Much to my chagrin…

We had a bad Saturday.

No… I had a bad Saturday.  All the upheaval and stress were entirely my fault.  J was just being…autistic.  Insistent.  Monomaniacal.  Hyper-focused.  Obsessive.

I simply had a major deficit in tolerance.  Major.

It boils down to ill-timing and the word COFFEE.  J decided, because for some reason it soothes him when he knows that I’m going to sit down and have a cup of coffee, that he had to insist on me making coffee even though it was way past breakfast and I didn’t want any.

I started saying “No, J, I don’t want coffee.  Thank you.”  Quite calmly.  Of course, because he didn’t even stop for breath over the course of ten minutes while repeatedly saying COFFEE and gesturing towards the sideboard where we keep the coffee supplies, I -who should know better because I’ve rationalized all the symptoms of menopause and am constantly reminding myself that this, too, shall pass- had a meltdown.  Literally.

I pulled a “J at his worst,” if you will.  I didn’t hit myself.  I didn’t stomp on the floor.  I had a meltdown.

If I could have walked around wearing a paper bag over my head for the rest of the weekend (so embarrassed and mortified was I,) I would have.  Dada and TGG came home from their errand to find me crying like an idiot on the stairs leading up to the third floor.  J was in the living room, calmly watching Sleeping Beauty and waiting -obviously- for his mother to start acting any age other than the one she was acting minutes before.

I confess that I feel stupid about this whole incident.  I felt stupid when I was done with my tantrum (I think that is a good name for my overt emotional display,) and I’m even more mortified now.

My reasons, surprise surprise, are completely absurd.  Do you want to know them???  I’m sure you don’t, but they might entertain you so here goes:

I am the youngest of my parents’ children.  The difference in ages is enough to make “them” share an experience of life growing up and me to have an entirely different one.  We are a dysfunctional family.  We are dysfunctional to the point where not relating to each other is the best course of action.  Because I am the youngest, even at this age, I am thought of -far and wide- as the bratty, mercurial child who gets whatever she wants.  On top of that, my dear friends and strangers, I am considered unfeeling and heartless because, well, I have enough drama at home and I purposely shun any drama outside these walls.

Yet…I get dragged into things…

On Friday night I got an e-mail from a sibling (with whom I had an argument somewhat related to J and our isolation as a family) that -point blank- started with the subject line I know you hate me.  If you’d like to know what the argument that I’m referring to, please go back to February 4th and read my post about living in The Bubble (and, with that, here comes all the SPAM about the housing bubble…)

Look: I haven’t watched soap operas since I was maybe nineteen years old.  If I want to witness excesses of emotion, I can quite obviously create them myself (when I reach a certain point,) or wait for J to go into one of his mood swings.  As hard as we try, we still have (and always WILL have) a considerable amount of egg shells on the floor that we have to step on…stress is our bread and butter.  Of course, it would be a better source of bread and butter if we were helping other people get through their stress FOR PROFIT, but we accept it as part of our everyday life.  I can’t clearly convey this to anyone who doesn’t live with a similar situation at home…and I certainly haven’t been able to make my siblings understand.

There’s a reason why Tolstoy’s most impacting quote is “all happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  We are not unhappy, but we certainly experience our share of strife and upheaval on a regular basis.  Our strife and upheaval are recognizable and relatable only to those who experience a similar set of circumstances.  You can argue that, yes, all families have their own brand of stress, and that ours is not at all exclusive.  I don’t think our stress is exclusive, but it is inscrutable when the premise one departs from is that “well, how bad can it be?”

I am not depressed.  Please, don’t think that’s the issue.  I do get sad from time to time, and I get overwhelmed.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t take the view that everything is going to be bleak and hopeless down the road.  I take the view that, with a little elbow grease, even the worst moment can be worked through with some semblance of cheerfulness (or, at least, without more woe than is absolutely necessary.)  I don’t understand why anyone would want to, just to get attention (because that’s the only explanation I can come up with for the I know you hate me subject line followed by the urgent I need dad from a person about whom I worry, but who is utterly and completely in a world of their own creation and who don’t make any forays into mine.

This is how isolated we are: my children have not seen any of their uncles or aunts in years.  Six or seven years being the most recent encounter; one uncle has never met J, and hasn’t seen TGG since he was a toddler.  My argument against US traveling is…well…could we put J in a flight to somewhere and be absolutely certain that it will be without incident?  This doesn’t seem like a valid excuse for anyone.  We don’t even take vacations because we can only go as far as we can drive, so we can’t really hop on a plane to go to Disney World (plus we don’t know how J would react to a HUGE Mickey Mouse.)

What makes it worse is that, after all the melodrama of I know you hate me and I need dad, Dad never got a call, and this person’s life seems to have continued unaffected and unimpaired.  The melodrama seems to have been concocted purely and exclusively for me, so that I would have a worm in my ear (digging a tunnel all the way into my brain and my emotions) all weekend…

And J, sadly, was the recipient of my anger, my frustration, my ridiculously emotional and totally uncalled-for tantrum.  J doesn’t deserve that, and I wish I could take Saturday back, and make him understand that my heartfelt apology (which I issued quite sincerely and quite abjectly) didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how sorry I am that I blew up at him…

So…there you have it…I totally and completely suck…

4 thoughts on “Much to my chagrin…

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself! Do your siblings read your posts? Maybe your beautifully written descriptions of your life would give a better insight for them rather than the inevitable emotional side when writing/talking one-to-one…. sometimes people just can’t take your word for it.

    • Communication with my siblings is sparse, and when it does happen…well…let’s just say soap operas have nothing on us. I try to be the very soul of equanimity in crises (not that Saturday is any indication of that, huh?,) but this is interpreted as aloofness, heartlessness, bitchiness…

      Honestly, the absence doesn’t bother me as much as the need they seem to feel to drag me into situations that have nothing to do with me. Here in J-Land we do our best to identify a crisis, define what needs to be done, proceed as closely to plan as we can, and then -when calm has somewhat been restored- we share whatever degree of information we think is pertinent to others.

      In a way, I think it is easier for them to believe that all is always under control so that there is no need to actually inquire or be understanding…does that make sense? If we keep to ourselves it’s not because there’s force majeure involved, but rather because we’re self-centered.

      I just need to let it go. I’ve been working on it all morning. The bathrooms in this house are SPOTLESS now. 🙂

  2. Yes, it does make sense…. I comment because I’ve had very similar, although completely different, experiences. Hard elbow grease to point of exhaustion has been a friend of mine too 🙂 Hope you feel lighter… and the metaphorical boat has stopped rocking.

    • The boat is in dry dock, and it’s considering consuming some leftover birthday cake and ice cream, but that wouldn’t help with the “lighter” part of things, would it? Seriously, though, I think that we just take everything with enough equanimity to make it look “easy” to outsiders, and it works against us. Also, if you knew my family, you might agree that there is a penchant for being dramatic…oddly enough, the only one who ever considered being an actor was yours truly, and I opted for less attention-seeking courses of action (ah, the Liberal Arts…there’s enough drama there, right?)

      Saturday’s tantrum mortifies me because I know better, and I let outside influences get the best of me. Poor J deserves better…he was so confused! All he wanted was to offer me (repeatedly and ad nauseam) COFFEE. 🙂

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