I was going to start at the beginning of time and explain how Austin and I ended up at this point in our lives and relationships. But I'm not. I'm just going to jump in with both feet, because that's how I know how to blog.
Today was not typical, mostly because Jackson (the middle child in our blended family) was out of town with his mother. When this happens Austin tends to do his own thing and I spend quality mom/daughter time with my girls. Everything was fine until late afternoon when we all converged at the house and Austin started reviewing his homework for an online class he's taking.
Then all hell broke loose because of a missing assignment. Austin has been very stressed the past week because of the usual factors - health, money, work, and family - so the missing assignment was pretty much the last straw. He started getting furious, banging his hands on his keyboard, cursing in front of the girls, and raising his voice in frustration. I completely understood his feelings but I have a really, really hard time with any type of physical aggression based on anger, especially when my girls are around.
To be clear, I am basically the textbook definition of a highly sensitive person.To anyone else Austin's few moments of frustration would have been nothing more than a brief blip on the radar screen. But I am just so finely attuned to emotions, especially Austin's negative ones, that anything even slightly out of the ordinary is extraordinarily distressing to me.
So I stood there watching him, having offered to help try to fix the situation but with him just needing to be angry and release some of his stress. I couldn't figure out what to do. I hate noise and fuss and watching him in distress. But I also knew he was upset and needed a way to get himself to feel better.
The "old" me would have raised my voice in kind, added to the drama and sense of volatility in the situation, and demanded he calm down or leave the house. The "new" me is trying to be more focused on supporting him, no matter what the situation, so I took a few steps back and sat down. I tried to suggest he go for a walk or take a shower or go swimming when he was at the height of his anger but he wasn't ready to let go yet.
These are the moments when I feel the conflict between wanting to wrest back control and knowing that in the long run I will be happier if I don't. We tried the version of a relationship where I was the one running the show and, while it worked well enough, it wasn't at all satisfying to my sense of who I am and how I want to feel in a relationship vis-à-vis my partner. I want him to be the man, to be able to see and feel and depend upon his masculine energy. I want to know that I am safe, secure, loved, contained, and protected. It's been a pretty steep learning curve on both of our parts and I still haven't fully absorbed or processed this afternoon so I'll let it go for now.
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