I once read in a book (I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was) that we have to be responsible for our emotions. There will always be forces outside of our control that make us feel certain things, but ultimately we are responsible for our emotions and how we allow those emotions to manifest. This was a really important lesson for me. The idea that we are responsible for how we feel and that we can be held accountable for that, seemed strange. Weren’t our emotions untamed forces, leashing out against our will? Weren’t anger and sadness, by their very nature, uncontrollable? I’d always assumed they were. At the same time, many people seek validation for their feelings. They want to know that others understand why they are happy or anxious or afraid. They want someone else to say it’s okay that they feel the way they do. The fact that they do this shows that they do feel some responsibility for their emotions.
People spend thousands of dollars in therapy so that someone with some supposed authority can assure them their emotions are valid. I know because I’m one of those people.
Much of the time our emotions and the way we react to them are totally legitimate. Sometimes they are not. I was reminded of this yesterday, when I got into a fight with Mi.Vida about Isa’s second nap. Basically I felt frustrated and overwhelmed that our daughter wasn’t napping (and that we had a ton of stuff to do before her nap time was over) and when he got her up early I decided that it was a ridiculous move and ultimately vetoed it by putting her back in her crib, without even speaking to him about it. I devalued his parenting decisions for no reason other than it’s not what I would have done. Not only that, I reversed his decision without consulting him about it.
He was really hurt and he had EVERY right to be so. The person who had to take responsibility for her emotions in that situation was me. There was no reason for me to feel so frustrated and so flustered. It was inexcusable that I allowed those feelings to manifest into the actions that followed. I spent a lot of time thinking about why I responded the way I did, where it came from. I realized that I honestly felt I did know more about Isa’s napping and that I should be the one to make the decisions about her sleep schedule. In my mind I cited all the research I’d done, all the books I’d read, all the hours I’d dedicated to her sleep schedule during my maternity leave. In my heart I surrounded myself with the righteous indignation of the sole provider of nighttime care, the one who does almost everything with Isa, the one who doesn’t understand why, despite everything I do, her partner still seems unhappy with his new life and overwhelmed by his responsibilities.
And it was those feelings, the ones I hadn’t been taking responsibility for, that pushed me in the direction of mutiny and betrayal. And now I had to take responsibility not only for my own negative feelings but for the hurt I’d caused someone I love.
Much later that night, I had the horrid realization that I never received my auto-insurance renewal forms and had been driving without coverage for almost three weeks. I was mortified. Panic-stricken, I tried to get a hold of someone to fix the problem and when I couldn’t (because it was 10pm on a Sunday) I totally lost it. At the end of my nervous break down I had to take responsibility for how poorly I’d handled the situation, the suffering I’d caused myself, my partner and my mom (who I called in my desperation).
I also feel like I have to take responsibility for the emotions that led me to write Friday’s post. I’m still not sure why I felt compelled to write that post. I don’t know why I felt so hurt when I perceived people had ignored my post from the week before. Even if I can’t understand my emotions I can take responsibility for them. I’m coming to realize that I have an extraordinary amount of fear surrounding TTC and pregnancy. I’m really terrified of the struggle and the possible loss. It’s almost like a phobia for me. I don’t know why this is. I don’t know if it has to do with my mother’s losses that I experienced as a third party when I was a child. I don’t know if it’s just who I am or if it’s a combination of many things (the probably answer) but I have a truly strange emotional reaction to pregnancy, and not just my own. Knowing someone who is pregnant is very stressful for me and not because of jealousy, but because of an intense fear that the pregnancy will be lost. I don’t think this was caused by my miscarriage, though that definitely compounded it. This fear is very real and whether I can explain it or not, I need to take responsibility for it. I was not taking responsibility when I wrote last Friday’s post and I’m sorry.
Thank you very much for all your kind comments. They meant so much to me, even though I felt tremendous guilt as I read them. I promise that in the future I will request a response if I feel strongly that I need one. I don’t want any of my readers worrying about whether or not I’ll have my feelings hurt when they don’t have time to write me a comment. I would truly hate for that to be the case.
The one good thing that came out of Friday’s post (besides the amazing, thoughtful, heartfelt comments) is that I’ve decided to respond to each and every comment from now on. I responded to all the comments from last Friday. I’m not sure if you get those via email (I have from some sites but haven’t from others) but if you didn’t, please feel free to check Friday’s post to see my response to your comment. And if you want to see my response your comment, I will always respond with in 24 hours of you leaving the comment (I can promise that because I don’t get many comments). I look forward to this new system very much.