I can’t, because I am not in control of her brain or the choices it appears to make upon her dialogue with me.
I can, however, alter how I react to her. I can change the habit of a lifetime and no longer behave and respond as the victim she perceives me to be, and expects me to continue to be.
This phenomena; this idea, has wrapped itself around me like a cloak over the past few months and I can already sense shifts in patterns of behaviour when she is around. One simple step I made was no longer apologising for things I hadn’t done wrong – my counsellor explained that I should only use this word when I truly wish to express regret for something I may have said or done and subsequently regret. So when, a few months ago in mid-December, mother paid our house a visit and returned some empty tupperware boxes at our door before leaving with no other note or text, I sent her a text.
At first, from habit, I started to type:
Hi mum – I’m sorry we were out when you called. We were buying our christmas tree! xxx
I paused before pressing send and re-read it. Nothing jumped out as wrong with it, but then I recalled my counsellor’s words. So I deleted most of the text and re-typed:
Hi mum. Thank you for returning the tupperware; I hope you enjoyed the cake. We were out choosing our Christmas tree. Perhaps we can catch up later this week? x
The subtle differences are that I took out the word sorry as I had nothing to apologise for. Mother had not forewarned me of her intention to call, so it had been a gamble on her part as to whether we would be in or not. I show gratitude for her action at leaving the box, and empathy when I ask about the cake. I choose to explain our absence with a statement which is followed with a simple full stop. The first version I feel the exclamation mark leaves an element of defensiveness from me – do you see it? I finish with a suggestion we get together and close with one kiss. Not a flurry of desperate kisses.
Subtle differences .. which left me feeling more in control of my emotions. Result!
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