On Being Interrupted

by Sep 13, 2020Uncategorized

Let’s pull on this moment like taffy and see what might be hidden there.

You are doing important stuff. Somebody may even be paying you to do important stuff. And your kid shouts out to you from the other room. You hear it, but you don’t respond. Cause important stuff. She shouts again. You are irritable. You need to pay the rent, and your child needs you. It’s impossible. It’s not your fault. These are COVID times. Physical boundaries are down. There is no office to go to.

Your kid sounds great by the way. She knows what she wants. She isn’t shy about demanding it. She tries twice. Yay you. You are raising a resilient child who isn’t shy about voicing her needs. She’ll need when she’s negotiating commissions, but for now it’s hard on you. This moment requires you to come out of your task head and deal with a little. There may be a resounding NO in your mind. Let me just finish this one thing. Why doesn’t anyone see that I’m busy?

Let’s take a break from the vignette. Who taught you patience?

Maybe no one.

Maybe you were ignored and learned to keep quiet. Your kid is breaking through your old rule. Never bother Mommy. A rule you made so that you wouldn’t feel so ignored. A rule you made because you loved your mom. And now you feel pulled to ignore your kid. That’s a repeat of what happened to you. Small “t” trauma. Everyday stings.

We have automatic responses like applets running all the time.

Is the thing more important than the person? It might be you are on deadline. The Zoom call starts in 10. But if the thing is always more important than the person, then I want memories of how things and people were weighed growing up. And perhaps a review of this math is in order. One based on your values and not on what you denied yourself so that you wouldn’t feel like you didn’t matter.

Elizabeth Singer is a therapist and anger management specialist in New York City

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