This week has been, well, pretty grotty. Not terrible, not dramatic, but not exactly wonderful either. I feel like I’ve been firefighting and I thought I was getting away with it until today when I got the phonecall about a meeting I didn’t show up to. Not a meeting for me, no, that would be too easy. A meeting where I was supposed to be helping someone else, another parent having a hard time, and I had completely and utterly forgotten about it. And the guilt hit me head on like a truck.
I briefly wallowed in self pity. Then I tried running away (well, into town, chatting to the nice stall holders at the farmers market, same difference). Then I tried justifying to myself why it was not my fault I’d done this. Going over all the rubbish things that had happened this week that had led to this almighty fuck up. I thought I was being compassionate, not beating myself up for an honest mistake. Then, bam, I got hit again. This time with a phrase I said to my daughter this morning, that can straight back into my mind and reverberated between my ears. When I was trying to talk to her about something she’d done wrong and she was too busy explaining all the things her brother had done wrong to listen to me, I said “if you don’t admit to yourself what you’ve done wrong, you won’t learn to make better choices next time”.
Shit, that was what I was doing. Blaming others, pointing out their mistakes and flaws to myself rather than facing up to my own failings.
I started trying to compose a post in my head, but every which way I tried what was supposed to be about what I had done wrong, started turning into a list of other things that had gone wrong to justify it. However much I tried, the order of the words swapped around (“because of X, I did Y”, “I did Y, because of X”), but the blame shifting continued.
So, I think I have now, finally, got to a point now where I can say, without justification, that my behaviour has been less than stellar this week. My main issue, was downloading an e reader onto my laptop. A fairly harmless crime you might think, but I’ve always been a binge reader and spending a few days obsessively reading a trilogy into the wee small hours has been pretty selfish with knock on effects for everyone. Yes, a bit of escapism is good the soul, especially when things are a bit tough, but when the morning routine is being a problem for the whole family, struggling to drag yourself out of bed from lack of sleep as you were reading until 3am is not a good place to be in. When tempers are frayed and boundaries are being pushed, having constant background headaches from accumulative lack of sleep is distinctly not a good idea. When the housework is taking longer than usual (one of the issues we have is being without a working boiler at present, and the no hot water aspect of this is a real drag), sitting in bed reading a book rather than cracking on with it doesn’t help. And when you’re feeling frustrated at (fairly minor) communication issues with your partner, turning all your attention to a screen and blocking them out isn’t wise.
In short, I, A is for, have been rather selfish this week.
I’m quite pleased that I have got to the point of admitting that, of being able to write it without a how list of justifications why it’s not my fault. It feels like it has to be the first step to moving on. That I’m finally getting somewhere.
The next step is still proving a little elusive. OK, the “stop reading all the time” step is pretty obvious, but how to discuss this issue with my other half is a little harder. I think I’m ready to say sorry and fess up, it feels like the right thing to do, but I’m wary that the answer might well be along the lines of “yes, you have been selfish” with a possible extra list of things I’ve done wrong that I’d omitted to mention. That has been known to happen in the past. And I’m pretty sure that will just make me cross and lash out, with my own list of failings for him in return, just like I have in the past. The thing is, what I want is a “sorry, I’ve been less than stellar too” response of some description, but that’s not how it works is it. It’s not really saying sorry if what you actually want is to trade apologies. Sorry should come with no strings attached.
So, maybe, instead of saying sorry, I just need to say that I’m aware of my failings and that I’m going to try and change them. And maybe I need to say it to the whole family, which will make it less personal than a one on one with my other half.
I haven’t finished working out the details yet, but I do feel that I’m starting to get somewhere. And then maybe I can face that big lurking stack of guilt in my head, rather than shutting it away to lurk in my brain and stoke my anxiety in future.