The Problem with Me

This morning there was an argument that I’m not even sure was necessary.
Someone I love and who loves me greatly was merely offering up suggestions to help me feel better, and instead of just accepting their help as a loving gesture, I somehow felt attacked or patronized or something. I went into defensive mode and made him feel like shit. He in turn, also felt patronized and disrespected. That was NOT my intention, and for some reason, I couldn’t even see how he could possibly feel that way. How can I be so blind to that? How do I not see that the way I argue is unfair and childish? Even when he tells me every time we argue that he feels this way; I still somehow dismiss his feelings and try to invalidate them somehow.

See, I’ve been kinda sick the past week-ish. Crazy sore throat and swollen glands. I haven’t been feeling sick, just tired.  Now, if you know me…
Oh wait- most of you don’t really know me. Quick bit of info for you all: I am a worrier. I create mountains out of mole hills on a daily basis, and even with this self-awareness, I still do it. Not sure why.
I don’t usually get sick, but when I do, my brain for whatever reason always goes straight to the worst-case scenario.  Always. Fortunately, I have learned over the years not to share those thoughts with everyone because they tend to think I’m either a hypochondriac or just that I’m trying to get attention and/or pity. Oops. Cat’s out of the bag, I guess you all know now. *shrug* Ah well. Just please be gentle with your judgments. I’m fragile.
So, back to my recent debilitating illness. The fact that my unbearably sore throat and swollen glands have no other accompanied symptoms, I start to worry that there’s something sinister lurking in my body like an auto-immune illness or cancer ( I forgot to mention the recurring, insanely itchy rash on my forearms and parts of my neck).
Who does that? Who in their right mind immediately thinks they have cancer every time they get a really bad sore throat?  *raises hand awkwardly* Oh right. I do.

Now some back story to explain the argument this morning that prompted this post.
A few days ago, Chris suggested that maybe my sore throat and glands are from allergies. I immediately argue that there’s no way it’s allergies. I’ve been suffering from allergies my entire adult life, and never have I had this problem. He says that sometimes his allergies cause him the same problems, but I still am convinced it’s something else (something less likely, but much more dramatic, because that’s where my mind goes, remember). He suggests I try taking Claritin or some other allergy medicine to see if it clears up. I agree in that moment to try it, and I think at the time I planned to, but now I think I agreed with him to change the subject and shut him up, because I am starting to believe that I can’t handle anyone challenging my knowledge; especially when it comes to me and my body and all the stuff I think I know.
Needless to say, I didn’t take the Claritin or any other allergy medicine, for that matter and still feel tired and my throat still hurts. This morning, Chris asked me if I took the Claritin yesterday like I said I would, and I replied with a curt “nope”.  He asks if I’ll take one today and again I replied with a dismissive “sure.” He questions whether or not I mean that and again I say, “sure.” I can tell that this pisses him off and we go back and forth for a minute or two about why I said I would take it but then decided against it. Every exchange of words is getting more and more heated for some reason, and he is visibly irritated and angry with me for something I said that made him feel patronized. I tell him that I don’t think it’s allergies because “allergies don’t make you have chunks of green snot!” and he tells me, “Fine! Just go to a doctor then!”

Another ironic tidbit about me is that, although I am a worrier and a hypochondriac, I hate going to doctors for fear of hearing the very thing I am convinced I’ll hear (that I’m dying of some rare, unknown disease). Or worse, that there’s nothing at all wrong with me and then I leave feeling slighted somehow. Twisted, I know.

So, Chris leaves for work angry and I am feeling bitter and he calls to talk and I have already shut down. It’s too late to talk about this. I’m done. Again, how do I not see how childish and arrogant that is? This is a good man. An exceptional man. If he’s telling me that he feels patronized and like I don’t respect him, I should listen and I should respond appropriately, but all I can muster is one pathetic “okay” after another.
“Okay” ? That’s all I can come up with when the love of my life is telling me that he’s feeling hurt?  And when he says, “If this is how all arguments are going to go, then this isn’t going to work”. My response is still just “okay.” ?

