I took Jack to the regional little athletics carnival in Lismore the Saturday and Sunday before school went back. We stayed with a friend near Byron on the Saturday night and planned to get back to Lismore around 9am for Jack’s first event for the day, the 80m hurdles.

As we were packing the car getting ready to leave Jack asked for the program, it was 8.17am.

“F**k, f**k, f**k… arghhh arghhh arghhh” he screamed as he punched the seat and dashboard.

“What mate?” I asked.

“The f**king hurdles were on at 8am! Mum they were the first event! We have missed the race!”

“Oh shit…”

I’m sure you are familiar with that sinking feeling in your stomach when you realise you have let someone down. We were 40 minutes from the carnival and the race had already been run.

To top it off when I woke at 6am I had a strong urge to wake Jack and go to the carnival early. Instead I decided to let him sleep for another hour and I took the dog for a walk. While I was walking I had that feeling that I’d made the wrong decision but I ignored it and justified my decision by reminding myself that ‘Jack is challenging to get on with when he hasn’t had enough sleep’.

So… as we drove to Lismore, me feeling sick and overwhelmed with guilt and sadness and Jack yelling and swearing and blaming me for missing the event we took turns to have a Shady short cut.

I let Jack go first, “What’s wrong?” I asked, to which he yelled, swore and punched some more – just anger, not sadness. Mostly blaming me (I tried not to take it personally, which is easier said then done) but also towards the end, Jack started to blame himself for not checking the program the night before.

When he’d finished listening to Shady and asked Sparky, “What now?” Jack said his Sparky said he couldn’t do anything about it now and that next time he could check the program. He also suggested putting the audio book on so he could concentrate on something else (we always listen to audio books from the library when we go on road trips).

As for me, I still felt sick in the guts and overwhelmed with anger, sadness and fear so I turned the CD off and said, “I can’t listen to that, I need a short cut too!”

“Whatever” Jack said.

So I asked myself, “What’s wrong?” and just said everything my Shady was thinking out loud, stuff like…

“I’m a terrible mum, I should have double checked, I circled the ‘final’ hurdles event which was on at 9.30am and totally missed the ‘heat’ which was on at 8am. I’ve let Jack down. I’ve let the Coffs team down. I should have followed my intuition and left earlier. I should have checked the program last night instead of staying up late talking to my girlfriend. Jack won’t trust me anymore. Actually it is his fault too, he could have bloody well checked it himself… etc…etc…”

I said all this out loud as we were driving to Lismore, I also yelled out the window of the car to get my anger out.

After about 10 minutes of getting the Shady thoughts and anger out, I still felt bad. I knew I had to cry to get rid of the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, so I said to Jack, “Mate I actually have to cry about this because I am sad I let you down and scared you wont trust me.”

“Okay” he said.

So I cried… deep sobbing… proper full on crying. I really allowed myself to feel the hurt of guilt, sadness and fear. While I was doing this I had a realisation that I was truly allowing myself to feel. I also had a sense that the pain was coming up out of my stomach and heart, and with each sob it was being released – I was letting it go.

Jack sat in the passenger seat. It took me about 15 mins to feel it all, express it and let it go and that whole time he didn’t say a word

10 mins out of Lismore I felt much better, my sick feeling was gone and so was the sadness, disappointment, guilt and fear that went with the Shady thoughts I had the instant Jack said we missed his race.

I then asked Sparky, “What now?”

Sparky told me that she was proud of me for really ‘feeling’ and I knew what she meant. I have been taking short cuts and Pit Stops for years now and I have been teaching these strategies to kids and parents for years too, but this ‘missing the hurdles’ upset really gave me the gift of truly understanding what it means to FEEL.

Our feelings are supposed to be FELT. Previously I knew our feelings needed to be expressed but the whole idea of actually feeling them while expressing them was something that never clicked

When I cried I allowed myself to FEEL disappointment, guilt, sadness and fear. I paid attention to what they felt like, I was aware of exactly what I was feeling and I allowed myself to feel it all. Yes it was painful, but it was a good pain. I felt like I was respecting my feelings, giving them the attention they deserved. I wasn’t just trying to get rid of them to get them out of me; I was FEELING them while they were inside me and while they were coming out of me. It felt so smooth, like I was truly aware of what they felt like as they flowed through me and out of me.

I’d really love kids to get this and to have this skill too! Being able to manage our thoughts, feel our feelings and express our feelings is incredibly empowering! Its knowing how to fix ourselves up mentally and emotionally when something goes wrong so we can move on without storing our fearful thoughts and hurt as baggage. (Which is what happens if we try to ignore our Shady thoughts and repress our feelings.)

When we got to the carnival we checked with the office if the hurdles had been on and they said Jack missed it. I thought, ‘Oh well, bummer’ but I didn’t feel bad, I had no sick feeling in my stomach nor did I have any Shady thoughts floating around in my head.

I also felt fine explaining why we missed the race when a couple of Coffs people asked about it. If I hadn’t taken the Shady short cut in the car these people’s questions and concerns would have seriously ‘triggered’ me! (We get triggered or feel bad, when somebody says or does something that stirs up our repressed Shady thoughts and feelings – it’s not usually their intention to upset us, nor is it their fault that we have baggage!)

Thanks for listening and I hope the whole idea of ‘feeling’ makes sense to you! Try it yourself next time you feel bad and let me know!

Love Kathy

PS I haven’t hassled Jack to have a cry about it (remember he only expressed his anger, not his sadness or fear) because I know kids learn more from what they see us do, as compared to what we tell them to do! And I gave him a pretty convincing example of how to feel! (Bummer I didn’t video it for you! ha ha)