I fucking hate the phrase ‘teachable moment’ but I think I need to use it anyway

Last Sunday, we had what I have come to think of as a teachable moment. And let me be clear, I really hate that phrase. Another phrase I cannot stand is when women describe abuse as “he put his hands on me.” Like….do you really have to somehow soften the action by being EXTRA vague? Others put their hands on you for not abusive reasons, so stop it with the turn of phrase, you’re talking about being abused. The two, my teachable moment and that annoying phrase, aren’t linked at all, except how I dislike their wording.

But this TM if you will happened on Sunday. My husband and I were leaving for some errand. He was looking for his socks. Because the moment he returns home from the outside world or from working out one of his first actions is to remove his socks and leave them balled up wherever he took them off. Obviously I will instinctively pick them up and put them in the hamper. I wash about twice as many of his socks as I should because of these separate habits of ours, but anyway. As he was inquiring to his socks’ presence he was pulling his shirt on (because he must be in his underwear only if he’s at home unless it’s the dead of winter) and he blinded himself as he walked past a wrought iron wall-mount candle holder I have, and have had since I was 16. I went though this weird wrought iron candle holder phase, but I got rid of all of them except this one. Just because I liked it the most and I bought it from the first place I ever worked (a Jo-Ann’s) and I don’t know when you move 7 times in 5 years you lose a lot of possessions due to breakage and necessity, so something I’ve had since 16 might matter more than it would to others. So he knocks into the candle holder and knocks one of the candles to the floor, which doesn’t matter. But I thought he’d knocked down a glass holder too. And I immediately got incredibly irritated because I’d managed to lug that thing along with me so many places and not break it, but because he was getting dressed and walking and asking his wife where his socks were HE had to fucking break it.

(I have two side stories for a minute that will maybe make my reaction seem less bitch like, but probably not)

But I just kind of went off. I don’t even remember what I said, but it was things along the lines of ‘can’t you be careful’ and ‘did you seriously just do that’ and like a ‘why would you do that’ attitude towards the idea. My husband was like “What the fuck? I didn’t mean to do it.”

And like, obviously I didn’t think he’d purposely tried to break anything of mine. That wasn’t where my anger was coming from. It was just on fucking instinct to like POUNCE on the person who done fucked up.

And….it takes no deep digging to know where that’s coming from.

And okay I’ve been watching this Netflix show called Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce (I know I feel like a douche typing it, but I love any scripted TV anymore) and I am frequently just appalled at how lenient their parenting is. Like a six year old dumps a smoothie into his mother’s Mac book days before an important presentation of hers (saved solely on the laptop) and blames an imaginary friend. The stress registers, but not the fact that it was solely caused by a little brat’s cry for attention. And like….I think the reason I hate kids is tied in real strong with all of this. Because in my head I’m like “well you know what, [this] happened to me, so why shouldn’t it happen to others too?”

And that, THAT, is how really fucked up, abused people think. It’s how really terrible people think. I mean I kind of figured I was terrible by how I was always treated. And then you relate to those dickweed memes that are script that say “Why should I apologize for being a monster? No one apologized for making me this way” and then you REALLY know you’re the fucking worst. Because only very small, worthless people

We’re not all like that.

But I think I am. My brother sure is. That’s my test group. But I’m also like smart enough to see all this (spoiler, he is not). And we both got the addict gene, but he solely prefers opiates, I solely prefer alcohol, then we meet in the expected agreeable middle with weed. Whatever it is, I think I’ve identified it at its roots. If I were a poet or a painter I would have a much dreamier way of telling you, but all any addiction really ever is, is this voice that whispers ‘You need more.’

Didn’t mean to deviate but I’ve been meaning to write that one down because like every addict ever was just like yuuuuuup. I’m not trying to make light of it. I’m just at the point where I’m like, all right, let’s call everything what is it, be harshest to yourself first before anyone else steals that right. Because if history is any indicator, others are not going to be kind.

But then on the other hand I’m like….is ALL of this bull shit? Maybe I’m just a bitch and I can learn to not be if I want to actually try and stay with my husband. I mean he quit drinking maybe I could bother to not ALWAYS be mean, especially when I know I’m doing it. The problem is I’m always going to act first then realize how shitty I’m being after. Which sounds awful, but at least I know what’s happening.

If you’re wondering if I admit this to my husband, in part, yes. But not totally. In large part because I have to realize all of this by thinking about it all day at work. Less and less i think about my other writing. I can’t call it my novel, that sounds so douchey. I can’t with the ‘manuscript’ it’s its own thing, like contained chaos, at this point, so no labels and shit. And if I keep blogging at this rate, I’ll never get anywhere with all of that anyway and it’ll haunt me for all of my days. And so I don’t come to these conclusions until a few days later, and by then I really am not looking to restart an old fight so we can be upset with one another more.

No, I did not at any point say I think ANY of my behavior is healthy,* so please don’t start

*Disclaimer – when I say one of my recipes is healthy, it is. I do have this weird natural affinity for vegan/vegetarian dishes, though I am neither*

So I don’t always tell my husband I know how fucked my reactions are.

