Self-soothing – “Breathe”

By | May 9, 2012

Hubs and I don’t have kids yet, but when we do, we’re planning to teach them to self-soothe. (After they are old enough for that, obviously. We’re not sure what age that is yet, but we’ll figure that out when we get there.)

Anyway, self-soothing kids isn’t really what I wanted to talk about.

I’m learning to self-soothe myself.

I’ve realized in the past 10 months, (Yup, 10 months married today!) that I get upset more often than I used to. I’m not really upset with Hubs, but he’s usually involved because he’s here and we’re married now, so he’s always involved. I blame the hormone pills, because, let’s face it, those things can cause some trouble in the emotions department. But I also understand that we’re around each other more, we share more, talk more, interact more, and disagree more.

All of those are great reasons for me to be upset more.

Ok, not great reasons to be upset, but rather, realistic causes for me to be upset.

(You understood what I mean, right?)

Anyway, while those are all true, and whether or not is seems like it from reading about all the ways we fight, I’m getting better at forgetting the little things and not overreacting about minor disagreements or troubles. I think the main reason I sometimes find myself overwhelmed and ready to cry is because we have huge decisions facing us right now that we have no idea of how to plan for. And I’m a planner. Planning is my thing. I planned my way into graduating college in three years with a double major and an honors degree. With a 4.0. I’m an excellent planner.

But there’s no way to plan for the sort of decisions we’re making now. Decisions that will affect us for a long time in a lot of different ways… financially, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally…

Big stuff.

It isn’t like I didn’t know we’d have to decide this stuff, it’s just that I thought it would be easier.

(I know, right? I was young and in love, or young and dumb, your pick…)

And I get overwhelmed when I think about all the things we have no way of knowing or deciding.

And when I get overwhelmed, I can’t sleep.

And when I can’t sleep, Hubs gets upset because I’m keeping him up.

And when Hubs gets upset, he’s not always that great at calming me down and cheering me up.

(That’s something I’ve learned from other great marriage blogs (like this one!): Don’t try to discuss important things when you’re tired. It won’t work!)

So, I’m learning to self-soothe.

I’m hoping this will help him not have to worry about what to say (that I already know) or solve (when there’s no solution) when he’s already too tired to think clearly or communicate effectively and let him focus on simple things that will make me feel better.

Things like pulling me in for a tight hug and rubbing my back or neck, massaging my head, holding my hand and squeezing every few seconds so I know he’s awake and that he cares that I’m upset.

And for my part, I’ll repeat the things he’s said so many times before in my head. I’ll silently pray for peace and the ability to rely on God’s sovereignty in our lives. (Sometimes I pray out loud, too, but that often makes me cry for some reason, so I can’t always get the words out.) And I breathe.

Breathing is what Hubs does best when he needs to calm me down.

It’s a special, sweet way of showing me, with love, that he cares that I’m upset but that I need to calm down. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a very big deal to me.

I actually already wrote about this last year on the blog I wrote as a happy journal, so I wanted to share it here with you guys.

Day 304: “Breathe”

12052011

No one, and I mean, no one, knows me the way Wyatt does. I mean, yes, I’m close to my parents and my sister and my closest friends and other family members, but really, it’s not the same. I know that’s how it is supposed to be, I am marrying him after all. I just enjoy when something touches me in a certain way and I realize the awesome way that God blessed us with each other.

Tonight, I was pretty upset about something and I was crying, quite a bit (as odd as that is to admit on this very public forum, but we’re all friends here, right?  So I can if I want to). Anyway, whenever I’m crying, I’m usually trying to stop crying, so I tend to hold my breath in hopes that it will get better and the crying will just…I don’t know…go away?

At this point, I need to describe the kind of crying we’re dealing with. This is the quiet, lots of tears running down my cheeks, but I’m not making a sound, kind of crying. Not sobbing and gasping for air, but also not a single glistening tear down my cheek (as much as my attempts to hold my breath try to make it that kind of crying). It’s a very quiet, very upset, very painful, and honestly, a very unproductive way to cry, but I can’t help it, when I’m upset and don’t want to cry but can’t hold it in, that’s how it comes out.

