I knew my counseling was starting to work when I caught myself sabotaging my emotional health in a conversation with my wife the other day.
Here’s how it went down:
As a school teacher, I had the entire week off for Mardi Gras last week.
And so did my kids.
During these “breaks” I usually have a heavy dose of daddy duty. My wife works from home and my primary mission is to keep the kids out of her office so she can rake in the big bucks as a graphic designer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time with my kids, but around-the-clock interaction wears thin after about day two. By day four…you don’t even want to know.
Sarah is very aware of this and makes every effort for me to have some time to myself during the week. Therefore, on Tuesday she told me she had found someone available to watch our children on Thursday so I could retrieve my sanity…or at least go look for it.
Sounds great right? One would think I would have jumped all over the offer.
But I almost didn’t. And for all the wrong reasons.
Giving With Resentment
With a stiff upper life, I was just on the verge of saying: No. I’ll watch them. Paying a sitter while you work just cuts into your profits. And we need the money.
Things would have continued to have gone downhill from there.
Following this rebuttal, I would have slinked off into a day-long brooding period during which I would have lamented the following:
- If I made more money, Sarah wouldn’t have to work and I would have more freedom.
- Why can’t I have a hobby like other dads?
- I’ll never get to play golf again.
- No matter what I give for these kids, it’s never enough.
Move over Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Your martyrdom pales in comparison to mine. Amateur.
Oh, I would have watched the kids alright, but I would have been unhappy about it the whole time. In other words, I would have been giving with resentment.
And that’s not giving at all. Not even close.
Seeing the Truth
Breakthrough moments in our lives come as a result of flashes of self-revelation. We see something new in ourselves. We might not like it, but we see it. We finally see the truth.
And that’s what counseling is all about. Talking with a mental health professional whose aim is getting you to see the truth about your deepest self.
Once self-awareness is achieved, progress is then possible. Because actions informed by truth advance us far more than those rooted in self-deception.
And I’ve believed some pretty outlandish things about me in the past.
Acting on the Truth
Sitting at my kitchen table, I was thankful to have seen the truth in mine. But seeing the truth and acting on the truth are two completely different animals. And ultimately, who we truly are is the sum total of our actions, not our good intentions.
I knew I needed to tread with care over the next few seconds. One false word from my mouth could have resulted in losing the ground I’ve been fighting so hard to gain.
In these defining moments, it’s as if life goes into slow motion, giving us a bit more time to think before we act. Is it possible that life is rooting for us to do the right thing, and gives us a bit more space to carefully consider our decision?
During the slo-mo, here’s what was going through my mind:
What should I do with this new self-truth?
- Ignore the truth and stubbornly continue to play the victim card
- Acknowledge the truth inwardly but procrastinate and tell myself, “I will change my behavior THE NEXT TIME AROUND
The combination of God’s grace and three sessions of therapy gave me the strength to choose door number “C”.
A Big Moment
I know my subconscious (and my wife) must have been shocked when I said the following:
“Sarah, my first reaction is to say ‘No thanks, I’ll watch the kids…again’, But if I’m honest, I would love nothing more than to have a day to myself.”
“In addition, I just realized that if I reject your offer I would be doing so for all the wrong reasons. I would wind up giving with resentment, just like I’ve done many times in the past. And I’m sorry.”
It was a big moment for me. It was a big moment for my marriage. It was a big moment for my future.
A big moment that wouldn’t have happened without counseling.
The Payoff of Counseling
With this new self-revelation in my pocket, I did take that day off, thank you very much. I focused on me and enjoyed every minute of it. The funny thing is, I didn’t feel a hint of guilt all day.
Because when you do truly give without resentment a miracle happens. You’re then freed up to receive without guilt.
And to think how close I came to missing out on both.
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Has there been a time when you recognized destructive behavior in your own life? What led to this breakthrough revelation? How have you continuted to live differently since becoming more self-aware?
Get unstuck by believing the TRUTH about yourself.