Friday we changed locations, following the oil rig to the other side of town. The fog was more monstrous than I thought it would be. When we left the rise, merging with oil boom traffic and headed into the lower regions, the mist gobbled us up and disguised the nether regions of the ditches. The familiar inner voice started harping: “You didn’t ask anyone else how bad it was this morning. You didn’t think it through well enough. You should have known better. You.. ” My hands tightened as fear gripped me.
At once, I saw my mom’s hands on the wheel. I used to sit beside her on the bench seat of our 60s station wagon studying her white knuckles on the wheel, wishing I could drive. Her lips would be drawn in a wrinkled knot and I dared not talk. Occasionally she had to get her wedding ring straightened — from gripping the wheel so tightly.
That flashback made me realize what I was doing. I stretched my fingers on one hand, then the other.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Please.” Acceptance felt good. At once, I wasn’t so afraid, but we were still in danger. I wasn’t pretending there was some kind of ‘silver lining’ in the white nothingness.
“Give me the courage to change the things I can.” Whatever that might be — a really large turn around off the berm? Would I even see it? No. So I got the wisdom to know the difference. This was going to be 15 miles of praying for the serenity to accept the fog because the first chance to pull off the road would be in town.
The little fists were gone. I was OK. It’s just habit — making little fists. It is. Today I’m confessing a white knuckling resistance to ‘what is’. Some days I’m cruising in my big girl panties but some days I’m not. I may actually be driving in the fog of southern Texas pulling a fifth wheel with my dually, but inside I’m making little fists.
Little Fists happen when I start to criticize myself. It can shape-shift into blaming others, rebelling against reality, railing on the unfairness of things… My little fists within pound against what is. It just is, Heidi! I need to accept that in order to be OK. Sometimes I can choose to change something, then I need courage to admit it and to take action. Either way, I need to pause and assess the reality of my predicament.
Opening the Little Fists looks like this:
- Admit I’m experiencing Little Fists
- Pray the Serenity Prayer
- Accept reality or make a decision to change something.
Nothing complicated here. In fact, it’s so simple a lot of people just naturally cope without a lesson in step-by-step unfisting. Not me.
What does your critical voice sound like or feel like?