Turns out that for this mama bear, working on a bully problem may also cause PPBD (Post Parenting Badmoon Disorder).
My son recently dealt with a bully situation. Any mom who has had to walk next to her child as they handle something like that will tell you the obvious. It sucks. It’s gut-wrenching heart-breaking shit. I mean that word very intentionally…messy, disgusting, and demoralizing.
I could write on and on about the many horrible facets of bullying, but this blog would maybe go on forever and I’d rather share some of the interesting things I noticed about myself as it all played out. Maybe another parent out there has had the same experiences.
Sometimes we are confronted with our very human nature and I find for me that it can bring up feelings of disappointment, like I’m failing at my evolutionary process. My comforting fallback is always, “What can I learn from this?” At least, that gives the experience some value.
First of all, the mama bear instinct always catches me a little off-guard when it presents as fierce and primal. Even though I rationally wouldn’t want to rob him of life experiences that will help him grow, my gut instinct is that I would eagerly cut off my own finger if I could guarantee he would never feel devastation again.
When mama bear is engaged, she can bring with her some very uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Fury and hatred. Yeah, those don’t feel good. My mind flashes to what I’d like to see happen to that bully. Ugh, that’s unsettling. What a relief that nobody else is in my head.
It’s raw stuff. But it’s real and I’m human and it’s okay that it arises.
All of that raging emotion is happening internally, but outwardly I’m pretty good in a crisis. I can listen. I can stay. I can keep my emotions in check so that he doesn’t have to figure out what to do about me on top of everything else he’s going through. I can acknowledge and validate and brainstorm scenarios when he’s ready for that. I’m not triggered. I’m calm.
Eventually, it felt like the worst of the storm had subsided. But I was drained. More than tired, I was weary. I felt overwhelmed. The house was too bright and the kids were too loud. I wanted a nap, a glass of wine, a movie, something to escape into. I was suddenly consumed with victim energy myself.
By this time, he was off in his own escape somewhere, probably a book or a video game. What stopped me in my tracks was the question my other son asked me right then. “Why are YOU in such a bad mood?”
Suddenly, a lightbulb went on. Wow. Despite the fact that I felt like a crisis rockstar, the truth seemed to be that I was either putting my real energetic reaction on hold or I lacked strong enough barriers to prevent myself from ultimately taking on my son’s energy as my own.
Fascinated, I looked back through some of our recent crisis moments and saw a pattern emerge in the way I reacted to them.
I tend to push pause on my own natural response, but it doesn’t go away. By the time I’m finally feeling it, I’m caught off guard and it feels totally out of place for me AND everyone around me. It makes sense looking back that it was so puzzling at the time. After handling a challenging situation in a calm way, a way that I was proud of, I never understood why I ended up in such a bad mood.
What’s frustrating for a seeker, like myself, is that I don’t have an answer or solution for that right now. I have to simply be satisfied with awareness. That is always the first piece of my process anyway: awareness, acceptance, action. At least, it is no longer hidden from my view. Perhaps next time I see it I will be able to say, “Aha, there you are. I am not surprised. I was expecting you.”