What the fuck is wrong with me? Why can’t I stop this kind of reaction? Why do I immediately shut down as soon as someone challenges something I think or believe? Why do I fight so unfairly? I walk away. I maintain false composure, and this angers and hurts him. It makes him feel patronized. It makes him feel stupid, and he’s not the first one to tell me this. He’s not the first person to accuse me of not knowing how to argue like an adult. There was one other who thought I was evil and manipulative and he was so very convinced that I knew exactly how to piss him off. I’ll save that for another post, but that alone should tell me that Chris is probably not wrong.
As a matter of fact, Chris is right, and that is the problem. It makes me wrong, and that is something I have had a hard time accepting my entire life. What’s so bad about being wrong? That, I’m not too sure of. I think it’s a deep fear of losing a part of my identity somehow. Something I was so sure I knew about myself. To find out I am wrong is a pretty big shock to the system.

Does this make me an asshole? I was pretty convinced earlier today that it does, until I talked again with the very person that prompted me to step back and take a look at myself. The same person I argued with this morning and who I made feel like shit. Chris, of course. He reminded me that “it takes humility and being in healthy relationships to get away from that.” Referring to how I feel when I realize I am wrong and the way I get defensive and shut down in response to that feeling. He also said, “you don’t have to assume that you’re “not mostly right.” it just helps to be open enough to think that others could be right.”

In other words, I need to practice humility. I need to accept that I am not always right. And that there’s another way to look at things and other ways to solve problems.
Although I am not quite ready for total enlightenment, I want to begin my path towards it, and this is a good place to start. I will stop myself from immediately shutting down in arguments when it feels like it is me under attack and not just the subject at hand. I will be more aware of what I say and how I say it, because I am so blessed to have Chris by my side, and he deserves to feel respected and appreciated. And I will try to stop making mountains out of mole hills, because it’s just a silly waste of energy.

In the meantime, I took a Claritin and now I think I’ll take a nap.

Feeling sore, yet positive and slightly enlightened for the moment,
~Karin

About kantal113

I am a woman who just wants to share her crazy life with the rest of y’all. I am also a housekeeper, laundrette, babysitter, cook, teacher, caregiver, facilities manager, psychologist, and kisser-of-boo-boos. Better known as a mom.
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24 Responses to The Problem with Me

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for this post, Karin. I appreciate your willingness and ability to step back and look at things from a different perspective. I’m not perfect, either. Making personal changes is hard. Even when you’re making improvements, change is stressful.

    Interestingly, as I read this the first time, OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass was playing. (“Let it go…”)

    Good post. I’m gonna share it right now. I love you.

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks for sharing it, baby, and thanks for loving me enough to stick around while I make some personal changes. I’m sorry for the way I argue, but I am going to try harder not to do it that way. It’s important to me to make these changes to better our relationship. I love you, too.

  2. Jan says:

    Karin,

    It takes courage to admit that you’re wrong, and then to choose to do things differently, or to attempt to. I appreciate your honesty and sincerity, I hope the Claritin does help :). I like the pics you used too, especially Calvin and Susie :) Good luck with your new blog! I will keep following…

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks, Jan! It’s incredibly hard for me to admit when I’m wrong. I think at an early age, being smart made me think I knew a lot more than I actually did. I also grew up knowing I was intellectually smarter than my own mom (a topic for another post someday, perhaps), and I think that did something to me. Being smart and the one with the answers just became a part of who I am. That way of thinking is not conducive to a healthy relationship, and a lot of that defensiveness that I use when I argue developed when I was in my previous relationship with my son’s father (also a topic for another post).
      So far, the Claritin doesn’t seem to be helping, and thanks. I like the pictures, too. :) Thanks for following!

  3. Sam says:

    My husband fights the same way, he gets mad at me for feeling angry/hurt/upset… it’s a defense, he couldn’t possibly be wrong. He is non-confrontational to an extreme and that infuriates me, also. 12 years and we have it down to a science, I give him his space to walk away and then we come together, talk it out, etc. He recognizes it, but the non-confrontational side is a defense mechanism he is not willing to let go of. He can and does admit when he is wrong…. after the fact.

