Hair-Trigger Paranoia Switch

September 17, 2010 8 Comments

Yesterday was highly productive. I accomplished nothing other than taking a nice long trip down the road to paranoia. In other words, I wasted my whole day worrying about something that wasn’t even a problem, and in the process, probably created a few that didn’t previously exist.

So how can I say it was highly productive?

Because I now have about two weeks worth of writing material for explaining to the world why I lost my already fragile sanity, its effects and related trauma, and how things could have been different.

The right-brained version of the story is as follows:

My middle girls came home saying the coaches told them no parent could talk to the coaches about anything unless the girls had talked to the coaches about it first. I freaked, thinking an email question I had sent caused this reaction, and immediately wanted to talk to the coaches about it so I could fix it.

That’s what I do…I fix things.

But I couldn’t, because the girls said if I did, they’d be punished. And I typically try my best to follow rules, especially if not doing so could harm my girls. I mean, I won’t even take more Tylenol than the bottle says because I’m afraid I might die if I do.

Now for the gory details…

The email I sent to one of the coaches had gone unanswered for three days. I, being the ultimate gauge of and highly sensitive to everyone else’s feelings, was already becoming slightly paranoid that I had somehow violated the parent-coach boundary that each coach draws for themselves when they arrive at a new place.

I mentioned to #3 daughter that I had emailed the coach about ankle braces yet hadn’t received a reply, to which she responded, “So you’re the reason they gave us that speech today.” And proceeded to explain what the discussion had been and which coach had given it.


It was the sweet lady head coach whom I consider a good friend. Someone I can sit and talk to for hours on end when the timing is right. But she had changed jobs since we had one of those good talks. She now has a new role in my family’s life, and I wasn’t quite sure yet what her boundary looked like.

And now I couldn’t even contact her to ask her, because MY GIRLS SAID doing so would result in physical punishment and loss of playing time.

Someone explain to me why I would suddenly start listening to my girls and actually abiding by their wishes? That’s never been a real problem for me before.

So rather than go find my friend/coach and ask, “What the crap?….” I just stewed. And nursed some growing resentment. How dare someone tell me I can’t talk to my kids’ teachers?

I couldn’t go talk to her. My kids SWORE life as they knew it would end if I did.

And then the passive aggressive in me kicked in.

And the “encouraging” posts on Facebook to all my educator friends kicked in….you know…the ones that said crap like, “…build communication bridges with parents……not intimidation….” and “….do kids and parents feel safe talking to you or do they perceive you as a threat…”?

What can I say? I’m a positive passive aggressive.

And a bit of a jerk.

And a little more than slightly paranoid.

But my hands were tied, because I THOUGHT I couldn’t go ask my friend what was up even though everything inside of me wanted to march right straight into her classroom and ask, “What the heck?”

So finally, I emailed her. Subject line: Amnesty. I begged for her not to punish my girls for my intrusion into her coaching life, then proceeded to spill my paranoid guts to her.

And I waited.

And I got no response.

Of course it was after lunch when I sent it, but surely she’d had a chance to see it before leaving her classroom, and since she didn’t respond with her characteristic, “…you dork! Of course you can talk to me!”, it could only mean one horrible, terrible thing…..she….wasn’t….speaking……!!!!!

After all….it was the new law.

After wallering in this most of the day, shedding some tears of frustration (yes, I even cried over this little incident), making a butt-head of myself on Facebook, and second guessing myself the whole time, I finally noticed her “arrival” on Facebook chat.

I clicked on her name.

Then I closed it.

Then I clicked on it again.

Then I couldn’t think of a way to non-chalantly start a conversation without being one of “THOSE” parents.

Finally I had a brilliant opening line.

Me: “Hey, Girl! How are you? I miss coming to your rescue when you have a technology question.”

Her: “I miss you, too!”

A few other pleasantries.

And then she asked if she was the mean coach being referenced in my conversation on FB.

Crap! I tried to delete that comment before anyone saw it. I had tried not to use the words coach or athletics anywhere in my stuff yesterday, but one of my commenters knew and it slipped.

Then I confessed to my dilema.

And my emotional roller coaster.

And how stupidly paranoid I was being.

And how much time and energy I had wasted worrying, stressing, and being mad over it all.

And I don’t know if she laughed, or felt betrayed that I didn’t trust her.

But she made everything okay.

And she explained the “context” of the conversation with the girls and what her purpose was in insisting the girls talk to her about any team problems before allowing a parent to get involved.

Context is everything.

Hearing it from her was SO different than hearing it through my girls.

And while I confess to being a total complete donkey-butt, it has given me SO MUCH to think about.

…things like how easily the real message can get lost in the details of the process…

….or how quickly we can unintentionally trigger someone’s defensive fight or flight response even when we have the best of intentions…

…and how important it is to me to know that I can communicate freely with the adults that are helping to shape my kids’ lives.

But mostly, I learned that my paranoia switch has a hair trigger, and I really need to get a life.

8 thoughts on “Hair-Trigger Paranoia Switch”

  1. Wow, great processing Angie. Give yourself some grace and just hold the whole thing out at arm’s length and look at it with curiosity. WHY did what happened trigger such a response? WHEN have you ever felt those feelings before? WHAT does the situation have to offer to you? Sounds like you are already doing a lot of that.

    We all have triggers. We all overreact to things. We all get caught up in the flood of emotion. Doesn’t make us anything except for human.

    Be good to yourself today.

    1. I am fascinated with the body’s fight or flight response. The muscles down the back of the body tighten, other body parts seize up, rationale thought and learning tends to take a leave of absence.

      AND….I hate being TOLD what I can’t do, especially where my children are concerned. Doesn’t matter if it is real or only perceived, I flip. Might be why I’m enjoying this whole self-employment thing. Ask me nicely and I’m good. I’ll do almost anything if I’m asked nicely. :-)

  2. Not knowing the coach’s name, I would venture to say anyway, she is probably an awesome person. The lady coaches I know in Tulia are, and some of the other TISD employees are also. However, I believe your response was due to things that have happened before. My comments on this topic are due to things that have happened to me previously. I have had very unpleasant in person shouting sessions that stemmed from written messages that were actually pleasant but the admin “mis-read” what I wrote and was perched ready to attack when I walked in. I had to get the admin to re-read the message, then I had to re-read it aloud to prove what the message actually said. The response was “oh, yes I read it wrong.”

    We act, or react the way we do, due to the roads we have traveled before. (Having walked, and run, a long way with the aforementioned lady coaches causes me to say they are great people).

    (I don’t need my own blog, I blog on your blog, that’s why I really shouldn’t read your blog.) Have a good day and a great weekend!

    1. You can blog on my blog any day. I’m sure I’ve done something similar to someone else before. And yes, as Renae hinted, there’s usually something in the background that has made us trigger happy.

  3. As mothers we must be very aware and watch out for our kids. I can be very hair triggered at times myself. But I have found that if you add a little lemon, pepper and salt, crow goes down a little easier. ;)

  4. Oh yeah – been there – done that! My paranoia switch is super-sensitive when it comes to my kids. This momma bear would have freaked too – then my hubby would tell me to get some sun on the back of my neck and eat some chocolate – works every time!

    1. OMG!!!! I love that! I am laughing out loud here…..”get some sun on the back of my neck and eat some chocolate.” Definitely the best stress remedy I’ve heard in a long time!

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