Just So

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We were discussing her sudden weight loss. Fourty pounds since her last visit just five months before. Very few patients lose significant amounts of weight like that without something else almost catastrophic going on in the background. 

A death. A divorce. An affair. Zombie apocalypse. Or chemotherapy.

For her, I knew it wasn’t chemotherapy. I was pretty sure no zombies were involved, either.

In her case, she told me, it had been her husband. He had died four months before from a massive heart attack, collapsed at the dinner table over a plate of her roast beef.

“I loved him. He could make me so angry. He made me terribly happy. He made me feel things. My first husband never did that. We never fought. Ever. We were good friends who enjoyed hanging out but we were never lovers in the full sense of the word.”

That comment struck me and I have been mulling it over ever since.

Is it possible that we as humans do not crave peace so much as we desire to feel alive?

To feel things.

Relationship dynamics fascinate me.

I have had occasion to consider that more this past week. 

Growing up I witnessed the bull in the china shop kind of rage in my house. My father, mad at the slide projector, would lob it across the room to shatter on the floor. He broke a coffee table once right down the center. I see that in myself only I don’t throw things. I throw words. Words are my violence. I can use them to hurt you more than my fists ever could. You hurt me or someone I care about, I will lash out until the fire burns down and I can finally stamp it out. 

The thing about anger and fighting is that when it is someone whom you care about, their opinion matters on a level so much higher than anyone else’s.

A patient can tell me my breath stinks and duck their head and I can laugh it off and move on after a breath mint. If my lover were to say the same thing in the same way, perhaps in the context of explaining why he did not want to kiss me right then, it might dig itself into my heart and lodge there like broken piece of glass. It would mean so much more coming from him.

There is so much power there. Power to tear down and hurt and destroy. How can you contain that? How do you have enough conflict to feel alive without burning down the house while you are at it?

I watch my daughter’s rages and see myself mirrored there as she is flailing about, kicking, hitting, and scratching anything that gets too close to her.

Oh, baby girl. 

I am afraid she is going to hurt herself if I cannot teach her how to control her emotions. I pray every day that she finds someone who loves her enough to have the strength to stand up to her onslaught.

Meanwhile, I continue to work to recognize my own shortcomings….


91 thoughts on “Just So

  1. Your post has really struck a chord with me – personally I don’t like taking antidepressants, because although they definitely do take the edge off the agonising misery when I’m feeling at my lowest ebb, they also take the edge off the good bits of life too, leaving me feeling unrelentingly flat. And that flatness, when considered long-term, is just soul-destoying. So these days as far as possible I simply bear the depressive episodes as best I can, and cling on to the precious moments of happiness for as long as I can, whever and wherever they appear. I’ve learned that hard way over the years that feeling alive to me means feeling ALL that life gives me, whether good or bad… πŸ™‚

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I want to feel things! I don’t want easy or complacent. I don’t want a roommate. I want give and take, highs and lows, intimacy and love, desire and eroticism.

    Even with friends, I don’t want to talk about the weather or shoes or schedules or landscaping. I want to know, to be known.

    I want to feel, the whole gamut of feelings. And I don’t want to feel ashamed for feeling them. Or for wanting to.

    I believe that contentment is being happy with what you have (the foundation), but that safety gives you the freedom to feel, to explore and grow together.

    I have similar fears about my daughters, but especially my oldest. I also used to use words, and that was mostly to cover my own insecurities, because I could not allow anyone to see them. But I see her struggle with feelings of worth. I see, and I feel what I know I’ve taught them both with my own behavior. I try very hard to confront my own issues and to talk vulnerably and open with them. The most difficult part is allowing them discovery on their own. Sometimes that is heart wrenching.

