Last weekend, I had the worst case of PMS…and then some. Years ago, murderous thoughts were one of my premenstrual symptoms. Fortunately, Prozac does wonders for PMS (and apparently hot flashes too!). The point I’m trying to make is that I haven’t been that hormonally crazy in years.
Of course, I was doing all the wrong things…I haven’t exercised (well, except for sex) in the last three weeks, I’ve been consuming more caffeine and alcohol than usual, and I’ve been getting less sleep and down time than usual. Talk about a recipe for disaster.
Harley and I haven’t had any “arguments,” per se, but we came pretty close on Monday. I managed to upset Harley, which is no easy feat. He told me that I was “shutting him down.” He said he walks on eggshells around me because if he says the wrong thing, I get angry. He feels like the only way I am happy if he just nods and agrees with whatever I am saying. When he responds to something I say, I accuse him of being mad, which he says he is not.
To me, an argument connotes people losing their temper. Neither one of us did that. We both were very stressed out, but at the same time, we both value what we have built so far. I calmed down enough to really listen to and contemplate what he was saying. Clearly he and I were having two very different experiences of the same conversation. His experience of our conversation and interaction was clearly not what I was intending him to experience.
We managed to create temporary peace at the end of that particular conversation. We continued talking later that day. I felt like a new person. My PMS was gone. Harley told me to stop apologizing, so instead I thanked him for his patience. I tried to tell him what I am about to write, but I could have said it better…in writing.
I am a writer. Harley is a speaker. He communicates better verbally than in writing. For me, it is the opposite. I express myself well through writing, but I struggle to express myself verbally (unless I have had the chance to write in advance). The reason I was getting frustrated when I was talking to him was because I was not able to convey what I wanted and it was frustrating. He was not understanding what I was trying to say and I was frustrated because I didn’t know how to say it any “better.”
In the days since, I have watched my son and I have the same conversation. Salaar will tell me something and if I don’t understand what he is trying to say, he quickly explodes in frustration. I am realizing I do a slightly more mature version of what Salaar does. He did the same thing when he was much younger and his fine motor skills weren’t as advanced as his mental intentions…he would have a temper tantrum. In his mind, he knew exactly what he wanted to do, but he didn’t have the degree of control over his body to make it happen. This gap between wanting to do something and being able to actually do it is frustrating.
So, I learned something about myself this week. After being single for most of my adult life, someone has finally been able to point out to me a really basic (and counterproductive!) communication habit I have.