Notes to Self

September 10, 2014

I surrender

This morning I felt so defeated. I got in the car to drive the kids to daycare and I said to myself “I fucking surrender”. A moment earlier, when my daughter whined about wanting a different book to take to school (after she whined about wanting her dolls that were left in the house and I returned to the house to fetch them, brushing my hair for the first time since showering as I walked back to the house), I took the wrong book from her hands, threw it on the car floor and plopped the book she wanted into her lap. I felt like such a winner. I am an awesome mom.

 

I am so tired; absolutely exhausted. Not just from this cold I’ve been fighting for two weeks (I don’t take medication while breastfeeding), or from still waking 3-4 times a night to nurse the baby, or from taking care of the two kids on my own, or from a full-time job, or from cooking, cleaning and all the other shit I have to do. But also from feeling so damned lonely. And from fighting with myself about everything.

 

The mornings are insane. We all wake up late and have less than an hour to when we should be heading out the door. But of course this isn’t feasible so when it’s after 8 and I know that I will be late to work and unable to find a parking spot, I get really ticked off. I am constantly forgetting things, I never have food to take (and when was the last time I ate a vegetable?)….. I seem to carry a minimum of five bags (and a kid) and I just feel like my entire life is one big chaotic mess. There are some mornings I don’t get to shower.

 

I realized that I feel like my husband doesn’t match my level of effort toward childcare, house maintenance and just overall getting stuff done. And this angers me. I feel betrayed. Unloved. Unsupported and sometimes like a sucker. But then I wonder how much of this is me being unrealistic in my expectations (both for myself and for my husband) and how much is appropriate (this is the fighting I referred to earlier). So I get even more angry from being so unsure of things. It is clear to both of us that our priorities are different. For example, I want a clean, neat house that doesn’t piss me off (operative component is that I am not pissed off by the state of my house, not necessarily that it isn’t messy). He doesn’t care that much about that facet right now. He doesn’t get annoyed like I do (although there are times it frustrates him as well). So I battle with all of these things and push him away and get angry at him at the same time. Yes, I blame him. Not sure why. I don’t know what he does with his time; I just know that isn’t what I want him to be doing with it. (you should be shaking your head or laughing at me right now).

 

The layers of guilt and pressure and fighting just go on and on. When my 3.5 yr old screams in frustration the moment something doesn’t go her way (e.g., trying to take off her shoe), I know that’s my fault. I know I have failed her. I know that if I can’t fix myself I won’t be able to undo this damage and she will have a really tough life. But this morning I felt like I just can’t keep fighting. I am spent. I don’t see a light at the end of this pitch black and seemingly never ending tunnel. I just see more and more and more that needs to be done and I feel alone in facing it. I feel defeated. Like no matter what I do, I will always lose. I will always fail and there is always a better way to do it; I just can’t.

 

Life is passing by and I am struggling with what has often been referred to as “sweating the small stuff”. My therapist commented that I was worrying about the superficial things (like a messy house) but have the big, important things covered (like feeding my kids healthy foods) – note that this morning I was also steaming and pureeing broccoli for the baby…because there just wasn’t enough to do I thought I would add one more task…………….

 

So today I haven’t done much work and don’t really care to. I find everything rather pointless. I ate a bunch of cookies (and of course feel sick to my stomach). I will become progressively more annoyed as the day goes on and I will probably go to bed thoroughly annoyed, not sleep well and then do another day of this shit. Again and again and again. I just give up. I can’t give anymore than I already am and I am running out of steam. I don’t know what to do.

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April 4, 2014

Afraid to talk or have nothing to say?

Silence is difficult to deal with.

You wonder – is the person not talking because they don’t know what to say or do they not care to participate or are they actively shutting you out completely?

When you finally get the nerve to open a difficult conversation (albeit at maybe not the most appropriate time), it is a hard pill to swallow when the other person says nothing.

So, you know that wall of defense that may have only been a 12 foot fence? Consider my heart now surrounded by the Great Wall of China.

 

I have been thinking lately about how lonely I am. I lack a sense of true connection with anyone right now. Sometimes I want to pick up the phone or reach out for a hug and I can’t think of who would be on the receiving end.

