Mother May I, Make a Repair?

I can not begin to tell you how long I have been staring at this blank, untitled, google document page with my text cursor blinking and blinking and blinking at me. Blog topic…’interpersonal effectiveness skill of your choice’… I picked this topic. I thought this would be easy. No biggie. Piece of cake. So why am I having such a difficult time writing this?

Interpersonal ‘stuff’ is what I do. I am a therapist. I talk about relationships all the time. I am super social. I spend time with my family and friends. I’ve traveled all over and interacted with people from many cultures. There are tons of interpersonal situations I could share and be radically genuine about. So why do I feel so stuck?

The truth is, talking about relationships is HARD. I legit felt shame when reflecting on times in relationships that I could have acted differently. Why wasn’t I skillful? What got in the way? I wish I could take it back. I feel icky… I’m vulnerable just thinking about it. If I share how unskillful I’ve been in some relationships are readers going to judge me? Ugh. I am judging myself now for judging myself.

STEF!!! This is your wise mind talking, snap out of it. (in the voice of Morgan Freeman of course). It finally hit me. Part of being effective as a DBT therapist is being vulnerable. Opposite action yes!! I am throwing myself in all the way and sharing my interpersonal fail.

For those of you in DBT skills group or individual sessions with me, you know I recently moved. Moving can be exciting and stressful. Getting everything organized, packing everything, moving everything, unpacking everything, and reorganizing. Finally the exciting part..decorating by adding my own personal touch! During my move, I was blessed to have family and friends assist me. 🙂

My mom is a very caring woman and goes above and beyond for people even when they repeatedly tell her they do not need anything, as I have said to her many times in the past. You might see where this is going. My mom asked if I had purchased bath towels for my new bathroom yet and if I would like for her to do so. I said thank you, but I do not know what color I want yet and I am really looking forward to making this place my own.  She said okay, and the conversation ended.

The next time I saw my mom she excitedly said, look how cute these bath towels are I got you! I felt my heart beating quickly, my face getting red, my temperature rising, and my action urge to yell at her climbed to a 10/10. Are you serious right now mom?! I specifically told you NOT to buy me towels. You never listen to me. She responded with, ‘ugh I can never do anything right,’ and walked away. Tension between us was high, everyone in the room could feel it.

It wasn’t until I went on my balcony to get a few breaths of fresh air that it hit me…this is the perfect opportunity for me to use the THINK skill from the DBT Adolescent Skills manual. This skill could help me repair my relationship with my mom.

Mother May I, Make a Repair?

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