Talking with my daughter-in-love about the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner she is hosting for our family, we were discussing details about the food preparation and equipment needed.
I excitedly told her that I planned to prepare a vegetarian dish for my granddaughter and perhaps a cranberry dish as well.
As soon as these words left my lips, her facial expression changed from joyful enthusiasm to discouragement. I suddenly realized that I had said too much and had hurt her feelings; something I would never intentionally want to do.
When she walked out the door heading for work I felt the tension between us and tried to fix it by backtracking, which didn't help alleviate her suffering. After I thought it over for a few minutes I sent her a quick apology via text and mentioned that I didn't mean to take over her dinner plans, only wanted to help, but was just chattering away without thinking; this is my usual style of communication.
I didn't hear back from her for a few hours. During that time I agonized over what I could have done differently; then I went to a very dark place inside myself.
I called my spouse and blubbered that I felt unappreciated and like a second-class citizen ! After all, I was only trying to help! I mentioned all the things I do for my family and how I always do what they want. I was crying and feeling sorry for myself.
What an overreaction on my part !
After ranting about the situation and feeling like it was irreparable I began to calm down and gain some understanding. I began to remember how I felt the first time I prepared Thanksgiving for my family. I wanted everything perfect ! I created the entire menu for 40 family members including decorations, table settings and name tags. When my cousin arrived and tried to help me with the arrangements I felt resentful rather than thankful for her assistance !
Later when I received a message from my daughter via text, she thanked me for my desire to help and stated kindly that she wanted to prepare all the food as a gift to our family.
Did I ever feel ashamed of myself !
During misunderstandings I often overreact and experience feelings of despair and hopelessness. When these intensely uncomfortable feelings surface I realize now that they are not due to the current conflict but are related to painful experiences during my childhood.
As a child I was a fighter. If dad were drunk I would try to protect my mother during his rampage, even at the early age of three. My family often called me a pest. I would probably have been labeled as having ADHD if the term had been used in the 50's.
Because of the frightening experiences of sexual abuse throughout my childhood I can easily become discouraged and experience a sense of hopelessness. When I recognize what I am doing to myself I sit still and ask God what is really going on with me; the answers come in a quiet and peaceful way.
When in conflict I initially condemn myself for my failings and then feel sorry for myself. I am now learning to hold myself accountable for my part in any miscommunication and forgive myself for my less than perfect reactions.
I am on an enlightening journey and mindful of its wondrously unfolding beauty.