Things I Cannot Change

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I’ve been thinking about the serenity prayer from AA a lot today:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I cannot change the fact that I’m still sick, that I had to run out of the room while my students were in shavasana this morning, so that I could have my coughing fit without disturbing their relaxation.

I couldn’t change the mood my children were in today, I couldn’t make my daughter take a nap, or ask my son to stop fussing, so that I could have a much-needed rest.

I couldn’t change the pain in the right side of my neck, that radiates into my ear, my jaw, my head.  It has been like this for twelve hours now.  I cannot change this.

I couldn’t change my husband’s reaction to my forgetting to turn the ringer of my phone back on after I taught my yoga class.  He worried when he couldn’t reach me; he tried multiple times during the day. I couldn’t change his worry, or his annoyance with me later when I explained that the kids were loud, I was working on a project, and I simply forgot that the phone was on silent mode.

I brought my son to Patient First tonight, because he was crying and crying and wouldn’t fall asleep at his normal bedtime. He has conjunctivitis, just like his sister, and now he has a cough.  I wanted to be seen for the pain in the right side of my face and neck.  While there, waiting for the doctor, I couldn’t change my son’s behavior. Almost two, and very tired, he didn’t understand why objects were being stuck in his ears, his nose, his mouth.  Why he was made to sit still while someone looked into his eyes.  He cried loudly and struggled valiantly.  I couldn’t change this.  I tried to explain to him that we were trying to help.  He didn’t seem to understand.

So many things I cannot change.  Do I accept them?  I am trying.  It is hard to accept pain, frustration, disappointment.  But the alternative is resisting them, and this only makes it more painful, more frustrating, more disappointing.  I will endeavor to accept the things I cannot change.

What can I change?  My reaction to reality. My thoughts about what I am experiencing right now.  I can choose my words. I can slow down and really think before I speak. I can change the depth and frequency of my breath. I can take the medicine I was prescribed for my pain and hope it helps. I can hold my son and soothe him to the best of my abilities.  I can be here now, and love what is, love who I am, regardless.  At least I can try.

Do I have the wisdom to know the difference between the things I cannot change and the things I can change?  I think I do.  But the real question is, do I access that wisdom and apply it?  And what are my blocks to seeing the truth and living it now?

I lost my temper with my daughter at nap time today.  I screamed at her to stay in bed, I slammed my bedroom door.  I was in pain, exhausted, and just wanting rest.  She was hopping out of bed, running around her room, and defiantly waving a box of kleenex at me after I asked her multiple times to put it down, to lie down, to go to sleep.

I lost it today, and then immediately regretted my loss of control as I watched my daughter’s face crumple, and she began to cry.  I never want to lose my temper again, but it will probably happen many more times before I die.  There is something in my reactivity that renders me powerless.  I feel disheartened, impotent.  I don’t see how I could fix or change this, and I feel doubtful that anything I do will make a difference.  I can’t change this wild monster in me.  But I can look to a power greater than myself and ask for help.

Please help, higher power.  I am tired and I want to be a good person. I want to change.

Please share your thoughts. Your presence here is greatly appreciated.

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