“Nothing”. “I’m fine”.
Lies and we all absolutely know it.
In this day and age all of us should understand at this point that communication is the key to every relationship. True and honest communication. I am not just talking about the relationship one has with their significant other, I am talking about all relationships. For example, when my 14 year old son asks me if I’m ok, I have the worst habit of answering, “Yeah, I’m good.” I am most obviously not “good”. When he asks me if I am ok, there is rarely a time when the answer is truly yes. For the most part I do not want to go into details of my life and my hardships with him. I do not want to worry him. I do not want him at 14 to know exactly what is going on in my head at all times. Here is the problem with that. I am not being responsible with my son when it comes to learning social cues.
At these times when I am flippantly answering “Yeah, I’m good” there is obviously something else about me that is sending him a signal that all is not right in my world. This could be any number of things. I could be sitting with my shoulders slumped, I may have sighed, or there may be an edge to my voice. These warning signs are delivering signals to his brain that all is not right in the world. Perhaps he should check on his mother. What I am doing by saying, “Yeah, I’m good” is telling him that his instincts when it comes to reading my signals are incorrect. While trying not to bother him with my trials and tribulations, I am actually doing more harm than good. I am preparing my child for the world by teaching him that his ability to read body language or audible cues is not very good when in fact it is quite accurate.
So what should I be saying?
In actuality my son does not need to know about everything that is wrong in my world. I am quite frank with both of my children most of the time. I want them to be prepared for the harshness that is often the case in the world outside of our home. Emotionally, there are times when I am not ready to talk about something or things that he really should not know about. What I should say are things like, “No, I’m not really ok but I don’t want to talk about it right now. It is nothing you did but I need to get myself together before we talk about it. “ Alternatively, I could also say something along the lines of, “ Dude, this is some adult stuff that we can’t talk about yet. I will be ok, I promise you that and thank you for checking up on me”. Something, anything to acknowledge that his instincts are correct and that he was right to ask.
The same absolutely goes for my husband. He is not afraid to call me out on this. Actually he does call me out on it. Often and loudly. It is one of the things that drives him the most crazy about me. This is a place where that whole emotion versus logic thing comes into play. Emotionally I may just not want to talk about something in that moment. I’m not ready for the discussion I know will ensue. I need to process my feelings about what I have going on and he needs to talk about it immediately and at length. So why in the actual hell can I not just get the words, “I’m still processing and need some time to deal with this stuff I have going on in my head.” I’m not searching for his sympathy and I’m honestly not trying to make him guess what is going on with me by saying, “Nothing or I’m Fine”. I’m just not ready to talk about anything in that moment for whatever reason. I’ve stated before my husband does not coddle me. We are adults and he expects that I behave as such. I expect the same from him, and when I really think about it I would be infuriated if he treated me in the same fashion. He doesn’t. If I ask him what is going on and he tells me nothing I can be sure to take that at face value because he has built that level of honesty with me. I have not returned that favor. I’m sure that once something like that happens he will sit down and stew on it for a while, before finally coming to the conclusion that he needs to stop stressing about it and just getting annoyed instead. It has happened so often in fact that we end up fighting. Since most likely I am already in an overly emotional state this always goes badly. Should I not be adult enough to be able to look at my husband and answer him directly? Emotionally charged or not, I owe my husband the truth, either with the absolute truth about what is going on in my head right now, or just even to say hey I’m processing, please check back later. Either way honesty here is the best policy and I do not blame him one bit for being annoyed with me.
Baby steps to being a fully functioning adult capable of dealing with things properly.
It takes actual strength to change this habit. I do it so often, because for so long the only person I really felt card about what went on in my life was me. Is that narcissistic in and of itself? It very well may be. How do you handle these situations as they come up?