Tiny Microcosm

I ended up talking about the photographer issue with my husband yesterday and again with Lu today. For some reason I’ve clamped on to this issue. And when I was talking to my husband, he stared to get kind of defensive until he realized I was simply trying to verbally sort myself out. 

I am really good at using other people as social cues for my own behaviour. So much so that I don’t know how I feel or think. So in most situations, I play off how my husband is acting or feeling. I have my own likes and dislikes and I know a lot about myself (for example, I love musicals, as my husband pointed out. I have consistently and always loved them even when he disagrees and doesn’t like them), but I am also easily swayed by what I feel is most acceptable at that time. 

When I’m with my family, I am 100% more likely to use them as cues – because this is what kept me safest as a young child. Using my Mom and brothers (and Dads, especially Dads even though I’ve sanctified him in my head it’s actually probably the most complex relationship I have) emotions and actions as cues for my own behaviour let me develop a set of responses that were least likely to cause a problem. 

As a result, if both my husband and family have an opinion I am likely to choose my family. If they are together. If not, I will tell each party what I feel they want to hear and this is exactly what is happening in this situation. 

And this behaviour, of working off of others for cues, is exceptionally maladaptive now and very bad for my relationship with my husband. I’m not saying I have to agree with him all the time, and I don’t expect to, but often I will prioritize my family over him and not back him up even when I agree with him

I really should be forming my own opinions, and either discussing things with him or my family, and then compromising based on what I want, or if it’s what he and I want, I should be supporting what I think is right, regardless of what other people are going to think or do.

This is the crux of my life issue and is so perfectly represented in the microcosm of what is my wedding. I have changed my mind many times, thrown my husband under the bus, said yes to things I didn’t want on both sides and then had to fight with the other. 

My parents have thrown money at the problems and offered more than they can afford despite the fact I told them we didn’t expect anything. And then they get mad that his parents aren’t more involved. I’ve been expected to live up to society and family standards all the while being told to do what I want. 

And yet when it came down to it they were there for me and my husband on the day of, incredibly supportive (confusingly so), and perfect at being parents on that day, in those moments, until dinner. 

That’s my life, in a nutshell. Represented in the microcosm that is my wedding. And then I feel guilty because I feel like I’m being ungrateful, but I’m not really. I’m not – I am so grateful for their support and the big party but my question is what did I really want? I’m happy but I’m also confused and I hate that juxtaposition. I am a believer in black and white thinking and I get caught up in the idea that I can’t both be impossibly happy and upset simultaneously. 

Lu suggested I’m grabbing on to the photography issue as a tangible thing to hang my feelings on, and I think she’s right. It is easier to think about this than address everything my wedding is making me feel from the wonderful and incredible – the ceremony was beautiful and perfect – to the horrible because it was basically a snapshot of my whole life. 

From my Dads comments at dinner to my relationship with my Mom, to the way I can’t really think for myself or trust myself, to my perpetrator sending me a congratulations email and me emailing back like nothing happened because that’s what I’m supposed to do. 

And so while it’s beautiful and happy and wonderful and all those things it is also exceptional upsetting. And I’m not okay with both things coexisting. I can’t be happy and upset simultaneously. 

And it reminds me that my parents pull through when things are big or they matter by societies standards. My Mom was amazing Saturday – totally focused on me and my emotions and fixing my dress and reassuring me. Just like she was when I received my diagnosis for depression… but then it’s like why can’t they be there all the time if they clearly know how to do it?

My only answer is that they take their cues from society too. Which is where I learned to do it. And why I feel like I have to be the beautiful blushing bride everyone wants me to be or thinks I should be. Everyone except Lu, so thank goodness for Lu. 

I still can’t get over this body shaming spiral I have hit though. I know it started with my Dad’s comments at dinner and it brought me back to all those nights in high school. And all I want to do is defend him and I get so angry at anybody who says he was wrong even though I know he was. I know that’s what started it and I know it’s why I’m restricting right now. My relationship with my body is tenuous at best and it’s not in a good place since Saturday. 

And I know he isn’t aware and didn’t mean to hurt me. That was the standard excuse throughout my whole childhood. I remember when my relationship with my husband started I would say “oh I didn’t mean to” as if that solved everything and he would go “that’s not an excuse” but I know where I get that from. 

Plus I drank all weekend – not only in the understandable way, but in the “I hid 8 bottles of cider from my husband that are now empty in my closet waiting for his hockey game tomorrow” way. In the very unhealthy way. Which is a sure fire sign I’m upset. And it drives me crazy when my parents try to limit my consumption. At least I know I have a problem. 

Plus work now has a big contract project I’m running on my own because my boss is in England. And it’s out of my league. I’m doing what I can, but it’s out of my league and I go back to MO in 10 days. 

I need October to end. I need the wedding to end, so I can get over this setback and get back to healing… and I never thought I would say that about this month or this time in my life.

The name change also feels really weird. 

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6 thoughts on “Tiny Microcosm

  1. I soooo get all of this… when I first started in therapy as a teen, I was absolutely livid upon hearing any criticism of my family or significant other at the time. I could handle criticisms of myself just fine… but of the people I loved? Hell no!

    Black and white thinking is a curse, PD. I suspect, based upon my own inner journey, your progress in therapy now requires that you learn how to hold onto seeming contradictions. Without losing your mind, lol!

    People are both bad and good. We are both capable of good and bad. We all do the best that we can with what we have, and this is where personal boundaries become important. You are you– you do not have to allow the weakness of others the opportunity to hurt you. My own relationship with my father changed a lot over the past decade… as I grew stronger in my sense of self, his deprecation comments no longer threw me. Eventually, I was able to defend myself against them. And, when I did… when the unspoken social expectations of my family no longer ruled my responses, the family dynamic completely changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Dad is the only one still who I can’t readily accept criticism of. I don’t even know where to start with that conversation with A.

      I really don’t know much right now other than I am in my high functioning adult mode.

      Liked by 1 person

      • PD, you have the rest of your life to figure all of this out… don’t pressure yourself by trying to sort out all of this at one time… Because, you have time. You have lived your whole life with dysfunction in your family of origin… you have all the tools at the ready to continue do so effectively. In the meantime, look for the good. Cling to the good. You are married!! Woohoo!! What an exciting journey you are embarking on!!

        Family of origin stuff only truly matters now in how it may affect your marital relationship and your relationship with yourself. As you trudge through this muck, just remember to be loyal to yourself FIRST. If you can master that, the rest will start to fall into place anyway. You can do this, PD!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have a lot on your plate right now. You have tons of emotions popping up, even beyond the photography thing. Even with them all coming up, you’ve gotten a ton of insights. You’re seeing patterns and where you get things (very highly unpleasant, I know), but they are important insights. I’m here if you need anything or if you want to talk ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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