Friday, June 3, 2011
The "its fine" answer that annoys me more than anything!
My husband Josh and I have been together for nearly 9 years and married for 7 this October, I am so lucky to have him in my life and he helps me to become a better person everyday. We are similar in a lot of ways but very opposite in others, and after years spent together we've learned when to use his strengths and when to use mine in our relationship. But every now and then we both find out things about the other person that surprise us, and now with baby in our lives we notice these things more and more because we don't seem to be communicating as well as we typically do.
In a nutshell, Josh is a very positive person; he doesn't worry about things, he brushes things off easily, doesn't take anything personally and he has a quiet confidence that I am envious of, and that I hope he instills in our child.
I, on the other hand, have a tendency to worry about things and in the last few years Josh has picked up the very annoying habit of saying to me "it'll be fine" about every single thing that I 'worry' about, no matter what the intensity of the worry is. This makes me think that he isn't actually listening to what I am really saying. He just assumes I worry about everything and doesn't take the time to understand the deeper concern that I have.
Josh says that he thinks positively and I think negatively, this bugs me and I have always contradicted it because I don't feel like I am being negative about things. In trying to explain this to my therapist recently, she asked "why don't you think you are being negative." My answer was something I hadn't even realized before; when there is the worry/concern of something bad happening, I think in my head 'this could never happen' or 'this won't happen' but what I say out loud is "this could happen or will happen." My therapist asked why I think positively in my head but verbalize 'negatively' and I thought about this for a long time before answering that I think it prepares me for the worst. I hope for the best in my head and prepare for the worst verbally. Which means, everyone around me just hears me thinking the worst, even though the entire time in my head I am thinking "this bad thing cannot happen, it won't happen, everything will be okay." This started at childhood, when my grandmother was dying of inevitable cancer, I kept saying she was NOT going to die, she did and I was crushed. While I haven't vocalized this yet to Josh, I am sure it will come up sooner or later and maybe it will help him understand my thought process and that I am not always being negative, just trying to cope.
One thing that I am concerned about is being a good parent; to which Josh always says, "don't worry, you'll do fine" (not very helpful), so when he had a dream recently about loosing our 'baby' I felt a little vindicated that I wasn't the only person who had some anxiety about this change in our life. The dream went something like this:
I had this dream, we had a baby, but it was a bird. Then I was watching the bird baby while you were working and I lost it. I knew that you'd be really mad if you knew that I lost our baby, so I was frantically looking for it. Sometimes I'd find it and then loose it again, then there was this trail of crumbs that I was following, (cause the bird baby was leaving crumbs for him to follow?) but I couldn't find it, and I woke up.
After laughing hysterically about our bird baby for a half a day, I started to think about what the dream might have meant, and with my amateur dream interpretation skillz, usually loosing something or someone means anxiety about a life change. Loosing your 'old' self which is being replaced by a new self. I mentioned this to him and he denied being "scared" about parenthood, that he didn't have any "fears" about it. These words confused me because I am not referring to a paralyzing fear, like standing on a tall building if you are afraid of heights, I was just asking if there was a part of him that was a little worried about not doing it right. We bickered about this for a while until I realized that he viewed any 'worry/concern' as a big fear and since he isn't completely scared of parenthood, he thought those words didn't apply to him. This lead to some iphone thesaurus work on 'fear and worry' and more discussion until I finally thought of an analogy that I knew he'd understand and made perfect sense. Years ago, when I met Josh I had to get used to him riding a motorcycle, it wasn't something I was familiar with and it scared me a little because you are so exposed on the bike. His answer was, "yes, I am a little scared every-time I get on the bike, but you wouldn't be a good and aware driver if you didn't have some fear for your life, and if you aren't a little scared then you shouldn't drive a motorcycle." I tried to equate that analogy to the fear of parenthood; if we didn't have some concern that we'd do a good job, then we should worry, because we are raising a human being and that is a big deal. This seemed to make sense to him and we both chuckled that we didn't seem to understand each other very well during pregnancy (because of this and many other confusing mishaps and conversations lately)
The bird baby dream lead to a good discussion for us and we learned two vital things from each other. From me, he learned that everytime I say the word "worry or concern" it doesn't mean this terrifying fear, its not me saying that I can't do it or that I am freaking out, its me wanting to do it right and having an understandable concern that I choose to vocalize, but he chooses keeps to himself. But when I tell him that I am scared of something, that is very different than if I am worried about it. Besides, I told him, 50% of the pregnancy books tell me that worry is a good thing while pregnant, it helps 'prepare the mother. ' (we got a chuckle out of this, see previous posts for inconsistent information in pregnancy books)
What I learned from Josh is that he is a little worried about being a parent, which is a relief to me because sometimes I think his positivity doesn't allow him to cope when bad things happen, which they eventually do sometimes in life, no matter what the circumstance. Additionally, what I hope he also learned is to not say "its fine" all the time, because using those terms for a flat tire and also for raising your child doesn't quite make sense. But I suspect this is something we will continue to have to work on.