Being Aware of Your Fears...

We had Chinese food the other night.  I don’t generally take stock in Chinese mystisism as touted by a badly made cookie, but as I shared with the children, I pulled a fortune that had a deeper meaning.

Being Aware of Your Fears Will Improve Your Life

I had a dream the night before.  In the dream, I was moving into a new apartment with my aunt and my cousin.  And my ex.  It suddenly dawned on me (in the dream) that he’d been my ex for a long time – and for very good reason.  And yet I felt bound to stay in the new apartment.  I was on my knees in the center of the biggest room.  Alone.  Crying.  Pounding the floor and asking myself why I’d done it again. And then I woke up with a start.

I know what brought this dream on.  That evening, my husband and I had a discussion about our new bathroom.  We’d been back and forth during the day as we needed to pick out a new sink – and I was reluctant to make the decision on my own. I sent him a sink I liked, he said it was ok – and I purchased it on the way home.

When I got home and showed him, he told me that I’d picked the wrong one – it was too small. He was a bit terse – as it meant another trip to the store.  I felt blamed. We didn’t argue – but our discussion was tense. And it brought it all back for me. The tightening in the chest. The urge to leave.

Truly, I hadn’t done anything wrong. But in the place I was coming from, it felt wrong. It felt like I’d wronged my husband and we were going to have an argument. I couldn’t breathe at the thought. The dream was my fears coming to reality. I skipped dinner and went to our room, withdrawing from the conversation.

It’s a hold over from my first marriage.  I couldn’t bring anything new into the house without his approval.  If I did, he’d yell me, cause a fight about something else, or make me take it back, or wouldn’t speak to me.  Even sometimes if he’d agreed to it – if he didn’t like it when it arrived, it was my fault. That cloud that hovered over everything. It was all about power and control. He had to be in control. There was no way to appease him. Being complacent annoyed him. Arguing made it worse. So I would generally just withdraw and wait until he moved onto the next thing. That was my whole first marriage. Tense. And under a cloud.

With this argument, instead of licking my wounds, I faced my fear. When Hubs came up to bed, I took a deep breath and started a discussion. I explained to Hubs that I’d sent him a link to the sink I liked so he could make sure it would work. I don’t do hardware. I didn’t know what size the sink was. I assumed when he said it was OK, that he’d looked at it and ensured that the size was right.

I apologized. He apologized. We agreed it was a misunderstanding. And we let it go. And it was a great relief. Instead of avoiding and going into a holding pattern – instead of a cloud of avoidance or passive aggressive behavior – we discussed it and let it go. We agreed that next time we’d be more cognizant of each other’s deficits. And we will.

I know it’s something I’ll still have to work on. And I’m still afraid that I will throw a monkey wrench into my marriage because I’m afraid of it ending up like my first. I am afraid that my first instinct may always be to withdraw. But if I can face those fears – and confront them.  If I can engage instead of withdrawing, I’m on my way to addressing those fears, and hopefully, moving past them.

Image Credit: Daniel St.Pierre /

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  1. It’s true that old habits die hard – and I think especially ones that are holdovers from times in our lives when we were hurt. Hooray for you for facing your fear and employing that most important of all skills, communication! Men and women often misunderstand one another. Add a history of hurt feelings that’s hard to let go and it’s even more challenging. Keep working, you, and keep moving forward.
    And yay for a new sink – whatever size it is! 😀

    1. Author

      If only it were easy to let go of those things. I’d like to just drop them in the ocean and walk away. But here I am anyway – and I’ll keep chipping away at them.

      And yes – he installed it himself too! I’ve definitely got a keeper!

  2. 1. Congrats on your new bathroom. 2. Excellent work taking a step back and understanding the underlying cause of your upset. 3. Kudos for bringing it up with your husband. and 4. Props to him for being understanding instead of defensive. Sounds like you are both on the right track.

  3. Thank you for being so honest in your post! I suffer greatly from holding back comments to avoid any type of confrontation and, you’re right, NOT saying something turns those feelings into a little (or big!) cloud that follows you around. Best to confront those feelings, speaking truthfully, and then move on! The conversation is almost never as bad as we think it is going to be.

