Lest you think I’m some ancient Deanna Troi, I’m struggling with Vince now. I’m irritated by him and I can’t help myself and he inherited my sensitivity to emotion and he can tell that I’m irritated at him no matter how hard I try to hide it and we are at odds. Vince is more performative with his emotional skills and therefore naturally falls into leadership roles and I am more supportive in my methods, hence the weird fun I get from bedside nursing. Though I think we could both modify our skills to fit the other situation – this is why I have a suspicion I would not be a bad manager even though the thought of it makes me feel like I’m going to throw up (Vince is a good leader, but he tells me that he also feels like throwing up before holding an important meeting) and this is why I think Vince will be a very good husband – wives don’t need to be led in a marriage, they need to be supported (and he can cook). Vince also inherited what I consider to be my “bad traits” mostly a tendency towards depression which I feel badly for “giving” to him and he also has traits that are the opposite of mine which drive me crazy – most notably his lack of discipline – which I am conflicted about within my own personality. Of course, it’s awesome to be disciplined – lots gets done in an orderly, systematic fashion, but I often feel like I can not have fun, I can not be spontaneous, I can not be creative because I’m so beholden to my to-do list.
The reasons that I’m irritated with him are petty. I will acknowledge that. They are from the viewpoint of an adult’s experienced eye towards a teenager’s behavior. I know, intellectually, he has to walk the road towards adulthood, as we all do, by himself. I’m still walking that road – still learning things about myself and the world – thirty years ahead of him. So I tried hard to talk myself out of my irritation with him. I did this all day. a mantra – don’t be irritated with Vince. don’t be irritated with Vince. you want this week to be a happy week. it’s the last week he’s living in the house as a child. you want it to be a good experience. As we sat down to dinner last night, I was on my best behavior. Jeremy said, afterwards, I could not tell that you were irritated with Vince (even though he knows the whole story of my irritation). But within 5 minutes, Vince turned to me and said I know you are mad at me. And then – how can I deny it? Seriously, 98% of people, I can hide my irritation from. Including Jeremy. Including some of my best friends. All of my patients. But from Vince? Hopeless. Jeremy said, with him, you have to actually feel it and believe it for Vince to feel it and believe it. And it takes a long time to train oneself to not be irritated. For example, the most loving thing I can do for Jeremy is to listen to him talk for a long time about his work. If I let him, I’m sure we could spend an hour everyday talking about legislative policy. I find this to be tedious and, at times, irritating. But a long time ago, I realized that this was one of the things he needed from me, so I trained myself to not have my first, initial reaction to be irritation. And I would say 80% of the time, I look forward to talking about biofuels policy (even though I often can’t remember what we talked about). But 20% of the time, because I’m tired or worried or busy with other things, I fall back to my most basic reaction which is irritation. But because I’ve trained myself, I can usually just note the irritation and then set it aside. I would say only 1% of the time do I sustain my irritation during the whole interaction. But Jeremy has also modified his behaviour to match me. I’m sure he does not indiscriminately ask me for my time, but, of course, when he is stressed, he wants to talk more which I try to accomodate. My worst, dirtiest trick (trick is too strong of a word), was years before, I’d have him talk policy right before we fell asleep and I would be lulled to sleep by his soothing voice and boring content (my own live, personal ASMR – perhaps my favorite way of falling asleep) and then he’d be wired and then couldn’t fall asleep for hours. We don’t do this anymore.
Anyways, Vince was in a good mood last night at dinner and toyed with my irritation in a good-natured way which may have made me more irritated with him. Jeremy looked at us and said, this is going to be the longest, most tortured road trip ever. I sadly concurred. Hopefully it won’t be too bad. I’m still working on my mantras.