2 min read

Reflecting Stress as Love

How do I reflect my wife's work-related stress back as love?
Reflecting Stress as Love

I have agency. That's what's on my mind right now, and it's tied to the old feelings of low self-esteem.

Let's see if I can unpack where this is coming from.

I've been looking through old journal entries in DayOne's excellent On This Day feature, although I could have told you without doing that that December is always a really difficult month for my wife. She runs a translation company with some pretty big clients, and I guess that, for them, approaching year-end means 'let's get this backlog of work cleared'. So, it means stress city for my wife.

And this is where the agency thing comes in.

I seem to feed off her stress and it makes me feel meek and timid and, yes, I'll come out and say it, depressed. So instead of doubling down on publishing content for my own business so that I can make a living and set her free, I go into a kind of woe-is-me mode and I end up doing not very much of anything.

In the old days, I'd take a drink and the feeling of low self-esteem would disappear. I'd feel strong and capable of looking after her and taking care of myself too. At least that's how it would feel in my head and, if I'm honest, still does. What generally would happen is that I'd get the taste for it and drink myself into blackout, thereby making everything much, much worse.

So I'm grateful that I won't be doing that today!  

What I'd like to be able to do today, besides the doubling-down thing, is to look after my own mental health by eating well and exercising and meditating and reading so that I'm in a strong position to reflect her stress back at her as love.

So, instead of getting angry with her when she accepts yet another job when she's already way beyond capacity, I should accept that she comes under the rubric of 'people, places and things that I cannot change' and do what I can to keep the household running, making sure that she's eating well and showing her the love that I feel for her and the gratitude that she's keeping us afloat financially while I earn pretty much nothing.  

I should let go the feeling of guilt that I experience when I'm watching TV while she's working, or when I'm listening to music, or sleeping in late, or reading a book. Those are all things that I do for myself and I shouldn't feel guilty at doing them just because my wife has to work.

I'm probably not explaining this very well, but I do feel a sense of guilt when I do those things. So, today I worked on that. I read some Tao of Pooh in bed in the morning then went back to sleep for an hour. I wrote my introduction document for the writing group I'm a member of (Foster) while listening to The Nutcracker, and I walked Clover-the basset up the steep hill above our house before dark.

I'll cook for my wife and son tonight and, with any luck, knock a couple more things off my to-do list that I've been ignoring since Monday. Then I'll watch TV and go to bed, ready to be strong tomorrow to show my wife the love she deserves.