Making the most of my "Dash"

A peek at my 16 year old self...

I have set a timer for 15 minutes.  I have to do that because I know that I  get so lost focused with what I’m doing.  Whether it’s blogging, responding to email, facebooking, reading a book, reading someone else’s blog, cooking, baking; the list goes on and on.  I need to be able to come up for air every now and then, and the timer helps me remember to do that.

This became a problem for me recently when Mister let me know that I was so deeply immersed in other things, that I seemed to be going down a different path.  Alone.  Without him. Without the kids.  In my own world, which was consisting of “other people’s” virtual worlds.  I became a bit very incredibly defensive.   That always results in my not hearing things that are said, in the context in which they are said.  Simply put, my emotions take over and I put a completely different spin on what I’m hearing.  Thus a rather difficult “conversation” ensued.  One in which I regressed to an old, and highly inappropriate, response.

“I’m in trouble.”  That has always been my main reaction whenever a situation arises where someone is upset.  Whether I was responsible for making them upset or not.  Frankly, that was the expected response for most of my life.  I have realized that I have often resorted to becoming a 16 year old girl in the presence of my parents.  That young girl would do anything to keep her parents from becoming unhappy with her, and even lived her adult life with that attitude.  If I did something that upset my parents, I was reprimanded for it.  Even as an adult. That never went away after I moved out and started my own family.  If I did something they didn’t like, then I [felt like I] was “in trouble”.  My “fix” to that would be to stop doing whatever it was that “got me in trouble”.

I understood what Mister was saying about my time and attention not being exactly where it should be. So, some of you may have noticed, I disappeared from the interwebz.  Sorta.  For a time, at least.  I didn’t want to make the blog disappear, as I think there may be a post or two that’s important enough to need to be out there.  During the course of my conversation with mister, I realized I felt pulled in too many different directions with the blog, my facebook page, other people’s facebook pages, and a particular facebook group I had joined.    So, I shut it all down.  To get out of being in trouble.  And then I started thinking.

I can take days to work through things.  Mister has had a difficult time with that.  We have agreed that there should be no unspoken resentment between us.  We both always want to be open and up front about whatever is going on in our minds and hearts.  So when I need time to digest things and figure out how I really feel about something, he has to make himself let me do that alone.  He would rather us work together to quickly resolve whatever the issue is, but I have spent so much of my life giving the expected response that now I really need to spend time figuring out what I really think.  We also always and ever try to do things to make the other person happy.  We both want what is best for each other.  And I came to realize that I was giving up things I wanted to do, because I thought it would make him happy and keep me from being in trouble.

I felt stirrings of anger.

And resentfulness.

This was badness.  I knew that either one of us sacrificing something that is important is not what our relationship is about, nor what either of us wants.

I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that my emotions, defensiveness, and inappropriate “I’m in trouble” response, had made me unable to hear what Mister had said during our conversation days earlier.  I heard him when he said, “I feel lonely when I’m sitting next to you” and “I feel like I can’t interrupt what you’re doing without upsetting you”.  All I knew was that to make him not feel lonely I needed to give him my undivided attention, and be able to do so at any moment he desired it.  But, that is NOT what he asked for.  I knew that he would never ask, nor want, me to give up things I enjoyed to make him happy.  That is exactly the opposite of what he wants.  All he was saying is, “I want you to be available. Not to other people you don’t really know.  Be available to me. To the kids.”

I also became acutely aware that the reason I had become so engrossed in doing other things online was to avoid having to think about an issue that, while I was only an outside observer, caused a great stir of emotion within me.   I had so many thoughts swirling around my head that needed to come out.  I was getting really pissed off, but I wasn’t ready to deal with that yet.  So I read other people’s blogs and threw myself into putting great thought and effort into commenting on their posts.  I felt a pressing need to distract myself by responding to any little comment directed at me on the internet.  I have since realized that there was nothing wrong with doing any of those things, and Mister was not “mad at me” for doing them either.  What was wrong was doing them to avoid an issue, and at the exclusion of other people.  My real priorities.

I discovered that I was in the midst of creating a situation of resentfulness between Mister and I. After a week, I had been able to understand the real issue, and was ready to discuss it with Mister.  He was shocked to find out that I felt I had been in trouble.   This particular response of mine is so foreign to him, that he does not recognize it.  He would never treat his own adult children that way, so he has no concept of any adult feeling like they are in “trouble”.

