“Nancy, don’t be like that.”
I cannot count the number of times that I have been gently scolded with those words. I am not allowed to express anger, not allowed to vent rage, not allowed to speak my mind if what I have to say might upset somebody or be construed as not nice.
This is not just an echo from childhood inside my head. I am fifty-two years and still being scolded.
Nancy, don’t be like that.
But I am like that… and there are times when I should be like that.
When my husband left me, I could not afford to continue living in the home we shared, so I moved. And then I moved again. So to be very clear – this was MY home, not his. And everything in it was MY stuff, and yes… it was old stuff: a mix of antiques and used things that I had slowly gathered. It was my home and I liked my stuff.
By then, we were getting along okay and doing the co-parent thing, so when he volunteered to watch our daughter at my place so I could go out for a birthday drink with a friend, I said okay.
I came home to a house-full of smiling people, including my parents, all waiting to see the expression of joy on my face when I walked in the door and saw a big red bow on the couch of a brand new living room set. Yes, while I was gone, my ex-husband redecorated MY post-divorce home to HIS tastes.
I was angry, demanding “where’s my stuff?”
Mama scolded me. “Nancy, don’t be like that.”
I felt robbed. My stuff was GONE… replaced with huge fluffy contemporary furniture, all neutral beige, the fabric in the living room matching the fabric on the dining room’s padded chrome swivel chairs.
I bit back the tears and ran to my bedroom to see if he redecorate that room to his tastes, too. Sigh of relief to see it unchanged. Thank goodness I had moved the little antique horse-hair couch out of the living room or it would have been gone too, hauled off to the dump with everything else.
I took a moment to compose myself before I had to go back out and say what was expected of me, to thank the man who stole my stuff.
I picked an example that doesn’t matter anymore, one that clearly explains how I am “not allowed” to feel what I feel. I have to swallow it down, quench those emotions, let things slide, never seek resolution, restitution, just let it slide… hide those feelings, keep them locked inside, let it slide… again and again and again and again and never say hey, we need to set some boundaries here, this is unacceptable… or can we sit down and talk, try to reach a mutual understanding? No… supposed to let it slide. I am not allowed to be angry. No matter what, I am supposed to let it slide.
I can’t do that anymore because I don’t know how to shove down “inappropriate” emotions without bingeing. I can’t do that anymore. It is not an option.
I guess I am out in left field, learning to deal with emotions as they come. Nancy, don’t be like that?
I am coming to the conclusion that there are no “inappropriate” emotions, just inappropriate ways of expressing them.
Thanks for reading… it really helps to write.