Yes, People Can Change…I’m Proof.
It was close to mother’s day. Teachers typically have the children in their class make something to give their mothers on their special day. I remember my middle son had the picture he had drawn behind his back and with that sweet smile he shyly handed me his gift. It was colored with colored pencils on a large piece of white paper. What I saw crushed me. It was a picture of a single red rose with thorns all the way down the stem. He had written on it…Mom, you are as pretty as a beautiful red rose, but when you are angry you prick me. Ouch! Out of the mouth of babes. And yes, I was guilty. From time to time, I would lose my temper and scream…not always at my children…sometimes just to let out steam. It must have been frightening for them.
I looked at my sweet boy and hugged him and told him I was sorry. Then I reflected. How did this happen? How did I get to this point where I yell at my kids? I recalled that it was an unspoken rule in my family of origin to never express anger. I learned to hold in all my feelings like a good little girl. Then by the time I was a married stay-at-home mother of 3 I began to blow…bit by bit. Then I reflected some more. How could I stop this? My first step was to become aware of when the lid came off. What was I doing? How did I feel? What was going on at the time? As I broke it all down I discovered it happened when I was tired! I became aware that when I was tired I was not in control of my feelings as much as I was when I was rested. So I began to take a nap. When my children slept, I slept. I noticed I didn’t scream at my children anymore. It was the first step taken to help my children, my sweet Jake, to feel safe. I’m so thankful for his honesty and his sweet heart.
I slapped that beautiful picture on the side of my freezer my laundry room. I wanted it to help keep me accountable. It stayed there until I was unable to read it anymore. I finally took it down about 25 years later after one of my clients whom had heard that story, painted a picture of a beautiful rose with the words “unconditional love” on it. When we become aware of our hurtful behavior, we can change! It takes becoming aware and having the desire to change the behavior. People can change. I’m proof.