For some odd reason the other day I remembered a funny comment that my cousin made years ago. He was maybe 4 years old at the time and was visiting with his three older sisters and parents for the weekend. It was late in the afternoon and my mom and aunt had done their hair and were continuing their primping for the dinner dance — the reason why they came for a visit. They both settled into the living room, in their housecoats (remember those!) and proceeded to do their nails. My cousin, who was playing on the floor was curious about what they were doing and the following conversation took place:
Cousin: What are you doing Mom?
Aunt: Making ourselves beautiful!
Cousin: But how Mom? There’s no way!
It was one of those precious moments, and we all roared with laughter! I’m not sure what made me think about that moment, yet it put a smile on my face and a chuckle in my heart. I don’t think my aunt will ever let him forget that moment!
Did you know that memories have a way of tripping us up? They can make us smile warmly as I did when I remembered my cousin’s comment, or they can cause chaos and havoc. Let me share a personal example with you; a memory that caused many unsettling marital moments and one that my husband and I now chuckle about.
My mom was a perfectionist. Growing up I always wanted to spend time with my mom and that often meant helping her with projects around the house. I would often volunteer to do more than she was willing to let me do and her response was always “I’ll let you… ” and she would give me permission to do a fraction of what I hoped to do.
Fast forward many years to when I was married. My husband and I would be planning our schedule for the week, or a weekend project, a social event or a trip. At the point where we would be wrapping up invariably, my husband would say “I’ll let you… “. Well! The hair on the back of my neck would stand up, the hands would go on my hips followed by the lecture about my life resume, complete with educational and work experience. Then I wouldn’t talk to the guy for three weeks because after all, I didn’t need his permission to do anything!
In my heart of hearts, I knew that he wasn’t giving me permission for that isn’t at all what he meant. It was just his way of wrapping up the conversation. However, those words triggered a horrible reaction. Bless his soul, he learned very quickly, not to use them! It wasn’t until a few years ago, that it dawned on me why those three words triggered such a volatile reaction. It harkened back to my youth when my mom wouldn’t let me do what I wanted to do. I guess I always resented that and so when I heard those same words years later I reacted poorly. Needless to say, my husband was delighted to hear that all of this was his mother-in-law’s fault. Today we chuckle about it whenever he says those words!
What amazes me is how much havoc that buried memory played in my life. All of that time I spend being annoyed at my husband when it wasn’t his fault. What memories are getting in your way? Do you ever find yourself annoyed or frustrated for some unknown reason? Take a moment and examine those feelings. What triggered them? Was it one of your senses – touch, taste, sight, smell, sound? Or was it an emotion – joy, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust, fear? Now ask yourself the question, “What’s that all about?”
What triggered my memories? For the one about my cousin, it was seeing that my toenails needed a new coat of nail polish. For the memory about my mom, it happened one day as I was preparing for a GO System Workshop – ironic given that memories are one of the things covered in the Workshop. What memories are tripping you up?
Book Recommendation: When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping With Perfectionism by Martin Antony PhD and Richard Swinson MD FRCPC FRCP