Stop Seeing Red.

Day 2 of The Orange Rhino’s Vacation…
If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am on a brief vacation and have collected several guest posts to share while I am taking a break. They are all from different parts of the world. Yes world. People are yelling less and loving more from Montana, United States to Ireland to Mexico to Australia and more. Pretty powerful if you ask me. We are ALL in this together. Have a fantastic week and if you ever feel alone, know that somewhere in the world, literally, there is an Orange Rhino awake working hard too. All my best for a great week…I’ll be back online around July 8th!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Many of you have written to me in emails that you “see red” all the time and therefore scream all the time. Wow. I had totally forgotten that the saying “seeing red” means to be ridiculously angry when I chose the name Orange Rhino. As such, many of you have asked me, wouldn’t have Red Rhino been a better, more accurate name for the Challenge? You know, because yelling generally stems from anger, from seeing red? Well yes, it would have been better if I wanted to still see red. But I didn’t want to see red anymore, I wanted to see orange, I needed to see orange. I wanted to see warmth in my actions towards my kids; I wanted them to see warmth from me. I wanted to feel the energy and determination that the color orange represents…and I wanted to see myself transform from always seeing and feeling red to seeing and feeling orange! Hence Orange Rhino and not Red Rhino.

I am glad I chose orange because now anytime I see the color orange, I am indeed reminded of my promise to not yell and of all the positive feelings I wanted to feel. When I see orange I think, I can do this. I have the energy. I am determined. I will do this. It is amazing what happens when we “see” things in a certain way.

Which is why I found this email from Kim, an Orange Rhino, so wonderfully powerful. How we “SEE” things is huge. Here is a take on how Kim is starting to see orange by seeing things in a different way.


First of all, thank you so much for being the Orange Rhino that you are and for sharing your experiences with us all. Your voice is so authentic, vulnerable and real. It’s those qualities that allows all of us in cyberspace the feeling of connectedness, with you, each other, and ourselves. Thank you.

Last night I had a realization and this morning I feel that part of honoring my realization and making it real and solid for myself includes sharing it.

I read your blog because, yes, I’m a recovering yeller. Lately, I don’t feel like yelling is my obstacle, per say. Tone of voice, attitude and irritability on the other hand, BIG problems. What I realized last night, after watching a PBS documentary about children in India coming together as a community to get water for their families, was that I need to see my children.

Really SEE them.

Pay attention to their individual souls. Because when I focus on SEEing them, feeling them, my focus is not on my own childish self. My husband has gently suggested that often my interaction with the boys reminds him of a teenage sister who is babysitting her younger siblings. That was hard to hear, but so true. So much of my reaction to them has been based on my own desire to be left alone, to not be bothered, to not be annoyed, to have beautifully behaved children so my life is easier.  In other words, not because I want them to grow as individuals and get along well in life, but just so I cannot be bothered. So when they are bouncing and not listening at bath time, I can step back and realize they aren’t intentionally trying to piss me off, they are just seeking attention from me because I wasn’t available earlier in the day. I can SEE them saying, hey mom, look at me, BE with me, SEE me, I’m trying to be funny, that’s who I am, I’m trying to interact with you.

And yes, realizing that I need to SEE them brings me to the next realization, which is, I also need to SEE me. Maybe I need some time alone, some peace and quiet. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be ALL day. I can see me and take care of me and then see those two boys who are growing and changing before my eyes.

As I write this, I’m reminded that this is exactly what you speak to in your blog. Today it’s finally sinking in for me. I had to share. Thank you for the space to do just that.

Kim S.
Montana, United States

I loved this email. Thank you Kim. May we all SEE our children and ourselves, really truly, so that we may see more orange and less red. Thank you for the insight! 

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22 thoughts on “Stop Seeing Red.

  1. There you go world- that was my admission of guilt. I am no longer hiding- I am now on the road to making this life something woth living in! Thanks to all who admitted their downfalls so I could see I am not alone. I don’t know if I would have done that without first seeing that I am NOT ALONE.

