the argument

by MrsFatass on May 31, 2011

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.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Miz May 31, 2011 at 7:19 am

xo
I hate that I’m reading this from the phone….but I’m already away from computer
;(

More via email

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:11 am

I thought it was scheduled to go up at 5AM, but it was scheduled for 5PM. I’m glad I caught it in time!

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Charlie May 31, 2011 at 8:09 am

Oh, how I know this argument. “You are so open about things on your blog and facebook, so why are you freaking out about seeing all the people face to face? Why do I need to give you 3 weeks advance notice if I want to invite a friend over? It’s no big deal, can’t you just calm down?”
Because I just do. Because you must. Nope I can’t.

It only seems to have intensified as I’ve gotten older, too. It’s a wonder I wasn’t in a fetal position when I met you! (If there hadn’t been bacon to soothe my freakie outie, I might have wound up like that!)

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:12 am

It has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, but it’s always been there. Thank God for bacon.

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Drazil May 31, 2011 at 8:23 am

This is the first step of many towards an even better relationship with you two. The feelings have to be spoken so we can deal with them. I guess this means it’s officially my turn huh? Can I secretly confess I was hoping you’d text and say “Nope – can’t do it – let’s forget out deal about telling the hubbies.” You always gotta be the one with courageous balls of steel don’t you ? MF – we’re going to climb mountains even with that bitch anxiety on our backs. We just are. And some day she’ll fall off and crumble to her death…and we’ll just keep right on climbing without looking back. Oh and MF? Look to your right – I’m the one climbing right next to you – holding your hand….

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:13 am

Luckily, with a good doctor and good meds, I’m feeling so much better. And you could, too, Draz. There’s no reason for you to be so tortured.

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BuckeyeKelly May 31, 2011 at 8:55 am

I used to suffer from anxiety as well, and my then fiance, now husband, didn’t get it either. He’s cut from a different cloth, actually his whole family is. It took me years (as a psychologist, you’d think I’d be less resistant to treatment) to finally figure out to admit the problem. 9/11 hastened it and pharmeceuticals almost ruined our relationship due to side effects.

I was raised to believe whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But panic attacks in the middle of the night causing my parents to believe I was being attacked in my room to call the College security in OH from NY, was the last straw.

It’s the stigma of mental illness and the treatments that leaves him confused. I’ve worked in the mental health field long enough to know that this has more to do with him not understanding than anything else.

If you broke your arm, would he chide you for your cast?
If you had cancer, would he be bothered by the side effects of chemo?
If you suddenly went blind, would he hate the whole “sickness and health” clause in your vows?

No.

He doesn’t “see” the illness and it manifests itself in behavior, therefore, behavior can be changed with just some modification and willpower, so just do it. There is a chemical problem. Your neurons fire differently. You have too much (or too little) neurotransmitters. If it wasn’t physical, the meds wouldn’t help. It’s not something to challenge, but a way for him to see things differently. Some of my patients, who had family not understanding their illness (I worked with people with paranoid schizophrenia) due to culture or age issues, I had them wear a special bracelet. Something they would make themselves with bright colors. They would ask their family member to look at the bracelet whenever they got frustrated with their illness or its symptoms. Some people need a physical reminder of the illness so they don’t blame the person with it. In time, the person was no longer defined by the behavior, and it was just like saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezed who had a cold.

You also might be seeing some changes due to the fabulous work you’ve been doing diet/exercise wise. My brother was on hardcore pharmeceuticals for years for anxiety/depression. Stuff they give people with schizophrenia. He went on Atkins to save his life, was able to drop all his meds cold turkey. Sugars and exercise endorphins change our neurochemistry, especially post-partum (even years later). It’s something to think about, and can have nothing to do with it, but it’s just a thought.

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:18 am

Wow, what an interesting comment. Thank you! And yes, working out has made a huge difference. And so has understanding the brain chemistry. It helps so much to be able to tell myself it’s chemical when things are happening all around me.

Thanks so much for commenting today!

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JoAnn May 31, 2011 at 9:07 am

I’m going thru this right now with my hubby, except he’s the one with anxiety/depression. I can understand both sides. I get impatient with my hubby too and want him to just snap out of it even though I know he can’t. I wanted to mention cognitive/behavioral therapy. He hasn’t started it yet but is starting very soon. Many Drs. and other people have recommended this to him. Have you ever tried it?

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

I have worked with a great therapist too, as well as the doctor who has helped me find a good med. I hope the therapy works out for him!

