I was cranky in the morning so my husband tried to do the right thing. He walked over to me and gave me a hug. After twenty-something years of marriage, I finally have him trained. But then he asked me what was bothering me I told him I didn’t know. Because there was nothing wrong on the surface. I wasn’t cooking. I wasn’t hosting. My kids were okay. My father was okay. I took a nice long walk to start the day.
And then he asked again, “What’s really bothering you?” And that’s when I really blew up. Sometimes, what’s bothering us lies beneath. There’s nothing officially wrong. Nothing that can be fixed. And often, it’s nothing that can be articulated.
Low-grade stress. That’s what was bothering me. The kind of low-grade stress that comes with caregiving. Not the crisis-based caregiving when one of your parents is sick, the hidden kind that comes with longer term caregiving.
I was worried about taking my 89-year old father to Thanksgiving dinner. Worried he wouldn’t be ready when we went to pick him up. Worried he would have an incident while we’re out. Worried he wouldn’t be able to hear and join the conversation. Worried he might fall.
When that low-grade worry mixes with the realization and weightiness that you are solely responsible for another adult’s ability to get out and socialize and spend time with family, it starts to bubble. And if you start to think that the holidays might be easier without your caregiving duties, you feel guilty. Because you know what that would mean and you don’t want that to happen. And when you add guilt to the mix, that’s when things erupt.
And so nothing is really wrong, but sometimes you just blow up. Or maybe it’s just me?