Sunday, December 18, 2011

From Victim to Victor. Somehow.

I was witness to my in-laws as they married off their 15th child, their baby boy.
Through great effort, they saw to it that every single one of their children and spouses, grandchildren and spouses and great grandchildren were present and able to participate in the celebration.

Of all the incredible experiences life has offered me, that’s got to have been of the top ten.
The energy was palpable, emotions ran high. What a momentous occasion. It’s hard to imagine what that means. I think it’s always huge for parents when their children get married.
Especially so when it’s their youngest. But the 15th? Mind boggling.

The kids had a great time spending time with their cousins, doing cartwheels down the long hotel corridors and made great use of the swimming pool and water slides. 

We arrived the night before the wedding and my brother and sister-in-law prepared a feast for us. We had succulent organic rib roasts (the last ones!) roasted cauliflower, moroccan chicken, green bean salad, Israeli salad, red cabbage salad, beautiful gigantic potato knishes and for dessert organic cherries and grapes. Thank you Z&M, I'm still stuffed. 
Why didn't I take pictures?

It wasn’t all fun and games though. The last few days before our trip had us in a mental health crisis with one of our children and I wasn’t sure that we would all make it there. I reached out to a particular family member for support and received a lot of self righteous indignation in response. I felt judged, misunderstood and invalidated. It was with great sacrifice that my entire family ended up attending. A sacrifice that I didn’t feel was justifiable. I hardly slept the night before our travels. I didn't get anything done either, I just stayed in bed and worried and cried and made an absolute mess of myself. When morning came, I was completely dysfunctional. I had my kids prepare the clothing they needed for the trip. My four year old emptied her drawers on my bed and I flipped out. My 13 year old helped her choose just the clothing she needed for the 2 days. All I did was prepare my own things, and my husband packed it all up. If you know me AT ALL....

I had coordinated the hair stylists and make up artists for a number of family members. Most of whom were very grateful for the time and effort it took, but what stood out most was the following email, received the day before the wedding:  “...I feel very let down. I am always late and....” Hmmmm.

During the wedding I took my daughter up to my hotel room for a little down time. As we made our way back to the wedding hall I noticed some younger nephews, completely unsupervised, playing in the elevators, visiting random hotel floors. I sent them back to the wedding area and upon returning to the hall, I told one of the moms what her boys had been up to. She screamed in response “WELL WHERE IS THEIR FATHER”. I took a giant step back, shocked and disturbed. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

Now that a few days have passed and I’m safely on the road to recovery, I look back and see an underlying common denominator. I saw myself as a victim in these situations. I felt victimized by a situation, by the lack of support, understanding and compassion directed at me. By the harsh words I perceived in that email. By the scathing tone of the mom with whom I shared that her children were unsafe.

But I am only victim to myself. I am victim to my thoughts. When I provide the compassion and validation that I need, it doesn’t matter whether or not it comes from external sources. Of course it’s nice to receive it when I reach out for help. But when I do reach out, I need to expect that people will respond with their own agendas, and that does not necessarily include my well being.

I have the choice to focus on the 10 emails that said “thanks for organizing”, “awesome” “you’re the best” rather than join the pity party of the one that felt “let down”.

And I realize that when someone lashes out at me, that same someone is feeling inadequate and it has nothing to do with me. 

When I am grounded, when I provide validation to myself, when I am not affected by the words and behaviors of others, I am victor. Yet when I am unsteady, reaching out, feeling vulnerable, the tiniest wind seems to knock me down. These don’t need to be mutually exclusive. My goal for myself is to find a way to validate myself within a vulnerability, regardless of how grounded I feel.

So I leave myself with this: If I had to do it all over again, how would I do it differently?

To begin with, I would get enough sleep. Everything seems to function, everything is more manageable when I sleep my 8 hours.

In a place of well-being I wouldn't reach out to passive aggressive people for support. This same person has previously tread upon my wounded feelings and provided invalidation. Why would I do that to myself, AGAIN? I would acknowledge the difficulty and the magnitude of the decision I needed to make without the judgement and anxiety. 

In a place of well-being I would receive my emails without emotion.

In a place of well-being I may find the compassion to say to screaming mom “I remember when my boys were little. It’s so hard to keep them in your line of vision all the time”... or something else that doesn't include me being shocked and taken aback.

I hope I remember to apply all this because next time can't be too far away...

To good health,


  1. Words of inspiration...
    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I am blown away, inspired, uplifted by your meaningful words. I feel like I could be writing them... I wish I could have coffee with you!!;) it's seems like we are all dealt the perfect circumstances and situations that are uniquely for us to grow and perfect who we are....l'chaim