I have at least gotten some sleep the last couple of nights. Not as much as I’d like or need, but I’ll take what I can get.
Yesterday my husband and I got into another heated discussion in the morning. I’d felt slighted, and thought he was still upset with me from Sunday, because he knew that I was awake but took our youngest to the bus stop without letting me know they were leaving so that I could say goodbye. It turns out he’d simply had a stressful morning getting the older three out the door before I was awake.
(I’d offered to help but he wanted to handle getting the kids out the door and to their stop on his own, since if things go the way we expect, he’ll have primary custody and be handling it on his own next year anyway. I think it makes him feel better, and like he has some kind of control over the circumstances of our life, to be able to prep this way.)
Among other issues, our younger son and older daughter had each worn their sibling’s shoes instead of their own, leaving said siblings searching fruitlessly for their school shoes and having to wear an old worn pair instead. The mystery of the disappearing shoes was not solved until the accidental shoe thieves returned home that afternoon.
My husband was working from home yesterday, so after the kids had all gone we talked, and the discussion became heated almost immediately. I let him know I felt like I’d been being punished Sunday for having a good day and not being penitently sad. He said that wasn’t his intent, at all. He just needed to talk in order to feel better and felt like I was controlling things (by not wanting to have repeated DTR conversations). I told him of course I wanted to have some control and explained – again – just how bad anxiety is for me and how I really don’t want to be triggered into an episode.
He wants solace and comfort and relief from being able to talk to me about the tough emotions he’s experiencing, but I don’t get solace and comfort and relief, I get anxiety spiking through the roof and whispering that maybe he snaps and I end up a statistic. It doesn’t matter that I know I have no rational reason to believe he’d get violent, anxiety isn’t rational and I still have to deal with the feelings and the fear it engenders – and anxiety almost always leads into at least a day or so of depression, and the fear that maybe it won’t just be a day.
We had to break from that conversation so he could deliver a forgotten lunch to our oldest, and when he returned he’d calmed down and we were able to have a more fruitful discussion. I explained that even if he thinks he’s asking a question with nuance that could change the answer he receives, from my perspective he’s basically asking what he’s already asked before, and I’m just having to repeat myself and get stressed out.
I walk myself through episodes of irrational anxiety. I go over the evidence that counters my brain screaming at me that I’m in danger. He needs to walk himself through episodes of insecurity where his brain is telling him I’ve become an uncaring narcissistic sociopath that doesn’t see or care about his emotions and that hasn’t thought through how my intended actions will impact our children, instead of burdening me with a reminder of my feelings of guilt and the need to reassure him and end up triggered in the process.
He did acknowledge that it is very hard to feel like he’s being carried along with no way to stop what’s happening. When there’s a problem, he wants to be able to fix it, and now he’s confronted with a problem that he can’t fix, and he has trouble stopping himself from endlessly searching for that elusive, almost certainly illusory solution. I said if it would be easier for him, we could move up our time table for filing. Six months (the earliest we can file in Indiana) instead of nine months. He didn’t feel the need to do that, but did like my other suggestion of an end-of-the-month check-in every month.
We came away from the second conversation stabilized, again, though I know this won’t be permanent stability. Maybe I’ll get a longer break this time before he once again seeks out another conversation that stresses me out.
I then finally had the chance to leave and make my visit to the cemetery where I’d spotted a tree stump gravestone. It was a gorgeous day out – bright, warm, and sunny with a brilliant blue sky dotted with small, fluffy white clouds. I listened to music via spotify via the bluetooth system in my car (a great reason all on its own to have updated to a smart phone) and ‘danced’ along to the music, feeling a little self-conscious but figuring other drivers on the road could handle seeing someone enjoy themselves.
In the evening after supper we went out and ran a couple of errands together and it felt relaxed and friendly. It’s funny, I find, that just like walking myself through an episode of anxiety, I have to walk myself through an episode of ‘maybe it’s not really that bad, maybe I should just stay where I am.’ I know, though, what happens if I stay. How much work and stress and anxiety would go into my existence just to sometimes have that shot at relaxed and friendly. How my resources would once again deplete, and faster, this time, because they aren’t and probably can’t be built up to the levels of youthful me.