why i sometimes act like a toddler

I’ve been a little out of it for the past couple weeks.  I was tired, I felt like I was coming down with the flu, I couldn’t sleep and I was a general space cadet.  My brain was just not in it.  Some serious stress and burnout was piled on top of the sickness creating an avalanche of bad moods and short tempers from this girl.

I was straight up acting like a toddler.

I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern when it comes to my getting sick. Specifically, the way I treat my poor long-suffering husband and close friends.


I start to feel really sorry for myself and decide that everyone (EVERYONE) has done me wrong.  I get snippy and irritated and immediately check in to the Pity Party Motel.

Here are a few of the amenities offered at the Pity Party Motel:

  • I convince myself that everyone is out to get me.
  • I’m positive that everyone is a jerk.
  • I don’t like anyone.
  • I repeatedly say that I just need second (or 5,000 seconds) to myself.
  • I’m sure that I never get a break and that I work harder than everyone.
  • I will tell you that my life is exponentially harder than your life.
  • The phrase “my husband/friend/family NEVER ______” gets repeated.
  • I say that “my husband/friend/family ALWAYS ______” which is rarely true.

The Pity Party Motel is a crappy motel with that gross fake leather ice bucket and hideous polyester bedspread. It’s the worst place, but I love to check in for a stay every time I’m sick or tired.  I take up residence wearing my muumuu and lounge by the overly chlorinated pool and wallow.

Basically, it’s all just typical martyr syndrome.  This is obviously nowhere related to sacrificial martyrdom for a real cause, let’s be clear.  Sick Caitlyn convinces herself  that she is working so hard and gets no thanks or help or love or understanding.  Sick Caitlyn is horribly short sighted and forgets that anything good has ever happened to her.

I decide that I am always receiving the short end of life’s stick.  The words “never” and “always” get thrown around with reckless abandon.  Did you know that my husband NEVER helps out with the laundry? And did you know that he ALWAYS makes messes when he grinds the coffee? (Both of which are untrue but make totally compelling arguments [NOT] when I’m sick.)

Now, I am fully aware that this happens.  But something else happens when I’m getting sick. I completely forget that this same cycle happens every time my immunities are down and I’m tired.  I lose the ability to communicate logical thoughts.  It makes me turn on the snark, the tears, the grumbling, and the confrontational part of my brain without thinking it through.  Why doesn’t something stop me from acting on the foul mood? Something snaps in my brain, it convinces me that I’m seeing clearly now and I should really stand up for myself and talk back.  It’s one of the most regrettable personality traits.  I truly feel justified in being the worst.

I think the worst part of these adult tantrums are that I convince myself that since I’m just now seeing things clearly and should toss aside relationships with those who are actively wronging me.  In a way I’m ready to throw away everything because I’m tired of being martyred for no good cause.  I think of the meanest thing I can say and don’t worry about the consequences because I’m positive that it’s justified.  It never is justified and I’m never actually the constantly selfless martyr.  I’m just acting like a toddler.

It’s exactly like a toddler willing to stomp on his favorite toy because he doesn’t want to share.

How do I handle the toddler when he acts like this?  I hug him, I speak softly to him, and I sternly tell him that his behavior is unacceptable if the need arises.  I help him to take deep breaths, and I encourage him to rest and reevaluate.  So, why can’t I treat my own freak outs the same way? Why done I treat my thoughts with calmness and encourage personal reflection?

Because I’ve had 30 years of practicing these tantrums.  I’ve honed my skill with top notch precision.  My tantrums are Oscar worthy at this point.  Except they’re real.  In my case, the reality is much more ridiculous than fiction.

So, the next time you see me looking a little snappy and under the weather (I’m looking at you, friends from church who could tell I was a zombie Sunday before last) I want you to look me in the eyes and remind me that my life is pretty great!  I’ve got a ton going for me!  Generally, people like me! I don’t have any good reason to be sad or angry or mad!

OK, maybe in that moment I really don’t want to hear that from you.

I’ll probably spit at you, or more likely do something equally weird but still socially acceptable.

Maybe just have compassion for your friend.  Because she’s probably going to have to apologize for the things she said in a few days or after a nap or maybe after she drinks some coffee.

I’m working on it, I promise.



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