It is a real shame that lessons learned do not automatically stick with you in the form of magically changed behaviour. This week I had to ‘re-learn’ why some things are so important- in particular, how much I need relationships and that being stubborn and ‘self-sufficient’ does not lead to positive emotional outcomes for me or my family.
We just lost some really good friends. Well, they moved to America but in some ways it feels as if they are gone forever, a whole world away. It wasn’t a surprise that they were going, but its funny how the loss hits you emotionally like a ton of bricks, even when you feel as if you had processed it well mentally. Last Sunday at Tribe was the first one without Alex and Monica and I wasn’t prepared for how it would make me feel. I found it hard to view many things positively and felt on the verge of tears often. Eli was also struggling to process the loss of his best friend, Chase, and I probably took on more than I should in empathising with his emotional state. The old fear of ‘how is Tribe going to survive without them’ kept repeating itself as an anxious war drum in my mind, and my response was to withdraw, both in my interactions and then in the form of leaving earlier than normal with the kids.
The theme of isolation continued into the week, with my usual routine of heading to both sets of parents for a day falling through. Instead of embracing the challenge and looking for new opportunities to connect, I chose to burrow in at home, losing a bit of perspective in the process. By Thursday afternoon, my emotional state was pretty dark and my ‘editing’ of the week was more of a tumultuous post-apocalyptic saga than happy family movie. The thought of getting back out and heading off to House Church was not on my list of things to look forward to. Man, am I glad that I went though!
Even the trip over to Allie’s house helped in altering my perspective. A quiet car, space to think and process the highs and lows of the week. By the time I arrived, I was looking forward to the challenge of realigning my actions with the values I supposedly ascribed to. At the moment, at Tribe, we are doing a series based in neuroplasticity and how we can rewire our brains to replace unhealthy habits and create better relationships in the process. It has been one of the most challenging and practical series to date for me, and I have done a lot of analysing of my reactions and habits as a result. One of the most helpful things in the series is how it highlights the importance of authentic community and relationships in assisting us to change our habits. If we are not willing to be vulnerable and accountable to those around us, the process is so much harder. After leaving the house under a stormy cloud and probably bracing for an impending downpour, Dave was very relieved to receive me home instead spouting acquired insights and hopes of changing practices. He puts up with a lot sometimes!
I’m realising more about my triggers and ‘tells’ that happen before an outburst of frustration- in particular, when my response to a situation is to release an expletive or three. The reminder that anger can often be in response to an unspoken attitude that I am ‘entitled’ in some way to ‘good behaviour’ or a pre-determined amount of sleep from my toddler, which is- let’s be honest- completely unrealistic! Gratitude as the anti-dote to anger has been another weapon in my arsenal this week, and one that needs practice to become commonplace… I’m also resolving not to play the ‘grumpy wife’ and let things slide as soon as Dave steps through the door. Can’t be that fun to know that you might have to brace against stormy weather in the place that is actually meant to be a haven and refuge.
I’ve also noticed myself saying “But I’m not good at…” a lot this week. Things like initiating catch ups or heading out on spontaneous adventures definitely aren’t my strengths but that doesn’t mean I can’t push against the initial wave of discomfort and have a go.
Whether it was changed perspective or changed circumstance, Tribe today seemed to be poles apart from last week. I could see everyone pulling together, seamlessly interacting and chatting, new faces and the possibility of new relationships, children shrieking in delight and running around playing games together, an amazing array of delicious food carefully prepared by so many different hands, people initiating ideas for living more simply and hope for a community filled already with so many precious people. My anchor belongs firmly here- with those who know my weaknesses and love me in spite of these quirks. Here’s hoping I don’t have to learn that lesson again too soon.