Well, recently, I guess more than recently, but recently I’ve noticed, Wyatt has gotten into the habit of saying “breathe” whenever he can tell I’m holding my breath when I’m crying or about to cry or some combination of both. It never fails that I suddenly realize, “hey, I haven’t inhaled in a long time.” So I do, and slowly, as he reminds me to breathe in and out, deeply, he calms me down and I stop crying.

As I write this, I think my dad used to do this too, when I was MUCH younger, and it was different. That was when it used to be the sobbing, can’t catch my breath because I’m gasping for air and choking on my sobs kind of crying. You know…crying. Anyway, he used to tell me to breathe too, and it helped then, too, I know, though I can’t really remember. I think he was a bit firmer, probably because he was more trying to ensure I didn’t make myself hurl because I was crying so hard, which isn’t really an issue now.

But this is different. Maybe it’s the way Wyatt says it to me softly, as if he’s holding me (sometimes he actually is holding me, other times, like tonight, it’s on the phone) and he just whispers it in my ear, and then he breathes for me. Not literally by blowing air into my lungs, but he breathes in and out, slowly, loudly, clearly, so I can follow him. And then the two of us are breathing together, just in and out, quietly, (usually, there are still a few louder, quicker breaths from me as I slowly get adjusted back to regular breaths), by allowing my body to melt into his (whether together or apart), the tears just seem to stop.

I hope that wasn’t sharing too much with you all. I guess it was pretty personal, but it was on my heart and on my mind as I sit here in bed waiting for the sleepiness to come. It’s amazing to me how I’m reminded of the little ways in which Wyatt’s love for me is so pure, so honest, so perfect, so…us.

It really is a beautiful picture of Love, capital “L” Love, you know, the kind that we can only know through our Father? The kind of love that reaches down to us when we are so unlovable (with our gasping breaths and puffy, red eyes) and says, “Yes, I love you and don’t want you to hurt. Now, “Breathe.”

“And the Lord God made man from the dust of the earth, breathing into him the breath of life…” Genesis 2:7

Your turn! I’d love to know what you think about this sweet way Hubs blesses me, and I’d love to hear what works for you when you’re upset and need to self-soothe.

8 thoughts on “Self-soothing – “Breathe”

  1. Britt T

    My hubby and I got married last July, and I’ve learned how sanctifying and refining it is. I really do believe one of the purposes of marriage is to refine us into holier people. So maybe you do get upset more often, but more likely, marriage is just exposing what was already there.

    Today my prayer for you is that you would turn to the cross, remember self-sacrificial love, and remember that in this great big story… we will look like different characters than when the book first began. 🙂

    Reply
    1. melissashipman Post author

      What a great prayer! Thank you! We certainly do teach each other a lot. And I’m so enjoying learning what real love, Godly love, is like more every day!

      Reply
  2. Merritt | LiveSimplyLove

    What a great post Melissa! I can relate but in a different way. I’ve been told more than once lately that I really need to reduce my stress level. One of my assignments is to take 50 deep breaths a day. I’m coming to find out that it’s really hard for me to do that (clearly an indicator of my stress level). But when I do it, I feel so much better.

    I love that sweet Wyatt knows you well enough to help you with your emotional overwhelm. I, too, love the prayer above from Britt…and I read this morning in James about letting go of our worldly passions that make us angry or covetous. It’s so true that when we focus on the greatness and glory of our Creator, our stuff starts to seem a bit smaller. Thanks for sharing this honest post today (and for the shout out to LiveSimplyLove)!

    Reply
    1. melissashipman Post author

      Thanks for the support! Wyatt is such a blessing in that he’s typically more controlled and helps me work on controlling myself. I so agree that worldly stuff can so easily overwhelm us and yet so easily be swept away when we get our focus back on God.
      Good luck with your breathing! It helps, I swear!

      Reply
  3. lifewithacrazypup

    Thank you for being so honest and open! It’s refreshing to know that everyone has similar problems. I’ve been trying hard to spend some alone time when I realize that I’m getting cranky or annoyed. It makes me calm down without saying something that I don’t mean to the husband.

    Reply
    1. melissashipman Post author

      Agreed! And good job and good luck to you as yo work on being more self-aware and proactive in combating those negative emotions. It’s a hard thing to learn, and I still have lots to figure out, but we’re all figuring this out as we go along together! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  4. Gabby

    I needed this tonight. We’re so alike! Haha thanks for the laugh and nice reminder to BREATHE!

    Reply

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