My husband and I got into an argument the other day. I know, by the looks of this page, that’s all we do, but that’s not the case. We’ve been doing really well, but I’m not always sure if that’s because we work such odd hours or we’re just too tired to start a conversation that most likely will end in an argument.
Anyway, the argument. It was about petty shit, really – the dog threw up on the carpet. I saw something in the (by this time) dried bile that was alarming – several little plastic tubes that looked like the refills for a Bic pen. I flipped. I was not happy that – one – I’d started eating my breakfast and didn’t notice the dog had thrown up until I smelled something foul, then saw a pile of yarn trimmings, plastic tubes things (still unidentified), and dog hair next to the table. And two, became more pissed that when I woke him up to talk about the spew, he looked at me as though this was a non-issue, would not speak to me at all, and wasn’t going to do shit about it. In hindsight, I overreacted. I shouldn’t have woken him up. I should have picked up the bulk and gone to sleep, cleaned the rest when I woke up.
It was 9am. I’d just worked a 12 hour shift in the emergency room. I was tired. I was hungry. I had received a shitty email from my supervisor at the beginning of my shift. I had embarrassed myself in front of the Chief of Medicine at 3am. The EMR went down for 4 hours and we were forced to paperchart everything – my full assessments included; then transcribe them onto the EMR when the system went back up. I was not in the mood for a fucking thing except to eat my french toast and crawl into bed. Instead, I carefully set the stage for an argument that has forced me on a long, emotional existential journey that I wish was over.
After storming around the house looking for some vinegar and baking soda – and finding neither, he says to me “hey, quit yelling – I already cleaned it up, stop freaking out.”
Really? After staring at me like an indignant 16-year-old with his arms folded for 5 minutes as if to say, “I’m not doing shit,” while I attempt to choke down my breakfast with the scent of vomit in the air, it took him less than 10 minutes to clean up. I was livid.
That’s when the fun started. That’s when he unleashed. Overall, he was quite calm, but his words were more honest and lacked any inhibition. He told me that my anger is out of control for a person my age, insinuating that despite my membership in the 30 and over club, my behavior, when angry, resembles that of a person who isn’t old enough to vote.
Next, I was told that my anger is not healthy for the children we plan to have. My husband, having had similar experiences with his father, said he did not want our children growing up in the same type of environment.
Yet all I heard was him comparing me to his father and almost repeating the same thing my mother has said about my anger over and over again after I blow up on her – “you’d better control that before you have kids.”
Ugh. The conversation takes another turn. Instead of blowing up more, I decide I’m too bloody tired and I start talking.
My anger is my shield. It’s the only thing that’s worked for me. I don’t know how to function without it. I’ve been angry at so much for so long, I don’t know what it’s like to not be angry.
I’m not sad, I’m irritated.
I’m not depressed, I’m agitated.
I’m not hurt, I’m pissed.
I purposely push everyone away. I get unnecessarily angry, I cuss – anything to drive people away. Why?
Less Christmas presents.
No, really – it’s easier than letting people in, letting them leave their mark, and them leaving anyway. This is not just men – this is everyone. My best friend sent me the sweetest email earlier this week telling me how much she appreciates my friendship and how much I mean to her. I have been praying that she and I would become close again after so much time apart (which was my fault).
Guess what Alice did? Guess. Haven’t checked my email in a week to confirm plans for us to hang out. Why? Because now she’s too close and I’m terrified. This is where I screw everything up. This is it. Right here. I asked for it and now I’m going to screw it all up – again. And I have no idea why and don’t know how to fix it.
Same with the husband. How do I salvage 10 years of lost youth? How? And how does Linus give up his blanket? Can he? Can I? How do I lay down my sword during peacetime when I’ve got shell shock?