Why am I so angry, and why am I being so mean?
I feel like all the good stuff I learned in CBT has evaporated. I’m constantly on the edge of losing my temper.
Despite my last post being about my commitment to being present and to let go of the things I can’t control, I’m living in a state of low level frustration and annoyance… and the really annoying thing is that I’m angry about things I can’t control.
The pattern goes something like this. Blow up and be horrible to hub, kids, parents (not friends, I’m usually lovely to friends), then feel awful, then make amends, (when actually most of the time I’m not really sorry I’m just saying sorry to diffuse the tension as none of the stuff that’s irritating me has been resolved).
Then back to normal and repeat.
About once a month.
It is exhausting.
I wrote the first few paragraphs of this last Saturday but it feels like a lifetime ago. Today I’m feeling calm, happy and grateful. So, what’s happened?
These were all the things that were bugging me and building up:
I felt I was carrying more mental load than hub (see fab cartoon about mental load here). So, while hub was being amazing at tidying, getting the kids fed, getting them to and from school and to and from clubs and activities all with depression and anxiety and living with my parents I didn’t feel that what he was doing was enough.
I was comparing our family to other families where one person works and the other stays at home and I was feeling robbed. I was feeling that although I was working, that I was also sorting many of the domestic logistics like paying for clubs, sorting school uniforms, submitting the gas and electricity meter readings, doing homework with the kids, reading with them and putting them to bed, cooking 2-3 nights a week, tidying up, all the gardening, running my parents around, taking kids away from hub when he was getting irritated by them, organising all our social calendars, buying birthday gifts for friends, kids’ parties, planning Christmas and Halloween, booking trips to see secondary schools blah, blah, blah. I had a massive tick list in my head of all the things I was doing.
It got to the point where, just as I anticipated, last Sunday we had a huge argument.
It wasn’t a shouty argument, but one where hub curls up in bed causing me to feel like the worst partner in the universe. I almost apologised for being mean, just as I would usually do… Just to diffuse the tension.
Hub told me how awful I make him feel. Like I think he isn’t good enough for me, that what we have is never enough and that I always want more from him, from the kids, from life. But he also told me that over the last month or two he feels he has been doing the best he has in years. That he isn’t overwhelmed by life, that he looks forward to facing the week and spending time with the family. He told me how much he loves me and loves our family.
The reality is that a lot of the rising tension over the last week or so has been money-related. I’m earning good money now that I’ve started my own business, but I feel a huge amount of pressure to provide. A contract I was expecting to start in September fell through, and all I could see was a gaping financial hole. Hub didn’t seem worried at all, saying ‘It will all work out, you’re great’, and in the mean time I was getting more and more annoyed about picking up all the stuff we agreed would be ‘his job’, while he wasn’t showing any signs of helping me if ‘my job’ didn’t work out.
I shared all of this with him and he let me know he’d never let our family sink financially. That he would go back to work if we needed him to, but that right now he feels like a footballer with a serious injury. He said he is on the bench recovering, and he would go in to play if that was the only option to stop the team from losing, but the better thing for him to do would be to focus on getting back to 100% fitness. He is right.
We talked about our differences. Both in how we understand and experience the world, not just relating to his mental ill health, but the fact that I am an extrovert and he is an introvert, that I’m energised and excited by totally different things than him. And we’ve compromised.
I won’t invite people over anymore for the whole weekend (which I did last weekend), or drag him to loads of parties, or host loads of parties, but we will hang out as a couple with other couples, we’ll have a few dinner parties. We will start small and stay small, but I can go out and get energised by other people and not feel guilty about it.
The argument and its resolution this month seems more important than previous ones for a number of reasons…
… because we both talked about the real root of our fears and worries and because we started to recognise the pattern
… because it was not a surface level conversation
… because we both agreed that the right thing to do would be to let him continue his recovery
…because he was right, I shouldn’t have worried about money and in the middle of last week I landed a big piece of work which will keep me busy til Christmas
…because life is complex and complicated and he constantly reminds me that we need to look at what we have rather than what we don’t
… because a marriage is not about ticking boxes to see who has done most
…because we both know we have to work hard to make our marriage work
… because we love each other, support each other, are committed to each other and our children.
I can’t say I won’t ‘blow up’ again next month, but hopefully returning to this post will help me to remember I’ve gone through this cycle before, and to remember at the core there is a lot more to be grateful about than there is to worry about.