  2. Thank you for being as strong as you are. The fear of judgement can be so strong and such a huge roadblock on the way to recovery, and just reading the posts has brought me to tears. Just knowing that I am not alone, that I am not the only mother in the world that cant seem to control the yelling- it makes a big difference. It helps me realize that fear cant be the only reason I avoid becoming the mother I pictured myself being when I first began this long difficult road. I always knew I needed to control my emotional reactions better- but admitting that to another human being seemed like telling the world how horrible I am. I already feared the people close to me would think these things, since they may know me well enough to have personally seen the yelling for themselves- and to me this was heartwrenching. I know what kind if mother I WANT to be, and what what kind of mother my kids deserve, but the shame of feeling like i’ll never be that can be so controlling. I am tired of feeling guilty all the time. Like I’ve failed in life. I am struggling with the harsh reality that I will never become the person I always intended on becoming- I was always good in school and I just KNEW that I would grow up to be somebody important who had the power to change peoples lives. I wanted to go to college and become a surgeon or doctor, and was what I thought was well on my way when I was hit with the reality of my situation. I had a baby when I was 17, and was also hanging out with a group of people who had no goals or direction. I ended up in a lot of trouble with the law, and when I overcame that I had a false sense of power. I served all my time and got past all the legal touble- then I aimed towards a higher goal: I wanted to become educated and successful so I could be the parent my daughter deserved. I thought I could do ANYTHING after I overcame the downward spiral I was on. Then adulthood kicked in and I was motivated to be the best I could. I went to school to become an EMT (mainly for the fear of having a newborn baby and not knowing how to handle an emergency) only to find out I was not qualified to work in the field as a result of my legal trouble and the record it gave me which labeled me as someone to be feared. But I was still not deterred. I had already proven to myself that I was strong enough to overcome the odds being against me, and I met somebody who loved me AND my daughter to no end- so I married him, had my second daughter, moved to California, and began another journey. This time I went to school to become a Medical Assistant/ Phlebotomist. I needed to find a job that would be good enough to allow me to help support our new family, at the same time as I continued my education so I could someday be that surgeon or doctor (cardiologist). I was so sure that I would eventually save my mothers life by performing her heart surgeries myself. I knew that nobody would take care of her better than me, so I was going to become whatever she needed to make it possible for ME to be the one that fixed her. Schooling went well- I received my certificate as an M.A./ Phlebotomist and began working right away. Soon after graduation we moved back to Arizona and it took a while, but I found a doctor to work for (work is a lot harder to find at this location in AZ than it was in Cali). This is when life hit me with its worst yet: I began experiencing some neurological issues. I began falling at work- I would just randomly lose my balance and when I would try to support myself I would fail. My left leg quit doing its job, and could suddenly no longer support my weight. It came and went, and I tried to hide it from everybody else- but soon it was impossible. I hit the ground several times in front of the doctor I was working for and at that point I lost my job. I was no longer reliable and he needed an assistant that was physically capable of performing the tasks required, and was no longer that person. Unfortunately this particular doctor was not a very personable guy, and he was perfectly content with just letting me go. I was on state issued insurance at that time, so of course I had to be referred to be able to see a specialist. I knew that this was going to be a long hard journey, so in order to make it a litle more possible to find he cause of my symptoms, I used my position as an M.A. to refer myself to a neurologist that was a friend of the doctor I had worked for (unbeknownst to the doctor). Upon testing my extremities we found nothing. Next we tested my central nervous system and found lesions on my brain and there were two possible causes: Multiple Sclerosis or brain Cancer. My diagnosis was MS, whitch at the time seemed relieving considering the alternative- but it soon consumed me. Steroid treatment made me recover well from that first lapse of MS, and I am walking almost normal with only minor symptoms left in that left side of my body, but the effect continue to hit me at what seems like all the wrong times. I try to remember that I am lucky- that a lot of people with MS have it much worse than I do, but the meds I am supposed to take (daily injectons), the effects of my relapses, along with the fear of not knowing what is going to happen when I wake up tomorrow has taken a serious effect on my mental state. Suddenly I went from a young, capable woman with a bright future to a disabled, depressed mother that couldn’t even guarantee that I would be capable of playing and running around with my kids. I had my ups and downs, the moments where I felt like i could overcome anything- even this, and the moments where I felt doomed. I eventually accepted the fact that becoming a doctor or surgeon was out of the question and tried to focus on just being a mom. We applied for disability and decided I would be a stay at home mom, and that was ok with me for a while. We tried to have another child (we wanted a boy), and then began our journey through multiple miscarraiges and sadness. I lost two regular pregnancies despite my OBGYNs attempts to keep the babies in there- which were very expensive. Then the worst was when I lost a set of twins- one at a time. I found out I was pregnant and almost immediately afterwards began having a miscarraige. I already had a leg-up on knowing what exactly it felt like to have a miscarraige, and even though I went to the ER immediately, I lost a baby. It was during the follow-up after the ER that we found out there was still a fetus. One week later I lost that one and it became all consuming. I was told that theres a very real possibility I wouldnt be capable of carrying a baby in the state I was in. That depressed me too, but we still kept trying despite the fear of more hurt. Two years later I was pregnant again, and we knew that we needed to be prepared for the loss. By some miracle this one stayed. I carried this baby full term and had another beautiful baby girl. There was dissapointment because we had wanted a boy, but the miracle of even keeping this baby made it pretty