Weekends around here are always a gamble for my husband and I. The weeks end up draining everything from us due to both of our insanely stressful jobs and by the weekend, every ounce of energy is just gone. It’s always difficult trying to even have social lives when, by the weekend, we cannot even be our best selves.
This past weekend finished up a three week stint of covering out of office co-workers with piles of tasks I had never done previously and had to learn for the first time amidst my own work. It’s been rough but strangely rewarding. This weekend started off in fatigue-land and, unfortunately, the hubby ended up having to teach Sunday morning. I think we have all been there, working on your days off when you are already spent. That feeling of being stressed and crunched for time to attempt to relax. It’s disheartening.
In the midst of trying to “do it all” in a day, tensions mounted and communications unhinged and, thus, erupted a verbal explosion. It does not happen often, once or twice a year, usually our arguments are mild and easily resolved, but every so often, that explosion occurs that sends the blood to your ears and makes every opposing scream a notch louder than the last. It’s not a brag; coming up in very difficult and abusive home situations tends to make you non-confrontational so your communication styles adapt to a pacifism. Screaming is a trigger for both of us so it’s always a last resort. Nevertheless, sometimes we scream. It happens. We are human.
I still remember that time the neighbors heard during our very early years of marriage. I was carrying in things from the car, post explosion, and one of the older neighbors stopped me, smiled, and said “It’s going to be ok, ya know”. I looked up reluctantly to let him see my tears and smiled back, “I know, I know it is.”
“At the end of the day, you’ll both realize it just doesn’t matter that much” he went on, “but don’t go to bed angry today. It’s just not worth it.” Part of me wanted to tell him to mind his business but I had to accept the fact that if we were going to broadcast our business, we should not expect people to turn off their ears.
The sincerity – in his smile and in his words still resonates with me during these moments when the explosions occur. Years later, as I ponder over this moment and those words, it made me have a thought. No one posts when they have a fight. I am not talking about airing your dirty laundry out in the breeze and providing all of the juicy details of your arguments for all to know.
As a church kid in an abusive home, fighting and a home in disarray were taboo subjects. We were strictly instructed to not speak on what went on inside. I grew up prior to the age of endless information and everyone owning a cell phone so seeking help during fights in our house was not easy. Between this and limited resources, the idea of a “healthy argument” was beyond my knowledge. This was just how normal people lived.
The day my father decided to chase my mother down with a frying pan after flipping a table on her, it was fight or flight. I could not have been older than twelve or thirteen at the time. After hiding my brother and making him stay in one spot, I escaped with no shoes, making a careful, tip-toed beeline to my best friend’s home for help, which was just shy of a mile away through a rough Philly neighborhood. Arriving in a state of shock, I had no time to explain before being caught and dragged back to my own home where the terror continued. I still remember looking at their faces over my shoulder, hoping, praying, please help us; please see me.
Unfortunately, there would be no help in our stars.
After that incident, we became good at finding hiding places huddled together until the storms blew over. I gave up on finding help because, for us, this was just our normal.
Is it strange to question the lack of normalizing fighting and talking about it freely? I really do not think so. I wonder sometimes if I had been exposed to more ideas of what healthy fighting looked like in the real world, if it would have made me more comfortable with continuing to seek help in the past, more comfortable with healthy debates, more comfortable being in the world. Fighting is healthy and normal, but there are clear ways of doing it that are not.
I love my husband more than any words can fathom, and we fight. It is not always pretty, and like anything, it is easy to forget that anything worth doing takes time, practice, and work. Growing together has strengthened our communication process, even when it comes to fighting, because we put the work in to making it better. Rome was not built in a day and I can certainly confirm that we are absolutely no Rome. We are still the little gift shop being built next to Rome selling cute tchotchkes to tourists; building, nonetheless.
We got through this blowout like we have in the past, by taking space to be angry and upset. By thinking over and then sitting down to discuss.
I wonder what young people think when they see happy couples posting nothing but happy shit all day every day and, not making an ounce of effort to talk about the times when it gets hard. These times happen. Make space for figuring out the best ways to resolve it and if you don’t know, phone a friend.
Peace and love, xoxo