I love the relationship that I have with Mister. It is taking me some time to grow into my adult self.  Despite my occasional misperception of being treated like a child, he has NEVER treated me that way.  In my time with Mister, many of my reactions and responses have taken him completely off guard.   When I start to revert  to the 16 year-old, people-pleasing, “I’m sorry… I’ll never do it again… Whatever you want…” persona, he gets fairly upset.  He doesn’t want that.  No one who loves another person should want that.  Not even parents should want, demand, ask, or even tolerate that behavior from their grown children.  Logically, I know this.  Sometimes that darned 16 year-old in me takes over and tries to “fix” things the only way she knows how.

I write this not because I want to put our “stuff” out there… but simply to show that, as in all relationships, we are human and we have to communicate to work through our stuff.   Every one will lose focus of their priorities at one time or another.  I think it happens more now than ever, simply with the advent of the internet (particularly FB!).  I was headed down a path of anger and resentment that could have done some serious damage.  I was strong enough in myself to say that what I thought was the right fix was not working for me (this is not a familiar action to me).  I mustered up courage to tell my husband that very thing, and to tell him that I had completely misunderstood him in my defensiveness.  I experienced growth, in that I realized I don’t need to be defensive with my life-partner.  I simply need to communicate what I need, and hear what he needs.  I need to really LISTEN.

My timer has gone off at least 6 times since I started writing this.  Mister has rolled his eyes at me every time I stopped and came over to him and gave him a kiss.  I’ve reassured him that I am not setting the timer for him, but for me.  I don’t want to get so lost I can’t hear the kids when they call my name.  What I’m doing is not so important that Mister has to wait for an hour and a half before asking me a question.  I do this so I don’t forget that while writing makes me happy, I have people that make me happier.  I want to be available to them.  And… much like Mister, I love those little kisses!

Comments on: "Dear 16 year-old self, you are not welcome here…" (16)

  1. I could have written this very post! Thank you for sharing, Dash. I needed this! (Did my family send you? 🙂 ) I love your writing and your honesty. And I especially loved this:

    “I do this so I don’t forget that while writing makes me happy, I have people that make me happier. ”

    More than every I am trying to find balance between the things that make me happy, and by deciding which makes me “happier” will make prioritizing a whole lot easier!

    • It seems many of us are struggling to find a balance. I didn’t realize just how many people felt the same way! It’s nice knowing we’re not alone with this, as we can end up helping and encouraging each other to keep our balance!

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster said:

    I do this so I don’t forget that while writing makes me happy, I have people that make me happier.
    I so needed to see this in exactly these words.

    Thank you. *ginormous hugs*

    • Ah, Deb… It just warms my heart whenever I see a comment from you… and to know that something I said was helpful to you, as I often feel so very “helped” and touched by your writings and musings… Big hugs back to all of you! I hope you’re all on the 100% better list!

  3. Thank you. I’ve been that 16 year old for the past few days, worrying that I was spending too much time ‘inside’, then stepped away for a few days and started worrying that I was spending too much time ‘outside’. As it is in all things, it is necessary to find the proper balance. Thanks for the reminder. Now where’s that timer….?

    • It was so weird to come to the realization that I revert to that 16 year old… a lot! Even since writing this I have had to remind myself quite a few times to stop reacting to things (with Mister) as though I am doing something “wrong” and “in trouble”. It may take a long time before that goes away, but at least when we recognize we’re letting that young person slip back in, we can readjust our thought processes! You’re right… it’s definitely trying to find that balance. I’ll be working hard at that for a long time, methinks…LOL

  4. Vickie Saenz-Brown said:

    Well said, I think we can all learn from your lessons learned. While the internet has become a valuable communication tool and I feel has opened whole new worlds and friendships to many, it is so easy for our time to get over encompassed by it. We are a very addictive society especially with new things. Many tend to go overboard and I for one have been guilty of giving more attention to my Facebook friends than to my own family and friends, who as you said are the people that make me happier!
    Thanks for the nudge and so glad you are back if even at a lower priority on Facebook, because we did miss you.

