The day before yesterday, I said some things to J that I later regretted. Basically, I implied that he’s lazy and my life sucks because of it. Key word here being “implied”; as much as I’ve been tempted over the years, I haven’t ever actually called him the “L” word.
(A side note: my primary temperament is choleric, his is phlegmatic, and cholerics are, on their bad days, notorious for believing phlegmatics – laid back people – are lazy. So it ain’t just me.)
Once in a while, crap like that tries to come out of my mouth. And once in a while, it succeeds. Then I feel terrible a few minutes later, and have to apologize to my husband who will then feel down for the rest of the day.
I do it because I’m afraid. They say that anger is a secondary emotion, and usually when I get angry it’s because I’m trying to hide a fear. My long-standing fear is that life won’t work out according to my ideals, and I will therefore be miserable.
Yeah, I know: “How’s that working out for ya?”
Lately, another fear has coiled around this one, the fear of not having enough time. Four months away from turning forty-eight, I have officially had my first menopausally-induced skipping of a period. Experiencing the disrupting symptoms of perimenopause has been enough to make me feel my age, to realize that I’m not going to live on this earth forever. But this recent development has made the fact even clearer.
It’s crazy, because I believe in heaven and I know it will be a much better place than here. But something inside me drives me to get done what I want to do as quickly as possible, because I will feel like a failure if I die before I get those critical tasks, goals, and dreams completed.
Uh-huh, “Welcome to everybody’s world, Em. Get a grip.”
I’m trying. In the meantime, I hope you understand why I can be such a bitch to my precious husband sometimes.
You’ve got mail!
So that was two days ago. Yesterday, both of us barely having recovered from my outburst from the day before, we were blindsided by a completely unexpected birth announcement that arrived in the mail.
It ripped open a wound in my soul I had thought was finally beginning to heal.
The announcement was from our twenty-ish niece. J’s brother’s daughter.
Get that? We were never told that our niece was pregnant!
I told J that it was official, his family has disowned us.
Now I need to back up to 2014, when they invited us down to their place for Thanksgiving. Long story short, number one, my SIL and I have always had a strained relationship. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. Every holiday, we played at being friendly to each other “for the sake of the family.”
Number two, while we were there either she or my BIL asked us where we were going to church. My honest reply was, “The Lord has led us out of the institutional church.” I felt my face heat as I said it, knowing what the reaction was going to be. In fact, we had been holding back that secret for the past three years because we both knew the announcement would bring an explosion.
“That’s not biblical!” SIL exclaimed.
I barely remember what happened between then and the time we left. She was all upset and doing her best to hide it, sure that we were on our way to hell.
They never invited us to another holiday get-together (not that I’m complaining). They never invited us to the new mommy’s high school graduation (which stung). Never informed us of anything else important going on with them or with our nieces.
We had become the black sheep, and were therefore to be disowned (ever notice how Christians are often the worst ones about following Jesus’ edict not to judge?). God forbid we come near their children and contaminate them with our evil ideas about Jesus coming to set us free, and about how He Himself hated religion.
So when that birth announcement came out of the blue…
Okay, so I’m sure her parents were totally ashamed that she wasn’t married when it happened. She might have been too, because of what she’s been taught. But we’re talking about a brother of one of her parents (J) for goodness’ sake! Seriously, you’re not going to tell your own brother that your daughter is pregnant?
No. Not if you’ve been disowned. (If I bet, I’d bet that our getting the announcement was our niece’s idea, not my SIL’s.)
Both of us were still reeling a bit from my sorry lack of self-control the day before, and when this piece of mail came, it stabbed in the gut. I had more than my fair share of words to say, and I said them. J stood by silently and nursed his wound without verbalizing his pain.
A little before supper time, I was so tired I had to lie down. J asked to join me. He needed a snuggle with me to feel better, he said.
So we snuggled together. Kissed some. Talked about our feelings.
And we both started to feel better. We both remembered, once again, that if we have nobody else we have each other.
A fact I need to keep in mind the next time I want to make J the brunt of my fear-based anger. It makes no sense to hurt the very one whose love and support you need to make it through the stings and wounds that life brings.