CBT, Edward Verrall Lucas, ego, HandFasting, Insecurities, Jealousy, Joseph Addison, Kahil Gibran, Love, Maya Angelou, Mental Breakdown, Parental Guilt, Parenting, resentment, Robert A Heinlein, Roger Caras, William S Burroughs
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
……….quote by Maya Angelou
Last week didn’t really go according to plan in many ways, however, as I write, I feel a small sense of achievement, some sign of validation that the last few days have not been fruitless!
I was conscious of a wave of hesitation as last Monday approached. I knew I had a busy week ahead of me and greeted this is with a mix of apprehension and uncertainty that I wouldn’t usually feel. I generally thrive on being active and busy, although over last weekend I had no energy and didn’t feel enthusiastic about the week ahead.
One of my greatest disappointments in life is when I have planned how a day or an occasion is going to be and for one reason or another, it doesn’t pan out the way I had envisaged. This is what happened on Saturday, when one unintended event led to a chain of unforeseen events, which in turn led to my lack of enthusiasm for the week to come…and it all started with a walk and two strong willed individuals with very definite ideas on what they wanted from that walk!
“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in proper figures.”
……….quote by Joseph Addison
I wanted a brisk, energetic, calorie burning walk to replace my daily “rug” (somewhere between a run and a jog!) which I tend to take a break from at the weekends, husband was hoping for a more gentle family orientated walk that I would generally be pleased to be part of after a week of hour long “rugs” but I had a reserve of energy that I wanted to make use of while out with my family!
A daily walk or “rug” is mandatory in this household because our Companion Doggies demand it!!!! Our Beautiful Rescue Pals bring us So Much Delight and Joy and without them we’d all feel lost and lonely. We now have 3 Furry Friends although I tell people we have 4 because up until late 2012 we did. Losing our Old Boy was a devastating loss. The Brewster was 19 and he and I had been together before the rest of my family came along. He had been with me for almost half of my life and had been a constant companion through many ups and downs. The Brewster had been in husband’s life for nearly 18 years and His passing was definately one of the catalysts for husband’s breakdown. Husband felt emotions that were alien to him. Although he loved and loves our Companion Friends, up until then, he liked to tell himself that they were dogs and perhaps believed himself to have an emotional detatchment from them. However, when Our Old boy passed peacefully, we were both with him and I know now that Husband felt emotions that were alien to him and that he had always suppressed. When people suppress feelings all of their lives, it is almost certain that they are going to reveal themselves at some point. This point will generally be when life becomes too unbearable and the individual reaches crisis point and these suppressed feelings will project themselves as a Breakdown.
“ Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole”
……….quote by Roger Caras
Husband has never been a particularly emotional or expressive man apart from with me. Our relationship is and has always been intense. He was an old soul on young shoulders and I was a lost soul, stuck in an unhappy marriage. Our paths crossed, we came together, and nearly 19 years later, our relationship is still as intense as ever although we are now relaxed and confident in our union!
“love one another, but make not a bond of love:
let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”
……….quote by the Prohet Kahil Gibran
(This was a reading at our HandFasting Ceremony)
So when I say that husband is not particularly emotional or expressive apart from to or with me, I believe that to be because of the intensity of this partnership. With me, he has always been extremely demonstrative and emotionally vulnerable, to the point where I have at times felt suffocated. When Husband suffered his breakdown, he could no longer hold his emotions in and they came flooding to the surface as they do for anyone suffering from this kind of emotional crisis. The point when I really understood that husband was ill was when He “admitted” to other people that he wasn’t coping. This started with the Doctor, then our Friends and Family. Up until then, Husband had only ever been a stoic, passive and somewhat indifferent man. He had never really shown any emotional attachment to anyone or anything apart from me, our daughter and my son, and he had certainly never shown any kind of vulnerability to anyone other than me.
Suddenly, my strong and together husband was an emotional wreck who I couldn’t leave on his own and we had to open up our lives quite literally to our Friends and Family who took on shifts to look after him as I attempted to retain some sort of normality by going to work to look after other people who needed me, and to protect my daughter as much as possible from the very dark cloud that descended on our house.
