When I was in my twenties, I got all tied up with social services per the sexual abuse of my oldest child. To be perfectly clear, I was the accuser, not the abuser.

This was the 1980’s and the social landscape was quite different. What likely would have been a slam dunk now was a long, drawn out and extraordinarily ineffective process. I was 26 years old, and a single mother with two children under the age of two. Although not outclassed, I was outwitted, insomuch as I put my faith in a system that frankly, was not deserving.

You have no idea how many times I have imagined just taking my children and running. But instead, I went through the paces, including an evaluation of my own parenting skills. One comment in particular has always stuck with me—that I had a tendency to ‘overreact to emotionally loaded situations.

Hell to the yeah; given the context, how could one not overreact. In retrospect, perhaps I should have reacted more, not less.

However, even in the midst of all that shit, something about the word react made a huge impact.

Yes, I subscribe (and always will) to complacency equals complicity. We simply cannot stand by while bad stuff happens. This lesson is more subtle than that. There is an important difference between react and overreact. Think nuclear reactor—generating power versus meltdown.

In November I shall turn 61, a rather ripe old age. And I am finally gaining a modicum of self control as to how I respond to situations.

Being fully present, asking more questions, pressing pause. Not failing to act, but rather making every effort to act wisely. First do no harm, either to others or (and this is vitally important) to self.

It’s a tough balance to maintain. I am an enthusiast and patience has never been one of my virtues. But I am committed to becoming a better, smarter, kinder version of myself. With clarity and candor. But also calm.

3 responses to “Reaction

  1. You are courageous! I love that you are being present, pressing pause and my favorite, failing to act but acting wisely!

    Also- over reacting to your child being abused. I think not!

  2. You turn 61 and I will turn 65 on the 26th of November. Totally understand but sometimes my Loratinib makes it difficult.


  3. Haven’t figured out how I can remain calm with all that is going on around us!! My son says, “Let it go, Mom”, when I start ranting about all of the crap going on. it’s totally frustrating to hear and read everything, but if I don’t calm down, I probably will end up with a stroke (I’m several years older than you) – and I really don’t want that to happen. Patience hasn’t been one of my virtues either, but I guess I have to try.
    I am sorry about all of the stuff that you have gone through!!

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