Friday, 17 May 2013

Revisiting The Tantrum

I wrote a post yesterday for The Lounge on grown up tantrums.

Many of the posts I read were peoples justified reactions to situations. In my book that doesn't really qualify as a proper tantrum because they were justified.  I'm a great believer in standing up and being counted.  I don't 'walk on the other side' when I see people behaving in an unacceptable way and yes, I've got myself into some tricky situations as a result maybe I'll blog about that another day ...

My post wasn't about one of those times.  My post was a proper grown up tantrum. A real hormone induced Sarah hissy fit, no excuses, I was out of order.  I can pretty much dress up anything to make it seem funny but, as often is the case, at the time it really wasn't.

We all have our off days, our off moments, times when we are completely unreasonable and sometimes say or do things that are unkind and designed to hurt the people we care about.

Often they are a reaction to something that's been said or done to us, something that, in the grand scheme of things is insignificant but something that pushes a button, a flashback to the past and, in our desire to make that clear we over react and behave in a way that is both undeserved and unworthy of us.

I can honestly say that I rarely do this - I hate conflict and I have no desire to hurt those I care about but it does happen occasionally and I'm not going to pretend it doesn't.

Joe, who blogs over at Cranky Old Man is one of my favourite bloggers.  He's funny, insightful and endlessly caring (sorry Joe, but that Cranky persona is just window dressing, you've been outed ;-).

My post was an account of an over reaction on my behalf because of course that's exactly what a tantrum is.  Ok, the post was a little exaggerated and I may have embellished it a little but the truth is, it was what it was, a tantrum pure and simple.

Joe left the following comment:

'Ooh damn...having flashbacks here. Memories of walking on egg shells. Not good!'

And it pulled me up short ....

And I looked at the post again taking the 'humour' out of it ...

You see, I KNOW where Joe's coming from.

I've read and re read this post over and over, I've changed it, taken bits out, added bits, almost completely re written it several times and seriously considered deleting it because it's not who I am anymore and yet ...

It's still a part of me.  It's still something I carry inside and it serves a purpose even if that purpose is only to make sure that I never again go back to that unhappiness.

I spent many years walking on egg shells.  Many, many years trying SO damned hard to get it right.  Watching the goal posts constantly move out of reach.  Knowing I'd failed again.  Waiting for the fallout ...

For a brief moment SD, in talking over me, took me back to a place I swore I'd never go again.  A place where I was unimportant, not valued, constantly trying so hard to please whilst knowing it would never be enough.  He unwittingly pushed that button and I automatically reacted.

SD is so far removed from Ex Lax that they could be a totally different species and I would say that in general I remember that but somewhere deep inside there are still scars.  I'm still scared, I'm still walking on egg shells and the only person I'm really angry with is myself.

I'm angry that I allowed someone to have that control over me.  I'm angry that I allowed them to insidiously pick away at the person I was.  I'm angry that I didn't recognise it right from the start because it was there in the jealousy dressed up as caring, in the gradual distancing of me from the people I cared about, in the critisism of the way I dressed/spoke/behaved .... endlessly but in such small ways at the start that I chose to ignore it, I didn't want to see and that was my biggest mistake.

Ignoring it made it 'acceptable', ignoring it made it' ok', ignoring it made it GROW!

I'm angry that I tried to change who I was to please someone until I didn't know who I was anymore.  Until I was incapable of making a decision for fear of making the wrong one.  I STILL struggle with decision making, I STILL try to second guess what will make people happy.  I'm STILL anxious when I'm given choices because I fear it may be some kind of trick question and people are waiting for me to get it wrong.


I've come such a long way from that person. I've managed to regain much of the person that I buried for such a long time and I've realised that nothing I could have done would have made Ex Lax happy because he is not a happy person.

So where am I going with this?

Like many of my posts, I'm not really sure ....

I think it's probably sadly true to say that there are more people out there making other people unhappy than happy.  It makes me endlessly sad because I recognise my old self in them and I know it doesn't have to be like that. It SHOULDN'T be like that!

Everyone deserves to be happy.

I will probably always be a people pleaser, that's part of my nature.  I will always strive to make the people around me happy because that makes me happy and yes, I'll fuck up occasionally, I'll be unreasonable, I'll say and do hurtful things because  that's also me, I'm an imperfect person but, I acknowledge that  and more than that, I will openly acknowledge it and I will and do apologise when I'm wrong.  I don't want anyone to carry the burden of my shortcomings and believe that they are the one at fault.

