412 days of loving more!
Dearest Orange Rhinos. I share this post for two reasons. 1, so that you know that while I have gone a year without yelling everyday I am still taking the Challenge right along with you, especially now and 2, to share about a real personal trigger of mine that I imagine many people can relate to.
January 21, 2012: My handyman busted me yelling at my four boys and I decided to stop being a yelling mom and effective immediately start teaching myself to yell less and love more. I then spent an entire year working hard at my new goal of not yelling for 365 days straight. As I neared my end date of February 6th, 2013 (I had a few re-starts) people asked me, what’s next? What’s next? Will you do another type of challenge? Will you re-commit to another year of not yelling? Tell us, tell us! I didn’t know the answer. As I hemmed and hawed for direction, the answer unfortunately (fortunately?) became crystal clear. I needed to do The Orange Rhino Challenge for another year more than ever because on…
January 18th, 2013, my husband and I hit a bump in the marriage road. It wasn’t a pebble in the road, not even a rock; it was more like a wicked good-sized boulder that two people on their own can’t move. And to be clear, it wasn’t like Fred and Wilma Flintstone just dropped this boulder in our path out of the blue. Oh no. We’ve been looking at it together for years and have done a phenomenal job driving around it. Actually, such a beautiful job that we should be Nascar drivers. But there is only so long that you can avoid a huge boulder like this; it is only so long before you drive smack into it and your car comes to a crashing halt and the only thing you can do is finally admit that you have temporarily broken down and that it is time to address the problem.
So my husband and I, well, we are addressing the problem. We are finally talking about the big boulder in our marriage that we have tip toed around for ages. And let me tell you. It isn’t fun. It isn’t easy. It isn’t, well, it isn’t anything but really REALLY hard and sometimes really, really sad.
Every day since January 18th I wake up with a slight hole in my heart. I can feel it. I can feel the hole in my heart when I look in the mirror and see bags under my eyes from sleepless nights and crusty remainders of dried tears. I can feel the hole in my heart when my boys run into my room to say hi and I dig deep for energy and enthusiasm and find some, but not as much as I wish. I can feel the hole in my heart when my boys innocently try to help me by pouring (spilling) milk and my first inclination is to yell instead of respond peacefully like I had naturally begun to do for months on end. I can feel the hole in my heart when I go to bed and think “I did it, I didn’t yell today, but gosh was I closer than I had been for months and I am proud of myself, but still, I wish it was a smoother day.”
And I can feel the hole in my heart as I “try” to fall asleep after having just passed a wedding picture of hubby and I on my way to bed, and I can’t help but think, “How did we go from there…to here?” When I think, “I knew the path of marriage would be smooth and bumpy and that it would have beautiful views and some less than beautiful views, but I still didn’t think it would ever feel like this. I still didn’t ever think that we would get here.”
I didn’t think that my heart would break into a thousand pieces; that it would shatter like I imagine a windshield would in a high impact crash. But it did. And with that shattered heart has come anger and love and confusion and fear and hope and disappointment and immense utter sadness. Because I love my husband so; I love our family so; I love our life so. And with all of that, well, with all of those wonderfully strong emotions, has come a wonderfully strong desire to yell at my kids for no reason.
During my first year of The Orange Rhino Challenge I learned with clarity that most of the time the saying “it’s not you, it’s me” really is true when it comes to yelling at my kids. And right now, it is truer than ever.
On days when hubby and I talk about that status of things, I find myself wanting to yell at my boys for breathing too loud, for laughing too much, for asking too much.
On days when hubby and I don’t talk about the status of things and my mind wanders all over thinking and wondering and questioning, I find myself wanting to yell at my boys for being too rough, for being too messy, for being too whiny.
And on days when hubby and I talk but don’t talk about the status of things and instead hang and try to be normal, I find myself wanting to yell at my boys for not behaving perfectly, for not playing nicely, for not listening and ruining the family moment.
Yes lately, just about every day since January 18th has been a gigantic trial to not yell, a gigantic trial to stay calm and to not just remember, but to also live out all the beautiful lessons I learned during my Orange Rhino Challenge. And today, well today was no different except that another boulder got thrown in our path (I guess it is a good thing we have always enjoyed long car rides together, eh?)
And as I sat in my mini-van this morning, face in my hands sobbing my broken heart out wondering when the path will become smoother again, all I could think of was my boys. My beautiful, beautiful boys. The four pieces that make my heart whole even in the most difficult times. The four boys whom I love with all my heart and yet to whom I haven’t fully expressed it to recently because I have been so pre-occupied with my marital situation. The four boys who right now sense the stress in the house and more than ever need me, I mean really really NEED ME to show them love and not frustration.
MY four boys, who along side their mother, need The Orange Rhino Challenge more than anything in the world right now. We all need the extra calm, the extra focused attention, the extra security, the extra love that not yelling brings. Every day when I wake up and all I want to do is cry or hide or scream about the truth that is my life right now, I look at my orange toe nails, I look at my Orange Rhino signs, I think of the growing Orange Rhino community and I remember that of all things I want to do right now, there are some big things I don’t want to do. I don’t want to make my kids cry; I love them. I don’t want to hide from my kids; I love them. And I don’t want to scream at them unnecessarily because you guessed it – I love them. I might be angry at the situation in my life, but I will not let it impact how I love my kids. I will not let my anger and sadness drive me to yell at my kids. They simply do not deserve to be on the receiving end of any of my personal strife, I love them too much for that to happen.
And I will not let the anger and sadness from the situation drive my husband and I into a sinkhole that we can’t get out of. Because I also love my husband with all my heart. We’re not done and we won’t be. Although I know some days ahead will feel like a rock slide is happening and I that I am getting hit left and right with tough emotions, I know that we will dig out and one day this boulder will be in our rear view mirror.
Life can be difficult sometimes. Kids can be difficult sometimes. And well, marriage can be really difficult sometimes too and any of these things can push me to yell. I know all of that. What I also know though? Adding unnecessary yelling to the mix just makes it all that much more difficult.
My Name is The Orange Rhino and I will not yell at my kids (or my husband) even when things get tough. I will continue to yell less and love more with all my might and all my heart.