There is nothing like parenting to pull those old wounds to the forefront of life to be healed. Who, me? Triggered much as a mama? You bet-ja! Having and raising children is like jumping on the super highway to healing old hurts – the kind I don’t even consciously remember and the ones I do.
When I was newly wed, my husband and I were taking on personal growth and healing like it was part of some advanced college-credit course. We were in a committed, loving relationship for the first time in our lives (not just a serious relationship but REALLY committed, like for life) and that was all the safety we needed to start taking on our demons. We were both doing this independent of one another before we met but we picked up the pace a notch after getting hitched. There is nothing like being in a loving relationship to really open ones heart up to healing. And we got right into it, looking together at the the really gunky, ugly stuff that gets stuffed way down deep in one’s soul over decades of living.
The retreats we took both separately and together at Heartland, a retreat center in the Ozarks founded by Dr. Michael Ryce, were heaven sent. As newlyweds, we unearthed things about our-selves that before had been buried to deep to be handled. The retreats we took together, sometimes for weeks at a time, helped us acquire tools to navigate the murky channels inside ourselves that we were now in touch with. We each brought bags of pain (Michael calls this “garbage”) into our marriage. It may not sound sexy, but it’s true… and we all do it, anytime we start a relationship with another person. Matching bags of garbage. (Dang resonant energy.)
We did alot of living those first three years of marriage and it wasn’t all a bed of roses. When we finally did reach our third wedding anniversary, I remember my husband saying, “WHAT? It’s only been three years?” before he realized this was probably NOT the most romantic thing to say to one’s wife on one’s third wedding anniversary. But I completely agreed. Yep, not sexy (I told you) but hugely forwarding. And now that I think of it, maybe it IS sexy, but in a different sort of way. This is the stuff true love can be built on. Now four kids and fourteen years of marriage later, I get down on my knees and give THANKS for those early pre-kid years of intense personal growth we took on as a couple.
Today, parenting twins plus two children together and owning our own business, getting triggered or being “in pain” is not what I would call a rare occurrence in our home. But our upsets don’t throw us like they might have had we not taken on a very important belief early on in our relationship. It’s a belief we picked up at Heartland. This single sentence has guided us threw many a rough sea. It’s one I am thrilled to live by as a mom. It’s a simple statement, just seven words in all. What is this magical statement?
If I am in pain I am in error.
That’s it. Seven words. But these words have forever transformed my life, my relationship with my husband and our relationships with our kids.
When I first read this I completely disagreed with the statement… until I redefined what error meant. Now when I read the sentence, instead of thinking “wrong” which I used to equate with error, I now think “off the mark”. I look at the pain I’m feeling as a sort of red flag, a tip off to myself to think, “Wake up and watch yourself Suzanne!!!” because if I’m triggered (in pain) I can be sure there is something in the situation for me to heal (i.e. let go of, learn and/or grow) from. Error does not mean that the other person or circumstance in the situation is right and I am wrong. Not really. It’s just an invitation for me to look at something a bit closer from my past. Most likely, if and when I do, the thing that has me triggered will cease to hold so much power over me. Here’s a story of how this looks from my life. A “bad” situation that delivered HUGE rewards when I took on the idea that “if I was in pain, I was in error.”
There is nothing like parenting to make life a-parent. I get opportunities to heal things from my past all the TIME delivered to me by the four little master teachers (all under ten) that live with my husband and I.
If I am in pain I am in error. Take a moment to say it over in your head. Let it rise to the top of your consciousness the next time you feel your blood boiling because your two (or thirteen!) year old just will not listen! See if you can recall these words the next time motherhood or life is driving you insane.
These seven words have the power to transform your parenting reality. Here are two links to help these words live even more powerfully in your home. The first is a simple, seven step forgiveness worksheet created By Dr. Michael Ryce. When I started using it, I set a 30-day challenge for myself, committing to taking on seven small or large irritations a day for 30 days. This exercise proved to be a powerful one. You can do that as well or you might want to start slowly, simply committing to using the worksheet to process your feelings the next time you are parenting and feel yourself getting triggered. (Note to self: be sure to take on the small triggers first and work your way up to the doozies. Rome wasn’t built in a day…) This next link is a chapter from Dr. Michael Ryce’s book, Why Is This Happening To Me Again?!, where in the midst of telling a story about a guy named Richard who is learning about the power of forgiveness, he explains how to use the forgiveness worksheet
Thank you Dr. Michael Ryce, for giving my husband and I (and the world) your insightful perspective on forgiveness and the gifts of these tools. The relationships I have with my children and a large part of my approach to parenting in general is built upon the personal work I did before, during and after the weeks and months my husband and I spent in the Ozarks.
I hope these seven words and the forgiveness tools above bring you closer to yourself and to your family. Tell me what you think. How does the statement, “If I am in pain I am in error,” sit with you? What about life or parenting has been upsetting lately that you might be up for *forgiving*?
By Suzanne Tucker, mom of twins plus two, co-creator of My Mommy Manual and Yoga Parenting.