Friday, June 02, 2006

"Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm”

Sooo....I bought this TV cabinet on Craig's List. For 200 bucks. It looks very much like this one from Pottery Barn.

A little darker, with silver hardware, but very nice – I only had to glue the corner molding back on after H and the next-door neighbor’s husband dinged it up a bit in transit. No biggie – for me, that is.

I got home from work at ten o’clock last night and H proceeded to have a nervous breakdown. The cabinet was CRAZY. Just CRAZY. I had made fun of people for stuff like this. It was HUGE. He didn’t want to be the kind of person who had stuff like this. He went on to rant and rave and spew about the house and the work needed and the toil of everyday life and how unhappy he was and how much he hated his job and how he’d listened to me complain everyday, all day, for ten years and how I had a poochy stomach (No, I am kidding – it might have been the one thing he neglected to mention). He just pretty much had a total temper tantrum/meltdown/breakdown. I really didn’t even know what to say.

If I have learned nothing else in ten-plus years of marriage to him, it is that it is beyond my powers to make him happy. In fact, trying to do so only makes ME miserable. So I keep the house clean and neat, and the children cared for, and the fridge stocked and meals cooked – in short, I try to take care of physical needs, but his emotional needs are apparently well beyond my ken.

And frankly, my emotional state is not always all that stable, so it’s not as if I have this deep, deep reservoir of emotional strength from which to draw. I get through my days with the help of a few choice pills, the occasional alcohol, and my friends, whom I exert much effort to keep close and engaged.

H plays his guitar. I encourage this. I enable it. It’s good and healthy for him to do something he loves, and I wish he did more of it. There’s the reason we got him that pottery class for his birthday. I love him, I want him to be happy and fulfilled, but finally realized that I cannot make this happen for him. He needs to find it within himself.

Also, however, in ten-plus years of therapy, medication, and shrink visits, I have learned that everything can change in an instant.

I could be diagnosed with cancer; something horrible could happen to one of the boys; the house could burn down; H could be hit by a bus. Then would it matter WHERE we live? I know from experience that when someone you love is sick and dying, you could be living in a bus shelter, you don’t care. All your psychic energy is directed elsewhere. This is why people bring food to grieving families – because the necessities and niceties of everyday living fade drastically in importance, and someone else must think of them.

Alternately, things do not have to change overnight.

We don’t need to – indeed, can’t - move to another house TOMORROW. We have some time to fix this one up, look for what we want elsewhere, once we decide where elsewhere is, consider the schools and the neighborhood and the commutes. Meanwhile, we live in this house, so it should be as right as we can make it.

We made that mistake with our old house – we never felt like we lived in it, that it was ours, because we never did anything of our own to it. It felt like living in your first college apartment, with Grandma’s sofa, and Great-Aunt Ethel’s dining room table, and milk crates for bookshelves.I want to live like a grown-up, albeit a grown-up living in a house that seems to be falling down around our ears at times.

What is the point of this? Why am I having my own little temper tantrum? Because I need to, somehow, without taking this emotion out on H who is having a tough enough time as it is. And you, my sweet little Internet ones, have proven, in addition to my in-real-life ones, to be kind and compassionate and ready friends.

Thanks for listening.


Carolyn said...

You have such a great attitude about the meltdowns!

Maybe I should look into therapy again. :)

It is tough to live with somebody who is constantly critical. It is wearing to the body and the soul.

I hope your Dr. Jekyll re-emerges soon.

Sarah Louise said...

If I could, I would air mail you a latte from the No. Hills.

Hang in there, toots!

Paula said...

A string of very, very bad things happened to me and my family all in one year. The thing that kept me functioning on any level was that I realized I couldn't do anything but lay on my back and float. If I continued to fight the waves crashing around me, they were going to drag me down and drowned me. So, I stopped trying to swim and turned over and just let those waves lift me up and down. It saved my life.

Loretta said...

I've had the life-changes-in-an-instant stuff more than once. It's taught me to slow down and expect less. However, my husband has born the brunt of it, because most of it has happened to him. He has those same meltdowns, and then gets me involved in the moving thing, we see realtors, etc., and then he decides he might get sick again and we stop.

I hope you get out of that rut. It sucks to always have someone unhappy around. It wears me down more than anything else that happens.

I wish you a sunny weekend, some alcohol, chocolate, and a latte.

telfair said...

It is really draining and discouraging when your partner is going through a tough time, and needs to use you as a dumping ground.

I'm not sure what to say except that I hope things smooth out.

And your cabinet sounds SO cool. Good for you for finding it!
I hope you're able to enjoy it in the future without thinking of the meltdown every time you look at it.

weirdbunny said...

You have a rant whenever you feel like my dear, we are always here ready and waiting to hear the choas in every one elses family is just like our own!

Miz S said...

Aw. That's a tough evening. I hate it when that stuff happens. I hope he feels better by now. Sending some smother-y kisses your way.

Jennifer said...

We internet people are wonderful creatures aren't we :)

Hang in there!

Suse said...

My god you are cool and sensible. I would have turned round and yelled right back.

You're amazing. I don't know what else to say. Hang in there and use us to rant at whenever you need. In fact, I might try it myself.

MsCellania said...

Amazing that you could detach, which is the right thing to do when someone goes ballastic. Just.Walk.Away. You can't fix it.

I remember quite a few "Is this ALL there is?!" moments/hours/days/months/years in my 30's. And I didn't have a big fixer-upper, 3 kids, and a marriage. Just a job and myself. And I was still overwhelmed and then worse, disappointed in myself, many times.

Nobody can make anybody else happy; you're so right in that. It sounds like your husband needs a 'paid friend' to listen to him and possibly prescribe something for a few months to give him some I Feel Better time. Anger is a fear-based emotion. If he's pissed - what is he scared of?

Surfing Free said...

I am guilty of sometimes forgetting about the stress and strain my husband carried everyday, just like I do ... and he also has the occassional meltdown and that always reminds me that its a lot easier working together than working apart. Your attitude is great though!! We usually just collapse into a "I'm more stressed than you are!" competition.

I hope it all works out for you .. and the cabinet is great!

sueeeus said...

I learned from Suse some phrases for your man's moments: He's Spit the dummy and chucked a wobbly. Now doesn't that make it seem better?! Would a big screen tv make him happy? It worked for mine (temporarily).

You are very strong and you deserve a fine find of a cabinet like that, especially if it's something you like that gives you pleasure. A cabinet like that can do wonders for the feng shui - just think of all the clutter you can neatly store away from view in that. It can be a harmonious thing.

Hang in there! It's sad that love and relationships require so much, but then again, that's probably what refines and makes the love and relationships all that much better. Best wishes to you in holding your peace amid the storm.

Virtual hugs.