Since I’m trying to recover from Fibromyalgia (includes Chronic Fatigue) which is directly linked to stress, I’ve been thinking about how I can reduce my stress even more. At this point, I’m not working, so that is a big ease on my Adrenal Cortex and HPA Axis (the parts of us that react to stress by producing adrenaline and cortisol).
One thing I’ve been thinking about is all of the stupid bickering fights I have with FH (Fabulous Husband). He really is fabulous, yet I still fight with him. I am REACTIVE to lots of things he says and does. FH is an absentminded wonderful creative artist and loses things a lot. Creativity often goes hand-in-hand with absentmindedness and when you love someone, and love their creativity, you have to learn to live with the absentmindedness that may come along with it.
Up until now, one stressor for me is when FH can’t find his you-name-it and I get stressed because he’s stressed. I’m annoyed that he can’t find it, that he’s huffing and puffing and frustrated. Part of me wants to help and part of me is so tired of looking for his daily lost items that I feel like saying, “find it your own damn self.” Usually I just get agitated, try to act like I’m helping and not feeling frustrated myself. But underneath, I’m stressed. Usually we have some stupid bickering conversation like “Where did you see it last?” “If I knew that I wouldn’t be looking for it, would I?” “Well, did you retrace your steps?” Our voices start getting that snarky tone, and eventually one of us says “ugh” at the other one and we are suddenly on opposite sides. We don’t even know what we’re on opposite sides of. This is very stupid. We are really not stupid people.
FH gets over stresses like this in about two minutes, but I can be out of sorts for an hour over something like this. If the bickering escalates, it can put me in a bad mood all day. This is very bad for my body. He sometimes gets worried that I’m going to get in a bad mood all day, and that fear fuels some of his nasty bickering words. I sometimes fear he’ll turn out just like my dad and that fear fuels some of my nasty bickering words.
Is he going to stop misplacing his stuff? Is he going to follow my suggestion to, “always put your keys in the same place?” No. He is who he is, and that’s okay. If he wants to change his behavior, he can.
My part in it (we always have to look at ourselves, right? Can’t change anyone else) is that I REACT. I am now working on not REACTING. Just breathe. Stay in my body, feel my feet. Notice if I’m feeling fearful and thinking that this will turn into a huge fight, that he will blow up like my father always did, that this is a problem I can’t tolerate and we’ll eventually separate over this. If I find I am fearful and thinking these stress-heightening thoughts, then I talk back to them in my mind, “this is no big deal. He’ll find it. He’s only momentarily frustrated. It will pass in a few minutes if you don’t react. You don’t have to help him. You can help him if you feel you want to, but you don’t have to help him because you’re afraid he’ll blow up at you if you don’t. Breathe. Just breathe. Don’t get frustrated just because he’s frustrated. Nothing bad is going to happen.” Then I attempt to hear the doors to my personal space (aura if you want to call it that) closing. Keeping his feelings separate from mine.
Side note: It’s a little hard to close off your aura if you’re especially empathic like me, but so worthwhile (many empaths use visuals like imagining a bubble of white light around them to keep other people’s feelings outside, that never worked for me, but imagining the sound of my personal space’s doors closing does work).
There are other similar scenarios not involving lost items, but I’m working on using this non-reactive-self-talk-breathing strategy for all of them. Yesterday was bicker-free!
Do you have situations with your partner where reactivity causes bickering, arguing, fights? Do you use any strategies? Please share!
Photo101Rehab note: I added text and cropped this photo in PicMonkey. I thought it fit the theme because the white roses, which are a little withered, and the bricks made me think of home, and how everything in the home can be fine, beautiful, and still never perfect.