Monday, January 18, 2016

The Experimentation of my New Normal

It was kind of insane when I realized that what was once "my new normal" is now, honestly, is my "normal."

The things that used to throw me in for a loop are expected and habitual now; family gatherings aren't as hard as they used to be. I enjoy being with the in-laws. Being married is great, and Jacob and I are figuring out our own lives and our own traditions and what-nots. I don't dwell on the past nearly as much. I'm looking forward, and the future is honestly quite bright.

Which is why now, when I feel sad or frustrated, it kind of throws me off.

I realized this was happening a lot recently; I'd would randomly experience feelings of sadness, or numbness, or even anger, irritation, and frustration. The strange part was, I had no reason to. It always happened when things were ok, or when things were going smoothly. Suddenly, I couldn't stand the idea of being around people, so I'd hide in the back room when people came over and make myself busy, or take a nap. My husband would be so great and ask what was wrong and if I wanted to talk, but I couldn't talk because there wasn't anything for me to really talk about!

This began to bother me, and so I started analyzing myself. Why was I becoming angry? I thought, "Perhaps I'm in the anger phase of grief?" But after thinking about it, I realized that wasn't it. My parents and brothers are gone, but I know that I have come to terms with it. I don't miss them any less, but I don't dwell on it like I used to. Sure, there are moments when I let myself have a little cry, stand up, brush my shoulders and go on with my day, but those don't last as long as they used to.

No, this was something different. This was something that was trying to take away my happiness, take away my joy. And I was letting it.

I especially realized this on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I decided it was time to deep clean our home. The extra bedroom has been a storage space for months, the living room was still festive from Christmas, and the dishes where piling.
We got to work.
So, I must confess. I inherited a trait from my mother: the "Do Not Tell Me How To Clean My House Trait Because I Want It Done My Way Because My Way Is The Cleanest Way And Get It Done Quickly And That's Just How It Is" trait. (Which, in her defense, it really was the cleanest way, which is why our house was almost always immaculate when people came over. They were always impressed. A lot of work went into the cleaning, so it's a good thing right?) This trait is something that I did not want to inherit, but I am a lot more like my mother than I realized.
As we cleaned, I felt more and more anxious and frustrated, because I wanted to hurry. My husband, on the other hand, is more like my dad, who likes to take his time to get the job done. Which is also a good thing, I know.
But the frustration began when we started working on the backroom. I wanted to get rid of things. He thought it would be wise to go through things.  (Which, turns out, he was right, but I would never admit that.)
Long story short, (too late) I became crabby. There was more to do, and I didn't want to clean and if we would just do it my way, things would get done! I was not pleasant to be around, and my husband kept being patient. He gave me my space, and I went about the back room, putting away the stuff that I felt belonged and getting rid of the things that I felt should be tossed. My irritation started boiling over to anger, and I let it build.
Until I decided to put away some item into a drawer that I never look into, and as I opened it, I saw something that wasn't supposed to be there: my birthday present.

My birthday is next week.

I stopped and stared at it. It was a game. One of the only games I really like. And he had ordered it for me. He came up and saw what I was looking at. He simply smiled a little and said, "Happy Birthday."

You could say my guilt exceeded my frustration.

I realized that I had been childish, and I felt so mad at myself. So I fell into a shut-down mode. I sat in the corner of the back room, on a bean-bag chair, pouting to myself, feeling so bad. I knew that he was so excited to give me this present on my birthday. (I know this because when it came in the Amazon box a week earlier, he told me, "I just want to give it to you RIGHT NOW! But... I can't. You will have to wait." Then, with a mischievous look in his eyes, he said, "What could it be?")

I told him that I needed to go for a drive, and I did, allowing all my thoughts to come back together.
As I thought, I realized that there was a pattern. Something would irk me, which led to irritation, which led to boiling over to anger, which led to irrational actions, (yelling, punching the table, storming away to the bedroom and shutting the door) which led to pride, which led to guilt for such irrational actions, which led to sadness.  

Two problems with this:
1. Joy and happiness is not included in this chain of events.
2. It was starting to become A New Normal.

And I didn't want it to become a normal.

Thus the experiment began: The Experimentation of My New Normal.

I started to pay attention to the thoughts that formed in my head during various times, whether they were happy thoughts, or sad thoughts, mad thoughts, or even anxious ones. I watched for where I was, what I was doing, who I was with. I did this for a couple of weeks.

I then had yet another realization.

I was no longer dwelling on the past. I wasn't dwelling on my hurt. I was trying to move forward. And because of that, the adversary was attacking my present. I felt that he was attacking me through my emotions and my thoughts.

Perhaps it is different for everyone, but I feel like there are plenty of people who may experience thoughts such as:

"I will never be as pretty as so-and-so..."
"I can't teach the same as this person..."
"I'll never be as smart as..."
"Clearly there is something wrong with me..."
"I wish I was as skinny as this person..."
"I wish I could gain weight..."
"This person is so much more talented..."
"I will never be as successful as so-and-so..."

But the interesting question is, how do these thoughts come into our heads?
I think it's not always us, but rather, we are influenced.

Why on earth would we think this way about ourselves? Why would we think negatively, or belittle ourselves?
What right do we have?
We owe it to ourselves to reach our potential.

And there is always going to be an opposing side trying to get us not to.

The Experimentation of My New Normal is still going on. I made a list for myself of things to do when I feel attacked by myself.
1. Breathe. Clear my mind.
2. Think. Is this really going to matter tomorrow?
3. If the answer to #2 is yes, how can I fix it?
4. Talk. Don't bottle up.

I'm still figuring out things. But hey, who am I to tell myself I can't accomplish what I want?