Monday, August 2, 2010

Heart of Darkness

So I was going to write about what happened over the last two months.

"Oh, you mean how you and D were blessed with incredible luck and achieved everything you had been hoping for for years, and then the minute you got it you turned into a miserable fire-breathing wench?"

Yea, that.

I don't really know how to start. We drove across the country in separate cars (me with the kitties and D with the moving truck). I contemplated killing the cats. As I implied before, moving really took my mind and heart away from me in a completely unexpected way. I thought that once we got to Portland that things would be better. And they should have gotten better, but I got worse and worse. I got worse and worse despite the fact that I was working at a job I really wanted, living in my hometown that I loved, and starting a new life with my completely rad husband. I mean, WTF, self?

I know I know, bla bla bla I was going through huge transitions. Moving across the country, starting a new job, living with my parents. But so was D. Except it was maybe worse for him because it was he was living with his in-laws (although they are amazing as in-laws go ifIdosaysomyself). D was going through all of the same transitions and he was being how he always is: pleasant and helpful and patient and never a burden to anyone. He was getting up an hour early to walk my parents' dog, for chrissakes.

It sounds weak and spoiled to say the main issue was not having time to myself, or living with my parents, but I do think that was a large part of things. I was working ten-hour days with an hour commute on both ends of the day and when I came home there was always something: grandparents in town, friends in town, apartments to look at, I had to buy a car.* I dog-sat for a severely traumatized dog that took a half-hour of coaxing to go outside and went to the bathroom inside several times. I went to a friend's beachhouse for the 4th of July holiday even though I knew that I should stay home and rest - we ended up having to sleep on the floor in a hallway and I came home tired, grumpy and out-of-it enough to get a flat tire in my new car while pulling out of a Dairy Queen parking lot. Not once in over a month did I come home and just hang out with D, or read a book or, as you may have noticed, browse on the Internet or write.

Instead of realizing that I needed to find a way to spend some time alone I just kept going, until I completely stopped being able to handle things. Really really stupid things. I yelled at D when I was stuck in traffic and he tried to give me directions over the phone. If fact I yelled at D for everything. I freaked out at my step-mom because she said the downstairs of the house smelled like cat litter. I pouted around the house like a teenager, only worse than when I was a teenager. My step-mom took me aside to ask if something was wrong or if she and my dad had offended me. D finally told me, after weeks of giving me hugs and hoping I would improve, to "stop being a jerk to me all the time."

At the end of it all, we had a huge blowout over my anniversary present, of all things.** We fought for two days and we both were less than mature. To give you an idea: on the second night of the fight I thought it was very mature of me to call D an "arrogant mother-effer" under my breath instead of screaming it at him.

And then...and then I snapped back to senses. I bought Daniel a card and a porcupine finger puppet and propped them up on the sink to say "I'm Sorry." I talked to him about how I craved time to myself. We moved into our new apartment. Things haven't slowed down since then - we are only half unpacked because we went out of town the weekend after moving in, actually - but I am getting better at knowing what I need and then making sure I get it. On our weekend trip I built in time for D and I to do our own thing and stay somewhere comfortable. This most recent weekend we didn't make any plans and spent the whole two days furniture shopping and apartment arranging. One night last week we actually cooked dinner together and then ate it while catching up on episodes of The Closer*** and we both agreed it was the best night we had had in weeks. Lucky for me, it turns out he still wants to be married. To me.

I can't say what exactly caused me to be so horrible for so long, except that it was everything and nothing. I do know that getting our own place has helped and that being protective about a) time to myself and b) time with D has really helped. Being overworked and not having my own space doesn't excuse how I acted, however, and I still have to come to terms with how relatively easy it was for me to treat the people around me so poorly. For now I am focusing on preventive medicine - making sure to get enough sleep and saying no to nights out or weekend activities that will ultimately stress me out. I am also trying to recognize the symptoms and stop them before they get bad so hat I can put myself in check before I start swinging my negative emotions around the room.

So there you have it - my feeble attempt to work through That One Time That I Was a Jerk for A Month. Potential moral: porcupine hedgehogs solve all problems. That, or: for the love of God if you are being a jerk all the time go be by yourself for a while and/or see a freaking doctor.

*Oh dear god, so terrible. Car-shopping made me want to punch people and cry and stomp my feet. I actually did two of those things, come to think of it.
**It is a long story that will not translate well to Internet. But it wasn't about jewelry or anything stupid like that. It was about something else stupid.
***D loves Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson (Kyra Sedgewick). Sometimes he will sigh and say "Oh, Kyra, apple of my eye." This is okay with me because I love Fritz - that man is definitely in my top 5.


  1. (Side note: There are big posters for The Closer on the bus stops in Boston, but Kyra's leg is dangling in front of the C, so it kind of looks like The Loser. I think they should hire a new marketing person.)

