Recently, I was having a bad day. I woke up feeling physically ill, and to make matters worse, I hadn’t taken my mood stabilizers for a couple of days. Not on purpose, I’m just forgetful. I was getting hungry, and so were my kids, but I was not feeling up for cooking. Still, I dragged myself out of bed to cook. Then, my phone rang, and I had to deal with an urgent work matter while stirring the eggs.
I’m not a great multi-tasker, by the way. Without going into too much detail, something happened (a simple mistake that someone else made when I turned my back) and a plastic bowl ended up on the hot burner, melting away. It set off instant rage inside of me. I thought, “Can’t I turn my back for a few seconds without everything falling apart?”
The anger was so strong and overwhelming on top of everything else I was already experiencing, that I had to lie down for a minute. The rage was all-consuming and my brain just shut down temporarily.
Of course, the thoughts I had about “everything” falling apart when I turned my back were an overreaction. Mistakes happen, and one bowl melting on a stove is not “everything” falling apart. It’s literally one bowl falling apart, and a cheap plastic one at that.
More importantly, my anger wasn’t about the bowl at all. It was about trust and control. I have a hard time trusting people, especially my partner, to take care of things while I’m gone. I still take time for me, but I tend to worry about what’s happening at home, and I dread returning home because I always anticipate a mess. I also dread the anger and resentment that will inevitably arise when I do get home.
The thing is, I can hope, even expect, something of the people around me, but in the end, I don’t control them. My partner especially. He is an adult who gets to make his own decisions, and I need to let go of control. More importantly, I can’t let resentment worm it’s way into our relationship, because that’s what killed my last relationship, and I refuse to let that happen again.
So instead, I talk to him about what I hope/expect from him. I ask him to do x or y while I’m gone. And then I remind myself that if he doesn’t do x and y, it doesn’t mean that “everything is falling apart.” We’ll just do it together when I get home, and spend some quality time together in the process.