To Not To

Learning, learning, keep on learning. I have to do something wrong so many times to learn “to not to”.

  • Hubby can’t do something just because I desperately want him to – or even if I feel I NEED him to. He is not good at everything. I must understand he may not be able to solve my problems instantly. It does not mean he does not love me.

So. Yup. I learned a few things not to do.

I’ve made Hubby a partner in my PTSD healing, which is good. But then I was thinking of him as someone healthy who must have answers, solutions to my everyday anxiety. I thought he should be able to diffuse my PTSD moment – in the moment – and restore sanity.

He can’t.

Only I can do that.

I’ve been through some rough emotional times as I learn the ropes in my new job and work through so many triggers. I’ve panicked and I’ve made mistakes. I’ve lost sleep and I’ve cried. I’ve over-eated. I’ve over-over-eated. Several times I have reached out to Hubby to see if he had suggestions for how to handle the stress and demands of my new job and keep me organized so I feel in control. I keep dragging him into my world, and showing him the full force of my pain and anxiety, thinking he would be a strong shoulder for me to lean on, and also a wise teacher. I thought- he has survived a high stress job every day for years and that he should be able to teach me how to do that too. Yes, well. . .

Yoda he is not.

When I’m all upset and lashing out, Hubby freaks out too. He gets all anxious to match my anxiety. Then I feel letdown that he isn’t supported. Then he gets defensive. Then I get defensive. Then he starts yelling. Then I cry or yell or some horrible mix of the two. Then I get angry at him for ‘refusing’ to help me and gather my energy to do it myself. I’ll show him. (yes so mature, I know, but hey I’m describing an irrational meltdown, not my acceptance into Harvard speech)

So in a weird way he has helped me by not helping me these past few weeks, as my anger fueled me to muscle through and find my own way.

Hours later, after the ugliness, we both apologize to each other and everything is fine – until I flip out and start over again – usually the very next day. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I think, maybe if I show him this? Or what if I explain it this way? But each time we escalate until we are both yelling and boiling over and nothing gets solved. Each time I think if I just change the way I ask for help, he will help me this time. He just doesn’t understand yet.

Beat dead horse. Repeat. Wait, why am I repeating something that doesn’t work?

He doesn’t have the skill set to handle what I am asking him to do. Basically, I am asking him to ignore my irrational thoughts, words and behaviors, calm my fears, make my head stop spinning, make my heart stop racing, and allow us to think clearly and calmly together to organize my notes and to-do list. He can’t help but get upset when I’m so upset. I can’t push all his hot buttons and expect a cool cucumber. Ever.

I’ve been asking Hubby to be a business consultant, a therapist, and even an osmotic human Ativan. No wonder he flips out. Although he is wonderful and amazing at so many things – he can’t be my everything.

(I think sometimes I put fatherly expectations on him too, hoping once and for all to have someone take care of me in a way that no one ever did when I was little – but not exploring that too much here, a simple acknowledgement and moving on)

Just because I work at home and he is walking through my office all day here, I can’t expect him to get involved with every work issue. I bet if I saw him all stressed out in the middle of the work day at his factory that I would get upset too, and be unable to offer anything helpful. I would think he was crazy if he asked me to help.

I previously shared what I am doing to restore my balance reactively, with yoga, exercise, crying breaks, walking away from the chaos, etc. So here is what I am doing to help myself proactively.

I went office supply shopping. By myself. Turns out my problem here is not unique and there are millions of products designed to help organize an office. I am not the only forgetful person. I am not the only one who loses things. I’m not the only one juggling a dozen balls and afraid to drop any. I bought colored folders, different sizes and colors of notebooks, a clipboard, dry erase labels, and a huge box of pens. Nothing worse than not being able to find a pen when your boss calls unexpectedly.

Today I made a to-do list and put in on my clipboard. I also have the tasks in outlook, but this task list on my paper is broken down into do-able chunks. Sometimes I do part of an outlook email task and need to do another step before I can check it off. As I took more notes and the day went on, I wrote my crazy notes as I usually do, the ones that look like a football playbook, and then put my do-able tasks on the 1 organized paper on top. I feel like I didn’t lose track of anything today. (I may have lost something, but I feel like I didn’t, and I’m going for emotional control here, so I think I’m on the right track. No tears today)

I didn’t move into my new notebooks or folders yet, need to develop a system as I go. But I don’t feel so nervous about it now. When I had a classroom, I had my planner, my calendars, my folders, and a p-touch labeler. I’d label everything if I could. I feel so good when I see a drawer labeled scissors and inside of it is – ba da da da daaaaa – scissors!

So, if you haven’t concluded it yourself yet, my biggest trigger lately has been my feeling out of control. That has always been a slippery slope for me. An abused child never feels in control, even over the things other children do. The job I have accepted has a huge amount of daily unknowns. I will always have moments out of my control. I need to learn to handle those by keeping my own environment nicely controlled – and to seriously let the other stuff go. Some can be monitored, and some will just go wild. It’s ok. It has to be ok.

I am working directly for the owner/president now. He trusts me to do the tasks. I need to trust myself. Shut the doubting negative thoughts by throwing colored folders at that. File them all away in the proper place. Hmm, maybe I should physically do this? Write down my doubting thoughts and a worst case scenario and file it away in a brightly colored folder.

labeled “To Not To” .

like Tow Mater. “What did I tell you about talking to the accused?” “To Not To” (1:10)








4 thoughts on “To Not To

  1. “Write down my doubting thoughts and a worst case scenario and file it away in a brightly colored folder.” What a great idea! This ties in so well to my post tomorrow. The other side of creating positive triggers: Creating positive defusers.

  2. Pingback: Positive triggers… | The Project: Me by Judy

  3. Do you have a ‘real’ work space set aside where he can’t walk through? If not, do you have someplace you could make your real work space? This might help a bit create some separation between work and home. The other? Judy is right on.

    You are doing great you know. You are identifying and that is strides in the right direction.

    • Unfortunately my home is tiny and has an open floor plan. I work in the dining room, which is open to the kitchen and living room. High on my wish list is an office with a door I could close, but that can’t happen in this house. Something to look forward to in our next home. Thank you! Every time I identify a cause I feel so calm and strong, like I got this.

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