 

I am at a loss in terms of my relationship with my husband. Not sure what to do to get back on the right terms. There isn’t a heck of a lot of time to talk and we are both tired and depressed. He says he’s afraid to say anything because anything he says will make it worse. But not saying anything makes me feel like he doesn’t care. We can’t move forward if we can’t talk.

 

Any advice is welcome.

March 7, 2014

Deliver me from evil

Deliver me from the communication evil that befalls my marriage. Help me chose the right words and impart the appropriate inflection and intonation.

As the adage says – it’s not what you say but how you say it. It’s evidently all in the delivery.

 

I had a phone session with my therapist the other day. I simply do not feel like I can take off of work – feel like I have too much to do, too much responsibility and lose too much time pumping.

He had the following things to say:

  • My marriage is laden with communication issues and they need to be resolved.
  • What me and my husband say, and what is heard, are very different things.
  • Both of our feelings are hurt and he’s not informing me when his feelings are hurt so we can’t discuss it and pain just festers.
  • I assume I understand his thought process. I most likely do not.
  • Furthermore, we do not understand each others intentions, motivations or understanding of situations, events, etc. But we think we do.
  • We need to develop new ways of communicating. We most likely need couples therapy.

 

I don’t disagree with any of that. Relationships are a two-way street and problems can never be one person’s fault. I also think that we hold our own life frustrations so close to the surface that it’s hard not to hold the other person somewhat accountable for our emotions (i.e., our response/reaction must filter through these frustrations and thus carry a part of the anger).

Here are some examples:

My husband commented that I have criticized him for cooking. I do not recall doing this, although I do recall being annoyed that it seemed he waited until we got home to begin cooking. From my perspective, when I get home I am hungry. My daughter is also very hungry. He is unemployed and I don’t see why he couldn’t start cooking earlier. So we either wait for dinner, and get more and more annoyed, hungry and cranky, or we eat snacks to hold us over…but then aren’t terribly hungry for dinner. We also then go to bed shortly after eating. But I have no idea of what he did that day such that he couldn’t start cooking earlier. I never asked. I never wanted to ask. How on earth would I phrase that conversation so that I didn’t hurt his feelings and simultaneously start an argument? So I say nothing, but get annoyed. This happened last night. And I didn’t handle my anger very well. I am sick (head and chest cold) and extremely tired. I just wanted some dinner. I am also annoyed that I am overweight, can never seem to eat well balanced meals and the summer is coming so I will again have to suffer through the heat and humidity in jeans (no, I would NEVER show my legs!) and constantly be reminded of the fact that I am fat and disgusting. So the fact that he didn’t have dinner ready reminded me of all of these other negative things and that’s really why I was angry.

On top of that are my feelings of jealousy  and “it’s not fair” and, more importantly, self-blame of what am I doing wrong?, all of which get intertwined with my frustration about the state of my house, my lack of personal time and the constant drain on my body and mind. I have said many times that on the occasion where I actually get some time to myself, the cat is then all over me. It never ends. So when I start thinking about the things that need to be done, I start feeling like my husband doesn’t do enough – e.g., housework. I feel like he gets to do whatever he wants during the day without any demands on him or his time and I don’t ever get that. So I get angry about the clothes still in baskets, the overflowing garbage cans, the cutting boards that haven’t been washed for weeks (over a month?) and the mess everywhere. And I think he should take care of it – it’s only fair. But I am also struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a woman, wife and mother. Don’t all other mom’s have immaculately clean houses, never a mess anywhere, dinner always prepared ahead of time? Aren’t they all a healthy weight and not a complete embarrassment to their daughter (forget that she’s only three)? I am clearly doing something wrong if this is the state of my house and my life. I am clearly not adequate and clearly failing miserably. All of this anger and frustration (ok, let’s face it, it’s anxiety) get turned to jealousy and anger towards my husband.

On top of all of that, I then struggle with how much of my feelings are “acceptable”…am I asking/demanding/expecting too much? Shouldn’t he be doing this stuff (note the extreme use of “this” as all encompassing!) or am I being unreasonable? What the hell is normal? I just assume that everything I think and feel is irrational and extreme. So now I don’t trust anything I think or feel and get even more angry and anxious that I can’t figure that out. Another layer to work through – more emotion to coat my words.