easy to look past all that. For me. I think my husband was more dissapointed than I was because he is the last in his family to carry on the last name, but he held his feelings at bay because he loved his girls more than you could imagine. I think it was more difficult to admit we were done having kids and the reality of getting my tubes tied was like an admission of failure. Even though- we made the appointmant. When I went in for my pre-surgery appt we found out shocking news. I was pregnant AGAIN!! Not expecting much because we had already experienced one miracle, we accepted that there was a possibility we were going to have 4 kids , which was huge because we were already struggling at this point. Somehow this baby decided it was gonna stick around- and suddenly we had four kids- ALL GIRLS!!!!! This is actually when things got real bad for me. I was trying to remember how much of a miracle it really was and you would think we would be in the clouds. But it isnt like that at all. It has been almost two years since I had my last girl, and I’ve never been so down in my life. Everything is suddenly so much harder. I am constantly running at full speed just to try and keep up with how many people and responsibilities there are. My husband is gone most of the time working, and that means I am the one that does all the work with the kids. I love my girls more than life itself, but I am so overwhelmed with how much I am responsible for that I can never seem to find the time to enjoy it! Not to mention the fact that our youngest has MULTIPLE health issues. She is allergic to a loooooong list of foods, including wheat and milk. She has to carry an epi-pen at all times because she becomes anaphylactic. AND she has an atrial-septal defect (hole in her heart) which the doctors were thinking would be closed up on its own by age 1. She is almost two now, and there has been no change. If it doesnt close u by age 4 she is going to have heart surgery. She is the tiniest thing I have ever seen (20 lbs now) and everything she does makes me fear she will harm herself. I am afraid of everything! My oldest (12 now) is having so many issues at school that we narrowly escaped an expulsion and I am now schooling her at home to keep her away from the social pressure that was causing her to constantly perform for her friends to continue being accepted. My 8 yr old is having what they think may be absence seizures, and my 3 yr old is so smart I cant get a thing past her! There is no such thing as a Sarah-Jane-proof latch! The point is- everything seems to be coming down on me so fast and hard that I cant even find time to breathe anymore. I am constantly depriving myself of care- I dont even take my MS medication anymore because there is no proof that it works well enough to continue the inconvenience of having to inject myself every day and to deal with the side effects of the injections themselves. I have become nothing more than a machine- I wake up, yell at the kids until all the responsibilities are taken care of, and panic every second of every day because there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. The kids help with chores, but they are so sloooooow and dont like to put in any actual effort so I end up re-doing their work for them. Every day I wake up with anxiety and by the time the day is over i’ve done so much yelling and had so many panic attacks that I just want to run away from it all. It scares me how much these little lives depend on me, and it makes me so sad that this is all they get from me; a panic-y frazzled wreck of a mother who can’t even seem to give a good impression of how they should handle real life as an adult. My example is going to harm them. I fear that they will think life as an adult is full of nothing but pain and misery. They have even heard me talk about wishing i’d never been here to begin with! I know I am hurting them, and still I cant stop. The fear of what my actions will teach them just makes me even more withdrawn, and the fear of people knowing how I really am just makes me panic more. I dont want to be this way. I pictured this being the most wonderful time of my life, yet all im doing is making four beautiful innocent girls grow up in a miserable environment that will do nothing but hurt them. The guilt of being the worlds worst mother is consuming me so badly I cant even catch my breath even as I write this. I’ve never in my life shared how much I am hurting these kids . I just try to make ppl think I am ok, that we are a great family that loves eachother and functiond normally when in reality its all a facade. I know my depression is going to harm my kids. How do I teach self-esteem when I have none? I’ve allowed it become all I am. I don’t even know the person I used to be. I used to think I am strong. I never doubted my ability to do the right thing. Now I doubt that I should even be alive. This is my desperate attempt to change something. I sat down this morning and typed into my browser “how to get more patience with my kids”, because I am so tired of waking up dreading the day full of yelling and heartbreak I cause my children. I found the Orange Rhino blog and upon reading it I found that I am not the only one that ccant seem to control the yelling. Even as I am doing it, I know its wrong- and it comes out anyways. I dont want to be this way anymore. I want to feel like I did when I was young and confident that I would be something great. Why cant I be great at being a busy mother? I thought I could handle ANYTHING. I overcame addiction with what seemed liek ease, I overcame the setbacks of my criminal record and educated myself anyways, I overcame school and mothering together and my husband working out of town which meant I had to be mommy and daddy at the same time. I did that, yet I cant handle everyday life? I am having a very difficult time dealing with the fact that this is all ive become- and I dont even like me. I was supposed to be great. At whatever it was I was doing- I wanted to be great. I wanted to be somebody important that could change people lives. And its all right here for me to have. I could be a great mother and change THEIR lives, but instead im just a trainwreck, and I hide it because I am so ashamed. This morning I learned that I am not the only one who is hididng. Thank you for being stronger than I was. Because you had the strength to admit your faults- today I am brave enough to admit mine. I am going to take the Orange Rhino challenge- and it is going to be my first step to recovering what should be the best time of my life. I want so badly to know in my heart that my kids love their lives. I want to know that I am not causing them to dread the moment they wake up or come home from school. I want to be the mother they deserve and I want to remember what it is like to feel proud again. I am tired of the shame. I am tired of yelling. I am tired of the guilt. This is for my kids and my husband, and for myself- Orange Rhino- Here I come!!

