That might be about the most unorthodox post title I’ve ever written, but when I shared this story with a friend recently we both called it “a taco shell moment” in my healing journey.  Queue the inspiration for this post. 

Think for a minute, about a time where you were having a good day. Work was going well, you were getting things done at home, everyone in the house is in a good mood. Without even realizing it, you’re in the middle of a pretty decent day.

Then out of nowhere, for no reason something happens and you just snap!  You fly off the handle, lose your temper, say things you don’t mean, and just like that you’re perfectly good day seemingly goes to hell in a hand basket.

I had just such a day not long ago and I was reminded that for all the healing that I’ve been working on, I still have a ways to go…or do I?

I’m cooking dinner on a Saturday night, making tacos. I had just come from the store and I knew I already had the stuff at home to make them, with the exception of the taco seasoning packets for the hamburger. I had bought a few packs of taco shells earlier in the week so I figured I had plenty.

I get home, start making dinner and I put on a live stream mental health Q&A video to listen too while I cook and put away the groceries.  Things are going fine, just a typical evening of cooking.

I do love tacos, so anytime I make them it’s always cool because I make extra for leftovers so I can take them to work during the week. Just thought I’d share that with you in case you were curious. 

So, the meat has been simmering for about 20 minutes and it smells amazing. Time to get out the rest of the stuff.  Lettuce…check. Shredded cheese…check. Taco shells….wait, where in the hell are the taco shells?!

Just then, something inside me snapped and my world came crashing down around me.

  • Where are the shells?!
  • Why didn’t someone tell me we were out?!
  • Who ate them all, and how in the world did they eat 2 packs of shells in less than a week?!
  • Now all of this is wasted; the food itself, the time it took to make it, it was all for nothing.

I’m steaming inside, completely frustrated and wondering how in the world this could have happened.  I went from peaceful and calm anger and frustration in about 5 seconds.

I didn’t get violent, I’m not that type of person. But I began questioning both of my sons trying to figure out what happened and who’s fault it was.  I was making such a big deal out of what, taco shells.

Never mind that I could have run back to the store and bought more, or sent my son to get some. But no, my emotions took over and for about 15 minutes I was at my wit’s end and totally beside myself.

Then I caught myself and was like, Matt… What in the hell are you doing? Why are you flipping out about taco shells. How is this even remotely that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things?

It wasn’t anybody’s fault that the shells were gone. Yeah, it would be nice if someone would have written on the white board on the fridge that we were out, but such is life. It’s hardly something to flip out about.

Then I began to shame myself for flipping out. I apologized to my sons for gettinghealing-journey-forgive-yourself so worked up, and we ended up having somewhat of a taco salad, ,minus the shells.

The reason I share that story with you is, maybe you’ve had a taco shell moment before too? Out of the blue you snap and once you finally catch yourself, you can analyze what happened and see the situation for what it really was.

The point is, we are all human beings and fallible creatures. Shaming ourselves in the wake of losing our tempers doesn’t make us feel better; in fact it can make us feel worse and reinforce a negative mindset that often harbor about ourselves.

As survivors we are usually pretty good about shaming ourselves.  It’s hard enough to give ourselves any credit, or to be able to enjoy a good day. We’d rather minimize everything about our existence and take every opportunity reinforce how “messed up our lives are”.

I had to fight off those very urges after that incident, but you know what? It was a little bit easier to do. Not “easy”, but “easier”.

I caught myself, paused, took a step back and realized what was going on. I was able to see the situation for what it was, and know that I didn’t have to let it reinforce the negative mindset I had been working so hard to change.

That’s a direct result of exploring my past, working through my emotions, and understanding how my mind works as a trauma survivor.

My kids forgave me, I forgave myself, we laughed a bit at these missing taco shells, and life went on.

It’s important for us to be able to look ourselves in a kinder, more gentle way and work to stop the cycle of shame and beating ourselves up emotionally.

We’re still human though. The future taco shell moments will likely be fewer and farther between, but they’ll probably never fully go away. And that’s OK.

How we treat ourselves and those around us when they do happen, that’s where our healing journey can really pay off.

– Matt