Getting worked up over nothing? It’s never ‘nothing’. You just have to be willing to dig for the something and give it a swift kick in the pants as you toss it out. Then go apologize to whoever you got all worked up about and likely hurt.
I got all worked up this weekend in a typical wifely kind of way and made Hubby get all defensive in a typical Hubbily kind of way.
He was being generally very useful and handy, which generally means tearing things apart to fix them., and this past weekend’s
object d’estruction was our lawn mower. Hubby found a new guy to mow our lawn for half the price of the guy we’ve had for the past 6 years or so. Yay for Hubby! But the new guy needs to use our mower, which has not been touched in, well, over 6 years or so. Apparently just sitting around is not good for anything, and hardened deposits of old fuel clogged the carburetor or something like that.
So I go outside, after being inside all day wrangling my 3 kids to just for the love of Pete do the chores and let us all get on with our lives when I see Hubby outside with a dismantled mower. I was suddenly overwhelmed by a dumptruck of ugly feelings: fear, anger, resentment, exhaustion, anxiety and even sadness. I tried to ignore the feelings and asked him as politely as I could what was wrong and if he could fix and when he could fix it. Hubby was unable to ignore the ugly emotions and immediately felt attacked. I don’t remember the exact words, but it got tense and I left it with an ultimatum that I would give him 2 weeks and then I was calling the previous lawn guy back and not waiting all summer. Hubby was like “What the . . .” and told me not to yell at him.
I came back inside and was a ball of nervous energy mixed with displaced anger. I was confused. I wasn’t really angry at hubby and actually trusted him to fix the mower, he said it was easy. But it didn’t look easy.
Hubby came inside and asked what was wrong, was I feeling ok? I said no, maybe I need to exercise and burn some of this off, not sure why I am so angry. I exercised, showered, and felt much better. I realized I had been triggered and was acting out an old issue. The reason I hired a lawn guy in the first place was a time of desperation. We could not afford a lawn guy. We could barely afford 1/2 our monthly bills back then. But I had little crawling people who needed to play in our yard, and had a notice from the city giving us 1 week to cut the grass or they would fine us. Hubby was working so hard back then, always exhausted. We had a preschooler and a toddler and were about to have a baby. We were in survival mode. I didn’t even know I had PTSD yet but was lost in a depression most of the time. I resented hubby for not taking care of our lawn, but then saw how tired he was, and how sick it made him from allergies and hated myself for resenting him. I found the lawn guy’s number on a bulletin board at the post office and did that on my own. I was scared to make a decision like that, but hubby was never in the mood to talk about problems or plan ahead. All we did was hurt each other when we spoke. He would usually feel attacked and yell something and storm away. I would melt down and cry and freeze up.
So I stirred up some of those emotions. Aha, it made sense and I was able to think rationally again. These feelings do not belong to today, I told myself. I trust hubby now. We are partners now. He won’t leave feeling hurt and hopeless this time, he loves me.
I came down to apologize and explain to him, and guess what? He beat me to it! He said he was sorry for taking my reaction personally, he understands it wasn’t really about him, not about today. Woah. I said I was sorry for digging up past resentment and told him I trust him to do what is right. I told him how much money we had left until payday so he could plan accordingly. We worked together and resolved an issue without letting it escalate. We both used our coping tools learned in therapy (have I mentioned how great my therapist is?!?) to get us through what could have been ugly.
Now, I have PTSD, so my reaction was particularly strong. But I have to wonder how many couples struggle with something similar, fighting about a past feeling, because we are so afraid to get hurt again, that we unknowingly set the stage to get hurt again. Someone has to put the growned up pants on and take the first step to analyze, then retreat, then come back together.
I think we’re growing up, learning, and building the strongest marriage possible. WE ARE. Not just me.
I’m not sure if I can stand this much happiness. I’m afraid I may turn in to one of the perky smiley people that I usually can’t stand. 🙂 I’ve actually caught myself smiling these days, when I’m all alone. I catch a glimpse of myself in the window as I’m going by and stop to look, because my eyes are smiling too. Not crazy wild manic smiling, but not deep empty and soulless. I see me in there, and I look happy.
I mean come on, things are going so well at work, I seem to have some friends that enjoy my company, I have people that appreciate my talents, I have an awesomely supportive and loving husband, I have a healthy family, and I’m kicking Curves butt in each workout, getting stronger already.
I still feel strong, and I’m realizing this isn’t just a fleeting feeling, it isn’t going to pass. I’m starting to think I AM strong and I AM loved and that I can do this life thing. My past no longer bounds my future, because I am in control of my present.