Sitting Through the Discomfort

July 23, 2012

Joelle’s turn today. You remember her–she always jokes that she has a bad case of “Tongue Fu.” (I wrote about that here.) She went out for her mother’s birthday the other night. A loooonnnng dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Big Mistake. Joelle’s kids are all young kids. What regular kid can sit in a restaurant without wanting to get up 58 times during the meal, get antsy, get bored, get like a…kid?

Joelle’s Mom and sister got mad at her for not being able to control her kids, however. Joelle realized that they shouldn’t have to be in a restaurant for 2 hours at the end of the day and be expected to sit politely.

“If I had said to my mom originally, ‘I would love to be with you on your b-day but a restaurant like that would be a stressful situtation for me’,” Joelle said. “Or, I could have said, ‘you know I would love to be with you. Why don’t the grown-ups all go out to eat or why don’t we order in…? Or why don’t we go to a sports place with TV’s? Or… ‘It’s not going to work for us. We love you , have a blast and we will meet up another time.’”

She didn’t do it this time, but maybe next time she’ll be ready. The point is that we have to get to the point when we can sit with the discomfort that comes when we think someone is angry at us. And that’s hard to do. Because we think that if people are angry at us then they don’t love us –and that means they’ve abandoned us because we’re unlovable.

Today we can remember that we can sit through the discomfort we might feel when someone we love is angry at us.

It doesn’t mean that we’re not loved. It just means that we might not be doing exactly what they wanted us to do.

I’m happy that Joelle shared this with me. As Melody Beattie said here, “…there is magic in a group – even if the group meets online.  Sharing the question and the answer on the forum means others get to learn from the answer too.”

What are other strategies you use to get out of things you don’t want to do? And how do you deal with feeling that people you love are angry at you?

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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