  4. Huge, HUGE kudos to you, my dear. One of the most difficult things is overcoming those patterns which result from abuse, and I’m so glad you were able to identify it and take steps to challenge it. I’m MORE glad you have a chap who understands and is good at talking things out with you and that you both make sure you’re on the same team.

    All so, so wonderful, and so healing, and well done you 🙂

    1. Author

      I think healing takes a lot of time and self reflection. I’m sure that you’re in the process of discovering the same. Thanks (as always) for being here.

      1. I’m glad. I think the balance has been tipped back in your favour, and thank goodness.

  5. Well, I go down that dark alley once in a while, too. One wrong thing said and I’m back in 1999. A friend told me not to go down that road but it’s really hard not to. Good for you for starting a discussion about it. These are the little things that make a difference. It’s easy to dismiss it and say well, it’s only a sink so why get bent out of shape But it’s the little things that really do cause the distress. Great post, Liv!

    1. Author

      It is really hard to change behaviours that are so well ingrained. I’m glad though that there’s so much sun on this side of the road!

  6. For some reason we’ve been getting hilarious fortunes lately. Like one about how self love is the first love. And another that said for us to go get another fortune!
    Anyway, that was a sidenote. I love your fortune. And mostly, I love that you were able to clear the air with your husband. It’s different this time.

  7. One of my favorite expressions is that “awareness is half the battle.” That means you are well on your way to changing that habit and bringing forth one more positive into your marriage, Liv!

    Chinese mysticism tends to hold a great deal of meaning for me…Seriously…it’s a rare occasion that my little cookies don’t give me something relevant…lol

    So happy you are “celebrating” you by writing about this. Excellent way to rebound!! <3

  8. Having an open door to discuss issues together makes a strong marriage stronger. Lack of communication just breeds anger, sadness and distrust. What a beautiful thing you have in your new marriage. You have a spouse that is willing to engage in discussions and work things out. I agree that being aware of your fears and facing them brings about positive change. 🙂

  9. the first way to healing is to acknowledge there’s something you need to work on(facing fears), then you find out where it began (which you did), then there’s the part of ‘doing something about it’ breaking an old cycle/habit can be difficult, but each time you do the right thing it becomes easier and easier with time. Don’t blame yourself, it’s not your fault that your 1st husband was damaging mentally and emotionally… and don’t feel bad if those emotions comeback from time to time!
    I am happy that you are heading in an even happier more relaxed life. Keep your head up and stay strong, and this will be a far off distant memory.
    Take care!

    1. Author

      It’s hard sometimes not to blame myself for what happened. But I’m trying to chose to look at it as a choice I made that had not just negative consequences – but also positive ones. Thanks Eloise!

  10. I’m really proud of how you handled it, my friend. It’s amazing how our ‘old stuff’ comes up with those triggers that so easily take us into regression and responses that are automatic and defeating. You DID IT. You changed that pattern and I LOVE that you were able to identify what happened and the internal strife that occurred- when we are more aware of our initial instincts we have already begun the change.

    It all makes perfect sense- the dynamics of your x and you spilling into the present. And into your dreams! Ugh. I have found myself doing that with my husband- where my childhood rises to a roar in response to him at times, and I KNOW that it isn’t at all about him or my present life. It’s hard work, isn’t it? To keep fighting off those deep demons…

    BUT we have the weapons to do it! AND we have surrounded ourselves with healthy and whole and wonderful beautiful relationships now. I’m so grateful for that.

    1. Author

      It is of hard work to fight them off. They seem to keep creeping back in without my awareness. But you’re right – we do have the tools to fight them. And we do have to be so thankful for healthy relationships that allow us to use those tools. Thanks Chris!

  11. I think these things all disappear with time – I found it difficult with previous partners but I’m really happy now and I have open discussions with them all the time. Just keep at it and you will be surprised I’m sure.

    Lottie xx

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