408 days of loving more…
I pretty much remember all the “Truth or Dare” games I played in junior high school, shoot probably even before then. They were all the same. We sat in a dark room in a circle and all of us girls squealed out “not me, not me, YOU go first” while the boys watched us probably thinking, “Enough already, pick a dare!” And whenever it was my turn, I always pretended to hem and haw about which to do, a truth or a dare, when in reality, I always chose the same option: TRUTH.
Truth just always seemed so much easier to me when I was growing up. Dares were scary. Oooh…kiss a boy with my tongue! Oooh…prank call my crush and sing a love song. Oooh…run around the house screaming and angering the host family parents. Or at the older parties, gasp, oooh…take your shirt off! Um, no thank you. But, accepting a “truth?” Well truth was easy; all I had to do was give an answer. How hard can that be, right? Who do you like? When was your first kiss? Which actor do you want to marry? (For the record, it was always a toss up between Christian Slater and “Jake Ryan” from “16 Candles.”
The way I saw it back then, I didn’t have to do anything for a truth but to say what was on my mind. A dare? Well a dare I actually had to push the envelope, I had to find courage and step out of my comfort zone. So yeah, no thanks to a dare.
But now, now I am older and wiser (ha!) Now, as I face more difficult emotional situations that require me to tell the truth in order to move forward, like managing one child’s anxiety and another child’s health scares, like figuring out how to balance mehood and motherhood, like dealing with the challenges marriage can bring, AND like admitting that I yell too much, I am realizing that truths are indeed dares.
In order for me to tell the truth, the REAL truth, I have to actually dare myself to step out of my comfort zone because telling the truth, the honest, no holds back, emotionally raw truth, is SCARY. Actually, it’s outright friggin’ more than scary. It’s petrifying and exhausting and paralyzing. It means putting myself out there for criticism. It means admitting to things that I don’t necessarily really want to admit to. It means having to actually accept the truth and live with it once it has escaped my mouth and maybe even, gasp, deal with it.
Yes, truths are dares. They both take courage. So as I have aged and been faced with more truth telling my thought has pretty much been, “Yeah, no thanks to a truth…can I just kiss a boy instead please, pretty please?!”
But last January, as I saw the tears fall down my boys’ faces after I screamed a scream I’ll never forget, I knew it was time to stop hiding the truth. I knew it was time to dare myself to tell the truth about my yelling habits. I knew it was time to find the courage to change. It was as scary as scary can be because, well, starting The Orange Rhino Challenge wasn’t just daring myself to admit I had a yelling issue, but it was also daring myself to talk about a subject no one else dared to talk about. It wasn’t just daring myself to push myself harder than I wanted during challenging moments, but it was also daring myself to do something at which I might fail.
Starting The Orange Rhino Challenge was perhaps one of the biggest and best dares I have ever taken in my life. Up until last winter, I was pretty much risk adverse. I hardly ever stepped out of my comfort zone and yet, here I am, 400 something days of not yelling and I couldn’t be more happy that I stepped out of that comfort zone. Deciding to quit yelling and daring to tell the truth was scary but oh, was it freeing and oh has it helped me become a non-yeller. Someone said to me recently “The joy of saying the unspeakable, of saying the ugly and sometimes uncomfortable truth is that you can then label it, accept it, and begin to move forward.”
Yes. Yes. YES! This is the truth; I have lived this statement the past year and I know it to be true.
Telling the truth that I yelled too much took a huge weight off my shoulders. I no longer had to put all my energy into hiding my truth but I could begin to re-focus my energy on crafting a new truth. I could begin to develop the truth that “I yell less and love more one moment at a time.”
Telling the truth that I yelled too much helped me to finally say to myself, “ok, now that you have fin-a-friggin-ly identified the problem, you can create a plan to change and start working to resolve the yelling issue; you can finally go to bed without feeling guilty!”
And telling the truth that I yelled too much led me to the creation of The Orange Rhino Challenge which in turn led me to finding all of you, a supportive, non-judgmental community that has helped me move forward one day at a time.
That’s right. One. Day. At. A. Time.
Because even though I have gone over 400 days without yelling, every day is a new day with new potential to yell. Let’s face it; kids are awesome at giving us lots of opportunities to practice patience and not yelling! And so every day I remind myself about the truth I want to live, that I want to be a mom who parents with warmth and compassion and patience and understanding and love and of course all without the yelling. And every day I need to dare myself to live that truth and make it real.
And everyday I need to accept the truth that I am not perfect, but that I am trying my hardest and then dare myself to not just accept this fact, but really, truly embrace it and not let it ruin my day!
And everyday I need to accept the truth that I might be grumpy and close to yelling, and that when I am, that I need to then dare myself to forgive myself and let go.
And everyday I need to believe the truth that I can do this, that I can continue to dare myself each day to find the courage to keep finding all the energy, creativity, patience, empathy and love that is needed to not yell.
I can do this. One day at a time. One moment at a time.
And I double dare you to try with me 😉
In my life right now I have two big truths that I am trying to ignore, that I am too scared to fully admit, to fully talk about. Let me tell you this – they are eating me up. They are making it harder and harder to be the mom I want to be because they are weighing me down. As I reflect upon this blog post two things are clear to me. (1) The lessons learned from my journey to be a non-yeller are applicable to other aspects of my life too and (2) if I actually write about these two truths I am ignoring, if I dare myself to share them, well then I might just feel better and might just have an easier time at not yelling. Who is going to double dare me to share? Stay tuned….