I want to hit and throw things. I also want to sit and cry and curl in in the fetal position. I can literally feel tightness and pain in my chest.
Instead, I’m banging on this keyboard so hard my fingertips are probably bruised. To be so dang good with words, I cannot string together a single, coherent sentence during an argument.
I like to think of myself as a passionate person. I care about others, tend to go overboard on gifts, am moved over the slightest sentiments, and try and always see the other person’s point of view.
My husband would disagree with that last statement today.
We just had a fight.
Passionate can also be described as “emotional” or “too sensitive” and that tends to work to my demise. Particularly when we argue.
And… to top it off, this fight happened on the way home from church. Because nothing screams Sunday like going to church, having a nice lunch with your family, and then coming home in tears.
I take full responsibility for my part in arguments. (See Shane, I can admit I’m wrong). I get that I am not calm or loving during a fight. I don’t bring things up with a soft tone, I don’t keep my voice low, and, overall, I don’t handle these situations well. At all. When I talked about being an emotional person and all of its good qualities… well the flip side is I typically panic, become extreme, and begin to worry immediately. I totally get that isn’t A) good, B) helpful, or C) healthy, for myself or my husband.
Shane wants to get in and out of an argument. Quick and easy. Be done with it. I want to hash, rehash, discuss feelings, and ponder future implications. (I talk a lot. I’m a speech therapist!) My husband’s profession (attorney) has trained him to argue about anything, and mine has armed me with knowledge over body language, tone of voice, and all sorts of supralinguistic components. Our professions have literally set up the perfect storm here. I can talk around anything; he can argue anything.
And while I admit I am partially to blame, I also recognize I am not fully to blame, either. But, my faults are mine to express and Shane’s are his. While I am an open book Shane is much more private. I will say this. When Shane and I are good, we are FANTASTIC. When we are bad, we are DOOM CENTRAL.
Why do we fight so badly? What is wrong with us? What is wrong with me? Where do I go wrong in all of this? Fights end up with me in tears, us in separate rooms and me questioning if this is how marriage is… Do I need to worry? Do we have anger issues?
We love each other; we truly do! I would do anything for Shane. I know he would do the same. Which, in a round a bout way, is kinda why I get so frustrated because WHY WON’T YOU JUST LISTEN?! (Which, I guess he could turn around and say the same to me. If you’ll do “anything” for me, why can’t you just back off!)
I think of ALL of this during and shortly after an argument. At length, over and over, running through all scenarios of where I messed up and how I could have avoided, fixed, or better handled this situation… My mind cannot stop. This is common for me whenever anything heads south. I overanalyze and retrace steps and work through so many scenarios I drive myself bonkers.
And, Shane is napping. He retreats; shuts down; takes a breather. I wish I could do that. I try. Honestly, I do. I try and calmly (okay, maybe calmly is my goal and hurricane-like is the reality) walk away and collect myself. And in 5 minutes I’m about to explode because I HAVE to say how I feel and get things off my chest. It literally makes me feel pain to just stew in all my emotions.
Am I crazy??
Please don’t answer that.
I have this image in my head of the type of marriage that I want. I want to be able to bring things up, discuss them, hear out both sides, and then TOGETHER, come to an agreement. Why is that so difficult? It’s literally just talking. Why is it the most difficult damn thing ever to have a discussion with someone and not want to punch them?
I totally understand I am a flawed, flawed person. I know we are supposed to take those flaws as each other’s “for worse”. I know at some point one person has to extend Grace. I know these things in my heart. Why is it so hard in the moment to just calm down?! To put these in action. Why can’t I be better at this wife thing?
All I can chalk this up to is this: I have terrible anxiety. (Side note: Yes, I’ve seen a doctor; Yes, I’ve been to therapy; Yes, I’ve been on and off several types of medication; Yes, I am attempting to get a hold on this monster). And that isn’t a cop out; I know having anxiety isn’t a card to pull and just treat my husband like shit. It certainly doesn’t help, though.
Anxiety looks a lot different than I realized. The strangest thing, my anxiety isn’t necessarily something that makes me feel… well… anxious. Do I worry, yes. Do I worry about irrelevant things? No. I am not fearful. I’m not paranoid (although I don’t exactly like the dark).
My mind just works overboard. Nonstop. Everything feels so intense. I can’t seem to let things go; both good or bad, great joy or great pain. When I’m happy, I can feel all of my happiness, past and present. Almost as if everything is connected, in a way. I know that sounds crazy, but I can. People asked me all the time after I had Jase, “did you know how much you could love him.” And my answer was always “YES!”. I did. I wasn’t taken aback by how much love I had for him. I wasn’t shocked or surprised; yet, I still felt the most incredible love for him; an overwhelming love. But it’s exactly how I imagined it would feel.
