Last Friday’s session with my counsellor consisted of a lot of crying. I was still exhausted from a week of being sick. I was overcome with a whole bunch of emotions. And when I’m tired I am even more prone to cry than I am normally, which is already a lot. I was not a pretty sight — especially when you add in all of the nose blowing from being sick.
I’d gone into that session expecting to cry and just generally feeling like all of the things that had been weighing on me over the previous days and weeks were a big muddle of confusion that could not be sorted out.
I explained to my counsellor that when I go to bed at night a lot of the time I will look back with regret on my day which leads me to think that I’m a horrible person. Not just that I made mistakes as a mother and therefore was not the greatest mother… Nope, I go straight for my whole being: a horrible person. So often I’d go to bed with just a horrible feeling — about the day, about me, about all of the bad things that make up life.
At the end of the session my counsellor said something like, “What if you went away this week free from that?” And I just laughed — like really hard. If I’d been drinking something, I’d have snorted it across the room kind-of-laugh. I went on to explain that I always thought of freedom as a gift. “Can you really just ‘choose’ to be free?” That was rhetorical question. Because, no. Obviously you cannot just “choose” to be free.
She asked me what my days would look like if I didn’t have the inner monologue of “I’m horrible” running through my head. I said that I likely wouldn’t do anything different (because I really do know that I’m not doing a completely horrible job), but that I would be or feel different. So she asked me where I could consciously make myself be without that negative monologue. I said I could start at the end of the day and instead of saying, “I’m horrible. Today was horrible. I have likely scarred my children for life repeatedly today.” that I would say “Today is what it was.” In my mind that is a bit more graceful description of the day. The day was not perfect, but that does not mean that I have caused the ultimate ruin of any one of my children by what I did or did not do today.
“Today is what it was.”
Just that phrase was liberating. I said I would say it at bedtime in place of those endless, negative, and chaotic thoughts that often spin around my brain as the day unwinds. I’d say it at bedtime because that meant that I was “free” to be chaotic and angry and feel like a failure when those situations arose in the daytime. I figured that was manageable, and I would use the phrase to reflect on those moments.
But instead what happened was that it even changed my perspective about the day during the day. All of a sudden I could look at a confusing situation and not feel like everything was falling apart because I knew at the end of the day “today is what it was”. And that meant that “Now is what it is”.
So there has been some freedom in my life because of that phrase. And it has felt like a choice, which I never realized was possible. I guess I always figured I’d run around with my usual head-spinning confusion and one day God would bestow upon me the thing that would stop the spinning. I big spike through the head comes to mind… Though that doesn’t really feel like freedom…
But instead I got five little words that make me look at the events of my life very differently.
And somehow they change things.