One known fact about me, well by “known” I mean my husband and my closest friends and my mom know, is that I have trouble expressing my emotions and feelings. I don’t want to be confrontational. I don’t want to stir the pot. I don’t want to make it a “big deal”.
I have been this way ever since I can remember. Growing up I felt I needed to say something only when I was so pissed off that what I said would really get my point across. This was not constructive for me or the receiving party, but it was one of the only ways I knew how to express my feelings. (Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.)
Looking back on those times in my life, I can see I was wanting to avoid a fight – a fight with my mom, a fight with my brothers, a fight with my best friend, a fight with my boyfriend, or even a fight with my coach. So I shut my mouth. I bottled it up.
But as soon as you put a drink in my hand, man-oh-man, I was fearless. I told off people that would terrify me in my dreams. Big guys at parties that could squash me with their little thumbs seemed to think it was cute that I was literally coming up to them talking trash. I don’t know why I did it except it made me feel powerful.
But now I don’t live a high school/college party life. I have a husband who needs his wife to communicate her feelings with him. And I suck at this part. I really do. I have gotten a little better, but for the most part I usually cry anytime we try to have a discussion about feelings. I think it’s a combination of how I really feel and all of those years of masking my real emotions from myself. It’s almost like my feelings are saying, “Here’s payback for all of those years you had everyone believe you were such a badass. Here come the waterworks!”
Maybe one day I’ll get all of these emotions figured out and have a handle on how to communicate effectively with the people that matter in my life, but for now I’ll settle with soberly sobbing my emotions out.
When life gets in the way and we all get super busy with all of our day-to-day tasks, we often forget to stop and say a sincere “Thank You” to the people right there with us. I’m more guilty of this than anyone! I get caught up with the kids and the household demands that I often forget to tell my husband how much we appreciate everything he does for us and that his hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Sometimes we may feel we’re giving the people we love that gratitude and appreciation, but if those words never cross your lips how do they know your thoughts?
It feels good when people verbally acknowledge our efforts and our strengths out loud. I’m not saying you have to grovel for someone else, but a nice “Thank You” every once in a while doesn’t hurt.
I don’t know about you, but I thank God every day that my life is drastically different than it was in the past. I’m not saying that this is something self-promoting and I’m awesome for realizing what a disaster my life used to be. Just simply stating how grateful I am to not have to live that kind of lifestyle any more.
“What kind of lifestyle?” you ask. Let me paint you a little picture.
Several years ago, almost 4 to be exact, I was living a life of total chaos, only I didn’t realize it until the ticking time bomb was ready to detonate right in front of my face. My marriage was collapsing right in front of me, I was binge drinking on the weekends to drown my sorrows, I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be with my career, I was dying inside emotionally from the passive-aggressive/co-dependent relationship I had created and encouraged with my husband, and I was just downright unhappy with where my future was headed.
Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with myself or where my future was headed. I needed to make a change. I had spent so long trying to change everyone else around me – my husband, my parents pending separation and divorce, and even the uncontrollable situations at work – that I forgot I’m only in control of myself. Realizing only I can make changes in my life, I finally felt that time had come.
I’m happy to report that today our marriage is solid and strong with a foundation we tore down and rebuilt ourselves from the ground up. We are different people today than we would have been had we not decided to drastically change our lives. I quit my job that was ultimately toxic and very hazardous to my life and my marriage. We made a fresh start in a new community and continue to keep growing and improving ourselves.
What’s your story? How are you different today than you were 5 years ago? 10 years ago?
Have you ever had someone come up to you and let you know that you’re being completely unreasonable and unpleasant today? (Maybe they don’t say it in such a nice way…) Do you know when you’re being completely unreasonable and unpleasant? (Sometimes I don’t notice my behavior until my husband points it out.)
The reason I ask these questions is because maybe we don’t know ourselves as good as we think we do some days. We don’t always have to have a 100% spot on/no mistakes kind of day, but we also shouldn’t swing to the other end of the pendulum every five minutes either.
I have mood swings. [GASP!] Shocker I know…a woman with mood swings. But I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I take someone else’s perspective for my own behavior or attitude when I can’t see it. Some days I’m overtly irritable and I don’t even notice until my husband asks me for the 10th time, “Are you sure nothing is bothering you?” From which my initial mental reaction is, “You’re bothering me with all of these questions!” Hence, this is when I realize I’m being extra cranky!
The point to all of this is to know your emotions a little bit better today than you did yesterday. Know when you need to give yourself a “timeout” and step away from the chaos to gather yourself. None of us are perfect (by any stretch of the imagination), but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep improving.
