DISCLAIMER: My husband is delightful; I love him and the life we have created. Please remember that as I continue and hang on for the ride…
To begin, you should know that I’ve been on a lovely anti-depressant cocktail since accepting my PPD over two years ago; I find comfort in the full bottle of Xanax in my cupboard that’s there if I need it. And I’m really okay with that right now.
So here we go:
“I’m sorry you’re so unhappy,” my husband says to me in what feels like a deliberate jab to my most vulnerable spot after a passing disagreement about housework or money or parenting or whatever.
Want to get me riled up? This is the sentence.
“I’m sorry you’re so unhappy” — NOW YOU’VE DONE IT.
Why? Because life is fucking hard sometimes, I’m doing the best I can, and if you don’t quit telling me that I’m just uniformly unhappy, I’M GONNA BE REALLY UNHAPPY. Inside I quickly morph into into an irrational bot of angry, resentful ‘OH YOU THINK THAT’S HELPFUL? You wanna go?! LET’S GO.’ Eventually, I utter through hiccuping tears — “I’m exhausted and I need more help”
“But I am helping, I’m trying, I do whatever you ask me to”
*and then my eyes roll back into my head, never to be seen again.*
We go back and forth with this, it’s either:
1. Just tell me what needs doing and I’ll do it
2. You’re always telling me what to do.
I don’t want to tell you what to do, I want you to just do the things that need to be done. PERIOD.
Our last rouse climaxed with “You’re so mad you don’t even talk to me at the end of the day and I just think that it’s more important that we communicate than that the floors are clean.”
Okay. Stop. There it is. That’s the problem.
It hadn’t occurred to me that this was how I was compensating for feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated but I was completely shutting off at the end of the day when I wasn’t getting enough support and I didn’t feel like picking the fight. For the first time, I was able to compare his need for end of the day debriefing with my need for order and consistency and I was able to finally put it into words: If helping to keep the floors clean improves my happiness, can’t you just help me clean the floors more?!
Our brains work differently. He is not intentionally not appreciating the things I’m doing in love to keep things moving smoothly, he’s just hoping that I will do the things that HE sees as showing love and support — they just happen to be two different things so we’re missing each other in the journey.
I can’t go to sleep at night with a sink full of dishes.
I can’t relax after dinner until the dishes are done.
I can’t enjoy my Friday afternoons off if I skipped Thursday chores.
I skip the step that leaves the towel on the floor and put it straight into the hamper.
I’m a little neurotic but nothing has changed
And I can’t tell you how important these things are to my mental health one more goddamn time.
I am more productive in the morning.
Let’s enjoy each other and worry about the dishes later.
I’ll do my work tomorrow, today I need a day to rest and recoup.
I want to stand naked under this fan for a second, I’ll pick up the towel when I’m done.
He’s a little scattered but nothing has changed.
And I’d guess my nagging isn’t helpful to his mental health and he’d rather not have to tell me one more goddamn time.
I am not unhappy with our life, but keeping this madhouse from catching fire every day is hard and sometimes I struggle to do it with a goddamn smile on my face. There is no way for anyone to know that if I don’t use my words.
Moral of the Story:
You’re important but other people are too. Don’t assume that everyone knows how to make you happy and how to help, tell them. Don’t assume that you know how to make everyone happy and how to help, ask them.