Today I’m being unreasonable. I know it. I also know that “all my feelings are acceptable,” even the unreasonable ones. So this evening, I’m trying to find some kind of balance between allowing myself to pout and fret because things are changing in a way I don’t want and accepting that things have to change.
Here’s the change: this week my husband went back to work. He’d stopped working a couple of years ago. At the time, I worked a high-stress, demanding job and earned a reasonably good salary. We don’t have a fancy house and share a single (old, smelly) car, but being frugal allowed him to stay home and us to go on wonderful trips. It was a good arrangement, except that the stressful job on top of everything else eventually drove me off the cliff.
I quit my job last September, and for eight months, I’ve had the tremendous privilege of being at home with my husband. He’s a pleasant, easy companion. And he was used to doing a lot of the household errands, all the grocery shopping, and a lot of the cooking; he’d already been doing that for years while I worked essentially all the time. He kept doing this, which was a great help as I slipped into major depressive mode and spent a couple of months doing almost nothing. On days I felt better, he was great company. On days I felt worse, he gave me space, but he’d also come sit with me or watch movies with me if I wanted a comforting presence nearby.
But even living frugally, we couldn’t get by forever on the small amount of income we still had. So it started become clear that somebody was going to have to earn more money. I did a little bit of consulting work, and I have to admit, it was a big strain on me. I’d push myself hard to appear professional in front of others and come home and crawl straight back into bed. I’d become inordinately anxious about tasks that were actually easy for me. I don’t want to do that very much. To me, it feels obvious that I’m not ready to go back to an intense work schedule.
So my husband said he’d go back to work. Fortunately he has a ton of technical skills, so even being out of the job market for a few years, he got two job offers within a couple of weeks. He took the more interesting, better paying one, and he started back to work this Monday.
And that is the change I am having a hard time with. I feel like a spoiled child, stomping my foot and crying, “I don’t like him getting up early. I don’t want the alarm to go off in the morning. I hate that I either have to get up at 5:30 or eat breakfast by myself. When I eat breakfast by myself, I forget to take my morning meds. I don’t feel like making lunch for myself at all. It’s boring and lonely, so I don’t eat anything, and then I’m too hungry, and I eat cheese and crackers. I don’t talk to anyone all day. I have projects to work on, but I don’t want to. I should take the dogs out, but it’s raining, so I don’t. Then they are restless and underfoot with their squeaky toys, asking me to play with them all the time, and I can’t concentrate on anything! It’s not fair!”
It’s utterly unreasonable, I know it. I’m embarrassed to be such a baby about it.
This afternoon, I was so angry with myself for not being self-motivated and focused that I couldn’t decide if I should punish myself or go to bed and sleep. So I took a nap. Maybe that’s good. I’ve been sleep deprived for months, after all. No doubt that feeds the frustration and poor coping.
So my husband gets home from a day at the new job, which I know is busy and interesting but also stressful in its own way. He finds his wife in bed, the dogs insisting on attention, and nothing started for dinner. Being the saint he is, he lets me sleep while he prepares the fish and rice and vegetables.
I have fantasies of selling the house and everything we own and renting a tiny place near a beach until we run out of money. I also have fantasies of killing myself because I’m such a useless person who can no longer contribute to society in any meaningful way. I don’t have the slightest idea what I really want, except I’d like to have some energy and a sense of purpose in my life.
I’m allowed to have these feelings, I tell myself. I don’t have to only feel happy or kind or mature feelings. I can feel like an abandoned child. I can pout and be unreasonable. This is part of me, but it’s not all of me. I can be kind to this part of me.
In a way, it’s annoying to have to keep being nice to myself too! But what else can I do? Okay, besides selling everything to go live at the beach, and besides killing myself, what can I do? Just be kind to myself. It’s a little too much to manage right now, so I’ll go to bed and hope I can sleep. Then I’ll get up tomorrow and try to be sweet to the little self that feels alone and abandoned.