I have recently learned that I feel comfortable with rules and structure because they lay out the guidelines for how I’m supposed to act. They show me what is expected of me.
Two things happened last week that ended with me in total meltdown mode that led me to this conclusion. The first was when I got home from work, and Jay and I were discussing what time we would leave for Walmart. I always want to leave RIGHT AWAY when I get home if I have errands to run, but Jay likes to sit and talk with me before we run all over Little Rock. We agreed on that particular night to leave the house at 6:40pm to run our many errands. By 6:42pm I was close to hyperventilating, wondering why the hell we weren’t in the Blazer, on our way to Walmart. I don’t really remember what all happened, but it ended with me asking Jay why we hadn’t left on time, and him getting upset because I was bitching at him to leave. He said that something had come up that required more time, and he was upset that I wasn’t more flexible. I was upset that he didn’t stick with our agreed upon time. If I have a time that I am looking towards, it helps me to stay calm and not get anxious or overly excited about leaving. It also helps because I KNOW what will be happening when. I don’t do very well with change.
The other thing that happened was that Jay said he wanted to listen to two songs before we started a certain TV show that we watch. Jay listened to his first song. As he was looking for his second, a song came on that he has said reminds him of me. Of us. When it came on, Jay said, “Well, this wasn’t what I was looking for, but it will work.” I pointed out that he had said “two songs”, and that if he listened to the one that reminded him of us, that would mean he couldn’t listen to the one he was looking for. Now, I know how this sounds. I was not trying to be a rigid bitch. I was not trying to nit-pick or cause problems. I was just under the impression that we had set certain boundaries (Two songs. No more. No less.), and I was trying to follow them. After I got snapped at for being insensitive, I burst into tears, and told Jay that I was just trying to follow the plan we had agreed on. I told him that if we make a plan or an agreement and then it doesn’t get followed, how will I know what I’m supposed to do? How will I know how to act?
I realized immediately that I had learned something new about myself. I always knew that I was unsettled when plans were changed suddenly, or when something was agreed to and that agreement was not kept. I NEED those rules and guidelines. I NEED the structure. I NEED the agreements. Without those things I would have no idea how I was supposed to act in those certain situations. Knowing how to properly act is something that I struggle with anyway, but when I THINK I know the rules and then find out they’ve been changed, I feel like a rug has been pulled out from under me and I land flat on my ass and get the wind knocked out of me. It seems like right as I have a handle on the situation, I am told that what I thought was all wrong, and then I need to change my way of thinking yet again.
I am having a hard time when things change. Jay knows this about me, and has been doing the best he can to give me notice when he knows something is going to be different than what I originally thought. I think next time an agreement is reached, but it is unable to be kept by the other party for whatever reason, I should take some time to do mindfulness exercises. Maybe focus on my breathing or counting my breaths. I have found this has helped me to calm down significantly in the past. I had my final DBT group last Tuesday, but I hope that doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to use my skills. They have proved to be very beneficial to me, and I really want to continue with them, no matter what I’m struggling with on a daily basis.