    MWK- We are all bitches on a regular basis (at least, everyone I know is) and sometimes that bitchiness will last for days, or a month, or a year (I hope not!!) The most important thing is that you learned how to take care of yourself, AND you learned about the effect of your lack of self-care on your relationship. And that is what matters. Don't worry- D will have a breakdown at some point in your long marriage, too, and when you are sick of his attitude, you can just imagine it as karma :)

    Early in our relationship, Jeff told me that the most important person to him in our relationship was himself. I thought that was so assholic, but over the years, I've come to not only understand but unequivocally agree with that statement. If you do not give yourself what you need to be the best you, how can you ever be a good partner.

    Moral of the story: Extreme self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity! Glad you're on the other side :)

  2. Wow, I'm super impressed you were able to snap out of it and look back logically at everything - now that's a sign of maturity!

  3. Thanks ladies (and Hi Megan!). Lauren, I can't even imagine what I would have said a few years ago if D had told me that he was the most important person in our relationship, but you are totally right (as was Jeff). Thanks for the support, y'all.

  4. Man, you could have been describing me as of late. Recently, I was being a jerk and not knowing why and feeling horrible about it. I realized too that I craved alone time. I felt like I never had any time for myself and it was making me crazy. Little bits of available time I hogged for myself, which made B feel awful like I didn't want to spend any time with him. Self-care is where it's at. Lauren and Jeff are totally right.

  5. Jehara - I've been meaning to send you a note (from your last comment). I hope you are finding the alone time you need - maybe we should all just meet up at a spa...and then not see each other the whole time.

  6. Have you read The Highly Sensitive Person? I just have an inkling it might speak to you.

    I find time to myself *so* important and have been known to behave exactly like this at times like these. Recognising what you need to be a lovely person is fantastic.

  7. I am now. I have started getting up extra early so I have some quiet time in the mornings and I have at least an hour alone at night after B goes to bed. I am a much saner person and way more pleasant to be around. ;)

  8. I find it really interesting that when I need to be alone is when I find myself craving to be around people. I suppose that is the Essential Misery Loves Company??

    I hate self exploration, and finding out that I've been such an ass. It's embarrassing and sucktastic.

  9. @Cate Subrosa: i haven't read it, but maybe I should. Although I don't like the sound of being a highly sensitive person.
    @Jehara: GOOD>
    @blind irish pirate: I love you.

  10. It has its pros and cons. ;) If it is you, the book might help you see the pros and work with the cons.

  11. I don't even know what to say to this post, except that I recognise A LOT of myself in it. (Clearly, I need to check out that book. Hmmm.) But recognising your triggers, and figuring out one or two things you can do to stop things getting too bad when you feel it coming on, is key. For me, the boy has been a life-saver. He can always make me laugh. It's really hard to continue being a bitch to someone for too long when you can't stop yourself from giggling at some stupid thing they've said.

    Also, it's really good to have you back. :)

  12. Just wanted to say I loved this post and it was perfectly timed for me. I moved cities last year and my boyfriend followed about 4 months after - we'd been together just over a year so this was quite a big deal. A year on we're engaged and have bought a house. Everything is great but.........recently I have been a moany cow about the most ridiculous things. Nothing is different except I'm having a fairly rubbish time at work and have lost the ability to cope with the smallest stupidist things. My lovely boyfirend has been trying so hard to cheer me up, he surprised me with a lovely gift - it wasn't my birthday - he makes me laugh, he makes me dinner, he never complains. So roll on time to rest, relax and spend time together.This week I'm trying to behave like an adult :) Hope things start to feel better for you soon.

  13. I'm glad you wrote this, as it totally resonates with me. I often feel conflicted about the ways I expect JL to support me and care for me even when I am being TOTALLY ridiculous and selfish and mean.

    I also struggle with feeling guilty about how much care he gives me (dealing with my various freak-outs, taking care of me when my freak-outs leave me in a kind of emotional puddle on the floor, etc.) when it seems as though he doesn't seem to need much of this kind of support in return.

    I've ultimately come to the conclusion that I have to accept care from him when he offers it, but that I also must listen carefully when he tells me I am being crazy. Because he is probably right.

    I think you are doing exactly the right thing by taking some time to yourself to relax and recoup. We can't do everything and we'll die trying!

  14. @Louba - how rude of me not to respond! Thanks for commenting and I hope you still read. I hope that things are going much better now
    @Love-it-or-Leav-itt: isn't that strange how we just expect to be cared for even when we are being terrible? Even stranger is that they actualy DO it. I guess we have to just believe that there is something about us that they find as supportive and awe-inspiring as we find their calm and steadfastness.

  15. A little late to the party on this one, but I wanted to pitch in and agree that when I don't spend quality time with both himself and myself, stupid stuff seems to manifest itself in much more horrible ways. I've always been a person who needs a lot of Me Time, and now I've become a person who needs a good amount of Us Time as well. I figure everyone else will see me eventually.