    • It was difficult writing this post, simply because there were several different issues here. Feeling like a child, losing focus of priorities, and internet addiction. While the different issues could be discussed, at length!, in three different blog posts, oddly enough they all fit together in this one. However, by combining them, I wasn’t able to go into each issue with detail. I think there is a very important issue to be discussed in how addictive the internet can be, particularly facebook, without people even realizing it.

      It’s good to know others have felt the same way as I, about losing focus a bit and needing a nudge in the “right” direction. Thanks so much for the positive and encouraging words!

  5. Whoa. How many grown women relate to this post? You captured exactly that feeling of being in trouble I feel instantly every single time. It’s pausing and reflecting and changing our thinking that makes us adults and women today. But damn woman, you nailed this.

    • I have been absolutely shocked at how many people related to this part of my post! Hhopefully by acknowledging this we can tell our “in trouble” selves to get the hell out of our heads!

  6. So great on so many levels. This must be happening everywhere. As we all bond, perhaps our real world relationships take the hit. I just had a “scare” the other night, that pushed my relationships right back to the forefront and I realized that I too had started creating a lonely husband while I wrote, was on FB, blogging, etc. I missed you, as strange as that may sound, but I am so happy you had time to think and process. I too am that 16 year old, and fight or flight are my ways of “dealing” so I can so relate to this post. I am glad you set your timer but not for Mister and that above all else, you came to give him a kiss:) More kisses, but you can still have your timer. xoxo

    • When I emailed this to Mister, for his approval before posting, I asked him if it was even worth posting. That maybe I had to write it for myself, show him, and then trash it. I figured who really cared about this particular difficulty we went through?! He told me that I should post it, because we simply don’t know if someone could relate, might need to hear it, whatever. I was so surprised at the comments received by this! That anyone else could relate to it! While I don’t want anyone else to lose focus either, it is good to know we’ve all experienced this, so that we can help keep each other on “track”. The timer has definitely helped, and while 15 minutes may be a short amount of time between focusing on things, at least I do get more of those little kisses! LOL

  7. bipolarbekr said:

    I can totally relate. I always find myself apologizing for everything, even when it is not my fault at all. If I forget something, or do something that upsets my husband, I always say “I am sorry”. I have finally realized that I do not need to do that. He would always reply “no need to apologize, it’s not your fault”. For some reason, I always feel it’s my fault, yet at the same time, know it is not and it is beyond my control. I guess that goes back to my childhood, when I would get spanked or yelled at for spilling or breaking something. It was traumatizing to get yelled at for something I did not do on purpose. I was told I was stupid and could not do anything right more than I care to remember. I have been and still am very clumsy. And to this day, I sometimes get extremely angry at myself for spilling/breaking something. I do not blame my parents for being the way they were, they just didn’t know and had short tempers. They were not raised in good environments either. They did they best they could and loved/love me and my sister with all they can. And I love them.
    I look forward to reading your new blogs and catching up on your past blogs.

    bipolarbekr (Bekr) from The MisAdventures of a Bipolar Girl

    • Are we sisters?!

      I can totally relate. I always find myself apologizing for everything, even when it is not my fault at all. If I forget something, or do something that upsets my husband, I always say “I am sorry”. I have finally realized that I do not need to do that. He would always reply “no need to apologize, it’s not your fault”.

      ME TOO!!! I’ve even bumped into walls and mumbled, “I’m sorry.” Mister was constantly annoyed at me apologizing for everything… always asking me why on earth I would do that. He has even prefaced comments with, “Do NOT apologize for this, there’s nothing to be sorry for, I’m just telling you this for information purposes…” LOL I’m getting better at not apologizing for every little thing, but some days….

      I, too, get really upset with myself for things that are accidental. I’ll say I’m sorry for it, and Mister will ask, “Did you do it on purpose?!” Of course the answer is “No.” He reminds me tat there is nothing to apologize for, all that is needed is to make note of what happened, try to be more careful and move on. I have learned so much from him, and am still learning. Perhaps one day we’ll grow out of the need to constantly apologize?! 😉

  8. Balance…in my bi-polar world it might not exist – LOL! Great post! I don’t think I could do the timer thing (it would drive me insane), but I really should put my computer/phone away for a good chunk of time throughout the day and make sure those around me get the full me 😀

  9. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award – the details are in my latest post. Hopefully there are many more who will appreciate you like I do!

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