    Good for you for recognizing it and working towards healthful communication. I really and truly believe it is the foundation for all successful relationships.

    And just to add something I find slightly humorous…. At the beginning of our relationship, I could not understand why or how a simple suggestion could offend my husband so. I discovered that if I made the suggestion, his defenses went up and an argument ensued. I discovered however that if I told his mother or brother and *they* were the ones to make the suggestion, it was as if the skies opened up and light dawned. So I would “use” his family members if there was something I really wanted to get across, LOL. It was something about “me” making whatever comment it was that somehow made him feel “less” of something and go on the defense. Our communication is 1000% better at this stage of our marriage (4 kids’ll do that to ya) and I can approach him in a much better manner and he can accept and even embrace feedback (most of the time) in a healthy way. Good Luck in your journey!

    • kantal113 says:

      Non-confrontational to an extreme is a good way to define me. It used to infuriate my ex and now it’s doing the same to Chris, which I cannot let happen, because he is so important to me. I’m glad that method of dealing with arguments works for you. Sometimes, I just wish Chris would allow me to just walk away and then deal with it when I’m ready, but I understand why he doesn’t. It’s a terrible, alienating way to handle stress, and I am hoping to work through it and be a more fair and constructive arguer.
      Thanks so much for reading! It means a lot to me to get this kind of feedback! I hope you’ll keep reading. :)

  4. Kara says:

    Wow, this reminded me so much of myself, it’s kind of scary. I have been fighting in very similar ways lately. I haven’t always done this; it seems to be a defensive mechanism that has cropped up from my past because I’ve been more stressed out than usual lately (not sure exactly why). Basically, it’s been an inability to be vulnerable with my Chris. I’ve been keeping him at arm’s length, unable to let him in because it’s a defense that worked for me in the past when being vulnerable with someone was a very dangerous thing. But i have been working hard to realize when I’m doing it, let Chris know when I realize I’m doing it, and be a better partner.

    In addition, “being right” all the time (or at least thinking I am or refusing to admit fault) is something i also developed growing up. I have always been very intelligent and it has become a necessary part of my self-esteem to be smart, knowledgeable, and right. It hasn’t been easy trying to find other ways to feel valuable. But it’s easier than going through another depression that tears my life apart, so I keep trying. That’s all we can do, really- keep trying and not beat ourselves up when we fail.

    • kantal113 says:

      I like that we both have a Chris. :) Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, Kara. I want to make changes, but it isn’t easy. Try, try again, they say. I just hope today is a better day.

  5. Denise says:

    Hi Karin… good job. I look forward to reading more.

    • kantal113 says:

      Aww. Thanks so much for reading, Mrs. T! I hope I don’t let you down. Thanks too, for raising Chris to be such an incredible human being. I feel so lucky to have him. He’s very special (even when we do argue sometimes lol).

  6. joy says:

    so, I read this and I think back to our high days & sayhmmmm. Chris was a handsome,talented, helpful,soft spoken guy. I remember you as quiet, yet friendly, since you guys went to TC & were a few grades ahead I never really knew how “smart” you both were. You word this very well & I find it extremely enlightening.
    I too don’t argure fairly. While I don’t shut down I go for what will tear a person to shreds( this too is baggage from a previous relationship.) But in my current relationship we do not argue. We state our position, discuss, disagree, & if it is a major issues we wait until we cool off & talk again the next day.

    I am guilty of dismissing him or his attempts to divert my attention from a negative situation. I nag, I bitch, I yell( in general not @ him). It gains me nothing, its counter productive but it is exactly what I grew up witnessing.

    you love , are just like the rest of us. conditioned by past experiences, we react & act based on those memories that play in our heads like a movie.

    once we look at why , then we can attempt to change it. we all can say we are a work in progress :)

