Sitting with it

About a month ago, my husband and I had a horrible conversation that left me terrified. It was one of the first times in my life where I felt more sure that we weren’t going to make it, than that we were.

I stayed calm throughout the entire conversation. I never got angry. I barely even got upset. I didn’t say anything I would later regret. I listened carefully to what my husband had to say; I made sure I really heard him. He did the same. We understood each other.

Afterward I got up, did the dishes, read a book, and went to bed. I felt godawful inside, but I didn’t lose myself to it. I acknowledged how bad I felt, accepted it, and moved on.

It wasn’t even hard to fall asleep that night.

There was a time, not long ago, when a conversation like that one would have absolutely destroyed me. There would have been yelling, and crying, and the exchanging of unfortunate words. Later I would have dashed around the house like a woman possessed, unable to quiet the torrent of emotions inside, wanting to make it all go away but not having the presence of mind to manage it. I would have been up for hours, tormenting myself with the what ifs.

I don’t do that anymore. I’ve grown up. I can sit with an uncomfortable feeling. I don’t have to flee from it. I don’t have to drown it in alcohol or smoother it in ice cream. I can just sit with it, even when it’s twisting my insides, and I can be okay.

I am really appreciate of that. Maybe even a little proud.

It took me a long time to get here. So so long. But I did. I read a ton of books, I practiced different strategies, I turned to meditation, then turned away, then turned back once again.

And in the end, it all made a difference. Even though I never fully embraced any one thing, that journey gave me the tools I need to manage some pretty intense emotions. I can sit with some heavy shit and not feel crushed under the weight.

I like to think it’s evident to others, in how I relate to those around me, in how I present myself to the world. I am a different person in so many ways.

I’m not the woman I was five years ago, and I like this new me so much more.

It’s heartening to believe that people can grow and change. I look forward to the acceptance that five or ten more years will bring me.

10 Comments

  1. That is a nice feeling! I’ve found that it is a really nice part of growing older – knowing myself better and being better able to handle situations.

    Also, sounds like things are better between you & husband now, which is good.

    1. Yeah. It has been really nice. There are always things to upset me or stress about, and be able to limit my reactivity has been so helpful.

      And things are better with my husband. Not great, but better.

  2. When Brian and I first met, and then in the early years of our marriage, I would go into panic mode after every fight. We both fought differently back then, and he liked to throw out, “maybe we got married too soon.”. Scared the hell out of me! But then I decided to tell him to knock it off, to never say that again, and he hasn’t. I was then able to be more rational in the processing of our arguments, and he was able to keep talking with me rather than shut us both down. We both recognize and appreciate the change!

    I’m glad you’re there… Able to not panic and assume the worst. It’s a great feeling!

    1. It’s funny: I can be panicked and assume the worst, but it doesn’t manifest physically in the ways it used to. Or I guess it’s more that I don’t have to act on that panic or those assumptions. And I guess the panic isn’t really panic anymore, because my thoughts are clearer and less erratic. I guess what I’m saying is, what I’m thinking can still be really upsetting, but I don’t feel the physical and emotional manifestations of that upset in the same way. And my husband can say something that scares the shit out of me, and I don’t become reactive and go off the deep end.

  3. This is so great—its exactly what I’m searching for, but haven’t yet achieved. And it’s fights with my husband that set this feeling off the most—I start to feel trapped & desperate since I’m in this for life…I know that the fight will end and things will be good again soon, but in the moment I just want to run or escape or something and basically I just stay up all night roiling with emotion.

  4. I feel that all of this work and growth are evident through your blog. Well, the effort is MORE than evident but I believe that the results are too. This may in fact be the absolute best thing that you can do for your daughter moving forward. By learning to more productively manage your emotions you are modeling to her. You are also learning skills that you can teach her. And you have a very deep understand that it takes time.

    It’s fantastic. Congratulations

  5. Good for you. Seriously. Many people never get to the place where you are now. Do you feel like your husband has also matured in his response to challenging conversations? Or has been there all along?

  6. I’m so pleased you can recognise & value those changes. For me, ‘growing up’ – still ongoing at 43- has been hard but a source of pride as I find much calner & kinder ways of moving through life.

  7. In your marriage do you revisit such conversations and talk about how each of you feel afterwards? Or would that be counterproductive ~ seen as renewed assault on a topic that is finished? Because while it is good that you can sit with yourself and not overreact etc it also sounds like this was not a first heated and unrestrained event where people spoke without attention to or awareness of the impact of the words.
    I wonder because culturally my generation was taught submissiveness and dependency and inequality from such events as well as explicit instructions. Your generation, I hope, had better messages ~ though not true equality~ and I wonder how your husband sees your daughter in her adult life. What role/action/response would he want her to exhibit.
    AND MAYBE YOU SHOULD NOT GO THERE.

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