On the outskirts of London at 6.30am this morning it was raining and dark. I told my dad that I wasn’t keen to run in the early morning rain (as I’d done the previous morning), so began getting ready to catch a bus to go to the gym instead. My dad kindly offered to give me a lift.
When we got to the gym, my dad wished me a good workout and I gave him a hug. Great, I’m getting the hang of this “I am loved and approved of by my parents” thing – and I’m even reciprocating. God, I’m good… As I got to the gym reception I realised I’d left my wallet in my dad’s car. I sprinted outside in the hope of catching him. I yelled out and ran harder as I watched his tail lights disappear around the corner, all the while thinking; he’ll see me in the rear view mirror.
At this point something very interesting occurred.
I began to lay blame on my dad for not seeing or hearing me as I chased his car. This was his fault! If only he was a more vigilant driver and checked his rear view mirror, he would have noticed me scrambling after him, then I could have grabbed my wallet and happily done my workout. And how annoying that he was too deaf to hear me shouting after him. What a stupid man.
Oh. My. God.
I hope you can feel my heart absolutely breaking as I write this. I was categorically stunned at this internal dialogue that was labelling my father as stupid because I had left my wallet in his car. Especially when he’d gone out of his way to give me a lift before the sun was even up.
Shame. On. Me.
So there I was outside the gym with no money to pay the entry fee and no bus pass to get home because that was also in my wallet. Instant karma? Seems the Universe had plans for me to run in the rain despite my best efforts to do the opposite. Having no other choice I pulled up my hood and started to run the 5 km trip back home.
As I ran I began to see how the belief that my dad is stupid has been playing in my mind for a very long time. Realising this explains the bitchy teenage behaviour that I exhibit when I’m with my parents. Somehow this previously buried belief had risen from my unconscious mind into my conscious thinking. Yeah, and not a moment too soon I might add.
FYI I actually feel sick as I write this.
I carried on pounding the pavement and quickly reversed the notion that my dad was to blame for my current situation. Thanks to my decision to take 100% responsibility for every moment of every day, I easily and immediately took full responsibility for the fact that I had left my wallet in his car. Nothing about this scenario was his fault and logically I knew that. It dawned on me that I had been operating from the space of “my dad is stupid” for most of my life. It explained why I speak to him with little more than contempt sometimes. Seriously, I’m ashamed to publicly reveal this but it’s the truth. Sure, I’m not like that all the time, but if I’m going to be honest then I’d say it’s a lot more frequent than not.
As I jumped over puddles and felt the rain splash on my cheeks I wondered what else I must believe about my parents that was triggering less than gracious behaviour from me. I turned my thoughts to my mum. What delights had I laid on her? What belief did I hold about my mum that left her on the end of many spiteful and impatient words? It came to me that I believed my mum was unlovable.
Good lord, and just when I was ready to give myself a pat on the back!
Ashamedly I’ve been carrying around the belief that not only is my dad stupid but that my mum is unlovable. Wow. No wonder they don’t exactly get the best of me.
Now is a good time to explain that fortunately I’m aware that our beliefs are not necessarily tied into what we logically or intellectually understand to be true. I have no doubt that my dad is a smart man. He may not be educated in the academic sense but he can trim a hedge, paint an entire house and do a crossword in less time than it takes most people to open a letter. Similarly, my mum is an adorably sweet woman who is always happy to feed me with a delicious meal and sends birthday and Christmas cards to over 100 people every year. Couple that with the fact that at the age of 79 and 75 respectively, they still go dancing every week, and are always first on the dancefloor and last to leave. Honestly, there’s nothing not to like about them.
So these beliefs that I’ve held are not based on knowledge, they are based on thoughts that I must have formed as a child, (unconsciously) before I was fully capable of understanding the world. But that doesn’t make telling this story any less cringeworthy.
Remarkably though, as I had these realisations it was very easy to logically dismiss them as unwarranted beliefs and to see that by consciously choosing to know that my dad is smart and that my mother is loveable that I could also change my behaviour toward them almost instantly. And you know what, it has.
By the time I got home from my run, I was soaked to the skin, but instead of being snippy and taking it out on my mum, we laughed about the situation. I even felt bad that my dad had driven all the way back to the sports centre when he found my wallet because he felt terrible that I wouldn’t have been able to get in. I wasn’t resentful that he must have driven right past me – a lone drenched female jogger on the main road with no other pedestrians in sight. I’m pretty sure before this new realisation I would have added that to my “god, he’s so stupid” agenda, and not seen the love that must be there in order for him to drive the same round trip in the rain when he could have been at home drinking tea.
I’m actually crying as I wrap up this blog and it’s for two reasons:
1) I am utterly shocked and ashamed of the behaviour and lack of respect I have shown my parents over the years. The love they exhibit toward me is awe inspiring, yet due to a set of unconscious beliefs I haven’t been able to truly see it. Until now that is.
2) The second reason I’m choking up is because thankfully, somehow, I know I am freer than I was yesterday. I can now see how much my parents love me as the blinkers that have blinded me for as long as I can remember have somehow, miraculously been removed.
I don’t know how this shift in consciousness has occurred but I do know one thing: the love my parents have for me is so great that not only have they been able to remain loving toward me despite me being a snippy little bitch on many occasions, I’m pretty sure that no matter what I did they would still show the same level of love and compassion. I would even go so far as to say I bet they wouldn’t know how to do anything else.
Wow, I am one lucky girl.