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks, Joy! I was definitely quiet. I was terribly shy and insecure then. Still am pretty insecure, unfortunately. I think that’s another reason I argue the way I do. I have no confidence and any kind of confrontation wears me down pretty quickly. I get uncomfortable and feel way too vulnerable, so I shut down and just respond as minimally as I can. On the rare occasion when I haven’t shut down in an argument, I tend to freak out the person I’m arguing with. It ends up being the complete opposite of my typical response. I hate getting that way. It makes me feel physically sick.
      As for tearing people to shreds in an argument, you and my ex have that in common. He was brutal and went straight for those buttons that he knew if he pushed them, he’d destroy me in an instant.
      I am definitely a work in progress. I’m really glad you liked this post so well. It means a lot to me to get this kind of feedback. :) I do hope you’ll keep reading. I probably won’t always write about things this heavy, but if I do empty the contents of my head often enough, there’s probably going to be a lot of dark materials to write about. Thanks again, Joy. :)

  7. Amanda says:

    Karin,
    You are taking great strides in the correct direction! Once you see your flaws and how they affect others, you can release them. Unlearning all of the bad stuff we have taught ourselves throughout our lives is difficult. It takes dissecting ourselves, and ripping away the overgrowth to find the core of whom we were meant to be. I’m so happy that you have found
    a wonderful, supporting partner. Learn from one another, and your path will reveal itself, my love.

    • kantal113 says:

      I do hope you’re right. This stuff is hard. I made another mistake last night again with Chris, but in my defense, it felt like he was being hurtful to me, hence the reason I reacted the way I did.
      Anyway, I am so glad you’re reading. Your opinion means a great deal to me. I hope all is well in your world. I love and miss you.

  8. Commander Spacedog says:

    Suffering from allergies can definitely make a person cranky in a way that does not reflect who they really are inside. When our head feels heavy and is throbbing, our self-control is diminished.

    If you do not have one already, I highly recommend purchasing a HEPA Air Purifier.

    Here is an affordable model that I would endorse:

    http://www.honeywellcentral.com/product/true-hepa-allergen-remover-s

    • kantal113 says:

      Thank you, Spacedog. ;) I’ll check it out. I’m still not sure if it is allergies, but time will tell, I suppose. My head has felt heavy and for a couple days there I was also feeling dizzy and spaced out. No fun. I’m sure those things contributed to my mood and added fuel to the argument. We’re all good now, of course. Love is awesome that way. We talk, we listen, and we forgive. :)

  9. Sabby says:

    I think it must be national “Have problems with your partner named Chris” week, because my Chris and I are going through a strikingly similar situation. In fact, we broke up a few days ago and his awesome mom is the one who sent this blog post to me.

    Everything you said struck an echoed chord with me, and I understand how you feel. I too lock up, I automatically think things aren’t worth arguing about and try to run and hide from the situation at hand instead of facing it head-on like I should. I hate being put on the spot, because my instinct is to act horrible and irrationally. I have a tendency to make rash decisions and instantaneous judgements without considering Chris’ feelings or perspective, even though I convince myself that I do understand his reasoning.

    Your post was an eye-opener. I wish I’d read it four days ago. I’m glad that you recognized it in time to save your relationship; a great guy is nearly impossible to find and we can be so unreasonable sometimes even without realizing it.

    I wish you guys the best of luck, and thanks for posting this insightful and well-written blog. I’m sure this is nail-on-the-head material for allot of people.

    • kantal113 says:

      Wow. Thank you, Sabby. It’s an amazing new feeling for me to get such positive feedback about something I created. I just wrote about what happened, and decided it was time to face at least one of my many character flaws. Shutting down in an argument has been a major problem with me my entire adult life. Sometimes, I even get so uncomfortable in a situation that I tend to smile or laugh, just to mentally diffuse the tension. Of course, that just angers whoever I am arguing with even more, because they think I’m laughing at them. Running and hiding has never worked for me, and I’ve finally decided that I must make a change, or I could lose the man of my dreams.
      My Chris is the most important person in the world to me (along with my son, of course), and I can’t bear the idea of losing him because I was too stubborn or proud to admit that I was wrong and that I made a mistake by refusing to discuss something that was bothering him. I am so glad that my words have some meaning to someone other than me. I am only sorry that you didn’t read them a few days sooner. :( Perhaps it isn’t too late to go to your Chris and tell him you’re sorry and that you know you were wrong and that you’re willing to make positive changes for the sake of your relationship. I tend to believe that if it’s meant to be, then it will be. Had you two been together long?
      Oh, can I ask who his mom is? I’m curious about how people find my blog. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response it’s gotten already, and I’ve only had 2 posts. I’m working on one for today that will probably just be something fun and light-hearted. We’ll see. I hope you continue reading, and if you like to read blogs, check out my Chris’s blog, too. He’s fromthebungalow.wordpress.com :) Thank you so much again, for reading.