There were moments at this time that I experienced those destructive feelings of jealousy. Our little Family of 8 (I include our Companion Furry Friends here!) especially Husband and me, had always been an Extremely closely knitted Unit. I wear my heart on my sleeve but husband definitely didn’t and doesn’t, and the only person who he trusted and opened up to was ME. Suddenly, here he was being open and vulnerable to Our Many Concerned Friends and Family, and I was resentful. Here was my Ego rearing its ugly head again. My pride was damaged. I couldn’t cope and look after husband all on my own and had to hand some of his care over to Other Wonderful, well -meaning Individuals, and in doing this, I also handed over his vulnerability and need to be looked after. We had always looked after each other, We hadn’t needed anyone else and now husband didn’t mind who was looking after him, as long as they were understanding, caring, helpful and willing to listen. I had to practise a lot of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on myself at this time as my mind was running away with some completely irrational thoughts generated from the insecurities that husbands’ illness had bought out in me. I KNEW that he was not ill because of anything I had done, I KNEW that I couldn’t have prevented it, I KNEW that it was nothing to do with me or our relationship, and I KNEW that he still needed me but insecurities that I didn’t even know I had, came out to haunt me. Challenging those thoughts was necessary to enable me to continue to be able to provide continuous and understanding care and attention to husband, and over time they subsided and, in fact, I became stronger and more confident in our relationship. That strength continues today.
However, I do feel very lucky to have training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I believe that without this training, It would have much MUCH harder for me to understand what husband was going through. There were things he said and did or didn’t do that I found hard to understand but because of my background in CBT, I could recognise where these behaviours were coming from. I’m not saying we wouldn’t have survived without my training, Love is a Powerful Tool after all, but I am sure that those Dark months would have been even gloomier without my knowledge of CBT.
“Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy – in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other.”
quote by Robert A Heinlein
So, our walk on Saturday was NOT Harmonious as I hiked the long way round at Full Pelt, expecting to meet husband and daughter at a crossroads where our paths would meet as they took the shorter and slower route. However, it became evident when I did meet up with husband that he wanted to walk WITH me. As I mentioned above, the intensity of husbands need to be with me and his emotional vulnerability can sometimes feel draining and on Saturday, I wanted to walk the way I wanted to walk and compromise by meeting up with husband and daughter at intervals! I know now, as I probably knew then, but wanted to ignore it so I could do what I wanted (selfish?) that husband was feeling anxious and needed what to him, is my reassuring presence. I was happy to give that, but on my terms over the duration of our walk. Unfortunately, we disagreed on this and our walk became a disappointing occasion with my poor daughter trying to understand why her normally amiable and chatty parents were annoyed with each other!
This set the precedent for the rest of Saturday as I felt aggrieved and perplexed, and although husband and I muddled through the day on talking terms, we were obviously both feeling rather annoyed with the other one!
I had been looking forward to last weekend as I had no particular plans and was looking forward to spending some quality time with my family and attending my daughter’s schooI production. I felt frustrated that husband had, how I saw it, and possibly still do, made it seem like I didn’t want to be with him simply because I wanted to walk a little faster around a longer route. This exasperation then permeated our moods for, at least, the rest of the day. For me, the most disappointing occurrence of last weekend is that my daughter got upset which makes me feel very guilty! When there is discord between us, husband tends to feel unsettled and stressed which brings a palpable tension within our home, and that can transfer itself onto the rest of us.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
……….quote by Voltaire
As I have mentioned before, husband is very demonstrative and loving. He would do anything for us and in return, he also NEEDS a lot of shows of affection from me. Such is the intensity of our relationship! However, I am not always inclined to be affectionate, ESPECIALLY after a disagreement, unlike husband who likes to resolve our issues and move on as quickly as possible. Maybe it’s stubbornness, perhaps it’s pride (that bloody ego again!) but I am unable to let go of our difference of opinions as quickly as husband if I have strong views on a subject. This will manifest itself in me not really feeling like being particularly affectionate which in turns hurts husband. It’s not that I’m being detached or cold towards him, it’s purely that I don’t feel like being particularly expressive because, unlike him, I need time to process the reason for our disagreement! Give me a few hours and I want to jump on him again and give him that huge hug he needs, but I can’t do it on demand, I’ve got to WANT to do it.
