I hope that few of you have experienced my icy coldness…the brittle shell I retract into when I’m overwhelmed, overtired and pushed over the edge of my capacity.
Sadly it’s those closest to me who have experienced this most frequently, namely my mum and my husband (although there have been a few embarrassing times that I’ve shown my ice queen nature to people I don’t know well – I still feel mortified about these times to this very day).
I want to explore with you, dear friend, why I sometimes make the gremlin-like metamorphosis from a normal, happy Amy who is having a great time into the Ice Queen who responds monosyllabically, pushes people away and retreats into herself…
I want to stop being like this as it’s no fun for me or anyone around me, but I’m coming to realise that I can’t keep on doing what I’ve always done and expect to just magically change this pattern…I need to do something different to banish the Ice Queen for good.
When does the Ice Queen appear?
When I morph into the Ice Queen, it’s usually at the end of a night when I’ve pushed myself to stay out beyond my energy means and not listened to my body or my heart that knows all too well that I have no more to give.
Regardless of all the signs pointing to meltdown, I keep on going, keep on pushing, and pour any remaining energy into the situation I’m in.
Looking at this from a distance, it’s almost like I’m pretending to be someone that I’m not – a person with infinite energy, relentless sociability – when I’m a real, infallible person who gets tired. So perhaps I need to shift my mindset and see that part of the Ice Queen melting is about me owning how I feel and being ok with being imperfect.
The final straw
Generally the Ice Queen doesn’t appear by magic…it takes one final thing to nudge me over the edge. A thoughtless, throwaway comment that upsets me, a joke I take badly, or an action someone takes which prevents me getting what I so desperately need (like food, sleep or time alone).
So how do I prevent myself from free-falling into Ice Queen territory?
Verbalise my needs
When I’m exhausted and about to break, I can say to whoever is with me ‘I’m feeling a bit sensitive and a bit close to becoming the Ice Queen, can you please be kind and gentle with me and not say anything that might push me over the edge.’
This might not always work, but at least I’ve given them a fighting chance to choose their words carefully and not provoke me.
The other main area which sends me spinning is when control is taken away from me.
But part of me knows that I give my control away. I choose to be a victim.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean by this. At the end of a recent night with lovely friends, Gregg and I were waiting at the train station to go home. He suddenly realised he had left his keys behind at their house and ran back to get his keys. I knew we were going to miss the train, meaning that we had to catch a slower one that would see us arrive home 40 minutes later than the earlier one.
And I morphed into the Ice Queen.
But I had a choice. I stayed at the station while he ran back. I could have taken the earlier train home and arrived home before him.
I just didn’t speak up and take action to get my needs met.
Another shameful example is when I went to London to take part in a monopoly pub crawl. 8 hours into the day, I wasn’t in a good state. I was tired, slightly drunk and peopled-out.
I wanted to go home.
But others said to me ‘keep on going, we want you to stay, don’t go home, you’re so close to the finish’ and so I stayed out, and was a thorough misery.
But I had a choice. I could have gone home early. I just didn’t take action to get my needs met.
I always have a choice.
Sharing this with you has really helped me to consider why I turn into the Ice Queen and how I might prevent this from happening in the future.
I suppose part of this journey is realising that the actions that lead to becoming the Ice Queen are good ones – I want to be my best for other people. I want to be merry and bright and sparky and energetic.
But I can’t always be this way.
Part of this journey is coming to peace with who I am, whatever that is. Whether it’s merry or tired, bright or mellow, sparky or quiet, energetic or sleepy. So an underlying need I have to to accept who I am in each moment.
The other big realisation is that I always have a choice.
And perhaps part of the Ice Queen behaviour is suppressed anger with myself for not being strong enough in the moment to make the choice that is right for me. Anger that I haven’t been able to express what I need. Anger that I’m pushing myself to be something other than I really am.
It’s like I’ve been punched in the stomach, such is the surety that this is the real truth lurking behind the Ice Queen.
And I’d be a softer person in that moment if I said to my husband, my mum, my friend…anyone…that I’m upset at not supporting myself, not being able to give myself what I need in that moment.
And with this knowledge, it makes me feel that there is hope for finally melting my Ice Queen heart.
It’s just a case of lovingly standing up for myself and courageously speaking the truth of what I need in that moment.