But I mean, as good as I am at obsessing over my own behavior like I’m observing some thought to be extinct animal I just don’t have the ability to call back anger. And anger is where I ALWAYS go. I don’t feel like that can helped. In part because okay remember my two parenting examples were a COMPLETE narcissist who was also a pretty incredible failure at life (think dishonorable discharge but that’s just a metaphor he definitely wasn’t in the military). Yet through it all, my mom stuck by him, and kept us, her innocent children, in the same house as him. What’s so fucking sad is how she thought she was doing the right, strong thing. But the abusive behavior started long before I was born. She told me. She didn’t mean to always tell me things a child shouldn’t hear. She just didn’t have anyone else. I’ve never doubted that my mother loves me, just that she probably was always too far gone to save herself, much less me. Which is actually an incredible gift to give someone, because when you get thrown off that dock you’re going to sink or swim, and us kids turned out to be a 50/50 split.

So those were my examples of adults growing up. The father I just described and have discussed so much before, who I haven’t seen in person in almost three years. And my sad, lonely, abused mother. Those were the options.

My brother had the revolting habit of acting SO much like our dad. It’s funny, because when someone hates someone as much as my brother hates my dad….and yet he acts so much like him….you’re just like….is it that invisible to the recipient of abuse? Does their trauma make some of them become just like their abuser but then tragically also blind to it, destined to always push normals away and repeat the cycle if they should have children?  That’s so fucked, if you think about it.

Because if they were strong enough, and smart enough, and have been handed just the right number of get-ahead-of-others passes in life, they’ll see that, they’ll see all of it. And then you’ll have someone like me. I’m still figuring out the rest as I go. But that’s always been my style.

So, I felt myself instantly jump into bad behavioral patterns instilled in me by my separately yet simultaneously abusive parents throughout my formative years. I’m not making an excuse, but rather an observation. It’s a bad, bad feeling, to realize this sort of shit. It just makes me yet again grateful I wasn’t dumb enough to have kids at a young age. It may well work for others, and great for them, but me? NO. NO NO NO. I would be an efficient mom, but I’m sure I would be just like my parents. Granted, if I’d just had my mom and Grandma’s damaging behaviors, I would’ve been all right, I just probably would’ve turned out a lot like them. It was my dad. He was and is and always will be the problem, the true cancer we need to extricate. I know that sounds harsh, but anyone who knows the truth knows I’m just being honest.

But, I should go, this much honesty takes times.

But really fast – if you recall a few scrolls ago I said I had two examples that would make my anger at my husband for potentially breaking something of mine seem less crazy:

1) The laptop – When I was a sophomore in college, my husband and I had just started living together. We were sitting down to watch a Youtube video of Trailer Park Boys, and he sat down too quickly with an open cup of water and sloshed water all over the keyboard of my laptop. It shorted out and I naturally freaked out. The laptop had been a once in a lifetime gift from my dad, and it had not only a final paper due in a few hours that I hadn’t submitted electronically yet but also all of my class notes for that semester, and it was obviously around the end of the semester. This was a final paper of the semester paper and it was an English literature class, so seriously. So I appropriately FREAKED THE FUCK OUT when those two things dawned on me. I recall this distinctly as the first time I told my husband “don’t fucking touch me” (I’d go on to say it so many times….). He had to go to class too, because it was like an exam day for him I think. And he came home with a stuffed monkey and a Choco Taco as an apology (And that ended up being a way more thoughtful gift than the nothing he got me for my birthday a few days later…but anyway….). It ended up working out, ONLY because I’d printed a really final rough draft of the paper a few days before, and it was unscathed in the recycling bin, so I just had to remember a few edits. I got it in before the deadline, but I remember being so mad that my husband had been so careless around such an important item.
2) The umbrella plant – I worked for years and years at a pet store. One day someone who no longer wished to possess a bearded dragon dropped one off at our store in a gross, dirty aquarium. The beardie was rehomed, but his tank needed to be thrown away. There was an umbrella plant that seemed to be doing pretty well, despite this family’s obvious neglect of their bearded dragon. I managed to call dibs on this umbrella plant, even though my one coworker usually managed to snag anything good in the employee freebies market at this store. And, for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I was able to keep a plant alive! I have a plant stand that was my Grandma’s (that has a very checkered history, because my mom and Grandma has to go to about eight different department stores before my Grandma picked one out, and it INFURIATED my mother that she kept being so fussy about it) that this umbrella plant lived on, where my five cats couldn’t bother it. And I know it sounds dumb, but I was seriously so proud I was keeping a plant around for years after trying and killing like three dozen different houseplants.
But then, nearly 6 years ago when we moved downstate, my husband left the plant I loved so dearly at my in-laws. We didn’t want to have to bother with the care moving a plant required when we were already moving so much so far. BUT, unbeknownst to me, my mother in law didn’t want a plant in the house because her cats would eat it. So she put it on their deck, where it promptly fried to death. I’d had the same plant for like 6 years and my mother in law killed it because she couldn’t bother to put it on a high shelf for a few days. It seriously still makes me angry. I should not care this much about a plant but I fucking do.

So, those are my two things. I know it makes me seem a little like a lunatic, but seriously, can’t I have anything? And there’s something so infuriating about the oblivious carelessness with which my husband conducts himself. And it makes me realize that he’s not used to the SHARP criticism I always endured. I was astounded when he said something wasn’t your fault if you didn’t mean to do it. How could that be? How could a person learn that accidents weren’t their fault? Is THAT fucking normal? If so, I am so off.

Wow, again, apologize for length. The short of it – I probably shouldn’t ever have kids.

 

~Cass

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