I wont ask someone to change the person they are.  I don't ever want to make someone to feel that panicky desperate to please feeling I used to carry with me on a daily basis. I don't want someone to try and change who they are for me.  I don't want them to feel that I would ever want them to..

I know I'm rambling a bit here but this is something so close to my heart and trying to explain it is far more difficult than I thought it would be ...

In a good relationship there is give and take, there is acceptance and understanding.  There is a desire to protect.  When that turns into control, when it turns into one person endlessly trying to please, when you're 'walking on egg shells', when you're unhappy more than your happy, when you've come to the point where you've stopped trusting the happy times ....

I don't know, where is there to go from there?

I couldn't find anywhere, I couldn't see any way back.  Too much damage had been done and I realised that this wasn't love, it was fear.  I don't even know when that changed because I did love him so very much.

That's just so screwed up!

I was scared of saying or doing the wrong thing to the point where I didn't know what to say or do anymore.  Scrabbling around desperately trying to please, to get it 'right'.  I was scared of losing the person who was making me so unhappy.  A person who wanted (maybe unconciously) to KEEP me unhappy, to keep me unsure, to keep me walking on egg shells because that's the only way they knew how to keep me.  Ex lax didn't want to lose me for many reasons but primarily because in doing that he was the one who had failed. I know that now, how I wish I had then ...

You know what?

I don't even blame him anymore.  He is a product of his upbringing.  Yes, he's a bully and yes, I deserved better.  I'm not going to say he can't help himself, of COURSE he can but in order to do that he would need to recognise his faults, acknowledge his short comings and be accountable for his actions and he truly doesn't see that.

Or maybe he just chooses not to ...

I had a responsibility to myself. To be who I am.  To stand up for myself.  To protect myself and I failed in that for a time.

Although I accept that responsibility I don't blame myself either.  I was on unfamiliar territory. I didn't fully understand and I thought I could 'make it better'.

How many people fall into that trap?

If you find yourself doing things, behaving in ways that you know deep down are ridiculous ask yourself - Is this really what I want to do?  Is this making me happy? Is this something I would have chosen for myself? And maybe most importantly, is this really going to make a difference or will there always be something I'm doing/saying/being that's 'wrong'?

The truth is, I personally don't believe there can ever be a happy ending in these situations. It becomes a self fulfilling prophesy and you end up despising yourself as much as you lose the other persons respect. If you allow someone to have that kind of control over you then they will always keep those goal posts out of reach because diminishing you is the only way they are able to feel strong.

If you write doormat on your forehead don't be surprised when someone walks all over you.

Now I know how incredibly harsh that sounds - remember I've been there! The person walking all over you may well despise themselves for doing it as much as you do for allowing it.  The truth is that no one feels good, no one is happy and most of all:

No one 'wins'.

I don't want that in my life ever again.

I want to add to the lives of those I love not to take things away

I think there really has to be a disclaimer here.

These are my views based on my personal experience.  I don't judge and I don't pretend to know it all.  Everyone's situation is unique.  Everyone has to do what is right for them and in the end I did the only thing I could by ending a relationship that harmed me.

What you see in my blog is a true reflection of the person I am today.  Scatty, prone to those dammed 'things', doing and saying the stupidest stuff etc.

I was going to end this with some kind of uplifting quote about happiness (I'm a great lover of quotes) and so I looked to Oscar Wilde as I often do on these occasions ... Ummm, ok, well this is what he came up with which actually almost says everything I wanted to say:

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
Oscar Wilde 

As in life, the quote isn't perfect - Id actually substitute 'asking' for expecting or even insisting and I'd also say that understanding and compromise along with a large does of unselfishness are key ingredience for true happiness.

Now I think I'm just going to hit publish before my head explodes  - normal service will be resumed shortly ;-)


joeh said...

OK, I think it is safe to read your posts again.

I know you are not THAT person.

Mrs. Cranky allows me to be me. If I had not been married to one who controled by way of tantrums which would make yours seem tame, I would not appreciate Mrs. C as much as I now do.

SlapdashMama said...

Oh love. Hug hug hug hug HUG!

Sarah said...

I guess it is the silver lining to that particular cloud Joe - it really does make you appreciate the people in your life that have no concept of that kind of behavior - glad you didn't run too far ;-)

Thanks NS - I'm glad to say that now is a very different, happier place for me :-) xx