  10. Corianne says:

    Definitely hit the nail on the head for me too. I think we all have bouts of irrationality. I certainly have had more recently with the change of getting off Cymbalta cold turkey, oh and the fact that being almost 35, I seem to have the raging hormones of a teenage boy. I know that has added to the disharmony between my Hubby and I, which I have been feeling lately. He reassures me that everything is fine, but I try to explain that I don’t feel fine, and that when he doesn’t do things (like hold me or approach me sexually) in the times I think he should, that means he doesn’t love me, or like me, or maybe we aren’t meant for each other, (which drives him crazy) or maybe I need a girl friend too, ….. sigh, being a woman is tough. lol.
    I do know that when I look for “whats wrong” in life, that is what I find. The truth is, when I breathe and take a step back and look, I do have all I need and ever wanted. I just need to accept and love myself, and be the woman I want to be with. Then I can seize the opportunities every day offers. Negativity (and focusing on what we lack is negative) is possibility repellant.
    Now I need to go write some more. Blogging awaits me. Thanks for your honesty and being a muse.

    • kantal113 says:

      Haha! I am SO glad it isn’t just me with teenage boy hormones! WooHoo! It has proven to be a great thing for me though. I had NO sex drive until about 2 years ago…now..well, let’s just say it’s the opposite. ;) Being a woman IS tough! Especially when the way I argue causes so much grief to my man, but we’re working on it.
      I am so touched that I am one of the reasons you started blogging. Truth be told, I have wanted to write for most of my adult life, and haven’t really done anything about it until now.
      Chris is one of the things that inspired me, along with a whole mess of other parenting blogs.
      I do hope you’ll keep reading. Take care!

  11. Hi Karin, I am so grateful for the kind words you left on my blog today, which helped me find you and your honest and insightful writing. I love the realness most of all.

    I am trying hard to “live in realness,” and admit the negative feelings that I often try to push away. You have touched on a sore spot in this post. Another area I am trying to work on. It is very difficult for me to admit when I am wrong and to say I am sorry. It probably the one thing I most want to change. I am slowly, slowly making progress (but probably not fast enough in my husband’s opinion! :).

    I love your ending paragraph and that all we can do is keep trying. I am trying to say I am sorry more, and I think it counts for something!

    Thank you for bringing a spark of light into my day today!

    • kantal113 says:

      I am SO touched and excited that you read my blog AND commented! I LOVE your blog. I LOVE what you have to say and how you say it. Every single one of your posts that I have been able to read so far has made me cry. You seem to live the way I imagine I would if I wasn’t depressed and grumpy all the time. I want to appreciate my kids more and love them simply because they are beautiful, individual little beings who do bring much more light to my days than any of the negative that seems to overshadow it all.
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience. Arguing is something I never really learned to do in a healthy way. I grew up in a mess of a family where there was more yelling than talking, and I’ve been in very few relationships before my current one. The one before this is the one that completely broke me and messed me up for Chris. My ex was a manipulator and a button-pusher who made it impossible for me to fight fair. I learned to shut down and walk away to just protect myself from further verbal and emotional abuse.
      Now that I’m in the greatest relationship I’ve ever been in, I’m finding it extremely difficult to break that pattern of shutting down and walking away as soon as I feel attacked at all, even if that isn’t what’s really happening, and usually these days, it isn’t. Chris is an exceptional man and always tries to converse and even argue in as fair a way as possible. I know if I want to show him how important he is to me, I need to learn to stick around and listen to what he’s trying to say, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me.
      Much like everything else, it’s just going to take time.
      Thank you so much, again, for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. It makes me feel giddy to know that I could give you a spark. It makes me believe there’s hope for me yet! I hope you’ll come back and read more sometime!

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