The above meme made me think of expressing not just anger, but all emotions AND wants and needs.
From the age of twenty-one to twenty three, I worked for 18, EIGHTEEN!!!, psychiatric residents on the psychiatric wing of our local hospital. (Then from 23 to 31, I worked at the Psychiatric Center–I’ll blog about this some day.) This was back in the day of Dictaphones and IBM Selectric typewriters. They had weekly appointments with patients (violent, scary patients who threw things at me and they found out quickly that this tall, size 4 woman was NOT afraid of them and a true fighter). These residents did their rotations in the Emergency Room–all of which required typed notes for the medical records. And, of course, because they were busy students, they waited until the last month to submit them all to me. The rest of the year I sat bored to tears reading romance novels, talking on the phone, and having weekly therapy with eighteen therapists while they had coffee or had lunch.
I was their little test bunny, they analyzed and critiqued me constantly, and I learned a TON.
I learned things like: If you jump or scream when someone taps you on the shoulder or says your name, you are typically thinking something evil or naughty. I would say about 95% of the time, this is right. Notice how many times someone comes into the room and says your name and you are fine.Other times, you leap and scream–typically you are planning someone’s demise (well….maybe that’s me LOL)
I learned that we have seasonal/anniversary dates that affect our moods tremendously. I told one of my residents that Spring has always been a difficult time for me. I could never put a name on it–I would just feel sad, and find myself sighing–often. He asked me to list some of the milestone and/or terrible events in my life–events that I felt molded me or scarred me–and determine the dates/seasons for these events. (I may do a blog on this someday soon also—it’s very interesting.) The end result was that almost all of these occurred in the months of April or May.
There isn’t much you can do to change any of that—but what you can do is be aware. And isn’t that part of life? We are to become aware of our downfalls, weaknesses, and disabilities so we can compensate for them. So I told my husband shortly before (or after) our marriage that I just cry more and tend to be more sensitive in April and May. There’s nothing he can do, but he can quietly sit next to me and hold my hand. It passes and most days I’m fine, I just sigh a little more– and a little louder or longer.
I learned–It’s virtually impossible
to have a screaming fight from a sitting position. Fights escalate if
you’re standing. Always have a “discussion” while sitting.
These men and women analyzed my dreams and even my doodles. I was constantly doodling boxes while I talked on the phone (which I did often on this job–there was nothing else to do unless it was May or June). I drew elaborate boxes, shadowed boxes, boxes with bows, boxes with beautiful flowers inside them. Of course, it meant that I felt boxed in and the beautiful flower stuck in the box was me. And they were right, once I escaped the constricting boyfriend and controlling mother relationship, I stopped doodling boxes.
I had one male doctor–he was so sweet, I loved him. He asked me one day. “Who rewarded you for whining?” Blink Blink. (No answer) “Someone trained you as a child that whining gets you what you want. It wont’ work with me. Straighten up your voice and ask me for what you want or just do it the way I said.” Wow! That made me do an about turn.
But the most valuable lesson I learned (from the same male doctor) at this office was this: Ask for what you want. You can’t expect others to read your mind. You’ll never be happy hoping people will guess what you want.
It was my birthday and the doctor asked me what the boyfriend was getting me–I responded that I was hoping he’d send me flowers at work and take me to dinner.
He regarded me quizzically, “Did you ask him to send flowers to work?” I replied, “No, but I’ve hinted at it.” And that’s when he said. You need to ask for it. But, I’ve always been a romantic, and I told him that would ruin the surprise and romance. I’ll never forgot his response. The disappointment will be much worse. You have a choice, you can hope he will be able to read your mind but more than likely you’ll be disappointed. Or, you can ask him to send you flowers and get to enjoy them, receiving what you wanted. “You’ll never be happy hoping people will guess what you want. Ask for what you want!!”
So that’s how I’ve done it! I’ll say to the husband (and children) early in the year like January–“I’d like to get some flower this year either for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or my birthday. I don’t care which one–or all three. But I want flowers this year.”
The same is true with anger, disappointment, or sadness. I don’t expect him to guess that I am upset with any of those emotions–typically I’ll wait until we’re sitting somewhere relaxed. (Remember the rule about sitting?)
We never have serious discussions in bed—in our 26 years of marriage, I don’t think we’ve ever had a serious discussion in bed. The marriage bed is for making love and cuddling, not for fighting or heavy discussions.
I think the key to getting along anywhere–work, church, marriage, kids, etc. is openly discussing emotions– don’t express anger or disappointment! Explain your emotions!
We have had our best discussions when I say “This hurt” or “I was so disappointed” or “I was angry when…” The other thing I have to say A LOT is: I don’t expect you to fix it. I’m just saying how I feel. Sometimes there isn’t a damn thing they can do, I just need to talk about it.
So the next time you wish they would “just know” how you feel or wish they would “just be romantic” remember this.