Likewise, when I feel sadness, I feel all the hurt I’ve ever endured. All the years of it; all at once; it crushes me. I feel the insecurities of my marriage, the deficits I feel as a woman, the inadequacies I face as a mom. I miss my sister, my grandma, I recall trauma from my childhood and teens. I remember saying something “wrong” to someone in high school; I didn’t mean any harm by it, but I hurt someone with my words. I still feel regret from that. (Issues… I got ‘em. I’m aware!)
My head spirals with all of this sadness and my heart truly feels like it’s bursting at its seams. I either can’t compartmentalize anything, or I have done SUCH a good job of compartmentalizing that everything is stored away in tidy little boxes, alphabetized and indexed, and it’s all so easily accessible that I can retrieve it readily.
I cry. A lot. Over my own actions and others’. I’m embarrassed to type this but I probably cry myself to sleep more often than not. I have amazing family and friends, yet feel isolated, different and alone much of the time. I don’t feel like anyone gets me. I realize I probably don’t come across this way when I’m out in public or even in small groups. It’s exhausting keeping it together, honestly.
And, I’m not always sad or anxious. I have great days. I have bad days. I have bad days where I act like I’m fine, and I can probably fool just about anyone that I’m doing okay, except my Mother.
My head hurts trying to figure this all out.
What’s amazing about this is that I see myself going down this road; I tell my brain to stop. But it doesn’t. It just hurls myself into the pit, full force. Just because I am sad about X, does not mean I have to sad about Y, or Z today.
I also struggle with situations, or people, that involve both happy and sad memories. For example, if something “bad” happens at a specific place, or with a certain group of people, or on a certain date, it’s inevitable those feelings will all come flooding back. Intensely. It sounds silly, but I have to make myself create a new, positive memory in those circumstances. Not so that it erases the old one, but so that it outweighs it so to speak. On that date I still feel the hurt, but the happiness of my “new” experience will hopefully outweigh it.
Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.
I do a lot of reading and research. Understanding brings me comfort, and, to me, arms me with knowledge on the issues I am facing. I stumbled across this the other day when reading up on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Compulsions: ritualistic behaviors and routines to ease anxiety or distress
Mental rituals — Endless reviewing of conversations, counting; repetitively calling up “good” thoughts to neutralize “bad” thoughts or obsessions.
Do you know I have counted my steps since I was a kid? How many steps to get to Grandma’s across the street? Trying to beat my last record. Trying to see if I could accurately gauge my estimates. Kinda like guessing how many beans are in the jar. I still do this now while unloading my washing machine; except now it’s how many armfuls will it take to get it all in the dryer…
I replay conversations constantly in my head; I honestly didn’t know this was weird until my researching began a few years ago. I also “practice” conversations prior to seeing people. I just looked at it as prep for a great conversation; to ease nerves. I can be outgoing and I love to be around people and talk; but I do get so nervous. I’m weird.
I was diagnosed with OCD as a child; and perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to document that journey. But the constant mind racing, trying to outweigh my “bad” experiences with “good”… I mean, I seriously wrote this blog and THEN found the excerpt above. Do you know how weird it is to see something in writing you feel about yourself, yet you struggle to express? Or even fully understand yourself?
I’ve never tried to sit down and write about the innermost corners of my mind. Sure, I’ve written about my feelings surrounding moments in my life, I’ve talked about tragedy and how it’s changed me, I’ve shared poignant moments in my life.
But, this is raw. Not pretty. There’s not a happy ending, a pivotal life moment, or a perfectly captured picture to include. This is a scary place. A piece of me that I despise. It does not make me feel comfortable, but it’s a part of my day to day life. How do you balance that? I know continuing to sweep dirt under a rug eventually causes a huge problem. I also realize people don’t parade around with signs that read: Mental Issues.
How do you deal with a mind that can’t shut itself off?
How do people just forget, or move past, hurt?
How do I tell my husband how I feel when it’s so convoluted in my head I can’t even figure it out myself?
How can my brain navigate so many emotions and feelings, that span literally decades… yet it can’t remember to buy coffee at the grocery store?
So here I am. Yes, I struggle. Yes, I’m trying. Some days I succeed. Some days I fail. And some days the failures are so great all I can do is laugh. (You know, after all the panic and crying has stopped.)