Last week I went crazy looking for my car key. Misplacing things was something that happened to me very often while I was an active addict. And even now that I’m sober, I still tend to lose stuff. The strange thing about losing my car key was that my wallet and my house key were where I thought I had left my car key.
I spent a few hours cleaning looking for it, suspecting my partner had hidden it so that I would clean the house, but he then joined in the search while our nephew was rushing us because he wanted to leave to the museum.
I finally told them to leave, that I would continue to look. After a few more hours of searching I gave up and made arrangements to get a replacement key and a rental car because the new key would take days to arrive. No, I don’t have a spare key because…I lost it!
The next day, on my way out to the park with my nephew, I was asking our cleaning lady to please be on the look out for my car key. Suddenly, he went and got the freakin’ key and said “I hid your key but I forgot about it.”
I went over to inspect the key in disbelief and in fact, it was my car key. So I’m left wondering what I should do. Do I yell at him telling what a bad kid he is as I used to hear from my parents when I did something they didn’t like? Do I do nothing? Do I tell my sister about it?
We went out to get in my car and when he saw the rental car he asked what that other car was doing in the driveway. I told him that because I didn’t have my car key, I had to rent a car so that I could go places. I was still thinking about what to tell him. My nephew is about to turn six.
Keep in mind that until very recently I had an explosive temper. I shamed people and made them feel very little if they dared to cross or disobey me. I didn’t know that shaming, while a very effective controlling tool, is very damaging to one’s spirit. I learned that shame makes you feel like there is something inherently wrong with you, something that you can do nothing about. I also learned that it is okay to talk about how a certain behavior makes you feel.
Talking about your behavior gives you a chance to change it. Telling you what a bad little boy you are makes you believe it. I told my nephew that I didn’t appreciate that he hid my car key. I also told him that I wanted to him to know that I loved him no matter what.
He probably didn’t know what I meant but I guess I was talking to the little boy I used to be. The one that everybody expected to be perfect and well behaved. I wanted him to know that my love for him does not change with my mood or his actions, something I wish I had known growing up: unconditional love.