So when I open my mouth I have already assumed the response based on this crazy thing that I do. It will always be my fault. I am always to blame. I become more and more defensive, anxious and angry. I don’t know which way to turn or what to do.

February 22, 2014

There’s nothing to say

Filed under: Family, Relationships, Therapy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — me2self @ 11:15 am

“As you presented your argument, it is impossible to address it without making things worse.

This is big and beyond my ability to address fairly.  Your statements are unfair.  I fear it will do me no service to  return them in kind.

I am spending way too much time deciding how to address this.  Because I must.  Point by erroneous point, play armchair psychologist, or give you absolution for your misplaced guilt and take it all upon myself.

At the root of this email seems to be your feelings of guilt and unwillingness to let the past remain in the past.  You are also attacking to off-lay some of that guilt so that you can be free of the burden.”

 

This is how my husband responded to an email I sent to him.

 

I think I need to see my therapist.

 

August 31, 2013

The hidden

I’ve read about how parents can react poorly, or inappropriately to their children when something they say or do triggers an old memory or feeling. I never doubted it but just experienced it.

Let me say that it was powerful and very surprising.

I am the youngest of three children and was, in most ways, my fathers favorite. When I was young, I was always helping him, following him around, going on errands with him. I desperately wanted his love and approval, which wasn’t so easy to get or have.

Even though I usually felt saddened and hurt by our interactions (dad let me help but only until I wasn’t doing it right or perfectly), I kept trying. I always felt that I couldn’t please him and that I wasn’t good enough; in short, I felt like a failure.

Today we purchased a new grill. My husband was putting it together and it was a hot and incredibly humid day. There were a ton of Mosquitos and he couldn’t find the bug spray (I was napping with our toddler). Needless to say he was very frustrated.

So when my daughter woke and wanted to “help”, it didn’t go over so well. I tried to find things for her to do so she wasn’t in his way (e.g., putting screws into holes and taking his tools), but it didn’t really go so well. Then I tried to take her to the store and she pitched a fit (didn’t want mommy to leave but wanted to stay and help daddy). When I took her inside and tried to explain at daddy needed to work by himself (note she was already crying), she responded with such hurt and sadness.

When I saw this on her face, I began crying myself. I couldn’t help it. All she wanted was to help her daddy. I was amazed at how sad I felt for this little girl and how this was the exact thing I was always so afraid of happening….that she would feel the way I felt. She saw me crying and the sadness on my face, which I half purposely didn’t hide from her (would she know that I empathized with her?), but she didn’t say anything. Eventually she calmed down and we went back outside- i was determined to find ways she could help. Then there was a second episode where he lost his patience, and I lost my ability to control the tears. She crawled away and sulked. He soon apologized and she seemed to be ok, but I wasn’t.

I went inside to bawl. I can’t figure out if I am/was more sad for myself or for her. In therapy we have been using imagery (“going back on memory lane) to have my adult self show my little girl-self some compassion (so I’d stop blaming myself). Maybe my reaction was similar to this exercise.

Regardless, I am amazed at the psyche and how quickly and strongly emotions can be released. My daughter is fine and there doesn’t appear to be any damage to her relationship with her beloved daddy.

I, on the other hand, am still very upset.

July 16, 2013

Obligation

I haven’t spoken to my family for four or so months now.

Within weeks I noticed how much happier of a person I was. I am still finding ways where I am “healing” and am becoming a different person. For example, whenever my husband was in a bad mood I always assumed it was my fault and that he was resenting me and would eventually leave me. I would then try to make him feel better, which ultimately angered him (like everyone, he just wanted to be left alone!). But the other day, when he was tired and cranky, I didn’t blame myself. I didn’t try to fix it and I didn’t think he was going to leave me. I just recognized that he was in a bad mood and that was that. When I realized this change I was floored…first, I never realized that I was doing this and, second, never imagined the link between how my family treated me, how I interpreted their treatment of me and how I applied the effects to every little aspect of my life.

I have received a few emails (“thinking about you…”) and calls (they never leave messages) but I don’t respond. I have nothing to say.

