I’m obsessed with the idea of “Radical Acceptance” as the key to emotion regulation.
But I’m pretty sure that one of the hidden goals of radical acceptance is not to make you beat yourself up when you can’t achieve it. Especially in the midst of a harried moment.
For the big and small things in life. Big like marriage, when I try to change Kevin instead of accepting him for who he is. Small like parking, though it feels big sometimes, like today, when I’m already so tired from this week of rain and fitful sleep.
I keep telling myself not to get mad over and over again about the same thing because it’s so futile and a waste of emotional energy. And yet…
On our way back from the science museum today, the boys konked out as I’d expected. I wore #2 and strolled #1 in our cheapie stroller that he can hardly fit into. I also had to carry two bags because the image of cleaning out congealed milk later tonight grossed me out.
I could hardly stroll Micah because he was so heavy and the circulation in my hands were cut off from carrying the bags. Ellis was heavy and sweaty on my chest, no longer a baby at 20 months. It was too hot to close up the Ergo nap-flap to support his head so every few seconds, I would hold his head up and blow some air into his bangs.
Just then a woman driving pulls up right next to us, window all the way down, just to exclaim, “WOW!”
Two blocks later, I finally started down our courtyard when I saw a home aide, pointing at us and laughing, so excited to be able to show her bored and weary charge, a senior citizen, the comical sight of a short pack mule mama inching her way home with her two sleeping children. I smiled back at her because I know she meant no harm and I was actually glad if the sight of me could make a frail old man smile.
I’ve tried to practice radical acceptance by saying, “For now, this is our life. Parking out yonder in whatever kind of weather and schlepping these precious morsels who are very cute but still unhelpful.”
But in the heat of the moment, especially with my hormones out of wack this week, mental health tools fly out the window.
I start going down the dark path of unhelpful, harmful thoughts, almost like they are beckoning me; thoughts ranging from envy of those who have it easier than me to even ‘Shut the f*ck up’ thoughts towards those who have it easier but don’t seem to know it.
This is the way it goes down sometimes…Lashing out against one thing I can’t change in my life then the emotions evolve – snowballing – beyond the initial response to the one thing.
AND THEN I beat myself up by thinking, “B*tch, you also in that category, as the object of envy, with your husband as supportive and helpful as he is, unlike some husbands. And think about those who have it much much worse, wishing they had your problems. Remember how you used to pray for even a far away parking space!? How soon we forget, Israelite in the wilderness!”
But these thoughts don’t help either. In fact, the “others have it worse” ideology serves to only make me feel guilty.
When I think about how This Too Shall Pass, it doesn’t help in the moment because I realized, “Hold up, wait right there. When we do move on up, Lord willing, and we finally able to park right in front of our place, my kids won’t even need to be strolled or worn by then!”
Ironically, these past four years was the exact time we needed door-to-door service. I know I’ll look back fondly at these schlepping memories of the early years but it’s tough in the moment.
Why is it so hard to just say, “Sometimes, it’s hard. PERIOD.” Because I believe it’s all so relative so therefore, I need to shut it.
I’m trying to equip myself with better ways to handle daily stressors, through the Word, safe communities, books and other emotional health resources, but it’s slow going on days like these.