Learning to Relax to Keep from Losing my Cool

Photo by Squid Larkin

Photo by Squid Larkin

When I was single and lived alone on the mountain, I used to walk in the forest at Wildwood. Mid-way through the walk, an impossibly tall pine tree would call out to me, and I would collapse against it and cry. Long, gulping, releasing tears. I felt cleaner, lighter, freer afterwards.

Today I had almost the same experience. But I was in my bedroom. In my jeans and pajama top. My daughter and wife in the kitchen nearby. Discussions about snack: blueberries and string cheese. Loud toddler demands for more. A cat snoring heavily on my arm.

And me?

I was….meditating. No, REALLY!

This woman, at the Peaceful Parent Institute, has this meditation track. On it, she plays the Celtic harp and says things softly in her New Zealand accent. Things about releasing, relaxing, shaking loose. Being at peace. Being safe. All being well.

I am NOT a meditator. I do not meditate. At least, not well.

I am an eye-roller, a skeptic, a recovering cynic.

(When I was in graduate school, one of the members of our cohort had a monthly transformative experience. Vistas were opening! Insights were profound! It was changing his life! He would never be the same! I secretly mocked this person. A LOT.)


…..this meditation thing might be CHANGING MY LIFE!

Because here’s the thing: I don’t know how to relax. I only know how to escape, via scrabble games on facebook, sci-fi books from the library, and british crime shows on netflix.

Escape and relax are not the same. In fact, they are kind of the opposite. To escape is to run away from the anxiety, stress, and despair. To relax is to do that opening, being-at-peace, all-is-well thing that apparently can actually resolve and release that tight knot of ack! and ungh! and grrr.

I desperately need to relax because the daily picking up of the same random household items over and over and over is driving me nuts. I get angry. I get frustrated. And then I get angry AND frustrated…and I explode and sweep the kitchen floor in a furious stabbing motion that is toxic for me and my family.

I knew, going into motherhood, that this was going to be an issue for me. A “growing edge” (to be charitable).

But this woman (her name is Genevieve) says that anger and frustration comes from unmet needs.

I wonder if all the needs I think I have: to use my brain, to pee in private, to have a kitchen floor you can walk across without becoming mired in half-chewed graham crackers mixed with used Q-tips, tupperware lids and toilet paper…if those needs are all kind of a symptom. A surface issue (hee hee).

The deeper need is that I need to know everything-is-okay-regardless-of-the-chaos-around-me.

I can’t run in the woods but I can (thanks to my wonderful wife) hide in my bedroom and listen to this meditation track for ten minutes, once a week. And those ten minutes, accumulated, might just save my life.


How do you relax? Or if you are like me, and this question is almost incomprehensible,  then: how do you keep your balance?

3 thoughts on “Learning to Relax to Keep from Losing my Cool

  1. lol. Beth I know the feeling! it has been a LONG adjustment for me! A growing process. At times over the last 8 years I thought I had it figured out and then shortly later to realize that I didn’t.
    I struggled to find peace. At one point, before we had our son-I was Pregnant and was trying to help my husband understand that i didnt want to go back to work after delivery, my husband said, (not realizing how hurtful it was to preggers wife) “if you are just going to complain and be unhappy though…then why not just complain and work and make money”. ouch. I talk a lot….:-D so I want to talk about my day. He associated my talking with complaining….but his talking about his day was not complaining…..it was an issue for a number of years….I was like, I am not complaining, just telling you what happened.
    Anyway, it made it even harder for me after delivery, cuz I felt like I couldn’t talk about my day without it being a complaint….well as you know with a baby or young child at home….welll…you have these magical moments that are often short and fleeting, while the trying to get said child down for nap could be a marathon of torture.

    After years of being home, working, being home, working from home, etc…I think;-) I figured myself out. I was kinda shoved into sorting this out after being laid off.

    I need recognition, a feeling like I am accomplishing something that is noticed… I don’t like feeling like I am just a maid.

    I have come to truly believe that I am a Valuable person. Who brings significant value to my family….even if it is in the small things like unpacking and getting the suitcases out of the way and getting the laundry done and the dishes switched so that our house and home environment is more calm. I have come to believe that the value I bring to our home is Priceless.

    recently I had this amazing God moment. I was overcome…by the Holy Spirit and it was amaxing. I had just dropped Eli off for an afternoon at the Church Daycare to play. I love audiobooks, wanted to put one on and caught myself and said I shiuld put my music on. There is a song by Hillsong Young and Free album called Wake. Eli and I love it. we blast the car stereo and belt it out at the top of our lungs. Christian music is what I do for our family. My husband -as a later in life Christian doesn’t listen to as much and his first choice is often something else.

    I spend hours on Itunes a couple times a year to comb through a lot of music to try to find music that -first I think Eli will like and second…maybe David will like.
    I know often David has in the past…wondered…why I spend hours doing some of the things that I do. I call them my mommy things.
    This is one of them. But I believe in the power of music. The words of some of the music I listened to as a teen saved me during really tough times. kept me sane. gave me hope for a beyter-different future.
    David had different-tough teen years and made a lot of different choices and had different voices in his head.

    So, recently we had someone close to use die. we have been changing and updating our Will amd Trust and it has caused is to thinl more about our mortality. Plus, we were getting ready to leave our son for 10 days out of the country. Makes one think about things.

    So here I am driving and listening to music that my son loves to sing with me. I became overwhelmed with emotion. of what if I wasn’t here. I thought, well David would be here…he would ‘fill’ my spot…. (spiritually I do and encourage different things than my husband, although he is a strong Christian, he doesn’t feel the need for church and the music, daily stuff)…then I realized, no he wouldn’t. He would be there for Eli in different ways, but not my ways.

    So then I thought, well if we were both gone, my mom would do this….look for hours to find music Eli would like with good uplifting lyrics, etc.
    No she wouldn’t. She doesn’t like music this upbeat/style. Agian she would be there for him, but different.

    I felt anguished for a moment. God don’t let me be gone from Eli’s life.
    Then I felt an awesomeness. Wow, what I am doing in this moment in time with my life and time MATTERS. Life changing matters. No one can do for Eli-his development as a person, his spiritual life….what I am doing.
    I keep remembering that this is for a season of my life. That sweeping and mopping don’t define me or my value.
    I am a child of God, doing what God has called me to do.

    Anyway, this has helped me find peace. Also, giving myself permission to take time for myself and NOT feel bad about it.
    I used to feel bad for not getting up earlier or for sleeping later when David was up and out. Then I remembered that David wouldn’t even think twice about it. 😀

    My experience. Love you Beth! You are valued. You are doing PRICELESS things right now:-)

  2. Pingback: What I *Really* Want for Christmas | Poemfish: Elizabeth Durant

  3. Pingback: Joy: The Mess & The Music | Poemfish: Elizabeth Durant

Comments are closed.