Sunday, September 30, 2018

I'm Crazy, Right?

I want to state upfront that I'm not actually looking for anyone to tell me that I am not crazy.  I am just curious if anyone else out there, especially people who battle anxiety, understand the situation I'm going to describe below and the array of feelings that arise from it.

There was an "incident" tonight.  Sometimes I wonder at what point will Kris finally say, "Oh my gosh, you really are crazy!" and then decide he's had enough?  When I'm calm and rational (yes, it does happen...occasionally...), I know the answer.  He will never reach a point where he thinks he just can't deal with me anymore. That man will stand by my side, always.  No matter what.  If our story is any indicator, his capacity to love and forgive and continue to want a life with me even after being profoundly hurt is proof enough.

Why then, if I know that, do I completely lose my mind the moment he expresses agitation or frustration with me?  He deals with my crazy extremely well.  Most of the time.  But in those few and far between moments where he isn't in complete control of how he reacts to my irrationality, I just can't deal with it.  It literally feels like the end of my world.

Perhaps part of it has to do with the fact that the only reason I "lose" my mind is due to extreme anxiety.  It's never a direct reaction to feelings about Kris or something specific he has said or done.  It's not him.  It's me and this damn anxiety that will not leave me alone.  For a lot of years, especially early in our marriage, I thought there was something innately wrong with me.  I would have these irrational reactions to what appear to be very minor situations, and I beat myself up because no "normal" human being would be so bent out of shape over minute changes, would they?

For example, tonight's meltdown was brought on by a simple comment Kris made.  The simple fact (though there's a little more to it) is this:

The show I was watching ended, and he was sitting down to eat, so he said something like, "Did you want to watch Atypical?"

And I literally lost my mind.  I went from feeling fine one second to a state of extreme panic in another.  I will readily admit that I am not even close to nice when everything feels out of control.  I say things I don't mean, I'm extremely short and sarcastic, or I say things that don't have anything to do with what I'm really upset about.  And instead of just telling Kris that I didn't want anything about what I was doing in that moment to change, because that would be RATIONAL, it got really tense, really fast.

Why did I immediately go into a tailspin that ended up with Kris leaving the room and me walking out of the house?

For me, it is never as simple as saying, "No, I'd rather keep watching what I was watching before you came into the room."  There were so many other thoughts going through my head in the moment:

#1.  You love Aytpical - why are you offended by him suggesting you watch it with him?
#2.  You're being irrational and there is no reason this should make you upset.
#3.  You are married and need to bend, and you should compromise and do something he wants to do.
#4.  Why are you so inflexible?
#5.  You're selfish and should not be feeling this bent out of shape over a TV show.
#6.  Don't speak. Don't speak. Don't speak.
#7.  Why did you speak?  I told you not to.  You just made everything worse.
#8.  Oh look, you've gone and really made him mad.  Good job, idiot.
#9.  You're literally an insane person who doesn't know how to have normal human interactions.
#10. You've made him so mad he doesn't love you anymore and can't possibly want to keep doing this over and over again with you.

Look, I'm not making this stuff up.  And I know how ridiculous it sounds.  How ridiculous it actually is.  Even within the irrational thinking, I have rational thoughts.  But I do not know how to express anything at all, or how to deal with how disrupted a simple suggestion to watch a different TV show makes me feel.

So Kris, very clearly upset (and rightly so because I'm a child when it comes to communication in these moments) left the room.  And then the turmoil inside of me escalated.  I felt trapped.  Like I wanted to crawl out of my skin, or jump off of a bridge, or drive away and never come back.  I felt stupid also, because I knew that my reaction was irrational.  And yet, I couldn't escape how on edge I was feeling.  As much as I wanted to just be "okay," I didn't know how.  I had to physically move, or do something to counter the intense pressure I felt building inside me.  My world was spinning out of control.

I felt like if I didn't move, I would explode.  So I put the dog on his leash and went for a walk.  For the first few minutes, I was indignant.  And I was thinking, why can't Kris just be more understanding and compassionate?  This is not the first time we have been in a situation like this.  Kris makes a comment or suggestion, or implies something, and it is disruptive to me.  And then I thought, "You idiot!  That man has been more patient, more understanding, and more selfless in five minutes than you'll be in your entire life."  So then I went from being mad at him for not being 100% compassionate and understanding every single minute of every day, to kicking myself for not feeling capable of just switching direction and taking him up on his offer or suggestion, or what sometimes feels like a passive-aggressive way to get me to do what he wants.

He's not actually being passive-aggressive.  I just feel like he is.  That led to me thinking, "Why can't he just ask?  If he wants to watch Atypical, why can't he just say that he would like to watch Atypical with me?"  And if he would just word it differently and give me a chance to control the next step, would it matter?  Would I be capable of being flexible if he put the control in my hands, instead of making a suggestion that leaves me feeling off balance and like my world is spinning out of control?  I honestly don't know.  I like to think that there is a less disruptive way to tell me that he wants to watch a show with me.  Or that if he would give me some warning or time to adjust, I would be okay and able to change my plans to do something that he wants to do instead of it always having to be about me.

What seems reasonable to me would be for Kris to give me some advance warning.   Send me a chat to prep me for the fact that my expectation for how my night was going to play out might be changing.  Outside of the moment, I can see it from his perspective.  He isn't working on bills or taxes or work anymore (which he had been doing for several hours already).  He wants to eat, and he wants to spend time with me, watching a show we mutually enjoy, because while he can be alone, he does not enjoy it nearly as much as I do and he requires more human interaction than I do because he actually likes people.

But in the moment, that isn't how it played out in my mind.  This was my version of reality:

He had spent several hours working downstairs and in general, I need time alone sometimes to just do my own thing.  I would have been perfectly content to keep doing my own thing for another couple of hours, until the kids went to bed and we could spend our evening just the two of us.  He had also turned on a video game in our room and this made me feel safe and not guilty for wanting to spend some more time alone.  I just assumed that he would stay in our room for a bit.  So when his pizza was done, I actually thought he had taken it into our room to eat and play his game.  It all felt very safe to me.

So, when he suddenly appeared and sprung the news on me that everything I thought above was completely wrong (simply by suggesting we watch something together), I no longer felt safe.  I suddenly felt like my world was spinning out of control.  And in the midst of that, I'm feeling intense pressure to switch directions and immediately change my expectation for how my night was going to play out.  I know that I am inflexible, and if I can't deal with that type of "switch" in the moment, it is going to create a problem and I really don't intend to make Kris' life MORE difficult.  I am not much of a helpmate to him if he is always the one who has to adjust his expectations and compromise.  So let's just throw some good old fashioned guilt in there too for good measure.

I honestly think it has more to do with feeling this huge pressure to adjust right in that moment that does me in.  If I had some time to prepare, I could adjust my expectations and be open to doing something with him, when I originally thought I was going to be alone.  But we don't live in a world where Kris can give me a 30 minute heads up any time he wants to do something with me.  I have learned a few things about myself over the last two decades.  One of those is that I desperately need time to adjust if my plan for how something will go is changing, if it is to occur without any conflict or tension or misunderstanding.  It isn't always realistic.  I know that I can't live my life like that - always having advanced warning any time anything at all in my life is going to change.

So that's it  That's where I'm at tonight.  No grand conclusion or profound words.  Just a look inside my crazy mind.

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