Last week I was a monster. Like a truly terrible person.
My husband Steve has been in England for more than 4 months, caring for his dying mum Wyn in her home in England. He has taken this act of service on so lovingly and completely, and I love him deeply for this.
The thing is, I really miss him as well. Usually, I’ve got that in hand. We chat on Facetime. I went to see him for 10 days. I’m also an adult, so the context of our separation makes sense, and I don’t have many stories around it. It is what it is, and as I know, not choosing what is is the source of all suffering.
Except the other week I snapped. Seemingly out of nowhere I felt waves of frustration and deep annoyance at Steve. Why is he away so long? This isn’t fair! I was even momentarily annoyed at Wyn his mum (which is the monster part!). And then I got super judgey about myself. What sort of terrible person am I? And then immediately went into victim – I can’t even tell Steve, this is my burden to bear… I felt sad, angry and lonely.
This all happened within minutes.
Luckily I’m trained and aware enough to not linger in this morass. Bad as it was, I knew not to get caught up in some drama story about me, Steve, or the situation.
I’m also aware enough to not override my feelings either. So I sat with it all and tuned into what was really there for me. Underneath the frustration was a simple truth – I was missing Steve – my man, my partner, my love. I was anxious for him and what he was going through. And I was very, very sad about Wyn.
In tuning into this, what arose was deep, deep compassion for myself, and for Steve and his mum.
Without even saying a word to him, I was restored to complete partnership, intimacy and connection.
I share this story to normalise being human. We humans are messy, complicated and glorious creatures. We feel hurt, we make stuff up, we react, we love deeply – and we’re not superheroes. Pretending this isn’t the case is not helpful.
It is crucial for us as leaders to bring awareness to what’s really going on for us, and not let our unconscious drivers shape our behaviour. There are so many things in our professional and personal lives that are challenging. That’s ok. It’s normal.
Instead of staying trapped in irritation, frustration or shame, we can instead notice what’s underneath our reactions and bring loving attention to that. Even if you can’t get the situation resolved, you can resolve your own jangled feelings and thoughts by being able to let them be. Even if for a moment.
Sometimes that can be as simple (not necessarily easy) as the act of noticing – and letting go.
How we do this takes practice, commitment and courage. That we do this is on us.