Progress, not perfection…
Have you ever been to a wedding , birthday party, or reception of some sort when you realize everyone is totally wasted? Or maybe not even wasted. Maybe everyone is to the point where they are beginning to slur their words. Maybe someone stumbles every now and then or really bad dancing is going on from the shyest person in the room. That’s when you know it’s THAT time of the party.
The time that I am no longer serving my purpose as a participant of the celebration. It’s usually the time after all of the important things have happened – cutting of the cake, singing “Happy Birthday”, or opening gifts.
It’s the time when someone has non-verbally declared the original party over and the “after-party” just beginning. That’s my cue to leave.
You see, it doesn’t bother me to be around drinking when I’m serving a purpose. Being a supportive friend; celebrating a distant cousin’s new marriage; or even being a part of the family get-together. But what does bother me is when everyone stops making sense and I can see trouble on the horizon.
“No thanks. I’ve been there and done that wayyyyy too many times to count. I’ll be going now. It’s been great catching up with you, but I have to go because I’ll remember the next day all of the idiotic things that will happen here tonight and I really would rather just go to bed.” These are just some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind.
So know your purpose. Know when your threshold for “fun” is up. Don’t even let that temptation have a chance to sink into your lips or entice you with its aroma. Know when it’s time to say, “Bu-bye!”
Have you ever been to therapy before? I have. Several times actually. I went by myself once when my husband was still drinking and I was on the verge of filing for divorce if he didn’t stop. I went another time when my husband found out I had an affair several years ago (in the prime of all of the drinking). And then my husband and I went together for marriage counseling. Yes, I’ve been to therapy. I know the drill.
Lately though I feel like it’s time to go back for another round. I struggle with a lot of things internally that I don’t believe I should suffer through alone. But who am I supposed to share these deep thoughts with?
Some people say, “You should share everything with your spouse!” We both know the crazy that lives inside each of our heads so we decided a long time ago that we share things when they are necessary or really need to be spoken.
Some people say, “I share everything with my best friend…everything!” Though I do share a lot with my best girlfriend, I don’t believe she would quite understand some of the things I struggle with since we aren’t always on the same page. Plus, I can tell when she holds back and doesn’t say something she really wants to say to me.
Some people say, “You should just pray about everything and God will work it all out.” I’ll be perfectly honest, I pray every morning. I pray about all of the crazy in my head. I pray about all of the people I care about. I pray about my hopes and my dreams. Most of all, I pray for all of the burdens on my heart. But I still feel this nagging that I should go speak with someone. I need more guidance.
Maybe this is you too. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you think therapy is a joke. But from someone who has had my fair share of counseling sessions, I say try it if you are left with minimal options on dealing with your inner demons. Recovery meetings are great and I’m sure they are the outlet most addicts turn to when they need answers, but I also believe therapy is a safe place to be brutally honest with yourself.
Talking about prayer is something that can catch some people off guard. “Oh no, what is she about to say? We’re going to a real personal level here and if I don’t agree with what she’s saying then it’s bye-bye forever!” Anyone else ever had this thought? No? Just me. Okay, well I promise I’m not going to preach at you on how you should change your prayers or your beliefs. I’m simply going to share a story with you.
I was struggling through a very difficult time in my life and in my marriage. We were desperately seeking to make things work, but we knew it wasn’t going to happen on our own accord. Stubbornness and not apologizing quickly were our strong suits and neither one of us were ready to budge. But instead of playing the blame game forever, possibly ending our marriage as a result, we decided to start praying together.
Now, maybe some of you grew up in households where prayers were often said together, out loud, and in your daily routine, but neither one of us grew up that way. We prayed in church, at holiday meals, and on our wedding day as a new couple in the eyes of God. But neither of us were used to praying out loud extremely personal feelings, or with someone else right there to witness it nonetheless.
We had decided if we were going to make our marriage work and keep this family together, we needed some divine intervention. So we resolved to try prayer. That day, as we lay in our bed together with our eyes closed and an awkward stillness in the air, we were truly connected together. We both felt vulnerable and slightly stupid with what we said in our prayers, but we both honestly poured out our hearts and gave our situation over to God.
Believe me, we still struggle to this day with marital problems from time to time, but now we have a new tool in our toolbox. We now know how to calm our anxieties when things get to be too overwhelming or when we don’t even know where to begin to fix the mess.
Maybe it’s time you tried it out for yourself. Maybe not. Maybe you aren’t quite ready to pray with someone else, but I urge you to do it for yourself at least. It can totally change your life.