I have no idea where to start. So much to be grateful for this week. Not only is the sun shining, I’ve enjoyed multiple breathtaking sunrises and sunsets (thank you Mom). There’s peace in my heart and soul.

 

I’m thankful a close friend mentioned Andy Frisella’s #75Hard Challenge. Knowing that both of us are huge competitors, not in the way that’s unhealthy and demeaning, but in a way that’s supportive and encouraging, and without really knowing what I was agreeing to, I told him I’d join him. The best way to stay accountable is to have others to be accountable with and I also know agreeing to it would help him. I’m grateful I’ve been able to talk one friend into joining us and hopeful a couple of others I’ve thrown the challenge out will jump at the opportunity. I’m grateful this also gives me a way to stay connected with all of them.

 

I’m grateful I said “I’m in” before I knew all the intricate details of the challenge (I might not have agreed to it otherwise). When I first heard about the challenge, what I pulled from it was two 45 minute work out’s each day, a gallon of water, and healthy eating. I worried I wouldn’t be able to follow the whole gallon of water, however, I believed that the two 45 minute work out’s each day would give me a needed kick in the rump to get back in shape (I haven’t worked out since the gyms closed six weeks ago). I sent an email to my friend explaining ways to “manipulate” the challenge to “make it work” for us.

 

Then I went on an hour and a half bike ride while listening to Andy Frisella’s podcast.

 

Crap!

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I’ve been recently really looking inward at my inner child and I flashed back on two trauma workshops I had done with my therapist.

 

In one, he placed my grandmother in “the Chair” and the other time he put my step father in “the Chair”. The chair was an empty chair that was placed in front of the “hot seat” where each of us individually (there were four to five of us in the room) sat in the hot seat to heal our childhood trauma. After each event, we would receive feedback from the group and our therapist about what they observed.

 

The first time I went through this experiential process, when I had my grandmother in the char, I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I could never truly get my grandmother to listen. She would constantly deflect, avoid, turn things around, and then, make them about her. What was even more interesting, was that she had no idea what she was doing. It was a normalized, conditioned response to any critique or judgement that came her way.

 

The second time I did a trauma workshop we put my step-father in “the chair”. I made sure his seat was more than half way across the room from me; I did not feel safe with it any closer. What I noticed this time around was that not only did my step father not want to listen, the fact that he had to be there in the first place made resentment drip from his pores.

 

His body language was not oblivious, like my grandmother, but closed and guarded. It was as if he was trying to hold back this torrent of anger to keep him from leaping across the room and attacking me. I was so emotionally off, that my therapist brought this big Italian guy named Guido and his cousin, also named Guido, to stand as two body guards on either side of my father. At one point, when my father figured he was done with this exercise and proceeded to get up and walk out the door, my therapist had Guido and Guido go out and bring him back in. We weren’t finished. They each put one hand on each of his shoulders, forcing him back into the seat, and making him listen to what I had to say.

 

In both reenactments, I could never get my grandmother or step father to hear me, listen to me, or acknowledge my feelings. No remorse, no regret, no empathy whatsoever.

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I can’t start today’s Grateful Sunday without being grateful for the mother of my two beautiful daughters. I have never regretted my choice when I asked her to be my wife and the future mother of my children. I knew from the start that she was the one I wanted to raise my kids. Out of all the women I had dated before, I never felt so deeply, in my soul, the desire that this person was the one I wanted to parent with. This was also confirmed today when I read the gratitude my youngest daughter posted about her mom on Instagram. Today is Her day.

 

The other night, when my wife was dealing with our older daughter, my younger daughter told me, “Mom’s in her calm mood. I like Mom when she’s like this. She handles conflict well.”

 

In many ways, my wife has modeled the type of parent I have strived to become. I had always been reactive (well, still can be), not regulating my emotions well, and using shame and guilt as my methods of discipline (this is what I was raised with). For many years, when my wife would catch me parenting in an unhealthy way, I internalized her critique that I couldn’t do anything right and became defensive. These past few years, I’ve been able to change my story and view her comments more as constructive criticism. Stepping away from that belief, I’m now able to hold better boundaries as a father, ground myself faster, and parent from a healthier place. I have my wife to thank for that.

 

And since it’s Mother’s Day, I think I’ll add the Grateful Sunday I posted last year. Can’t say it more eloquently than that.

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