Saturday, February 25, 2012

Free At Last

Yesterday was a comedy of errors ... well, at least the afternoon and evening turned out to be that way. I suppose it was because we had too many important things to do in a very short time, and somehow when a day like that shows up on the calendar, Murphy's Law kicks in and time actually begins to work against you.

At 3:15 pm, all seven of us, along with the kid's luggage, piled into the van and headed out. We should have enough time to take care of all our business and still easily make it to meet my children's father at 6 pm. But even the best laid plans don't always work out like we anticipate.

Traffic was insane.
The process to turn in 4-H record books was not nearly as speedy as anticipated..
Jon's ex was later than expected to pick up the girls.
We had to turn around and go back home.
Traffic was insane.
Jon's work called ... three times.
We needed gas.
Traffic was insane.

When it first became apparent at 4:30 that we wouldn't be at our meeting spot by 6 pm, I sent Matt a text to alert him of our delay. I called him at 5 pm and gave him an update on our situation, offered to feed the children supper (which he refused), and gave him our expected time of arrival, which was 6:45 pm.

When we pulled into the parking lot to safely deliver the children to their father, the clock in the car read 6:47 pm and I could immediately tell that Matt was peeved. Actually, he was more than peeved. He was angry with me, put out by my delay in his schedule. As I opened the door, he didn't greet me or respond to my pleasantries. In fact, during the entire 2 minute exchange of children, he refused to talk to me or make eye contact, even though I needed to show him a medication that one of the kids needed to take. More than just a cold shoulder, I was being punished with the dreaded iceberg shoulder.

I have to say that this behavior was much more effective when I was married to him. In those years, this sort of response (which was a weekly, and often daily, occurrence) would have made my blood run cold. I feared this punishment. I crave communication and as a people pleaser I have this deep-seated need to know that people are okay with me. As the years of our marriage passed, I learned that there was no way to ever predict when something would set him off. By the end of our marriage, I constantly walked around on egg shells in fear of doing or saying something that would result in my punishment.

After our divorce, I went to counseling. It wasn't easy, but somehow I learned not to walk on egg shells in fear of Matt, to not tremble in his presence, to accept that my behaviors may not please him and yet that didn't mean I was necessarily misbehaving. Yet still that reaction of his would still make my blood run cold. Try as I might, whenever I did or said something that set him off, it still caused me to second guess myself and my own intentions. I desperately wanted to learn to let go of the fear of his reactions, but I never got to the point of being able to fully be in that frame of mind. The closest I came was learning to quickly let go of that initial feeling of fear so that his reaction didn't control me anymore, and learning that lesson was terrifically hard.

So last night, it took me by surprise when I felt absolutely no fear of this rather childish man and his very immature reaction to a situation that was mostly out of my control. It seemed so juvenile and petty, similar to something a moody teen would do to a parent. He looked so pouty standing there with his bottom lip stuck out that I wanted to laugh. Somehow, I held it inside until I was back in the van with Jon ... and then I couldn't hold that laugh inside me any longer.

All the way through dinner and even on the ride back home, I randomly burst out into giggles. I was practically giddy with myself, chuckling not so much at Matt's response but rather with my own personal growth.

No longer am I training myself to push past those first gripping thoughts of "Oh, no! He's upset!"

No longer am I breathing deeply and reminding myself that I didn't misbehave to cause him emotional distress.

No longer am I fearful of what he might say (or not say).

No longer.

Wow! What a feeling! The chains that bound me for so long are gone. I couldn't help but think of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., words from an old spiritual song that he shared in his famous speech:

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

1 comment:

  1. Praise God that he has brought you into such a good place! I am so happy for you.