Oh no, I did it again

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My mother lives in a retirement home in South Africa. Covid-19 is really bad down there. Remember, Southern hemisphere, winter at the moment!

The week before last two of the nurses working in her retirement home tested positive for Corona. Both are in the hospital. Then two of the residents fell ill.

Management called every resident into the dining hall and tested them. (The results are not yet out.)

Social distancing rules immediately became stricter. Residents have to eat in their rooms now and are not to visit with one another at all. They are still not allowed to have any outside visitors and may also not leave the premises.

My mom was very down

My mom was very down when she told me all of this. Every morning, she was used to read from the Bible to all the residents. That was a highlight of her day. She loves to be with other people and the fact that she can’t visit with her friends was a big blow.

Usually, I only talk to her over the phone every Saturday, but I decided that I’ll also send her a text message every day from now on.

The first day went well. I send her links to uplifting YouTube videos and she responded with a list of things she’s grateful for.

And then, on Day 2, she had a PROBLEM. I knew it’s a big problem, because she started using all caps in her texts.

My mom asked her cousin to buy her new pajamas. But then the cousin refused to accept money for the purchase, even though her family is struggling financially due to Covid.

WHAT AM I TO DO? pleaded my mom.

We kept on exchanging texts.

Then I became exasperated

And then I became exasperated and straight out told her what to do. Just thank her cousin sincerely and accept the gift.

But already the deadly and familiar mix of resentment and guilt towards my mom was back. This is what I’ve been thinking:

  • Why can’t she deal with this like a grown-up?
  • It’s no big deal!
  • Just like I feared, the minute she realizes she has more access to me, she’s misusing it.

May I remind you I’m a life coach? A life coach never tells someone what to do. We’re supposed to help people break the binds of learned helplessness.

I should know better, right? I started to beat myself up.

And then it hit me.

I was mirroring her

I was mirroring my mother.

  • Why can’t I deal with this like a grown-up?
  • It’s no big deal!
  • If she’s misusing my time and attention, it’s because I’m allowing it.

The minute I could see what I’m doing, I started laughing and the world shifted into focus again.

She was stressed and fell right back into old dependency patterns.

I was worried about her and fell right back into old co-dependency patterns.

This is what humans do. This is what human brains do.

Back to unconditional love

Within minutes I could coach myself out of the resentment and guilt right back into unconditional love. For her. And for me.

I will forever and ever, and a day be thankful for this remarkable handle on life coaching gave me.

It’s available to you too.

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