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Jen May 31, 2011 at 9:17 am

Good luck. Truly. I hope you get out the other side of this long-term discussion better than you entered it. I remember this part and it’s not the funnest but it gets you where you need to be.

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:27 am

I’m sure we’ll get through. He supported me writing this, which is awesome. Not easy, but important.

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Ryan @NoMoreBacon May 31, 2011 at 9:40 am

Love you girl. It’s funny (and not in the haha way) because I feel like I’ve been on both sides of this before. I’ve been on the “Holy Sh*t I can’t deal with the anxiety anymore,” and then the other side of “When are you going to just deal with it?” You’d think I’d be more empathetic. You’d think I’d learn to cope with anxiety better.

What I’m trying to say is that I understand both sides of this completely. Or at least to some degree. It’s a daily struggle and I love you for being brave enough to share it with us.

Thank you.

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:49 am

Aww. You’re welcome. Thank you for the comment. It’s a tough one to deal with. My shrink says it’s like weight loss. Some people can eat in moderation. And they can be the people who don’t understand those of us who eat too much. Just stop eating. Just calm down.

Anyway. Thanks for commenting. I love you back.

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Kerri O May 31, 2011 at 9:48 am

After that amazing heart-in-the-open post and brilliant comments, I got nothin’. I’ll just say HUGS.

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 9:49 am

Hugs back.

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Jen, a priorfatgirl May 31, 2011 at 9:53 am

isn’t it amazing how different two people truly are? Carla and I have been talking about this IRL lately, about how difficult relationships really are because of just general differences (communication styles, appreciation for things, hobbies, etc).

No wonder why divorce rates are so high — this stuff is hard and I’m not even married yet! Thank you for talking about marriage struggles — it makes me realize marriage isn’t suppose to be perfect.

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mrsfatass May 31, 2011 at 10:04 am

Nope. It’s not. But it’s still good. And worth it.

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Anda T May 31, 2011 at 9:58 am

I’m right there with Ryan, in that I’ve been on both sides. I want to shake my husband and tell him to get his head out of the sand, to just get over it already. I know it’s not that easy. I get frustrated at him for not being able to fix it, then frustrated at myself for knowing it’s not that easy.

It’s a tough road to walk, being the one with the anxiety and the one standing on the other side. I wish I had some wisdom to impart. All I can say is keep talking through it. It was the only thing that helped us. Keep talking, even when it hurts.

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Brooke May 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

i feel like i could have written this. hell i even sneeze too loudly to suit my husband, so you can imagine how he reacted when I curled up in a ball crying because of a mouse. “it has ruined my life” i said. he totally didn’t understand.

damn i shouldn’t have read this at work. now i’m crying for all the world to see.

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Mary (A Merry Life) May 31, 2011 at 10:15 am

I understand the anxiety part. It’s so hard to deal with sometimes. I’m just now finally getting around to therapy for that and other issues after countless times where I couldn’t answer the phone, go to events, etc. I know it’s hard to understand for a lot of people. They get anxious too but they just don’t understand how it could be so much worse for some people like it is. I wish I knew how to make them understand. Relationships are hard but I know you guys can work through it together.

If you ever need to talk just send me an email. <3

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:22 am

Thanks, Mary.

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angela May 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm

After 11 years you’d think it still wouldn’t annoy my husband that I refuse to call in the to go order, or even call his family members that I’ve known for 11 years now (it’s your mom, your question, you call her!) and how I freak out if the plans change, or my daughter randomly drags kids into my house without me knowing it’s going to happen, or asks to sleep over someone’s house with no notice, or why I freak out about my grades that are nearly perfect. Stuff. Freaks. Me. Out. And he’s dealt with anxiety of his own over the past couple of years, and I still don’t think he really gets mine and how real and disabling it can be at times. Hang in there. There are a ton of people who understand. And one day your husband will, too.

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:23 am

Oh my word – changing plans! Grades! Yes! I’m with you. I understand you!

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Brittany May 31, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Thank you for this. Thank you for being so honest and open with us. I love that about you. I have nothing more to say right now.

Just know that i love you, and big hugs sista.

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:23 am

Nothing more to say? You? Wow. How’d I do that, sister?

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Quix May 31, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I have no answers, but *hugs* anyway and thanks for such a spill-your-guts post. Its hard to understand things you can’t see. Zliten has chronic heartburn. I had NEVER had it before and always dismissed it until one day I literally thought my throat and stomach were going to burn up and explode and I described it to him and he’s like, yup, that’s heartburn. I now have a lot more respect.

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:24 am

Hoo boy. I was like that about carpal tunnel too until I got it in pregnancy! There will always be misunderstandings, huh?

