I almost killed my husband this morning.
What did he do?
The thought of prison sounds really awful to me, so I decided to just go take a cold shower instead. Overall just seemed the better, less messy solution.
That my friends is progress!
Now, before we dig deep into this, I must just apologize to my family. I’ve tried for a long time to avoid the topic, mostly out of fear of hurting their feelings, also a lot of fear that they will take everything I say the wrong way and eventually make everything worse. So considerate fear, and self-serving fear. But if I’m going to be true to this craft, then I have to start discussing all of me and all of what made me.
As I write the opening few lines of this, in my head I can hear my mom make the kidding, not really kidding joke of something along the lines of, “Oh Tom, we don’t pay you enough.” You know those. I’m just telling a joke so if you get worked up about it then you really just prove my joke to be truth that you are indeed what I joked you are. Genius mind fuckery. But here’s the icing on that shit cake, we already know we are. And while what we desperately crave is someone to understand, what we instead get is a spotlight on our deepest, darkest and scariest insecurities.
Everyone look! I told you, she’s crazy.
I blame art this time. And cake. Art and Cake. Assholes.
Now, as I dig into the ‘What happened and what can I learn from it?’ portion of this day, the first thing I must consider thanks to years of counseling and self-help books is that I have anxiety, and anxiety shows itself in many unusual and unexpected ways. Anxiety is also extremely selfish. If you are not paying attention to Anxiety at all times, Anxiety will take possession of your body and make you do and say ridiculous things. Anxiety will make everyone around you look at you in such a way that will make you think that you and Anxiety truly do belong together. Stockholm syndrome to the nth degree. I deserve the trauma Anxiety brings to me, because I allow it to cause drama for the people around me. And then, maybe I truly am the cause of my own Anxiety, so maybe Anxiety is just trying to help, and what a bitch to not be a little more grateful for that help.
I know, this sounds Insane! But this is a true depiction of what Anxiety can do to your brain. It’s not just butterflies during public speaking and short breaths in a crowd. Anxiety is an evil genius, disguised as caffeine.
Back to this morning. Tom and I were supposed to work out at 7am. But last night my back had been really sore, so I self-medicated myself with a THC laced candy. That candy led me to eating copious amounts of cake. So this morning, instead of feeling better, my back actually hurt more. Sugar has disastrous effects on my body, which you’d think would encourage me to avoid it. But Anxiety finds comfort in sugar, so my body and Anxiety stay gripped in battle most days. To sugar, or not to sugar. Last night Anxiety won, so today my body lost. I was not able to run or lift weights, so I skipped the workout.
Over a cup of vitamin fortified coffee with sugar-free almond-milk cream, because apparently a 41 year old woman can’t even find guilt-free comfort in a cup of coffee, I tried to quickly tackle some work stuff before it was time to start my daughter’s Covid style online school. I posted the daily specials for the week, I checked work emails, and in between texting back and forth with employees to prepare for the coming day I got a message that today’s online classes had been canceled. I paused and considered my options. Wednesdays are typically slow at work, and since homeschool has become a necessity we’ve created a system at work that doesn’t require my daily physical presence, so I removed work from the list of possibilities. The house is clean and laundry all done and folded. (Insert here a shout out to Tom, who in fact did all of the laundry, and now thanks to his newfound views of the unfairness of this patriarchal society, he does the laundry most often. Marriage Success right there. He slips up occasionally, as we all do, I mean me, but his progress and compassion is noteworthy. Men who throw things at glass ceilings should be celebrated.) No school. No job. No housework. All things of importance were considered, so art seemed like an acceptable choice for the day. I asked my mom if she could watch my daughter today. Her first response was that she had plans for the day, but she’d be willing to postpone those tasks to tomorrow in order to keep Grace today. Mom usually opens each favor with a statement like this, almost always followed by an enthusiastic agreement to offer the help I have requested. For any normal person, the first part would be barely noticed, but for someone with Anxiety, she might as well have screamed at me that I’m incapable and worthless for inconveniencing everyone around me. I suspect she’ll read this and first be annoyed that I’ve managed to find any reason to complain about her willingness to help, which she is completely justified in doing. This is an example of why I most often noticeably clench my teeth in times of discomfort. I feel guilt for feeling the stress, and I feel fear to not want to share the stress. But to others it probably just appears like Resting Bitch Face. Anxiety has many faces, and many moods. I also suspect those precursors from my mom are a request for love and validation that her life has not so kindly relinquished to her. I know this, and I love her, but selfish Anxiety doesn’t care.
After breakfast I was cleaning the kitchen. There was a little of something sugary left that I was considering for snack time later. I’m hospitable. I like to be prepared in case Anxiety craves a snack. I asked Tom if he’d move the leftovers over into a smaller bowl so that I could finish cleaning. His first words were, “Oh, I’m done with this. I’ll just throw it away.” I immediately felt a wave of anger flash through my body. But it wasn’t anger at him, it was jealousy. His first thought was of his own needs. My first thought would’ve been of anyone else’s. Maybe my family would want this, or maybe I can send it to my employees, or maybe the postman has worked late, or maybe I can feed the damn birds! Indecisiveness which would certainly have led to Tom throwing it away later anyway. Indecisive in the way that my fridge is usually littered with mostly empty drink cans, just in case I may want that last drink later, even though I hate drinks that aren’t fresh and the likelihood that I will drink it is basically none. But one cannot be too prepared. I may wake up a new person tomorrow, right. All more reason that Tom making the decision to toss it wasn’t necessarily a bad choice. But my opinion would’ve been formed only after everyone else had been considered. That’s what women are taught. The ultimate compliment we can receive is to be selfLESS. The goal we all strive to be, to be seen and appreciated for not mattering. Pretty little women. Tom made a quick decisive decision based on his own experiences, perhaps precisely why I asked for his help in the first place. I would’ve hesitated.
From there every minor bump felt like a mountain. This feeling all too familiar, the knowing that this train was bound to derail, but I’ve learned to see the accident coming before it happens now. So, I removed myself from the situation. I removed myself from any area and any person that Anxiety could infect. And then I drowned that bitch in cold water.
After my shower I was able to sit down and apologize to Tom, even though he didn’t ask for an apology. Then I calmly explained my feelings, and I requested a day off. He understood and of course obliged, albeit with a hug full of frenzied little scratchy movements all over my back that he thought would comfort me but really only tensed every muscle in my body up like I was being stabbed and scratched over and over again by tiny blades. I clenched my way through that loving, and then was able to compose myself with a few deep breaths. He gathered his work things, told me he loved and appreciated me, and then left. I tidied up the few items scattered from the evening and morning, finished my coffee, and then sat down. Alone. In this quiet. After a few cleansing breaths I opened this computer and started to write. Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that writing my feelings down can offer more catharsis than any cake or workout can. It frees me of guilt and pain. It motivates me. It loves me. And I love it back, in only the way I truly can, and for both of us that is enough. There is no right way to be. You can hope to not cause others pain, and you can genuinely lead with that goal. Which is noble. But in the end our personalities and experiences will truly guide us. If we are able to keep our eyes open we may see light along the way that will help illuminate the next few steps. We just have to not be too afraid to keep our eyes open. To fully live in each moment, not frozen in the past, not focused on the future. It isn’t easy. And we will fail at this many times. That doesn’t make us wrong. It just means we’ll have to try again next time. And that’s okay too. A shower changed everything this morning. It might not next time. But for today, I’m going to go down to my studio and celebrate my success with some art time. I survived this test. Tom and I survived this test.
Maybe I should reward myself with cake.
And on and on it goes.