Today has been one of those days Jon doesn’t look forward to. One where I have too much time on my hands and not enough variety of stimulation. A day where I could, if I actually bothered to put in the effort, spend hours and hours writing and end the day feeling relatively fulfilled. Instead, years of self-doubt take over and the fluffy white cloud I built around myself as protection from disclaimers becomes heavy and dark.
When I was about 17 I was forced to take a long, hard look at myself. Certain types of relationships have always come easily to me, others not so much, and I was at a point where I’d blown through a series of potential social situations, hurt some people close to me, and found myself, once again, feeling very alone. Every Tuesday, during last period, I saw a counsellor at the college I attended. He was a big, burly bald guy who everyone referred to as ‘Stone Cold’ due to his resemblance to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, the WWF wrestler. He was cool though, married to our art teacher I believe, and very matter-of-fact. Tuesday was his day at our school and I would regularly see him in the refectory during break or lunch. I don’t know if people knew I saw him, I doubt many people cared, but I was never shy in talking to him outside of our little room and greeted him just as I would another teacher or staff member.
This particular Tuesday I was having a bad day, I can’t remember why, and the session started. Stone Cold told me he knew I was having a bad day. When I asked him how he said that when me saw me in the refectory during break and he asked me how I was doing all I did was say (something along the lines of) “crap!” and stormed out of the building. His reasoning for me doing that was that I wanted him to follow me and see what was wrong. He called me out for ‘attention-seeking behaviour” and I was pretty horrified with myself. Partly because it was true but mainly because it was something I didn’t like seeing in myself. Once I was aware of it, I worked hard to keep that kind of behavior at bay.
Except sometimes our reactions to situations are ground into us and we find ourselves doing things before our mind can rationalise the behaviour. I’ve definitely diluted my old ways, almost doing a complete reversal from my drama loving, crazy hair, midriff revealing days, but some traits stay. Particularly when it comes to emotional reassurance.
It’s funny because in today’s exchange Jon asked me what he can do to help and I say, mid tears, “you’ve know me for 10 years, I think you’d know by now,” yet he’s still clueless. Now, with a clear mind, I’m laughing at the thought because I know, after 10 years, that Jon and I react so differently to these tense, stressful situations. When he’s upset or lost all he wants is for me to leave him alone to work through it. Me, being the fix-it, emotionally neurotic person that I am, has to try to make things better and so never leaves him alone; of course, that just makes things worse. Flip side is that when I’m being all moody in the corner, telling him how I’ve lived my entire life wrong and how I wish I was good at something, I am attention seeking. I want him to sit there and wonder why he hasn’t seen me for half an hour, why I’m all fetal on my chair and I want him to pick me up in his manly arms and whisper sweet compliments into my ear. Great, on paper. Except my husband will never think that way, even after I tell him, again, all I need is for him to give me a cuddle. His way of coping is to do so alone and so that’s his default reaction to my low points.
I could make everything so much easier by just going to him and saying, “Babe, I’m feeling really crappy right now, can I have a hug?”, but where’s the drama in that? And so, I’m my own worst enemy. I will sabotage myself; waste 2 hours of the day feeling shitty and dragging my husband down with me instead of trying my own fix-it tactics and moving on. I get lazy, and the pissed off that I haven’t done anything. Then your husband suggests you see a therapist and you realise you need to pull yourself together.
That’s the hardest part about giving time to yourself; you see all the shitty sides of yourself. I can’t ignore it though; if I am going to make the most of this writing thing, and the free time I have, I need to delve deep inside; to dredge up all the emotions, the reality, the good, bad and ugly sides of human nature. I also need to keep faith and to remember the one thing that really keeps me going on this mountain road of life – you can’t rely on anyone but yourself.