I am intense. I fight passionately, loudly, with a lot of tears. I heal loudly, passionately, and with a lot of tears. I sad loudly, passionately, and with a lot of tears. I self-hate loudly, passionately, and with a lot of tears. I also love loudly, passionately, and with a lot of tears.
I thought it was because I am a Highly Sensitive Person. I never questioned that it might be something different. And, that possibly, I could be highly sensitive, and not so (so) intense.
I had babies. And the first few years I did everything loudly, passionately, and with a lot of tears. But, about three years ago, something shifted. And motherhood calmed me. My reaction time slowed.
It was around the same time that I realized I could just Say Yes, nearly all the time. I could be friends with my children. I could stop going to the mat over. . . everything. I could breath and slow down before reacting.
No doubt this coincided with, and was greatly effected by, both of my children being potty trained, us sorting out Ever’s gluten sensitivity, and no longer tandem breast feeding.
The knowledge that I didn’t need to passionately parent at all times, and could just. . . be fun, shifted everything.
I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve been late to the game to embrace this in other arenas. It came easy’ish in parenting. However, in marriage and relationship I struggled to let-go of the INTENSE habit I had, that no longer even felt authentic.
For example, I would get upset! React! Then, a minute later, breath/calm and realize, this isn’t as big of a deal as I thought. Needing to turn-towards Charlie, acknowledge that I no longer felt as passionately as I reacted 5 minutes ago, that felt. . . embarrassing. My ego wanted to “win” the fight.
I worried that I would be a joke. Laughable. And he’d no longer take me seriously if I didn’t make everything a passionate-tear filled endeavor.
Eventually, that level of All Intense All The Time got more exhausting than my fear of letting my ego take the fall. So I started really naming it. I’d react(!) and then when I realized I didn’t feel as Big as I’d made it out to be. I would say that. Nearly verbatim. “I made that really big. Because I’m upset. But I’m not that upset. Let’s keep talking about this, together, instead of me at you.”
Instead of losing my upper hand and being laughed at, as you could probably predict, things got easier. Lighter. When either of us would react, there was now room to say “I over reacted.” and not be met with a smirk or a ‘ya think?!’ and instead be met with ‘I get it’ and have productive conversation.
My learning curve in marriage, relationship, and really thoughtful communication has been steep. And there is still significant growth and learning to be done. But at this moment, just having this win, is monumental and opens up vulnerability and conversation in a really incredible way.
I’m taken seriously because my grievances are serious, instead of being taken seriously because I’m the loudest/saddest. I feel more heard, and more capable of communicating what it actually happening. I also feel far more capable of listening, because I’m not seeing RED all the time.
On my Live chat yesterday (on FB!) I mentioned a few book’s that have significantly helped communication in our marriage and I wanted to drop those (affiliate!) links here in case you want to add them to your arsenal too.