One Breath at a Time


I lost my temper today. It was primarily caused by my feelings of shame. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been having more trouble with shame lately. My therapist said that maybe I am moving to a new level of recovery and the “old me” is fighting back. The me that feels like a horrible person. The me that gets uncomfortable when my life is going too smoothly. The me that looks for a way to sabotage any success.

Regardless of the cause, I lost my temper. I felt like crying, screaming, banging the wall, and cursing. I actually did a bit of it.

But then I stopped myself. I was seriously white-knuckling it. All I could think of was “breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.” If I tried to think of anything else my feelings started to take over again.

After awhile I was able to relax my muscles instead of being so tense. I still felt bad, and I knew I was still fragile. The smallest thing could knock me over the edge again. My stomach was still churning, my jaws were still clenching, but if I could just hang on long enough, I knew that the awful feelings would end.

Sometimes I forget that feelings change. Especially I forget that I can make an effort to change them. Sometimes the only effort needed is to NOT do things that will make the situation worst — to get quiet inside, focus on my breath, and let peace into my mind.


3 thoughts on “One Breath at a Time”

  1. I lost my temper big time on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s “tantrum” I did not control well and while the problem I was working through (technical with the computer, real hot button issue!) was finally solved I ended up getting home late from work with a splitting headache. I was not very proud of myself, needless to say! Saturday I had a mountain of work I had to get through to meet a deadline and again was confronted computer issues. I threw another tantrum and could really feel my body reacting and knew my blood pressure was rising. Scary feeling! This time I remembered what happened previously and stopped, dropped everything I was doing and said a round of the rosary, looking upon icons of Jesus and Mary as I prayed. I knew it would take time for my body to catch up with my mind and heart and it eventually did. What amazed me was how God blessed me during that prayer time and in fact, throughout the two days, kept sending those blessings. It showed me in no uncertain terms that you cannot earn those blessings, they are pure gift. I confessed my sin of anger and carried on, finishing my work for the day ahead of deadline. I told myself at the beginning of my prayer time that God sometimes expands time (meaning that if I give it over to him, I will work more efficiently) so that the extra time taken for prayer to calm myself down would be a total benefit. And it was!

    Strong emotions really can enslave you and hurt you. Good for you in the way you handled your temper and recognized what needed to be done. The hardest part is having that awareness when you’re in the middle of that storm of emotion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although I wouldn’t wish the anger on anyone, it is nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂 I have never said the rosary to deal with my anger, but I will definitely do so next time. I often say an Our Father and Hail Mary, but it would do so much more good to pray longer. And the most awesome part was confessing your anger. That must have been very freeing! Thank you so much for your input, Susan. Your comments are always helpful>
      The other prayer I sometimes say (if I remember) is to Our Lady of Mental Peace:
      O Lady of Mental Peace,
      Mother of Tranquility and Mother of Hope,
      look upon me in this time of disquiet and weakness.
      Still my restless spirit, teach my searching heart to know
      that God’s love for me is unchanging and that the suffering
      which He may will for me now is to draw me closer to Him.
      Let thy gentle peace and His – which the world cannot give –
      be always with me, that I may be sanctified: and then:
      I beseech thee for the grace to bring this peace to others.
      Jesus, My Savior, I give myself entirely to Thee through Mary:
      Our Lady of Mental Peace, pray for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a lovely prayer! And I too find it comforting to find someone else who is willing to speak openly about anger. One of the big reasons why I am so attracted to Louisa May Alcott is precisely because she was so candid about her bad temper. As a child I really related to this; as an adult as I found out more about her inner creative life, the “vortex” she would fall into in order to write, and the depression she suffered, classified as “anger turned within,” I found a lifelong companion who inspired me and helped me through my angry/depressive periods. Thank you for your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

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