I started up with a new counselor last week, and she did give me a useful reframe for my raging at my husband- that I’m having panic attacks. Which is probably right, because I do get filled with this scary cracking energy, and desperately want to either have a fight or get in my car and never stop driving.
Twice since then I’ve woken up in the morning and the rumination has started, and I’ve been able to think
“oh this is a panic attack starting,” and been able to get up out of bed and go outside in the cold AND not wake my husband up suddenly to verbally attack him. So that is a good thing. I actually really do not want to abuse my husband. He is stepping up for me left and right and I don’t want him to feel like shit.
Why am I experiencing so much panic? New house, living with 4 kids, living with a newborn, having a husband, being financially dependent on my husband, just the permanence. I’m not going to live alone again, if all goes according to plan. And I liked living alone. I liked things just remaining right where I put them. I liked always being able to take a bath, or go to a bar, or walk the dog, or have people over, exactly when I felt like I needed those things.
I guess there is a downside to too long a period of having a self-focused life. It gets too good. It gets too good and then you either have to buckle down and commit to being a loner forever or you have to eventually say goodbye to that life and miss it.
There’s just so much negotiation from here on out. Before I could go out into the world, negotiate with who I encountered, and then come home and stop negotiating.
It had to happen. A life where you just do what you want whenever you want it has inherent limitations. Obviously family life has inherent limitations too. So it’s just about choosing what limitations you’re welcoming into your life and I guess me choosing this set of limitations has been messy and hard.
I mean fundamentally you can’t have a partner or a kid without welcoming those limitations. And I am better off for having a partner and a kid.
I can’t believe how hard I have found this transition. It hasn’t been just frustration or fear or sadness, it’s been insomnia and panic and crying spells. I have not rolled with the changes at all. I guess I thought since I wanted this for so long and so intensely I wouldn’t have a mental health episode when I got what I wanted. But clearly I can make all kinds of events into mental health episodes.
Being able to say so myself “this is a panic attack beginning” has helped me be more hopeful. All of these things will not be new for long. We’ll meet all the neighbors, I’ll learn what light switches turn on what lights, the spoons and plastic bags and pans will all find their permanent homes in the various kitchen drawers. I steamed off the wallpaper border in our bedroom yesterday and got it done quicker than I thought I would. This house will become familiar and comfortable.
I went to confession, because boy howdy I had nearly 3 years worth of sins to be absolved of, and the priest asked what brings me joy. He asked if I felt blessed. Yes, I’m more blessed than almost anyone I know. I am blessed in ways that are fundamentally unfair. I have a healthy, adorable little baby boy who smiles in the bathtub and on the changing table and when his dad sticks out in his tongue at him. I have a lovely home I get to strip the wallpaper borders off of and choose paint colors and there’s a freaking jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. I have a husband who loves me very much and knocks himself out to make me happy. I have stepkids who are sweet and fun and are also trying hard to make our time together fun and comfy. I have a healthy body. I have parents who arranged two amish women to clean out the apartment when we moved into this house.
I am in a very blessed, good place. My brain just has to catch up. And I have to get used to being a side character in a lot of different stories, rather than being the main character every day. In reality I always was a side character in a million stories, but the illusion I was a bad-ass on the hero’s journey was one I loved dearly. And I think the reality that I now have this very privileged life because I stumbled into very lucky circumstances has been hard to square with my preferred “embattled bad-ass” self concept.
I need that mug that says “Another fucking growth opportunity.” And also I need to go take my prozac, and get a shower done before the kid wakes up. Whoops, missed the window.