“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens; any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.” - Jill Bolte Taylor
Tomorrow is an anniversary of sorts. There is nothing to celebrate or is there? I can celebrate that I have survived it. I can celebrate that I have not let it define me. My kids tell me that my calm is almost scary. I think we forget we have a choice more often than not. We do not have to accept every invitation from our feelings in most cases. Since learning the 90-second rule, I generally try and wait out strong feelings. I am not always successful, but that is also a choice. I choose to wait more often than not, because we have consequences to our choices and once you crack and egg, you can't put it back together again. I was thinking about when I got the first phone call from my kid who had their first collision. Once they said they were okay, the calm set in. Today I wondered why that would be my response and I remembered that my parents had a collision when I was very young. They had such a strong support system that nothing really changed for us kids. Perhaps that is why I can remain calm about the big things, but still choose to throw a tantrum if the dishes are in the sink. It is a choice in most cases aside from circumstances where perhaps your brain works differently and it is a challenge to regulate your emotions.
The challenge with being calm is wondering if I am actually being calm or just surpressing the heck out of things. I honestly do not know. I was raised to believe that crying doesn't solve anything and only gives you a headache. I am also a very pragmatic person. When milk is spilled, I clean it up. If I can buy more, great, if not, water is amazing. As a calm person, it does get frustating when I can't think my way out of a feeling. You know how it is. It's 3am and you are...awake! When it happens, I tell my brain that we need sleep. My brain asks me if I've paid the electricity bill. I go through the entire tool box and observe the physiological responses; the sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach, the racing thoughts. I take deep breaths, try to relax my muscles, try to embrace all of it, and sometimes it works and I bore myself back to sleep. Hmmm. I do realize that at stupid o'clock in the morning, I am less likely to engage in the 90-second rule. I'll have to give that a go next time and see how it works. When I allow myself to feel the feels, they do go by faster.
I moved a spider web yesterday and my son informed me that I was setting forth bad karma. Thankfully it seems that bad karma meant not having certain ingredients in the house for what I was cooking. I'll be honest, for a minute I wondered if something would happen and remove me from my home. We have to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves and what we allow to take residence in our mind. It is a learning process. I may have an unfair advantage because I live with five mirrors. There is a phrase that you are the weather. A few years ago, my five year old grabbed the laundry from the dryer. It was hilarious because he was muttering "No, no, I'll do it all myself" as he took it to the bed for me to fold. Busted! I have absolutely worked on my passive aggressive tendancies and my perfectionist tendancies because I have a little sponge learning from me. He too is learning to choose his response and to reflect on the part he played in his circumstances. The test will come when he gets his group project grade and it will also be a test for me to remain in my executive function and support him without coddling him. "Mom, you didn't let me calm down!" Out of the mouths of babes.
Tomorrow has not happened yet. I am choosing to allow what happens to happen. Tomorrow is what we make of it. It could just be Monday, or trash day, or a school day. I can choose to let a moment define me or to define the moment for myself. It's like your birthday. Some people like to make a big deal out of birthdays. Others are grateful to be alive. While someone else uses it to mark the passage of time. We decide the meaning. We decide our reactions. Like Mark Renton says in Trainspotting "Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that?" I am not choosing heroin by the way. I am going to choose to continue on and to not play the world's smallest violin. The sun rises and sets. The tide rolls in and out. Ninety seconds. The choice is yours. Will you break the loop?