    Love to you, Victo.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I know I need my feelings and emotions to function as a human (not to mention as a writer), but sometimes it is wonderful to block out everything and surrender to the numb. It is like a snooze for the soul,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This one resonates for me on so many levels: the daughter’s tantrums and trying to find strength to deal with them (as well as hope she can find others that will be willing to) as well as the duality of the husbands. My first was the funniest smartest guy I’ve ever met. We never fought. We also never really engaged – at least not in a way that really matters. My current husband is a hot mess – depression, ADHD, OCD. I often want to strangle him, but damn if I don’t feel stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! There you go. I have heard this about relationships more than once. On the other end of the spectrum, there is such a thing as too much. Finding that middle ground is magic, though! πŸ™‚


  5. you know, my wife and I are the same in that we don’t really fight either. That’s something that a lot of people don’t know about us and I really haven’t talked to many people about the dynamics of their relationships so in the spectrum from common to rare, I don’t know exactly where we would fall, if that makes sense. A couple of people have said that it’s uncommon but not heard of.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am the firecracker in my
    house, and many years ago
    as the eldest of 5, &
    an identical twin.
    Fire of word & pen?
    Oh dear thank you
    for this post.
    The fire does not always
    mellow as you age.
    I have 2 daughters in
    law, who hate my guts.
    And despite that 5
    wonderful grandchildren
    that love us forever.

    Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hannah and I fought, but we fought very carefully when we did. We did not attack. We were passionate people, and that came through in all ways, but we were never abusive in any way to each other. I have been with people I got along with that lacked that passion, it isn’t even close to being as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s why I have Not CM – she can lash out when I can’t. And believe, sometimes it feels so good to write those evil things she says.

    But I understand what you’re saying about relationships. Sometimes it’s so much easier to lash out at those closest to you, probably because you feel safer doing so than you would if you lashed out at a complete stranger. As that old song says, love stinks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so glad my husband and I are artists. We get along great because we are so involved in our art. I hate conflict between people. I hate confrontation. I live to paint and he lives to write. Great combo for a happy marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I never quite found a way to express my hurt or anger. I don’t lash out physically or verbally. I wish I could. Instead I hold it all in and that’s not good.

    I think your daughter will find a way. How on it. You can help her find a way to deal with this tough emotions. I think she’ll be fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. In the past I had an awful temper but I learned to control it after leaving home. I knew that I could not let curse words fly or rant and rave and function in society.

    I continue to control my temper but I let it fly when I’m alone. I rant and rave at poor drivers but they don’t know because I yell inside my vehicle and others have no idea. I still curse and yell when something malfunctions in my house. But I’m alone when I act like a maniac.

    I’m not saying this is the way to cope with a temper but I suppose it works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My family raged out, very vocal, it’s how I thought couples should interact. My husband…rarely heard a raised voice. I would provoke, he’d walk away, avoid confrontation. It took years to understand how/why we did this. Decades later, we find ways to work it out…he has become more vocal, I have learned other ways to express anger. It’s a lifelong process.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This struck a chord with me too. First that the patient wanted to feel something even if it wasn’t always great and secondly that we are a product of our genetics and nurturing. My grandmother, mother and I shared the same name, the same temperament and the same zodiac sign. A house full of crabby, emotional, funny girls (but no red hair). πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I rage… I do not throw things; I sometimes want to but that’s my father’s rage…I do not hit things; I sometime want to but that’s my ex-husband’s rage….mine is words….nasty vicious words. I hear them and I often regret them once expelled. My husband is more patient than he should be at times, but he also knows how to push my buttons. He drives me nuts….and we engage in these dramatic outbursts. Then we move on.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Truthfully, I don’t always move on so well. He does or he just is not phased. I am not sure which it is. I often get frustrated with things that have little to actually do with what I am upset about, I just erupt. He has learned to tune it out…good or bad as that is.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Well, my ex husband would verbally tear me down and any time I attempted to fight back became his deflection game. Gawd he STILL does it. Idiot. Now, the love I have now challenges me in HEALTHY fighting. I can be mad as a badger in a burlap sack and he can say to flip the switch off, therefore allowing me to think about HOW I feel not WHAT I feel. I love him more than kid heathens some days (because they REALLY can be heathens at times) and I love that I want to be better with him, because of him. I am batshit crazy and he somehow knows how to hold on to this wild heart without taming itπŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

      • Amen! And people give us crap about out ages. Who cares?! We love and adore each other and make each other WANT to be better individuals and partners and parents, and the fact we feel whole together means a hell of alot! We have fun at the beach or camping or just lounging around. No need to fill the empty silence. I shimmer when I’m with him and I can’t wait to be his forever! (Yeah, I’m cheesy!)