However an email I received (well, was copied on) the other day threw me for a short loop. Evidently my mother required surgery and, based on the little bit of information I received, I can only surmise that she has some form of cancer (pre or very early stage). I had to stop and really think about how I was going to respond. How does illness and death change a relationship, and should it?

I’ve always been there for my family. Done everything I could (above what was needed). I can’t think of anything that needs to be said or done or what would be worth reopening communication. I feel settled in my relationship with all of them, to the extent that until they change, I have nothing to say. I don’t have regret. Death is only a problem for the living. I don’t have to resolve anything with her from my perspective. I think people go to ill and dying relatives with which they severed ties because they need closure or resoluation for something. I don’t.

But the legacy obligation (haven’t you heard that blood is thicker than water and family is all you’ll ever really have?) made me initially take pause and wonder if I should change my approach. But as I worked it all out, I realized that the culture with which I grew up…do it because it’s family and that’s all you’ll ever have…I’m done with that. How I respond to them and how I treat myself as a consequence of the interactions are two very different things. Until I can stop beating myself up for every little thing, I don’t think I can be with them. They destroy me.

All of this change I am encountering – it is powerful stuff. As powerful as all the damage that was done. I am proud of myself for finally being true to me; standing up for myself and my well-being. These are enormous, positive changes that are making me a better person and better wife and mother.

August 8, 2012

If you eat shit, then that’s all you’ll spit out

My husband said that to me last week. Not sure what that statement means to anyone else, but it resonated with me (and he said it with understanding and concern for me – it wasn’t a shot).

We were “fighting” for a while. Well, I guess I was fighting him.

With all of the debates on whether or not love at first sight exists, or is valid, I can tell you that when my husband and I met we knew we would be together for the rest of our lives. It was clear to everyone around us as well. We clicked and we have so much in common. Our differences are what makes our relationship stronger and the similarities in our personalities often make us at odds. Seems a little backwards right? But we work. We work really well.

“Having a child changes everything” is an understatement. “Nothing can prepare you for the changes that will occur” is not.

I recently found myself struggling to find footing. I guess that I was finally getting used to not nursing and not waking every 2-3 hours but had not yet found a new rhythm. I felt like I came up for a breath and didn’t recognize the world around me. And for a bit of a control freak, that wasn’t cool (note that I most likely am not admitting to how much of a control freak I am – I like to think I am more reasonable than I must actually be). So I freaked out. And when my husband said something that hit a very large button I freaked out more. I shut down and pushed him away. I was so defensive that I actually didn’t even feel sad. I didn’t feel anything, just numb. And this scared me because I had been clinically depressed for years and this feeling was too familiar. So I forced myself to think and write about it and finally broke down in tears.

We talked. We “argued”. We came to a…calm.

I have written about the negative thoughts that are all too routine. My husband had no idea of just how routine they were. I mentioned our relationship because he is the one person in my life (ever) that I trust (as much as I can trust, which now that I think about it may negate the prior clause). For all of the games we have to play in our lives – at work, with family members, etc – I always felt safe with him. I never worried about what I said or really how I said it. I figured he did the same. I figured he knew nothing I ever said was to be mean or hurtful, spiteful or malicious. I have issues with memory and for years have been forgetting words and losing my train of thought. I will start to say something and completely forget what I was saying. I forget simple words like spoon. And when this happens I just stare blankly trying desperately to recall what I was saying and thinking. He finds this very frustrating. I don’t know what to do about it.

I never realized just how difficult I can be. I never realized that much of what I thought wasn’t an issue for him really is an issue.  Apparently how I say things is much different than how I think I say things. I get it and I need to change.

So when I described some of the things I say to myself, about myself, my husband was shocked. And with all of his wisdom he said to me that in order to fix things between the two of us I had to fix things within me.

If you eat shit, then that’s all you will spit out.

I realize that while I am no longer fighting him, we are not resolved in this communication issue. I am still a bit defensive and that’s something I need to work on – trusting that he loves me.

I never saw so clearly how my thoughts and feelings about myself can affect others and my relationship with them. I am grateful that he painted such a clear picture. I am thankful that I saw it.

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