I know its Mother’s Day but my own mother is gone and I have way too many unresolved issues about that to try to blog about her.
It would be pretty masochistic of me actually…just gut wrenching… so this post is going to be all about my husband because without him, I would not be the person that I am now and I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t be the mother that I am now.
So this is for him. (He is going to feel so bad now if he didn’t get me something for Mother’s Day. Don’t worry, Greg. Mrs. Fields is selling Cookie Cups ’till 6. Just take the kids with you because it’s my day off.)
I saw a tweet today that mentioned something about “10 Things to Never Say To Somebody With Anxiety” or something along those lines, and while I didn’t read the article so I have no idea what the 10 things were, for some reason it got me thinking about my husband.
I suppose that is because he is the only “real” person in my life who I have ever talked to about my anxiety at any great length. Other than a counselor I went to a couple of times, he is the only one who knows my “deepest and darkest”.
I know I have complained in the past about my husband’s “lack of sensitivity” – and about how he doesn’t always say the right thing or what I consider to be the most “helpful” when I am in a bad anxiety spiral or checking my stove knobs for the eighteenth time. But all things considered I am SO lucky to have him and I honestly think that there is not any person on this earth who could have “handled”…...(I kind of hate that word but I’m not really sure what other word to use right now).….my personality. His personality is exactly the personality I needed in a partner to help me through the last 20 years.
I am who I am today because my husband has never coddled me.
He has never tried to “save me”. He has never babied me or treated me in any condescending or belittling way that suggested that I was anything less than “normal”. He has never asked for less of me or thought less of me because of my anxiety disorder. He has known from the very beginning…WAY before I ever knew…..that my anxiety symptoms are just a product of my personality…..part of who I am.
He has never treated me any differently post anxiety disorder, than he did pre-anxiety disorder.
If my husband had tried to save me, ….or if he had treated me as if I were “fragile” or “delicate”….I don’t even want to think about where I would be right now. I would be handicapped by my emotions…of that I am certain. I would be a shell of the person I am right now.
It’s not that he hasn’t supported me.
He has used up countless vacation days in the past, during my bad anxiety cycles, so that he could help with the kids. He did all the driving for me during the period of time that I was too afraid to take my driver’s test, and while I always say to him that he should have made me go take that test, he knew I would have just ended up resenting him and putting it off even longer. He got up and fed babies hundreds of times over the last ten years, without me even asking him too, because he knew my anxiety and OCD is always worse when I am tired. And he has never once complained. Not ONE time. He just did all of it…like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Some might say “That is coddling.”
But if you know my husband – you know that’s not what it is. That is my husband trusting me and knowing me well enough to know that I wasn’t purposefully taking advantage of him just to be lazy. That was him trusting me enough to know what I needed. That was him understanding that I was trying to figure out what was going on in my head and that I was continually working on myself.
He never doubted I would find my way through my anxiety. He was giving me the patience and the space to sort through what was going on in my head and become myself again. He was doing what he could do, in his own way, to be my “wingman” and handle the controls while I stared at the map and worked on the navigation.
And that is exactly what I did and what I continue to do to this day. My husband gives me the freedom to do that and I am here to tell you that I know as sure as I am sitting here typing this post that 95% of the men in this world would not have stuck it out with me this long.
I won’t lie…my feelings have been hurt a lot in the past by his “lack of sensitivity” and the lack of coddling in those rare times when I really felt like some TLC was in order.
I am not one to be babied….I’d probably punch him in the arm if he tried, but there were times when it would have felt really nice if he DID try. There were a lot of times when I really thought he didn’t care about me or my anxiety nearly as much as he should. Sure he did a lot for me, and he would let me vent to him when I needed to get some feelings out, but where was the concern? On the few occasions that I would actually allow myself to feel sorry for myself, he would get exasperated and slightly annoyed at me. He wasn’t going to go there with me. He wasn’t going to indulge me by being a guest at any pity parties of mine. And I thought he was a jerk for it.
Where was the heartbreak over my struggles?
He was a fireman – didn’t that mean he should be some kind of “hero” or something……my white knight coming to my rescue? I confess that the idea of that was part of the initial “allure” when I first met him. But there were no attempts to “save me” going on. There was no “Here is what we are going to do…..” In fact, he never seemed to lose any sleep over any of it other than when he was feeding the babies. (Which I am eternally grateful for.) As I said before, he was never mean or belittling in any way….he just didn’t seem to have any concern for me. He just went on with life as it everything was normal and like everything would just “work itself out” – and it really made me mad sometimes.
But now, 20 years later, I know HIM well enough to know that
A) – That is just who he is. After years of firefighting he is so desensitized to drama that unless one of my kids is hurt, he doesn’t bat an eyelash.
B) – that lack of concern didn’t come from a lack of love – it came from his trust in who I am as a person and knowing that coddling and engaging in “poor me” talk wasn’t what I needed. He knew that my reassurance and my comforting needed to start coming from me. And he knew I had to figure that out on my own.
I spent years questioning myself and who I was, and wondering what had happened to me and my life and whether or not I was crazy. But my husband never wavered one time. He always knew this was all just me being me. He knew that my anxiety disorder is simply how Lisa Scott reacts to extreme stress and he knew I just needed some time to figure out how to work with this newfound “extreme” part of my personality.
What it all comes down to is that instead of trying to save me, my husband let me save myself – which is the only way out of an anxiety disorder.
He never played the role of anything but my equal…my partner. He let me be my own hero. Finding my way thru my anxiety disorder is by far the greatest accomplishment of my life. It is the thing I am most proud of and always will be most proud of as far as my own personal achievements go and nobody can ever take that from me. It is a wonderful gift he gave me….the gift of his trust and faith and confidence in me. It was exactly what I needed and ALL I needed.
I can’t tell you what to say to other people with anxiety. I have anxiety AND I write about anxiety all day long, and I still couldn’t tell you the best thing to say to somebody with anxiety – or the worst thing. Everybody responds to things differently and what hurts me or motivates me may not have the same effect on somebody else. But I would have to say that for the most part, my husband has said and done exactly what I, personally, needed to come through this disorder and become the person that I am.
So on this Mother’s Day, I say thank you Greg for letting me be my own hero. Thank you for giving me the time and space and your version of “tough love” that I needed to become the strong mother that I am who can now pass on everything that I have learned to our children.
I am now imagining all my women readers thinking “Awww, that is so great.” , and all my male readers thinking “This guy is some kind of freakin’ genius. He gives his wife no emotional support for 20 years and she is praising him and calling him a great husband? Does he give seminars cuz if he does, I’m signing up.” My husband may even be crowned “King of Man World” after this.
But I know the truth……….I know. 😉
Thanks for reading.
12 Hours After Publishing This Post: Just finished my Cookie Cups and thinking life is pretty good right now. Great Mother’s Day. 😉
Give this article from TinyBuddha.com a read if you would like a little more motivation to start becoming the one to take the very best care of you.
Remember, no worries.