It scares me a little how badly I want and need to do this. I feel like someone gave me permission to breathe, if that makes any sense. Writing feels like breathing to me, and I haven’t had any air in a really long time. My own fault, obviously. No one kept me from writing, except for me, and the nonsense that happens in my head. So if the frequency of this overwhelms anyone, I’m sorry. I’m sure it’s overwhelming my family as well. I know Chris must be thinking, “Again?!?” when I tell him I need to write, or when I fail to tell him anything and he just finds me sitting at the computer. I don’t always know what I want to say until I get here. Other times, I’m thinking about what I want to say while I’m doing the dishes, or watching “Ellen” with my son, or pushing Avery on the swing. I apparently have a lot to say. Whether or not I know when to stop saying it remains to be seen.
I recently saw “Before Midnight,” which is the sequel to the movies “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.” All three are incredible in different ways, and I have loved each of them for different reasons at different points in my life. I think “Before Sunset” remains my favorite, because it’s smart and funny and sexy and just cinematically brilliant. The entire thing (after the opening scene) is pretty much one 90-minute conversation, unbroken. I love the movie so much I saw it twice in the first week it was out, and I was heartbroken at the end of the first viewing because I had to leave the characters behind after only 90 minutes. Still, there was something to be said for “Before Midnight.” It’s also completely brilliant, and honest in an uncomfortable way that I can relate to entirely. The movie will probably make many viewers squirm, because the couple you have grown to love during the first two films spends much of the movie fighting. Some of their fighting is actually amusing, at least to me. It’s cute, in a way, the fights of people who have known each other inside and out for years and can therefore anticipate the other’s next move. Charming, even. But there’s a sequence toward the end of the movie in which the fight is far from funny… Celine, the main character, loses control of herself during the course of the argument and becomes irrational and nasty. It’s hard to watch her say the things she says to Jesse, and it’s also more than a little familiar.
I fight exactly the way Celine does. It’s embarrassing, really, to watch it portrayed on film and be able to recognize myself so instantaneously. I get loud when I fight, and it often feels like I’ve lost control… I’m raving like a crazy person and I know I sound crazy, but I can’t seem to do anything to stop. I rant and I rave and I project outcomes that haven’t happened yet and anticipate worst-case scenarios in a way that drives my husband crazy. I’m smart, so I can sound rational for awhile. Someone who witnessed the beginning of one of our arguments might even be led to believe that I was making perfect sense, but if he or she hung around for any length of time they would quickly discover that usually isn’t the case. I say terrible things, things that horrify me later. Any mask of sanity I wear throughout the day gets thrown to the side as the anger takes over. I split into two people in my head, the person who is watching the whole thing happen with something akin to horror, a reasonable person who wants to stop – and who certainly doesn’t want her kids to hear her sounding like this – and one who has zero control over her emotions. That person – the crazy person – thinks she’s behaving in the only way she can in the moment, and if it looks ugly, well, too damned bad. I don’t mean for it to happen, but once that irrational mode hits, it feels like there’s nothing I can do. That sounds like a cop-out, but it is how it feels. I’m certain my neighbors think I’m nuts. I wish I was the type of quiet, contained person who just said angry things in a quiet, reasonable way. I am so far from being able to pull that off. I end up wallowing in that all-too-familiar feeling of shame when the whole thing has finally died down. One more thing I need to work on. It’s a long list. The worst part, really, is that my husband is incredibly easygoing. He’s the most laid-back person on the planet, and typically quite passive. It takes quite a bit to get him to fight at all, and given the kind of arguing I tend toward, it never seems to be a fair fight. If I can get him to start yelling back I can pretty much guarantee I’ve crossed a line somewhere along the way. The sad part is, if I’m really lost in that irrational mode, even that can seem like a victory to me. Sick.
I recently read about a woman who made a vow to stop yelling for a year. Apparently – not shockingly – the idea has spawned a movement of sorts, and other people are trying it. I’d be thrilled to make it even a week.