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I like the point you make, that perhaps we want to feel alive more than we want peace. After all, ultimate peace is death. But I believe an argument is not alive if it is not genuine. Berating someone on a pretext, when what we really want is a sense of power, is not life. That’s when peace is preferable to arguing. But when we keep conflicts genuine, we’ll find all the life we could ever want.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I know these feelings all too well! I see them in myself and my children and I have this very same struggle every day. My daughter has finally met a man that keeps her calm but before him…My boys are still young yet and have the same growing to do but I have so much hope for them! The relationship between my husband and I has blossomed so much after 20 years together that it is shocking! You hit the nail on the head with this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Well I can tell you there is hope. My Hubby was strong enough and loved me enough to stand up to my bad behaviors. I actually call it “The Taming of the Shrew.” I was not a nice person for a time. Came from the pain of my past. I’m thankful every day that he didn’t give up on me. I have a long way to go, but I’m a very different person than I used to be. A person I like better.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Anger is like a black hole. Give it too much space and it grows until you can no longer control it.

    Control it and you can deal with people and set backs. Learning how to deal with anger is the difficult part though…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Complicated topic Victo. I dated a red head once and I can assure you that the emotional component was anything but flat – ha! Great sex though.

    There is a lot of speculation that humans will often choose negative feelings or response over no response (i.e. children “looking for attention”). And indeed, the opposite of love is not hate but rather apathy – which seems to confirm this theory.

    That said unfocused anger or other strong emotions can do damage. However, I will say that all the successful humans I have known – whether they were business people or scientists or social workers or whatever – have all been very passionate and emotional including capable of great rage. The best were not the calmest,the best were the most focused.

    This can be amusing when one is not the target. I was the Operations Manager for a local transport company with a few hundred employees. Our owner, Bruce, was a slave driver but he would never ask anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself – and he worked about 20 hours a day. He was a great lover of food as many of the passionate are, and was about 30 pounds overweight – which his doctor had made it his life’s work to address (according to Bruce). Our major customer was Meyer’s Transport, and we did all their transport work in and around Ottawa. Their manager was a career transportation woman called Rachel, whose husband had originally owned a large transport company and left to Rachel. Rachel was a crackerjack and was known for being the toughest boss in the business – but one whose knowledge was unequaled and whose network was limitless. Both were amongst the most passionate people I had ever met. Then they decided to have a relationship – holy smokes.

    One morning early Bruce was sulking in his office in front,having worked since 4 am and being hungry as a bear but not allowed to eat. I was sitting at the dispatch desk at the end of a short corridor at the rear of the office where i had control over the driver’s entrance. There were two office doors leading to other customer’s offices, off the corridor and they were open – the women staffers having just arrived for the day. Bruce wandered down the hall to ask me a question about dispatch, when Rachel entered the front door carrying a confectioners box. In a second the smell of freshly iced cinnamon buns wafted ahead of her. Bruce was standing in front of my desk with his back to the corridor when the enticing smell arrived, a few steps ahead of Rachel. He whirled around and bellowed; “What the F*ck are you doing bringing those in here when you know I’m on a F*cking diet?”

    Without hesitation Rachel flipped open the box, and grabbing a handful of buns, screamed: “You’re not the only F*cking person on this F*cking office, you asshole!” At which she let fly with a bun. Bruce ducked and the bun whizzed by my ear – I threw myself behind the desk just as I heard another bun thud against the top. I peaked over the desk and saw one of the women customers look out of her office to see what was going on and i hollered:” Duck Jasmine!” She disappeared as Bruce grabbed the bun on the desk and winding up fired it back at Rachel and scored a hit on her shoulder. She responded with a hail of buns, all the while swearing at him and calling him every name in the book from selfish to narcissistic to asshole, etc. He screamed back that she was crazy and unstable and an idiot.

    When they ran out of buns they took their argument outside and we started cleaning up – add that to the job description of the operations manger of a passionate owner : cleaning up fresh cinnamon buns from the floor, the walls, the desk,the window, the doors, etc.

    Bruce and Rachel kissed and made up and a few days later were off on a short “make-up” vacation in his motorhome.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I strongly believe in mastering one’s emotions. Most of the violence in the world is the result of emotion gopne astray. Maybe because I have grow in so many cultures? Or because I’m a methidical frenchman? Don’t know. I just know human violence has to be controlled. Now I have also taken the option of voluntarily getting angry in some circumstances. 😑 Control freak! Be good Victoire. (And do find a way to curb your daughter’s fits of rage.) πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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