While the holidays passed without any major issues for the most part there were a couple of episodes that upon further examination were very revealing to me. I am actually pretty excited about figuring this out, and figured I would share.
Here’s the scenario. Kim, my wife who I love dearly and would do absolutely anything for, gets upset about something. Her way of vocalizing that feeling is to make a statement about it, like ‘why isn’t this done?’ or ‘why won’t people do what I am asking for?’
Here is what that triggers in my mind. First, I can tell that my wife is upset, which I wish wouldn’t happen, so now I am upset. Second, my OCD brain asks why I didn’t do thing X, or get person X to do what she wanted, because surely I should have been able to control those things. Third, my anxiety now kicks in, because now Kim is upset, and a part of my brain is telling me that somehow I should have been able to keep that from happening and why didn’t I? Fourth, my OCD kicks back in with a need to step in and take control in order to resolve the situation, and at least make sure it doesn’t happen again. And that becomes a terrible cycle, because often whatever is upsetting her is beyond my control or is now in the past and nothing can be done.
The crucial part of this for me is this. It’s like an alcoholic admitting they have a problem. Now I know and understand where those feelings are coming from. And often it is just little stuff, like an odd order at a restaurant. And now that I can recognize it, I can work on stopping that cycle.
When she gets upset about something I need to stop myself (since this is all inside my head it can happen quickly if I train myself.) And honestly ask myself the following questions. Is there anything I can do to resolve this situation now, or is whatever is upsetting her in the past? Am I the responsible party, or I am just jumping in to the middle of a situation to protect her (or the responsible party like one of the kids)?
It’s a tough ask for someone like me. But I need to let go if the answer to either or both of those questions is no. And turn to empathy instead of trying to do something about it. And this applies to other people in my life than Kim, like my parents or the kids or my siblings. I have gradually reached a point where I can let go in many cases. And now I just need to train myself to do the same thing for those closest to me.
But it is no different than the other night when Jimmy was really ticked off at how his video game was going. And when we all started working on something else he started off being really demonstrative, running around, slamming things down. And I told him to stop, take a second, breath through it. And he did it, and eventually apologized for letting his anger at the game carry through to us. I just need to work on doing that same thing in my head when presented with an upsetting situation.
I have not presented this in the most cogent way possible. But the important thing is that this is basically a break through for me. And I now have something new to work on in my effort to handle life.