Sunday, October 27, 2013


Two weeks ago I had a long weekend off work (Columbus Day), and I had planned to spend Saturday night through Monday afternoon with Frisbee. Instead, I picked a stupid fight with him Saturday night and spent the entire evening sleeping in the living room (my choice). Then I left on Sunday afternoon and cried the whole way home.

This past Friday night I came home from work and within the first 20 minutes was in an argument with Now-hubby about my Halloween costume that ended with me not talking to him for a half hour.

I grew up in an environment where my parents yelled. Well, correction. My father yelled. A lot. My mother just sort of sat passively through all of it. Which is not to say that she was a victim, because she was probably just quiet because she was too drunk to properly verbalize a response.

When I was old enough to leave, I got as far away from all of it as I possibly could. That was my response to arguments - I left. It was a fairly good defense against fights between other people that were happening around me. The one time I did try to intervene and have an opinion about an argument between my parents I got physically hurt, so looking at it from the angle of self-preservation, disappearing completely was a lot easier.

The only downside to this defense strategy is it was difficult to rely on in my own relationships. Especially because the types of people I tended to get involved with were those who actually cared about me and wanted to help if I was hurting. Which, in and of itself I was very grateful for. It was something I was unfamiliar with, but I recognized it as a way healthier option than repeating my parent's relationship format.

For a very long time I had absolutely no idea how to appropriately handle my own anger within my relationships. I would have literal panic attacks. Scream, cry, and break things. I would go days without speaking to the other person. The pattern worked like this: I would get upset about something. Usually something small and inane. Something like a tiny thought that would go through my head about whether somebody really cared or not. I would get angry, and that anger would make me think I was becoming my father, which was terrifying. And then absolutely worst of all the other person would want to stick around and talk about things. Which how do you tell somebody you care about that even you can't properly explain the reason you're upset? I knew that wanting to understand and help the person you cared about was technically the "right"thing to do, but I had spent so much of my adolescence and early adulthood getting as far away from anger as I could that any other response was completely irrational.

It's taken a really long time to get to the point where I'm even able to slow my mind down and tell somebody, "I need time to myself to deal with this." Space helps me quiet both the initial anger and the incredibly unhelpful cycle within myself that's upset about being upset. I can recognize this, and being able to ask for it is a huge step, and means I can get over things a lot faster.

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