Anxiety is only endearing to cute, childless girls, and being mercurial only attractive in sexually deviant millionaire men.
It has come to my attention, through indirect means, that I do not like the person I have become in the past few years. In all honesty it started when we moved back to Oklahoma: two years of separating ourselves from our unhealthy attitudes seemed to slip away alarmingly fast once we were back in our comfort zone. It was once we were back in Oklahoma that I began to really pay attention to and be hindered by my anxiety. It grew to an almost debilitating peak December 2010, when our family went through a breaking down and rebuilding period. Those months were hard. There were weeks when I was barely able to leave the house, even with Mark. I did not leave the house by myself for more than three months. I remember the day because I was very proud of myself for taking the kids and going to the grocery store to get a few needed items and a craft for us all to do, with no breakdowns. It was at that point that I started trying to get myself under control again, whatever the cost. I was wound too tight to even try and be polite, patient, and accommodating. Couldn't my family see how much stress I had going on all the time? They could handle it, I couldn't.
Sharp, sarcastic, demeaning remarks are unfortunately my default. That's how my father dealt in life, and although I despised it and hate him for it, it became ingrained in my head as a show of strength, dominance, and control. What I needed most in my life was control: control over my anxieties, control over my surroundings, and the ability to focus and do my job of raising and homeschooling the kids, keeping the house livable, and taking care of outside issues that arose. I have for the most part taken control of those things. I can take all the minions and go grocery shopping for the month with no issues. We go to the library and homeschool group. I kindle the relationship with my husband, and have even started expressing myself with writing and drawing. Most of the time the house is livable. Things aren't perfect but they are a lot better. I don't freak out much at all.
But the sacrifice for that is my attitude. Mark thought I was just miserable, because I was never happy. I griped at the kids first and asked questions later. I could be very sarcastic and/or dramatic when provoked. I had NO IDEA that I was acting this way. In my head, I was proud of myself for holding my stuff together for once. I was happy, but I guess I never showed it.
The turning point was when I was writing a chapter in my story sometime last week. I was writing a scene, which in my head, was dramatic, over the top, and a look into my character's head and why she was that way. In my opinion, this made her very unlikeable. She didn't enjoy being that way, but it didn't change how she acted, and very few people were comfortable around her. She was not a good mother. She was not a good wife. She was not a good friend. She was not even good at taking care of herself. Her only good friend was her husband, who was in love with her. She wasn't even that connected to her children. As they got older, they understood she had issues, and they loved her, but they were never close. I got nearly done with it, and handed it over to Mark to proofread. He read it, handed it back with a slight smirk, and said, "lt's you."
He was completely right. Except for minor details, I could have written out our evening any day of the week. Wake up calls, however necessary, are never easy. I was angry. I was sarcastic. Then I hated myself. Finally, I reached the point where I saw the truth of it and was simply apologetic. I was turning into my father, and I was in complete denial of it.
I have done a lot of thinking these past few days. I am learning to really look at how I react to things, and try to change them. My knee-jerk reaction is seldom the appropriate one. The upside is it's been more pleasant around my house. The downside being that I'm seeing a return of my anxiety in force. I realize that my caustic nature is directly related to the tough outer shell that I have built up to allow myself to function as a normal human being. In order to make myself a better wife and mother, I am going to have to take myself down to a level where I am very vulnerable to outside attack. My social anxiety is at an all-time high. Example: last night I did not have something planned in time for supper for when Mark got home. Ordinarily I would fuss and fret, tear myself up for not being a good wife, gripe at the kids to help me clean kitchen/watch baby, and generally be unhappy and make everyone else unhappy. Instead, I kept myself zen, told Mark what was going on, and we decided to go out. I managed to have everyone (including myself) ready with minimal grumpiness and we went out. It's tax-free weekend so all the restaurants are crowded. We ended up at taco cabana. We ordered food, got everyone sat down, and the girls helped me get drinks for everyone. I noticed a line building up behind us as we filled up 8 different cups. The grumpy looks of the patrons behind us just completely made me lose my cool. I was terrified of those unapproving looks. I tried to settle it down, after all, we were paying customers, and we had just as much right to get our drinks as them, but it set my mood for the entire evening. I hyperventilated through the entire meal. Every ill-tempered person in the entire room was obviously angry at us. A litany of accusations and angry words that I was imagining them thinking bombarded my brain. I was self-conscious over everything from how fast I ate my food, to how loudly the kids were talking, to Lachlan pitching pieces of rice off the table, and everything else. I was shaking by the end of it, even though nothing had been said and the kids had been relative angels. I have not been able to shake these feelings off like I usually can. I knew it was going to be tough to change some ingrained habits, but this is much worse than I imagined. Somehow, I have to break myself down again to a base level, then build up my defenses again, only without being mean, sarcastic, or demeaning to others. I don't really know how to do this, but I'm going to try. And in the meantime, I realize I'm going to have to prepare myself for a few months of mental torture as I sort things out.
My husband is a saint as usual for putting up with me. Hopefully he won't strangle me in a process that, with any luck, will end up with a much happier, calmer Melly.