Perfect Storm

Last night was interesting...

Here were the makings of my perfect storm...

Daughter and Homework:  My daughter had several projects/assignments from school that were due today.  Easy written work that just required her attention and persistence.

Son and Homework: My son had two easy math assignments due today which he was taking forever to do...

My Work:  I was thinking that I could get some minor things done while assisting them with their homework... I needed the computer but I had my daughter on my computer.

Beer:  I drank a beer earlier in the evening (before I stressed myself out).  I'm sure this didn't help me to stay calm cool and collected.

Packing for a Ski Trip:  Ski gear is everywhere!

Re-Organizing Office Files:  Piles of files and books are everywhere...

Time Crunch: I just picked them up from an art class, got off the phone with my parents, and finished cooking dinner when I started to lose it...

I couldn't easily find a critical file and my thoughts went to catastrophizing about what would happen if I had "lost" this file.  When I'd try to keep a handle on my thoughts... I'd get interrupted by kiddos not sticking to task and wanting to talk about anything else but their current project (homework).  I've realized that when I can't find something... that is a major stressor for me and a critical time to ask for help.

I should define "Losing It" before we continue here because that could mean 100s of different things...

For me, I start to get hot... my body heated up and I had to take off my sweatshirt.  My breath becomes shallow... if I breathe at all... as I hold my breath a lot (like that is helpful!).  I start running around like a speed walker with no defined course to take... I get short with people... I say very short sentences and I'm very direct.  Me really losing it involves yelling... but not like in the movies... when I yell which is rare thank goodness... I am making a statement or request at a higher volume... I guess my goal is to obtain compliance. I don't use put downs or threats.  I just resort to an element of repetition at a higher volume and when I recognize what I'm doing, because I don't want to be a "yeller" I stop immediately... very short lived thank goodness.

Yelling really doesn't help though as it just raises the level of intensity and negatively affects everyone involved.

So... I ran around looking for my husband to ask him for help.

I found him after awhile very much relaxed sitting in the hot tub!  I asked him to come help because I was on the verge of losing it.  He came in and he focused on ME... he wanted to help calm ME down.  Well I figured out quickly that I didn't want him to focus on ME at all... so I asked him very directly and literally to focus on our son and meeting his needs and that is all the help I could use at the time.  So we split up, him focusing on our little guy and I had some time to work on myself.  I simply sat down and took some deep breaths... I like in for 4 and out for 4, focusing on my core (Heartmath Freeze Frame Technique).  Quickly... I remembered where the file was.  I went to the spot and BINGO, there it was.

Oh I should tell you that one other thing happened... while I was breathing and sitting... working on myself, I heard my husband yell to ask me which books he should read to our son!  =)  That cracks me up because there is a whole shelf and I really didn't care... but I really needed that time to focus on myself so I actually chose to ignore my husband!  (That's just not my m.o.) The thoughts I told myself is that "I'm sure he can figure it out... he can pick anything he wants." and "They don't need me for that." Now I could have said something like that out loud and it probably would have been "nicer" of me.  However, I immediately turned my attention back to working on myself as that is what I needed to do in that moment... and they figured it out of course.

I went out to the living room and apologized to my daughter:  "I'm sorry I was freaking out right then, I couldn't find something... and freaking out wasn't helping me to find it!!!  It actually made it harder to think well so I could find what I needed."  She laughed and agreed and we hugged and I was able to better focus on assisting her with her homework.  My son and his dad must have spent around an hour bonding by reading in bed.  My daughter finished her assignments and they looked great.  I was able to organize for today's workday a bit.  All was well.

After the kids went to bed, my husband and I started watching a movie.  I offered him some ice cream and he said sarcastically, "Well only if you're sure it won't freak you out." I simply responded, "Don't do that" and handed him the ice cream.  We talked a bit about how I thought that by drinking a beer earlier, that didn't help me have a good night.  Then we focused on the movie at hand and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Do you see what I mean by Perfect Storm... lots of things contribute to an uncomfortable/frustrating situation.  It's best to prevent it... but when it happens and things pile up or build up... recognize it for what it is and take a break if at all possible.  Also... in my case, and maybe in yours... when a perfect storm hits, alcohol doesn't help it just adds an additional challenge!

My Best,


Published: Jan 14, 2011 by Jodi Harvey (Santa Cruz, CA)


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