“There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without defense or reserve.”
……….quote by William S Burroughs
(As it is, Thankfully, we disagree very rarely. However there is a Huge issue between us at the moment which we fervently disagree on. We understand each other’s views on the subject but that doesn’t make it any less of an issue and one which is going to become very apparent and cause some huge waves over the coming months, as it has over the past 2 years. It is very much linked to husbands illness and I will have to tread very carefully and navigate the storm very carefully. I will be writing about this over the coming weeks and months as it is going to be a very pertinent and emotional issue for me.)
I’m not complaining here, I know how lucky I am to have a husband who does WANT to shower me with affection almost continually, and I believe that after the emotional rollercoaster of the past years, he, too is stronger and more confident in our relationship. However, it can still be frustrating when husband feels such rejection because I don’t also shower him with tactile affection 24/7! I feel about him as he feels about me, I just don’t show it in the way he does and this has always been and will probably continue to be an issue in our Union!
Last Saturday, husband was evidently suffering from anxiety which wasn’t helped by our different views of what we wanted from our walk and the resulting disharmony it caused. We were probably both more tetchy than usual and doubtless this had an effect on our daughter.
She is very much like her dad in that she likes to be completely on time for everything, if not a few minutes early. I am completely the opposite and am always running late and don’t like to be early because I feel like I could have been doing something else in the time I am waiting! I was late getting ready to take her to the school production where she had to be an hour before. It must be so frustrating being a child who has to rely on adults for transport, and totally frustrating for my daughter with her sense of urgency to have a laid back mother with almost no sense of urgency!
“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.”
………..quote by Edward Verrall Lucas
On reflection, I can see now that after a week of late rehearsals and school productions, my daughter was extremely tired. I also know now that I wasn’t actually very well and this was why I did in fact take too long to get ready. I had the start of a week of stomach cramps although when preparing to leave to take my daughter I was trying to ignore the pain which was actually hindering me from making any decisions! This in turn made me more irritable which I projected onto a weary, waiting and anxious young lady whose father wasn’t being particularly sympathetic as she sat with him in the car.
Although we weren’t even five minutes late, by the time we arrived, my poor daughter was, very unusually for her, in tears. She rarely gets upset and she and I never fall out despite our obvious time differences! However, in the car, when I should have just kept quiet, the guilt I felt about upsetting her, meant that I spent the journey trying to make up for my lateness by convincing her that it didn’t matter if she was 2 minutes late! Safe to say, this did not help the situation!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them
………..quote by Maya Angelou
As Saturday evening progressed and we watched an excellent school production of Beauty and the Beast, my stomach cramps and accompanying backache became such that I soon conceded that the rest of the weekend was going to be dominated by not feeling too well!
And this turned out to be true for most of last week which meant that I missed the first meeting of the local Vegan/Vegetarian group that I am a founding member of. However, apart from that disappointment, I was able to see all my Befriendees and every moment with them totally negated any discomfort I was in. We made Lovely Vegan pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and the team meeting that I was dreading on Wednesday evening, ended up being fairly enjoyable! By Thursday I was starting to feel brighter. On Saturday and Sunday (Yesterday) husband and I went for a hand in hand walk with our Doggy Companions. Our Daughter joined us yesterday after feeling unwell on Saturday and we had that Family Walk that eluded us last Weekend! The main event yesterday is that it was my Son’s 19th Birthday and the Sun Shone and it was actually ….Warm! I made a delicious Vegan chocolate Brownie Birthday Cake, and we all went for the 1st outside drink of the year at the local riverside Pub where we sang Happy Birthday and ate Cake!
So an unplanned week of unexpected events finished with warm Sunshine, Chocolate Cake and a Family outing to a Pub for a Sunny Sunday Drink.
All’s Well that Ends Well!
.……….quote by William Shakespeare