It would have been a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the kids were busy. We talked about being together all day. Do some yardwork, maybe detail the cars. Then lay in our chairs on the deck in the weather that still makes us feel like we’re on vacation for two-thirds of the year.
But in reality the day turned out much different. Instead of upbeat banter, there were cold silences. Instead of being outside together, I hid away behind the laptop. Instead of soaking up the sun, we sulked.
We finally had the argument that I’ve been waiting for since I started talking about my little anxiety problem. The one that, even weeks later, continues to hang in the air. Every time I feel the butterflies pounding, and I need him to take the phone call I hear him say it. Every time I get startled by something and feel like the scaredy cat hanging by his claws from the ceiling, I hear it. Every time I break into a sweat when we’re getting ready to go hang out with friends, I hear it.
Everybody has anxiety. I have it every day. I don’t have to take pills or see a shrink.
He’s not wrong. And I can imagine it’s pretty hard for him to feel like he is constantly doing all of these ‘extra’ things for me to help me manage something he manages on his own just fine.
But mine is different. It just is.
And he knows it. Or, at least he should. I think that was the real undertow of the argument that day – that he said Why is it so hard for you to manage now? I don’t recall it being this bad before. I never knew. But how could he not? He doesn’t remember all of the carryout he had to call and order because I didn’t want to pick up the phone? The nights I couldn’t sleep because I was fixated on some fictional bad thing that could potentially happen to somebody I love? The plans I would make for us with friends and then try to back out of a couple of hours later?
I remember. I remember lots of times I felt beaten up by the butterflies. But I just didn’t have the vocabulary to talk about it then. And now? I am talking about it. And he? Is getting tired of listening.
He doesn’t buy it. He thinks I should be able to handle it. He thinks it shouldn’t be such a big deal.
That argument started pretty innocently. He walked into a room and startled me. I screamed. I reacted much bigger than he thought I should have. And I thought he scared me on purpose. I tried again to explain what a shot of adrenaline like that does to me. How it can take an hour or more for me to stop feeling jumpy after. And he got angry at my anger, and stormed off in silence. We’ve done this a hundred times throughout the course of our marriage, and from the looks of things we’ll do it a hundred more.
I had to drag it out of him, those words. He didn’t want to say it. He’d rather cut out his tongue than to say something to hurt me. I don’t know what made it simmer so close to the surface that day. But I saw it. I saw something behind his mad, and I had to know what he was thinking. So I asked. I begged. I stomped my foot. I pouted. I yelled. But he didn’t want to say it. He didn’t want to hurt me.
He was worried that I wouldn’t forgive him. But I do. I forgive him. Of course I do.
But I still hear it. It’s hanging there. We’re not done with this yet.