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KCLAnderson (Karen) May 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Oh boy. Yep. I’ve got my anxiety and my husband has his. He seems to think he should be able to muscle his way through it and because he thinks that, I think that he thinks that I should be able to do the same. What I have come to realize is that I can’t make him get help UNLESS I am modeling the behavior I’d like to see: namely getting help! We’ve never had a serious argument/fight over it, but there’s definitely some tension around this issue. Hang in there my dear!

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:25 am

I wonder if that is a masculine thing, the muscling through. I suppose it could be. I’ll keep hanging!

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Sean @ Learn Fitness May 31, 2011 at 9:16 pm

* HUGE HUGS *

While I’ve had some pretty rough days with my wife like the one you described above I can only imagine what you’re going through. It’s hard enough when you deal with these misunderstandings, discomforts, or frustrations and that’s when you don’t have huge anxiety to add to the equation.

It takes a lot to share this with friends and passerby’s. You’re a strong woman and will definitely make it through this and I’m willing to bet you’ll both be smiling on the other side if I know you.

🙂

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:25 am

Thanks, Sean. We will make it through. Oh, and there have most certainly been a lot of inappropriate jokes cracked. 🙂

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Natalie May 31, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I grew up with a brother who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (he is 42 now, and still lives with mum; with no job or girlfriend or life) and he infuriates me. It is hard not to say: just deal with it and get a life! It is so hard to see what drives people with mental disorders, because it is all internal. He tried medication but wouldn’t stick with it due to side effects. So I can see from one perspective how hard it is to understand other people’s problems.

But from the other side of issues-ville, I am overweight and my husband is very lovely (I nearly wrote “understanding”, but that would be wrong) but he doesn’t understand why I just don’t eat less junk and exercise more. Easy! Why doesn’t every overweight person just do that! So I can also see that problems aren’t as easy to solve as they look from the outside.

Good luck.

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mrsfatass June 1, 2011 at 6:26 am

The weight analogy is just the analogy my shrink used when I told him about The Argument. It illustrates things so well.

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JourneyBeyondSurvival June 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I think it’s different when there is a label on it. For a long time he did things for me because he was being loving, helping, giving to me. Calling it a symptom, and him realizing how much this impacts not just rightnowthisseccond but the rest of his life forever with you is a lot to deal with.

I went through that aspect with Chickadee, where I didn’t blame her but I HAD to wrap my head around the impact on my life. I’ve also been on your side of the fence as Mr. Survival struggles to understand bipolar NOS and how his life is different because of it.

When it’s just a quirk, it’s cute. When it’s a nasty monster illness.

Well, that’s a different matter.

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merri June 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm

That part about calling for takeout – after living with my roomie for years now, he has become resigned to the fact that he will almost always be the one to call to order. On the other hand, he has some aversion to picking up the food from the delivery person at the door. So we compromise. What if you could have your husband come in one session and speak with your therapist, either with or without you there (or both)? Ps its great you can write stuff like this out in public. I definitely worry too much myself…the other day I was worrying of all things that the club I was going to on Sunday would have no one there, because people (these are, people I don’t even know) would be too tired to go out by Sunday, and what if it’s empty and etc etc. my roomie/best friend (since I don’t have a hubby) thought I was crazy and said you need to stop worrying about every single thing all the time and how negative it is. He gets frustrated but not as mad as initally. Its true. Such silly things to worry about, but cant help it. Anyways im sure you guys will work through this!! 🙂

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Laura June 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Just when I thought I couldn’t love you any more you share something like this post that couldn’t hit any closer to home. You’re the shiz. That is all.

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jeepjenn June 1, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Hmmm…so been there. I have OCD to a minimal extent, and I find my anxiety issues are always tied to my self-esteem. When I am feeling good about myself, I feel strong and capable…therefore, no anxiety.
I know everyone is different, but when I’m working out and eating healthy, I feel different, and I very rarely have anxiety issues.

No one has to understand your anxiety, they just need to be there to support you.

My bff has huge fear issues, nightmares, etc…I don’t know for sure know if what she says happened to her really did happen, but I believe that SHE BELIEVES it did….thats enough for me.
aint it weird the way things work?

Love Ya !

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Laurie June 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Sue-
I’m a few days late, but that doesn’t stop me from really feeling your angst. I don’t have that kind of anxiety, but I do have those arguments with my husband, all the time. Too much of the time. I have so much respect for you to be able to talk to him, write about it and thank him for letting you write. I am so glad that the meds and doc are doing a lot of the trick. And, you, you just keep it real all the time.

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