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My Challenge (#1)

November 1, 2007

Kelly has taken on a new challenge recently. To “attempt to go 5 weeks without complaining, criticizing, whining or gossipping”. I am certain that this challenge would be too great for me, but it has gotten me thinking about what I can do to improve my reaction to common situations in my life. More specifically, I need to change the way that I often react to my mother. 

As many of you know, Kelly and I live in a house with my parents and my sister. This was a decision that I made 10 years ago. I had aquired a property just down the street from my parents home. I was prepared to build myself a fully accessible home on said property. But as I looked at sketches and drawings and worked with the architect, my parents became very interested. At that point, being single and not beleiving that I had a strong probability of meeting the woman of my dreams and  love of my life, I decided that I could continue to co-habitate with my family, if we lived in a house with enough room. So I built the house, my parents sold thiers and moved in too. My sister moved in a bit later.

Fast forward ten years. I meet Kelly. (see above comment about “woman of my dreams yadda yadda. I was wrong, I met her)

So now what? Suddenly the living arrangment is awkward. I mean it works, but only because Kelly is the most amazing woman EVER!  But long term, it’s problematic. I see that, I know that, and I really feel like a decision made ten years ago is coming home to roost. There is no easy solution. All possible solutions have huge challenges and potential consequences. As does doing nothing. So the frustration and tension has built up in me. I feel stuck.
Over the last little while, I’ve realized that the way I react to my parents when they interact with me has been strained. My mother in particular craves a lot of attention some days, calling me from the den to show me an article in the paper or to show me how cute the cat looks. This is no different than it was before I met Kelly, but now it irritates me. I react with frustration every time she calls my name, muttering something like “what now?” as I leave the den.  And the way I speak to her is short and abrupt and in fact at times rude.

I didn’t know why until recently. I’m sure in reading this, you’ve figured it out. I laid it out nicely for you so it’s clear. But it wasn’t clear to me. It is now. I’ve realised that I resent the situation that I’ve put myself in. Every time my mother calls my name, it’s reminder of the situation and the resentment and anger bubbles to the surface. The blowups happen, my mothers feelings are hurt and a dark cloud of negativity fills the room. Only in talking this over with Kelly did I realize that she very much is aware of all of this, and finds the negativity that fills the room very challenging. She cringes every time I leave the den griping about “Oh WHAT NOW!?!”

So that is my challenge. I will change the way I react to my mother. After all, this isn’t her fault. Now that I understand where the anger is coming from, what has caused the resentment, I realy find it much easier to deal the situations that occur. I’ve been practising this for the last couple of days, and so far I think I am doing quite well. In fact, it’s getting easier already. And the best part is that it feels good. I really feel better, and I think Kelly is pleased with my progress as well. I think it’s making the living arrangement  just a touch more sustainable.

I had said there were two challenges. There are. But I’ll tell you about the other tomorrow.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2007 8:21 pm

    Good for you, Sylvain! That sounds like a fantastic challenge with a cornucopia of results to be reaped immediately (I’m in a situation like that too, where when you look at the potential benefits, you say to yourself that you have to do it). I can’t wait to see what you and the Universe bring your way to get unstuck. And I also can’t wait to hear about challenge #2!! Blessings and peace and love, O

  2. November 1, 2007 9:30 pm

    Hi Sylvain-
    I completely understand where you are coming from regarding reactions. There are times I can just SEE ugly coming from my mouth and/or the tone of my voice. I have to work really hard at this: “say what you mean, mean what you say, just don’t say it mean.” What really helps me is to write out a Gratitude List for various things about the people in my life, especially at those trying moments. Believe me, I’m not even close to being able to exercise “restraint of tongue” as often as I should, but I’m working on it. How wonderful that you found the amazing Kelly!

  3. November 2, 2007 8:06 am

    Life continues to present challenges and opportunities to us,, doesn’t it?! Best wishes to you on your odyssey, Sylvain.

  4. November 2, 2007 12:01 pm

    What a tough one, Sylvain! It’s great to hear you already can feel the challenge getting to be a bit easier.

  5. November 2, 2007 8:22 pm

    As a mother I praise you. As a daughter I can relate to the problem. As I have been on both sides. This is such an age old problem. Family. My mother had have her mother in law live with her for a number of years as a young bride and young mother. I know it wasn’t easy for her. As a daughter I had my mother come live with us in what turned out to be her last year of life. She had dementia, and some physical problems and needed lots of hands on help and attention. I went through periods of deep resentment, anger of having my life turned upside down, missing having my husband to myself as he in turn had to and gave mom lots of attention. I would find excuses not to come home. It was hard. I also struggled trying to make it less hard. At times it could be fun, funny even. We laughed. We cried. We got through it.

    I truly admire your decision to make it work (for now or for however long)…
    I admire your fortitude to think before you react, to react kindly more of the time and to realize the results of this trickle down to eveyrone else in the household.

    I wish you ALL the best in learning to live together peacefully and lovingly.

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