Welcome to my help series!
First question is: My two children who are two and five years old, sleep with my husband and me. It’s not my husband’s first choice but he hasn’t demanded the kids sleep in their own beds. People give me a hard time and say I’m ruining my children by letting them sleep in our bed with us. Is that true?
The family-bed, co-sleeping or bed-sharing is a hot button topic. Proponents on either side of the issue are adamant about their position. Research doesn’t actually support one way or the other as best and each side twists the data to support their point of view. This is an issue that comes down to finding out what works for you as a family and as a couple. The problem I see in this situation is your comment that your husband doesn’t like it but isn’t demanding things change. Is your husband generally passive? Do you make a lot of decisions about the kids without his input or you listen at times but generally you’re the one who “gets your way”? If that is the case, that’s the bigger issue.
I work with couples who are in crisis. The most common theme is not communicating clearly with each other which often is a result of not being heard and validated over the years so why bother saying anything at all. My advice to you: Notice how often it’s your way verses his way. Is he like an employee who takes orders from you or are you collaborators in your journey as a couple and as parents? Ask him, if he’s willing to be honest, what his experience is. If it’s an authority/subordinate structure, you do not have a healthy relationship. In that case I would suggest you learn how to communicate effectively and create a healthy dynamic of working together where both partners are heard, understood and validated. You will likely need an effective couple’s therapist/counselor to create a safe place for both of you to unpack the hurt and learn the skills.
Keep your questions coming! If you want to ask anonymously, send your question to: Journey Forward 1373 Forest Park Circle #204 Lafayette, CO 80026
Welcome to my help series!
Last week I shared the beauty I experienced with my dad dying. This week is the other side of all that! It wasn’t all sweet and wonderful. I spent about two weeks with my family and that is bound to bring up issues. We have different personalities, tolerances and messiness. Mine floated ever so effortlessly into clear view. I am number 5 out of 6 kids plus I have two foster sisters who take the first and last spots. I sometimes feel unimportant in my family and my dad’s exit process was no different. I just didn’t think I had a place. I wondered where I fit in. Why should I even be here? I decided after a few days to just go home. Why subject myself to misery?
Each of my siblings, in my opinion, had a role: executor, nurse, caretaker, carry on the family business…
But what about me? For a time I kept thinking my dad didn’t even know who I was…he did. That was just a story I created to support my “I don’t matter” theme. Then I thought he looked at me with disdain, like maybe he was seeing me as he did when I was involved in an affair. Shame poured all over me like waste from a port-a-potty extraction.
Our minds are so powerful! We can convince ourselves of almost anything. Mine was doing a fine job of tearing my worth and value into shreds. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I quietly packed and gently left. No one would have known anything was wrong. I am an excellent, Oscar worthy actress! One of my sisters wanted to have lunch with me before I started my drive back home…that changed everything! She had no idea how fragile I had become or how intensely the toxic stench of shame had poisoned me.
I poured out all the gunk inside of me and laid it at her feet. That’s when the hazmat cleanup started. She and my niece stayed in the icky places with me.They let me have my experience and also added truth. They helped me see my role…everyone has a role! Mine was subtle but still important.
The time with my sister and niece changed an entire course of my life! I could have walked away. I would have missed out on the healing I received from them. I would have missed out on being there for my dad, my mom and my sister in ways only I could fill. Not because “I’m all that” but because I am me and the elements I bring into my relationships are uniquely mine. No one else brings what I do, just as I don’t bring what any one else does. It’s this beautiful place of importance that we all have in the entangled messy rootball of life.
I remember hearing Dr. John Townsend talk about a man he knew who made sure he did something every day that stirred fear in him. He wasn’t looking just to be frightened, not like telling ghost stories, but doing something that put him outside of his comfort zone. Lately, I am noticing that nearly every day I feel fear. I am taking strides to increase the ripples of my work. I genuinely want to help more people than I currently am. Since February I have been working on some secret goals. Someday I’ll tell you what they are, but not yet. I bump up repeatedly against a part of me that is scared out of her pants! Sometimes I freak out and talk myself out of going for it. I’ll say things like, “You can’t do this.” “Who do you think you are?” “No one is going to like it.” And a variety of other lovely self-sabatoging statements. Right now, I’m giggling because I know they are ridiculous. Sure, they could be true but I’m not going to let that stop me because I won’t know if they are true if I don’t try. I would rather go for it and fail than not try at all. At the end of the day, or the end of the self-sabatoge session, I get back to a place of peace knowing I want to go for it despite the risks of failure.
What are you afraid to do? Why? With whom can you talk about your fears? If I tried to go through this experience alone, I’d be a mess! We all need trusted people who can sit with us as we go through life. We especially need them when we want to grow!
What I love about these words from Viktor Frankl is the clear communication that we have a choice. We can choose how we are going to respond or what we are going to think or how we are going to act. Now I know it sometimes doesn’t feel like we have a choice but that is an illusion. Unless you have a diagnosable brain malfunction that makes it literally impossible to choose, you can choose. Viktor Frankl survived being a prisoner at Nazi concentration camps in the 1940’s. I think he knows what he’s talking about. Think about your circumstances, how they seem so awful and you think you don’t have a choice about how you respond. Now think about being in a concentration camp where you literally have no visible choices. Dr. Frankl has communicated to us from real life experience that we always have the ability to choose how we will respond in any circumstance.
What is it that you are facing right now that you think you don’t have a choice? Is it true you don’t have a choice? Do you have to yell at your partner because you are so angry that she won’t listen to you? Do you have to believe you are not enough because that’s the message others have told you? Do you have to go on ruminating on everything you have to do because that’s what you’ve always done? The answer to all three and many more is, No! You get to choose. Right now you can choose to believe that you have value and worth. You do. Simply because you exist, you matter. You can choose a healthier way to communicate your frustration with your partner. You can stop those runaway-train-like thoughts. You really can. I know all of these for a fact because I have done each one.
It seems really hard at first to start choosing and not being a victim to the world around you. Don’t give up. Stay with it. If you find you need help, then reach out for it. You may need a counselor/therapist. Go for it! You have a choice there, too. 🙂