanting a stiff drink! Now, that is not my usual way of dealing with tough times!I went home and ate ice cream instead!
In a perfect world I would have recognized that reaction right away as an early warning sign that the hurricane had been substantial. I was retreating to old childhood patterns of coping in difficult circumstances. I didn’t drink whiskey as a child but I sure ate a lot of ice cream, cake, cookies and popcorn! Clearly something had been touched inside me at a very deep level.
Do you know your childhood responses in difficult circumstances? It is really helpful to become knowledgeable about them. Simply name them, not judging, usually with compassion for your little child who was hurting. Get to know them so you can see when you’re being reactive like a 5 or 10 year old.
Some of our common childhood responses:
- Going silent
And what they might look like as we’ve refined them in our adulthood……
- We may still eat, or not eat, as well as drink to excess or any other selection of drugs/stimulants/depressants. We can be quite creative.
- We can also overwork, over exercise, over shop, over play, over-a-whole host of things.
- An adult pout can appear as soft or very strong passive/aggressive behaviour: ‘Oh—did I forget to…..’ or a very strong controlling action to stop someone else.
- Going silent
- We’re capable of being silent for long periods of time. It may be verbal silence but can also be emotional silence or withdrawal.
- We may not slip off to a bedroom closet to hide but we can find our caves, our offices, our gyms, our work, our long walks, our games and TV shows to disappear into. Again we can also hide our emotions and not allow them to be available. We can become unwilling to be ‘found’ in the game of hide and seek.
- Sometimes we still shout! Sometimes in a private place that feels very good, but in company, letting our anger loose on someone isn’t helpful. We need to do repair work when that happens.
These are some of childhood reactions that I know. Do you have some to add?
May we all be more aware of them and kinder to ourselves when they are triggered. Take it as an opportunity to find someone who is safe, who can hear your wounds and help heal them.
Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire
2 thoughts on “Lessons from a Hurricane (4)”
Anne, I have a very clear memory of me, as a girl in my late teens, sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. She had just asked me to do something. Then she said to me, “Don’t look at me like that. I know when you look that way you have no intention of doing what I want.” I know that was my pattern. If I didn’t want to do something, but I felt powerless to say no, I listened politely, didn’t argue, and just went ahead and did what I wanted to do or not do, anyway. And I think for a long time into my adulthood, I dealt with anything that I was asked to do by people in authority that I felt went against my grain, with polite silence, no argument, but went my way anyway. Even now, as an adult in her 70’s, I sometimes need to recognize the feelings of powerless anger of a late teenager towards an authority figure and realize I do have the right to say no verbally and honestly.
Thanks for sharing your insight Helen. How childhood lingers…. and we’re finding a new way to live!