Notes to Self

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.

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March 24, 2014

Why can’t I ever just…

This morning I finally got up (sort of) on time and hopped in the shower while my toddler was sleeping and the baby was content (enough). My husband was awake so I wasn’t worried. And then I heard the crying…

Shortly after my daughter was born I joined a gym to go swimming. I used to swim competitively and I really needed exercise and some time out of the house. After all, babies can’t always have their mommy’s, right (or so everyone continuously told me)? The last night I went swimming (which was only the first few times that I went) I recall being in the water and thinking how wonderful this was and how I felt like I had come home again. I was enjoying the feel of the water, the smell of the chlorine and the fatigue that slowly overcame my (out of shape) muscles. And then I got home.

When I walked in the door my daughter was screaming crying and my husband was sitting on the couch looking completely spent and helpless. I can still feel the shock. I thought here I was thinking all was well and enjoying my time in the water and all the while the two of them were absolutely miserable. I felt guilty and frustrated at the same time. So that was the last time I left my little girl at night, that is until I was in the hospital when my second child was born (she was 2.5 yrs old).

Many times over the course of the first year or so of my daughters life I would be in the shower (getting ready for work) and thinking all was well, until I turned off the water and heard the crying. Soon I would always hear crying and got in the habit of shutting of the water int he middle of my shower to figure out if it was my imagination or was she actually crying. Regardless of whether or not she was crying, I would rush out of the shower, rush to get dressed and end up being overcome by the time I actually left for work. I had spent the morning nursing and pumping, packing bottles and lunches. I was tired! But my husband was able to have over one hour of personal time in the morning. I always thought that this wasn’t fair and the less personal time I had, the more angry I became over it (and this is the point of this post…keep reading).

 

This morning while I showered (and note that I hadn’t showered since Friday morning), I was in the middle of loving the hot water when I heard the knock on the bathroom door (which I only closed to avoid waking my daughter) and then the pouting. Oh crap I thought, this is terrific. I even thought I heard the baby crying so in the middle of brushing my teeth (yes, I do this in the shower to save time) I turned off the water. Yes little girl, I will be out soon! I shouted. But still she whimpered, sitting on the floor outside of the bathroom.  Great I thought and I turned the water back on – back to RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH. And then I said to myself why can’t I ever just –

 

And then it hit me.

 

All this time I have been thinking that the fact that my children cry when I am not around, or when I am trying to do something (like go to the bathroom or make some seriously needed caffeine, I mean coffee) means that I have somehow failed.

 

Ah yes, that old chant. You are a failure, everything you do you don’t do right. People are miserable because of you.

 

I never thought your babies want their mommy because you have bonded so well with them and you breastfeed so of course they want you to hold them. Of course they miss you when you are gone.

 

Nope. I just think that I am a rotten mom and an even worse wife. This morning I thought how much my husband must hate me because I left him with this mess of crying kids. I should have done better, I should have made it easier for him and there were things I could have and should have done (that is if I were capable of knowing what the right thing is) so that everyone woke up with smiles and were happy, happy, happy.

 

Seriously? Even Mary Poppins can’t do that.

 

As for my jealous (ok, anger) toward my husband who gets to spend time clipping his nails every morning (I do this only when they start to dig into adjacent toes…keeping them trimmed is just a waste of precious time I don’t have)- it’s just self-loathing turned outward. I don’t do it right and I am a failure and terrible mom, which is why I don’t get any personal time but look at him all free and clear. No stress, no worry. I hate him (I really don’t – I truly love my husband, even when we are fighting). Why doesn’t he do the same for me? Why oh why can’t I feel free from the constant stress of worrying whether or not I am screwing up my kids and making them hate me and feel as unloved and as worthless as my parents made me feel – all because I want to make some damned coffee or sit without someone or something hanging on me for 10 f’in minutes.

 

And how exactly is that his problem?

 

So the theme of my current rehabilitation has changed from figuring (identifying) all the ways my parents taught me to hate myself and how it has manifested in my life, to figuring out how all that shit has fucked up my marriage. You don’t know what you don’t know. So help me know. I don’t think I am solely to blame for all our marital issues, but I also think that I have been difficult to be with for nearly 17 years and don’t you think he has developed some defense mechanisms and ways to tune me out just so he could survive? Like the other night when the baby was up crying and I didn’t want to get back in the habit of nursing him all night (he finally sleeps and only wakes 2 times!!!!) so my husband was trying to put him back to sleep – I said do you want to try a pacifier? I had one in my hand but instead my husband got up, brought the crying baby into the room where my toddler was sleeping to fetch the pacifier from the crib. Then I went in and said forget it, I’ll just nurse him. That must have been fun for him. (and there’s another lesson in this but I don’t have time to write about it right now). I realized that I have always said “do you want to…” when I really meant “would you please…”.  So last night when I wanted my husband to go to the basement and get the blankets from the drying I said wanna go get the blankets and then quickly corrected myself saying would you mind getting the blankets from the dryer.

 

It’s a small step, but a step. I wonder if he recognized it.

 

As for my lack of personal time and the effect any personal time has on my children…it is temporary. It will pass. And I need to see it as them wanting to be with me and not me being punished for not doing things right. I am a good mom and I show my kids love and respect and by wanting me to be with them they are telling me they feel the love and want more.

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 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.

July 12, 2012

If it had been different, about what would we now be talking?

I was fortunate to be able to have a late breakfast with a friend this morning. We have known each other since the 6th grade and are, what I consider kindred spirits. We lost touch during college and then she moved to another country, etc. etc. But she is in town for a bit and after many years of not communicating we recently reconnected (thanks to Facebook by the way) and are talking as if we hadn’t skipped a beat. The really nice thing is that there has never been judgement or jealousy or any of the other emotions that are often in female relationships and that poison the waters of friendship; the awkward, strained things that prohibit one from being totally honest and open. We are certainly totally honest and open with each other. Except when we feel rejected by the other person, which is not only one of both of our fundamental fears but also (I think) the reason we lost touch. Now that I think about this fact, I chuckle that our similarities are the things that sent us apart!

We are both mothers and we are now finding that we struggle with the same fears and obstacles regarding our own children (e.g., what type of mothers we are, want to be and don’t want to be). We also both struggle with similar issues in our marriages (e.g., how our emotional issues affect our marriages). And we have had similar issues with our parents that has left us with similar, fundamental obstacles we have yet to overcome (e.g., lack of self-love).

We both fully agree that if a child feels unconditionally loved then the child is on the road to a healthy self-image. We both agree that we try every day to help our children feel as loved, cherished and appreciated as humanly possible. So maybe one day they won’t have the doubt and self-loathing she and I endure(d).

Finally I looked at my friend and said – if things had been different, if we had received the nurturing we believe is fundamental to a healthy self-image, then about what would we now be talking instead of discussing our fears and mother/wife problems?

“Yeah” was all she said as she shook her head and thought about what I just said.

What struck me was the expression on my friends face – it was a look of hope and yearning.

After all our years of fighting ourselves, is it possible we can find peace?

Then we could talk about the weather or the price of bread…

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