  3. Kim S., I am a lot like you in this way. I totally understand what you said here. A couple months ago I stumbled upon the Hands Free Momma blog. I honestly can’t recall if Hands Free led me to The Orange Rhino or if TOR led me to Hands Free, but I’m grateful either way. Hands Free is written by a mom who realized she was too wrapped up in “life” & herself to really see & know her children and give them the attention & love they truly deserve. It’s about how she’s has learned (& is still learning) to let go of certain things, and, instead, embrace her children more. Between the Orange Rhino blog & the Hands Free blog I have been inspired, helped, & encouraged. I just thought you might also enjoy adding that blog to your reading list since it seems we both struggle with this issue, as well as the yelling thing. I really believe they go hand-in-hand. The two blogs together have been very helpful to me, hopefully they will both be helpful to you too. 🙂

  4. Dear OR

    Is there a group like Orange Rhino for women who are having a hard time overcoming their anger at their husbands? If anyone out there knows one, please let me know. I see red with my husband all the time^^
    Thank you!

  5. Great reminders!! I, too, tend to feel bothered by my kids and wish for time alone. Taking time to see them as important, precious little people is just what I need to stop feeling so selfish all the time!!

  6. Great post! I do realize that much of my daughter’s behaviour is calling me to really see her and be with her. It makes me so sad, not to mentioned ashamed, that I find it so difficult to do.

  7. Timely for me. The quote from hands free mama that I have looked at daily for the last couple weeks:

    “Loving a person means seeing him, really seeing him, above the distractions, the chaos, the mess, and the imperfections.”

    My daughter is only one so I don’t need it so much for her (yet) but to “see” my husband.

  8. Thanks Kim for this beautifully written post. I can relate to so much of what you say. My 2 are on school holidays and spent most of the morning fighting – and me yelling….. when all they really wanted was for me to get off the computer and spend time with them. Tonight my 5 year old kept getting out of bed and getting smacked by his Dad. Finally I “got it” and went and got into bed with him and massaged his feet while I listened to him tell me about his day. He went to sleep happy. Such a simple thing, but so hard for me some days to put their needs first without me wanting to scream LEAVE ME ALONE. Thanks for the reminder that this time is precious.

