Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tone Deaf

"Like, why do I even have to ASK?" I said with vigor as I made the bed.

"I mean, I need him to be home... why can't he just figure that out and put MY needs first!" my voice rose as I poured milk over my Wheaties.

"Oh, God forbid he tells work he needs to be home for his FAMILY... seriously, I mean is someone going to DIE if that happens!?" I said as I dabbed on foundation.

"I am NOT going to just accept that work comes first again... NOPE. I am not going to swallow my feelings for the billionth time just so I don't stress him out... f*ck that!" I shouted in my car drowning out the podcast to which I was listening (tap tap tap to rewind).

Talking to myself has become a normal part of adult life... I used to observe my mother do this. I can clearly picture her rolling rotis and speaking to herself in a volume just above a whisper so I couldn't really make out what she was saying. Sitting at our kitchen table, I would wonder why she needed to express herself like that... complete with hand gestures and facial expressions.

Today... it's not such a mystery.

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Last Friday suuuuuuuucked. In a nutshell, I needed to discuss an issue with Paul that involved some strong concerns and feelings. Now, the day suuuuuucked because at 6:30 a.m., I decided to unload said feelings in NOT the most productive way.  I'd like to save face a little here and admit that I was in the hormonal throes of PMS, but given my self-reflection and exploration over the last year or so, I'm very ashamed at how I handled myself. I ended up hurting Paul... a lot.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
While I handled the communication of my feelings poorly, my concerns regarding this one issue were valid. They just got lost in a tsunami of emotions and poor Paul was like the island of Phuket circa December 2004. Now that a few days have passed and I can reflect a bit, I see how I really riled myself up for about 16 hours prior to the emotional eruption.

This blog has helped me recognize so much about myself and, specifically, how little I emphasized my self-worth for so long. Especially in my marriage, I didn't think my opinions held as much weight, so I would either swallow them to keep the peace or just tell myself I didn't deserve to feel what I was feeling.

Over the last few months, I've learned what a disservice that has been to me and my marriage. After publishing several posts about owning the validity of my feelings, my conversations with people about this issue lit a fuse under my ass to always make sure I take care of my own mental health with the same passion I've applied to my loved ones for so long... no matter how uncomfortable it may be for both parties. If I'm being hurt, I need to speak up.

So, with this renewed inner-cheerleader advocating for me to freely express my feelings, this most recent issue took on an almost militant feel. Again, I knew my viewpoint wasn't unreasonable and, more importantly, something I'm sure Paul would understand, but that didn't stop me from reaching a very loud inner monologue of DON'T EVEN TRY TO TELL ME I DON'T DESERVE TO GET MY WAY, DAMMIT.

The Tone Ranger
One sentence. I could have gotten my feelings across in one sentence, ideally spoken in a calm voice with direct eye contact and pleasant demeanor. After all, this was a grown man, not my children who, often times, only take me seriously if I yell. Furthermore, this is a man who doesn't take well to any sort of yelling or venomous accusations... well, I mean, who does? That morning over toothbrushes and toothpaste, my tone ruined everything.

As I wrote about in a previous post, Paul and I possess very different temperaments. But besides that, we also grew up observing very different parental relationships. During my childhood, I saw a lot of bickering, which would often turn into loud arguments and sometimes big ole yelling fights. There was a lot of criticism thrown around as well... my Mom pointing out my Dad's flaws and vice versa, although my father knew better than to verbalize most of his thoughts.

Much like I'd hoped to sidestep the yelling gene as an adult, I also hoped to duck the criticizing gene as well. In an effort to avoid a combative marriage, I make it a practice to remind myself of all of Paul's wonderful qualities, of which he has many... and remind myself that nobody is perfect and that he has to deal with a lot of crap from me as well... AND that marriages have ups and downs and not to blow one issue out of proportion. Well, this past Friday, that did NOT happen. My one issue ballooned into an all-encompassing tirade about my perceived victimhood in the marriage.

Let the Record Show... 
When we finally spoke on Friday night after a day of avoiding each other and putting on a front for the kids, it all came out. Even after 15 hours of letting it all marinate since the initial outburst, apparently I had more shit to unload. Shit from years and years ago... shit we've discussed and resolved for the most part... shit that has been forgiven, but at least for me... NOT forgotten.

In the heat of the conversation, I raised my voice and said hurtful things. Paul had to relive so many past issues that, quite frankly, he has gotten SO much better with.  But unfortunately, I insisted on holding up an invisible court record for him to rehear all of my grievances that he thought were ancient history. I cringe at some of the things I said during the outburst and wonder how he kept his calm demeanor the entire time. I would never tolerate him speaking to me the way I did to him... and that is the most consistent theme in our marriage. Our tones are on opposite sides of the scale, and I'm never in the right key.

In the long, drawn-out verbal diarrhea I launched at him, I did manage to finally articulate my one issue and why I was stressed... to which he simply said, "I see your point, I understand... that's fair." F*ck. That whole day of feeling sick to our stomachs could have been avoided if I just acted like an adult and said my piece with a healthy dose of... peace.

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The next morning with swollen eyes, I apologized to Paul for everything... he thanked me and we hugged for a long time. He always forgives me and never rehashes the past. What. A. Concept. Expressing my feelings and concerns is still pretty new and while his patience with me seems infinite, my patience and forgiveness for myself is buried deep under the damage I have caused with my poorly chosen words.

After all the self-exploration over the last few months, I feel like I have regressed far back into a territory that I was sure to be completely dead and barren. While I have had fleeting thoughts of just keeping my emotions inside again, I know that is not the answer. I will not give up on setting the right tone for these types of discussions... hell, I can practice while I'm talking to myself all the live long day.

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