getting stuck in a moment

you’ve got to get yourself together
you’ve got stuck in a moment
and now you can’t get out of it;
don’t say that later will be better
now you’re stuck in a moment
and you can’t get out of it.
– U2

i lost my temper yesterday. i was giving my daughter a driving lesson and we were working on backing up into a parking stall. she positioned herself in front of the spot, put the car in reverse and stopped to look around. she had just started to move when a driver came down the aisle towards us. instead of pausing, he swerved into the oncoming lane to zip around her, pulling directly into the spot she was aiming for.

i’d like to point out that there were plenty of empty spots available.

i wish i could report that i got out of the car and had the following conversation:

excuse me. i don’t think you noticed but my daughter is learning to drive, and she’s trying to back into the space you just darted into. would you mind parking in one of the other spots?

i wish i could report that, but it would be a lie. i went from zero to sixty in a millisecond and completely lost my nut. I ripped off my seatbelt, stomped over to his car and as he opened his door, i unloaded:

seriously? SERIOUSLY? are you kidding me? there are a ton of empty spots. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

he apologized – i’m sorry, i’m human, i make mistakes sometimes – before getting in his car and driving off. he felt the need to leave the parking lot after our “conversation”.

it took less than a millisecond for the guilt to set in. it showed up right after the shaking started, which is what happens to me whenever i’m in any sort of confrontation. i hate that side-effect.

part of the problem is that i go from feeling fine to feeling enraged with almost no pause for reflection. it’s partially a function of my depression. i’m angry, really angry, a great deal of the time. when something sets me off, all that rage bubbles up and pours out, buckets of it, drowning my hapless victim.

in the win category, i shared how i was feeling – i feel awful and so guilty. i hate when i get angry like that. the sharing was not, however, driven by a desire for constructive advice on how to do it better. it was driven by guilt. i needed people to tell me that what i did was okay. they did, but their words didn’t matter. i continued to feel awful about my behaviour. i felt awful about it all day.

i got stuck in the moment and i couldn’t get out of it.

that happens a lot.

when i do something i’m not “supposed” to do, when i deviate from what my brain tells me is acceptable, when i’m not perfect, it spins me up. i obsess over the words and deeds for hours, sometimes days. i get stuck in a self-recrimination loop and i can’t let go.

i talk about it, i write about it, i think about it. nothing helps. nothing makes me easy in my heart.

in a perfect world i wouldn’t have this problem. in a perfect world, i’d never feel the need to mercilessly criticize myself. in a perfect world, i wouldn’t over-react.

in a perfect world, i could let go.

the self-condemnation and thought-looping are not limited to recent events. i regularly make myself feel awful by revisiting past infractions, regardless of when they occurred. the time i treated the young man who invited me to prom badly still makes me cringe. the time i got in a fight with a friend and said something vile still causes me grief. the time i told my mother i hated her still burns. they’re all there, spinning around in my brain pan, waiting to drag me back into another infinite guilt loop.

feeling briefly bad over a behaviour so you don’t do it again is one thing. that’s learning. feeling bad over it for hours and days and weeks and years is something else.

i wish i could follow the advice in the disney song and let it go, but much of the time, that seems to be beyond me.

i lack perspective regarding my crimes.

i refuse to forgive myself for behaviours i’d forgive others for.

this annoying tendency to treat myself worse than everyone else on the planet has got to go.

i’m tired of getting stuck in the moment.

aren’t you?



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