I hesitate sharing with you in a way that could be construed as my airing my dirty laundry over the internets. But this blog was at the start, and has continued to be, a place for me to explore my real life situations in the context of my yoga practice, and I ain’t hiding nothin’. This is real life, people.
Pretty sure that I can attribute a lot of what I’m feeling to PMS. It has its way with me every month. Just a week before my cycle starts, everything goes to hell, and finding one tiny spark of hope takes monumental effort. Patience is in short supply, and it seems as though everyone is out to get me, especially those closest to me. I manage for the most part to keep the undercurrents of rage at bay for the benefit of my children; I do not want to traumatize them with my moodiness, explosiveness, my reactivity.
I’ve been told that the moodiness associated with PMS occurs as the veil between the conscious and the subconscious wears thin, and everything we’ve been trying to conceal from the world behind our sunshiny/I’m a caregiver/a nurturer/a healer/everyone else comes first exterior rises up to demand our attention for the purposes of learning and healing, and at the very least, for moving through us, for changing, even if it’s on a minute level.
I’ve also been told that PMS is worse for women who feel that they are going about much of their existence without getting their own needs met. This doesn’t surprise me at all. How long can one continue to maintain a facade of strength, patience, and cheerfulness when she is tired, underfed, under-appreciated, and at the end of her mental and emotional rope?
The chances of a woman suffering from PMS might be linked to our genetic heritage. This could be part of what is going on here for me–as a child I finally figured out what it was that caused my mom to become a volcano of rage once a month, and I learned how to avoid her during those times. Before I made the connection, it felt like my world was ending every time my mom withdrew her regular supply of compassionate understanding and gave in turn loud words, slammed doors, angry faces, disapproval.
At any rate, understanding its source in no way helps to mitigate the heaviness, the unease, the sadness, the anger that plague me during this time…and this is precisely where I was when my husband came home last night and scolded me for not shoveling the snow.
Here is what happened in my mind the second he told me I should’ve shoveled the walk in front of our house:
Are you fucking kidding me? I let him know how hard it was with our son today, how he was inconsolable, tantruming, yelling, crying, wouldn’t eat, wasn’t feeling well, and was using his time to tear up everything he could, making a mess of every room he was in. I am tired as hell. I worked hard to make a good dinner for everyone, one kids is bathed and in pajamas, the other kid is in the bath right now, I have spent the last few days cooking my ass off, there are dozens of cookies and yummy leftovers to show for it, I haven’t had a shower in two days, I haven’t been able to write in my journal, or sew, or practice yoga, or anything for my self in days–and I already TOLD HIM I HAVE PMS–so he can go fuck himself.
I told him I forgot. My husband said that wasn’t an excuse. That’s when I started getting defensive. When he let me know that we were the only house on the street that hadn’t shoveled, I thought about the number of times that I had shoveled our sidewalk and didn’t stop at ours, how I had shoveled my neighbors’ sidewalks and put down salt for them without them knowing (random acts of kindness–I’m a believer). I was 1)Annoyed the one of the neighbors didn’t go, “Ah, whatever, it’s only an inch of snow, I can take care of this for them,” and 2)Flabbergasted that my husband would dare suggest that I could have in some way found time in the midst of toddler hell to get out there and take care of the completely inoffensive, completely innocuous one goddamn inch of snow that was no threat to anyone.
Yep, recipe for angry outburst. I’m actually proud of myself for the amount of self-control I was able to muster at that moment. I did raise my voice a little, I’m not going to lie, but I said to him, “I’m giving our daughter a bath right now, trying to put conditioner in her hair. If it needs to be done–you go do it.”
“You are deflecting responsibility!” he argued.
“I’m not deflecting anything!” I told him, “I’m not willing to have an argument with you about this right now! If the sidewalk needs to be shoveled, YOU TAKE CARE OF IT!”
He slinked off, clearly annoyed, and I tried to regain my composure so that I could be gentle with my little girl as we finished with her bath. I managed, but inside I was steaming. Then my mom showed up. She has been staying with us since the move on February 1 in order to help us to get settled, and she has been for the most part very helpful, but then this happened:
I told my mom how Cliff just ripped me a new one for not shoveling, how I told him how hard it was with our son, and how I’m so angry I could just slap him, and my mom gave me a sort of sympathetic look, said nothing, walked into her bedroom and closed the door. That was odd. Normally she says something like, “Men!” and I immediately feel heard and vindicated.
So now I had to figure out why I wasn’t been met with the motherly sympathy I was wanting. A few minutes later when she reappeared, I cornered her and said, “Did you not respond to my complaining because Cliff already told you what happened, you think I should’ve shoveled also, you think I have no reason to be upset?”
“Yes, Cliff already told me about what happened, and I don’t want to take sides,” she told me. She doesn’t want to take sides?
“I’m not asking you to take sides,” I told her, “At the end of a long day, all I want is some empathy.” She patted my shoulder, walked into the bathroom, and took a bath. Well, fuck. Now I’m mad at my husband and my mother. She of all people should understand what it is to be bogged down by household responsibilities and then be told that she hasn’t done enough!
I barely mustered the strength to write my daily post last night. My husband was on the laptop downstairs and I wasn’t about to have an interaction with him to retrieve it from him, so I had to muddle through posting from my iPhone. I didn’t show up for my journal writing practice. I didn’t show up for my evening meditation practice. I just went the hell to bed.
This morning I was hoping that I would be in a softer, more forgiving place, but none such thing happened. As I awoke I felt the same seductive pull of my anger and my resentment, the same self-righteous indignation that was burning through me the night before. Great. I went ahead and sat for my thirty minute morning meditation, I got breakfast started, made myself coffee. The kids woke up just as I was getting breakfast on the table. I helped them through a smooth morning routine, and when my husband awoke they were nearly ready to leave for school. I got his breakfast started for him too, in spite of the fact that I would not, could not look him in the face. He said something about discussing last night, and I said, “If it’s going to be you justifying your disappointment and reiterating how I didn’t fulfill my responsibility, then I’m not interested.” He said, “So you’re okay with holding on to all of this?” I said, “I’d rather us not talk right now than me get angry all over again because you can’t understand what I’m feeling and where I’m coming from.” This was a clear invitation for some empathy from him, but it went right over his head, because he was caught in his own beliefs about the event, so he shrugged and sauntered off to get ready for work while I was left to clean up smears of cream cheese from the breakfast table.
I played with the kids while the husband was in the shower. Then I brushed their teeth and their hair, got their coats and back packs ready, helped them with their socks and shoes, and got them out the door with my husband–and felt a sense of relief when he was gone. Now I’m hiding from my mother in my bedroom. I still don’t want to talk to her either.
And I’m writing about all of this because it is therapeutic. I’m not quite ready for the yogic phase of this experience, in which I take ownership for all of my crappy feelings and muster empathy for my husband and my traitor of a mother, and then tell them how much I appreciate them and care about them, and apologize for my reactivity. Maybe later. For now, I’m going to wallow in my PMS hell, and allow myself to be seduced by my anger and resentment for a while longer. Perhaps my feelings will have something to tell me, if I take the time to listen.