Emotional regulation.
Sunday, 02.28.2016 - 10:45 pm.

I went to Stonehenge and Bath with my nephew yesterday. It was amazing, both places were amazing and I wished I lived closer to them so I could visit them again. I might, but it usually is very expensive so who knows. This was a group trip so it was much more affordable.

I'm not a fan of group trips, there were around a 100 people, give or take. Three friends/colleagues from my department went, too, one with her boyfriend, one with her husband and daughter. There were some troubles, the main one was that we had to wait 75 minutes for a second bus in the middle of our journey; that meant a 5-hour bus ride instead of a 3-hour one, and thus we had to rush through Stonehenge and Bath. Plus, the places were crowded (understandably) and it was annoying sightseeing as a group.

Still! Seeing these places were worth all the trouble. And my nephew is the best company, he's very easygoing and every once in a while we thrown in-jokes and crack ourselves up. I laugh out loud everyday with him here, he's a hoot.

This is going to sound really sad but I didn't miss Andrew. While I was slightly annoyed whenever something came up during the trip, I imagined he'd be miserable and would just ruin the moment even more with his mood. I was glad not to have him around, really. It's a terrible thing to feel and say but there it is. See, he'd been moody the two previous days and I was tired of him pouting and being pitiful. It had nothing to do with me but I'm the one who's always around. I'm getting tired of never knowing when or why he'll get moody, and then me getting upset because here it is again out of the blue, and then he's maybe getting mad at me because I look mad for apparently no reason or perhaps he's just staying mad at that particular thing.

I know that on Thursday afternoon he had a very unsatisfying meeting with his supervisor. He was disappointed when we met afterwards, and he had all reason to feel like that. But then it seemed to snowball into some kind of emotional force that had him frowning and bitter for the rest of the afternoon and sent him to bed at 7 pm. I offered him my laptop so he could watch a TV series as he'd been planning for days, but he turned it away.

He does that, he gets moody and starts denying himself stuff that'd help him feel better or at least take things off his mind for a while. It's like he self-punishes or something and marinates in his misery. The next day he barely spoke to me and continued being bitter and that upset me. Then he changed a few plans during our office hours without telling me and that was the last straw for me. Perhaps, perhaps he realized that, because when we met to get back home he was more easygoing and didn't seem like he was mad at me anymore (I know he wasn't, but when he's mad at whatever, it looks like he is at me).

I get tired of doing most of the emotional work in the relationship. He's an emotionally smart guy, but sometimes he just loses it. Look, I too can be really angry sometimes, and Andrew will catch me in the middle of that. But once I say what's wrong, it passes; it has to. Or sometimes I won't say what's wrong because it has to do with him and I don't want to tell him because it may make it worse. This is where the emotional work comes in, because I make all the effort to not snap at him. I don't say it like I deserve a cookie. I mean I control my fucking thoughts and emotions (or I let loose in safe places, like this diary) and stand in his shoes and realize that he's not seeing what I'm seeing so I'm not going to snap at him, he's not doing it to bother me or because he doesn't care about me. I've been so angry and I've hold it in for the sake of not being rude or unfair to him.

When I see him get miserable and continue being miserable for hours or days, I do feel he's being unfair to me. And he becomes cold and selfish (as in, he may change plans without telling me). He has all the right to feel how he feels but there's two of us! He's ruined moments before because he gets upset in the middle of them, "it's too crowded", "it was too hot in there". Jesus Christ, sometimes you gotta soldier on and enjoy the big picture. He has a really low tolerance to not being comfortable and that only seems to be getting worse.

Then there's the fact that he just spends his days in bed. I do think it's less now that there's more sunlight but usually that's his routine: if he's at home then he's in bed. Or on the bed. I know he gets bored without his computer and there's not much else to do (there always is, really, keeping a house is hard and constant work, but he doesn't see the clutter and the stains and the dust like I do). He tries to entertain himself with the phone or his gameboy, and also the living room is not very homely yet. To be fair, he also took up cooking and baking, and he's very skillful. Though he hasn't done it much lately.

I was disappointed when he first said he didn't want to go to the Stonehenge trip. On one hand, I understood perfectly: he was foreseeing the annoyances of group travel, and also, he and I are alike in how much we appreciate being in solitude. I'm sure he had the most wonderful day at home by himself, watching (finally) the TV series he likes and eating pizza. Still, I insisted he'd come as it would be a great thing to share.

Then, his absence during the trip made me see how many trips we have not taken because, beyond budget, he isn't "feeling like it" or he'd rather stay at home. Which is fair, I too love staying at home so much, but come on, can we go out once in a while? We won't be in this continent forever and I'll go alone if I have to. We come home after work and he dims the lights in our bedroom and gets into bed, to watch episode after episode of YouTube channels he follows. In the morning, while getting ready to work and sometimes during breakfast, he keeps watching. And then continues when we return from work. Weekends are not much different.

I'm really having the time of my life here, but so far it's shaping up like whenever I'll look back on Andrew during this chapter of our lives, I will see him under the covers, a lump in bed staring at his phone with the lights low. I feel so bored with him every now and then. Perhaps I'm just being punished because I was a bore to Joseph, I never went out with him and stuff. I mean, we did go out, but I too preferred staying home rather than going to parties and bars or anything else that was fun for him. I didn't mean to be so boring and I've said I'm sorry about that many times. Being sorry for it does not exempt me from paying for it, I guess.

(Today's Joseph's birthday, by the way. And that's all I can say about that.)

Back to Andrew. We're not rude to one another when either of us, or both are angry; we're still civil to each other even when we're mad. I wonder if he has depression or season-specific depression, only because I suspect these things look different when you are inside the situation and not an external observer. But he's normally all right in his mood, you know. It's that he's just so bad at regulating his negative emotions, man, and I'm tired of dealing with it when it happens. Even if I don't have to deal with it directly, you enter the room, look at him and just know something has made him moody. Sometimes he'll tell me, sometime he'll say it's nothing. I'll scrutinize everything I've done recently to see if I may be the cause, and it seems most of the time I'm not (when in doubt, I ask him to make sure).

Ugh. I needed to get this off my chest. When I get mad at him for having his emotions out of control, I start to list episodes in which I've regulated my emotions so as to not cause trouble between us. Actually, that's what makes me mad the most. I feel it's really a one-sided effort, I make the effort to not dwell too much (and you know me, I do dwell a lot), and he'd be the first to ask me to not worry about it, get distracted or get over it, to look at the bright side. But then he does dwell on whatever happens that causes him discomfort and it goes on and on.

Now I'll go to our bedroom and I'll find him happily watching something in his cell phone on our bed. Perhaps I'll feel bad for all I've said here, and that'll be until next time I notice he's starting to frown for reasons unknown.

* Fun fact: my supervisor has worked with emotional regulation, that's how I know the concept. It helped me put a few things into words. That and the concept of emotional labor.

* Not so fun fact: I guess I'd be terrified to know Andrew's point of view about me regarding the subject discussed here. I'm always aware how differently each of us may perceive and judge the same thing.

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