She may have broken me. Over the last few weeks, she’s tried hard, and I think she’s done it now.
Not my wife, but my oldest daughter, Amélie.
Amélie is one of the sweetest people in the world when she’s nice. But, when she loses her temper, she uses that big brain of hers to find just the right zinger to make the target feel so very very small. Since she’s come back from her first year at college (university), she’s been morose, fragile, and tempermental. Part of it is the sudden change from being among many friends to being stuck at home (still no Driver Licence or car) with most of her local friends still at college or gone somewhere for the summer. Part of it is the household, the one she described as “toxic” a few months ago because of the difficult circumstances here. Part of it is, I suspect, that she didn’t do as well as she’s capable of and is probably now experiencing regret. Pile all those on top of one another, add some others I haven’t thought of, tie them up, and set them alight and — whoosh! — fireworks are inevitable.
Up until today, I’ve been coping fairly well. It’s not been any fun at all, but I’ve kept myself together.
I was in the office this afternoon and had a few people meeting with me. It was embarrassing when I answered the phone to get an earful of “she said, no *she* said, but SHE…” rants with everyone pretending not to listen. If the phone had only rung once, I might have survived humiliation. Despite my quiet insistence that we’d talk later as I was at work, I got a series of phone calls over the next half-hour. Kids never appreciate that ‘home’ problems aren’t supposed to be ‘office’ problems…
When I arrived home from work at about 8pm (which, in case you’re wondering, is later than usual), Amélie was sorrowful and affectionate…briefly. As soon as I made comments about the To Do list not being started never mind finished, it was a new meltdown. Bear in mind, this is the one from Monday, not one I set today.
Her meltdown broke me.
Until she came home from college, through all of this, I have been steady. But if someone pushes the right buttons hard enough, it’s impossible to listen to these things without responding. But if I respond, then I’m Mr. Angry and that doesn’t work for all of us. If I bottle it up, that doesn’t work forever either. Catch-22.
The thing is, although she might regret them tomorrow, she said such hurtful (and untrue) things that I just decided I’ve had enough. My Board election is tomorrow and I’m supposed to prepare materials tonight. But I won’t. I just can’t. I hardly ever get depressed, but when I do, I just stop doing things that I should. I just want to get in a car and drive west (drive east from here and you get wet quickly), visit some flyover states and pretend there’s no real world to worry about. I’m sure we all react in a similar way, even if we have different triggers.
This is only partly Amélie’s fault. Having my wife move out this week…hmm…might also be relevant. For those of you who have read these posts waaaay back, you may recall that I missed out on a Director slot with the Government. Another one opened up today, but it’s only for employees and I’m a contractor, so I can’t apply. That hurts too, as I had a reasonable chance at that position.
The thing that keeps me holding it together is that my other two angels are just that. Brigitte is resolute in getting through this, she is highly organized, and ignores as much fuss as she can. Charlotte worries but doesn’t do it in abrasive way. They are good models for me.
If this were a Friends episode, Monica and Rachel would be feeding me ice cream…