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,