  9. This must have been difficult for you to admit and write, but please know that you’re not alone. This has been my struggle, too. I recently realized that all this time I’ve been acting out the role I played so many years ago of babysitter, too, instead of truly being with my children, getting on the floor with them more, real engaged playing rather than being distracted with other things that need to be done. I wish I’d known four years ago when my first baby was born that I needed to truly see and be with my kids instead of slipping back into the role of babysitter. Now I see–even better thanks to your post. Thank you! (And thank you Orange Rhino for inspiring us on this journey every day–so many more loving parent-child relationships thanks to your endeavors with this blog!)

  10. Love this post! I have always been a yeller, seeing red, and blood boiling over in a split second. Even as a child, this has been my personality. I had a calm loving mother so I don’t really know were I got this from. Anyway, having kids put a whole new spin on my temper. I thought at first, everything would change and it’d be rainbows and butterflies. lol Oh goodness was I wrong. It has taken years to stay calm when it comes to my kids. I work at it everyday and I’ve gotten better over the years, thank God. My kids are the world to me and I don’t want them to remember mom was just a crazy angry person. That thought is what keeps me striving for calmness and peace in the home. When I feel like I’m going to lose it, I lock myself in my room until it passes and I can deal with them without freaking out.

  11. I love this blogsite – it speaks so beautifully to the heart of a mother, with all her inability to allow herself time and grace to indulge in motherhood – including the parts that we think we SHOULD not be indulging in ie OURSELVES and our needs TOO!

    So so so true! If we cannot SEE them – we cannot KNOW them, so we won’t know how THEY need to be loved. Yet also we MUST teach them to respect that we too need to be loved in a certain way. They must SEE us LEARNING how to love they will grow up with the ability to LEARN to love and give what is needed for each person they encounter in their lives:)

    “Children come to teach us,
    what they need to know.
    If we
    Open our lives to the lessons they bring-
    We may qualify, to show them
    Who they already are.”
    Copyright – B.B

  12. Another tear jerker 😉 I totally get where your coming from. I have to keep reminding myself its not their fault Im in a grumpy mood, they’re just doing what children should be doing.
    Im finally starting to see the 2 fabulous independent little selfs grow up in front of me, instead of a constant distraction from what I think I should be doing. Thank you!!
    Orange rules!

  13. I really needed to read this after today. My five year old is testing my patience like never before, and I didn’t handle it well. She is probably needing more attention, and I responded in a bad way. Thank you for reminding me to take a minute to think about things, and take ten and spend them with her.

  14. Thank you. This moved me to tears. I have been trying to do this too. I want to tap into it more because it’s lovely when I really see and hear them instead of fighting their instincts to be them.

  15. Thank YOU, Kim, for writing this letter and allowing the rest of us to read it. It brought tears to my eyes because it felt like it was written specifically for me. I’m going to print it and keep it with me and in the rooms I frequent most. I’ve been feeling like this but have not had a moment to really try and touch what was bothering me and why I feel so guilty at the end of the day after my 3 are asleep. You put my feelings into words. My tears are from finally ‘getting it’. I needed this letter. My children needed this letter. Thank you so much.

  16. Isn’t that the truth? I think that’s mostly where I am at. I am an older first time mother who was well used to having my own time and space to do things. Placing someone else’s needs first all the time, it’s been an adjustment to put it mildly. Having read many many posts on this blog, I have realized that I’m not as chronic a yeller as some but I definitely am an irritated mom whose tone is not always as positive as I would like it to be. This challenge has helped me realized that yelling is NOT a go to just because my daughter isn’t doing exactly what I want at a specific moment in time. I would not want her to be that way. I love my independent little 3 year old but when she runs into a parking lot instead of standing by the car as soon as I let go of her hand, well, I don’t think that yell yesterday counts against me. My volume level has been a little higher than I would like for the past couple days but I know it and my goal tomorrow is to keep it down a notch or two. One stressor at a time — I will be a more loving mom.

  17. Beautifully written! I, too, catch myself doing the “it’s all about me” thing with my girls too. I have to remember to breathe and whatever I was doing or wanting to do can wait because I won’t have two little girls wanting their mom forever….great post!

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