Reclaiming My Calm
“Love, I’m out of deodorant.”
I heard this hideously annoying racket coming out of our hall bathroom, and then a full on crash as things started falling on the floor. I rolled over in bed and covered my head with a pillow, trying to escape the misery.
This was last Tuesday. At five in the morning.
“I’m out of toothpaste, too. And that blue Crest rinse.” I could hear him rifling through his basket of crap, totally oblivious to the early hour.
“Can’t you be quiet? And turn the light off.”
“But I need my stuff.”
“Making a mess in the bathroom isn’t going to make it any better, shit isn’t going to magically appear. Just stop it please. Use my stuff.”
“But I like my own stuff. Can you go out today and get me some things?”
“Why do you do this?”
“For the love of God, just be quiet and turn off the light.” With that I rolled over again, signaling that I was done with the discussion. He kissed me goodbye and left for work. After that I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Thanks to him, it was time to get up, and damn it, I really needed a few extra hours.
Obviously there was an expectation; his expectation that I would go out on that day and get whatever he needed. I already had so much to do, being two days before a holiday; and I was really struggling physically. I didn’t appreciate one more thing, a detour that would take away from everything else I had to do.
You may be wondering what this is all about, because on the surface it really doesn’t seem like a big deal. Let me explain. My husband and I use separate bathrooms. I claimed my rightful place in our spacious master the day we moved in; he is relegated to our hall bath, with significantly less counter space. Because of this separation, I don’t keep tabs on his personal items. And it’s fair to say that in general, I have enough to keep track of when it comes to our household. I do all the shopping, cleaning, finances, etc., everything to do with the management of our house I take care of. I am also managing life with an illness, so I need to cut corners and keep things efficient as much as possible. I shouldn’t have to keep track of a grown man’s stuff.
Having lupus is a complicated reality. It demands things of me that most people don’t have to think about. I have to plan my errands carefully. When I have energy, I run two, three, even four errands in the same day; I have to anticipate days when I will not be well enough to go out and get things done. I even got into the habit of buying two of everything at a time for him, to make things easier.
I have drilled this into my husband’s head time and again. But alas, as he likes to say, with his Y chromosome comes something called selective hearing. Sometimes I think my time and energy would be better served if I instead talked to a manhole cover.
He just can’t seem to follow the rules.
Rule #1: When you are getting low on things, like personal items, let me know ahead of time. For heaven’s sake, write shit down.
Rule #2: Avoid springing last minute crap on me, especially during a holiday week when I am already stressed and tired, and I’ve got tons of stuff to do. (It is worth noting that the only household efforts he puts forth during Thanksgiving week are eating and sitting on his ass watching football. It’s enough to make me want to strangle him.)
Rule #3: Never wake me up at 5 in the morning to tell me you are out of aforementioned personal items, or to tell me anything else for that matter. I don’t need to hear your litany of crap at that ungodly hour.
I swear, between being sick, taking care of my house and dogs, and keeping tabs on him, I feel like a one woman army.
Four hours later, I angrily made my way to good ‘ol Target. I was so tired. My joints were throbbing and I felt this terrible pressure in my back. I went directly to the personal care section and gripped the cart for support. Old Spice deodorant. Check. That blue Crest rinse he likes. Check. His preferred type of Colgate toothpaste (because heaven forbid I get the wrong one). Check. As simple as it all sounds, it really felt like too much to me, almost a blur. And then it went from bad to worse. I heard a horrible sound to my left, coming from just ten feet away.
It was a child, a little girl. Having an epic, one-for-the-ages meltdown, replete with foot stomping, object throwing, and even hard slaps against her mother’s leg. The downward spiral continued. She went right for those baskets at her eye level, the ones that hold razors. She grabbed about a half dozen and threw them on the floor, and in my direction. They landed mere centimeters from my feet. How delightful.
She sounded like a wounded, psychotic cat. It was the kind of sound that makes you want to claw at your face in misery, the kind that makes you pray for the ground to swallow you up, anything to rescue you from it. The kind that makes you want to scream right back at the parent and say “what the hell is wrong with you? You’re the adult, act like it!”
To put it bluntly, I was pissed. What was wrong with this woman? She just stood there, doing nothing, while her kid went batshit crazy. Why did I have to deal with that? Why did that have to come into my world when I was already feeling miserable? I shot the mother one of my signature disapproving looks. She looked away, and continued to let her child rant and rave like a wild maniac. I did what was within my power. I walked away. Even when I was over five aisles away, almost to the registers, I could hear the wailing and screaming.
Twenty minutes later I was home. I was clenching my jaw, something I always do when I am stressed. The pounding in my temples graduated to a full fledged migraine. If I was going to get through this day, and if my husband was going to survive my wrath when he got home, I had to find a way to reclaim my calm. I decided to take a a nice hot bath.
It was exactly what I needed. The power of Dead Sea salts continues to astound me. As I remained submerged and felt all the pressure leaving my body, my perspective shifted. Instead of anger and frustration, at my spouse, that mother and her crazy child, I began to feel compassion.
Compassion for the child who, despite such unbecoming behavior, was perhaps dealing with the world and her emotions the only way she knew how.
Compassion for the mother who maybe, despite an apparent lack of effort, was simply too overwhelmed with life to quell her child’s outburst appropriately.
Compassion for my husband, who maybe had been working at a more frenetic pace than I realized. Forgetting to alert me that he was running low on things really is small stuff in the end.
And above all, compassion for myself, and realizing that I shouldn’t push myself to go out on the bad days, when my energy is stretched to its already precarious limit, when I am ill-equipped to process the things that are going on around me. Realizing that responsibilities can often wait a day or two (or three or four), when I am tired and in pain, with zero tolerance for things like a child’s freak out.
But despite all the newfound calm in my heart for everything, and my beloved specifically, there is still one thing that I won’t waiver on from here on out.
My husband can go out and buy his own crap when he doesn’t follow the rules.