It’s the Final Shutdown

Recently, I’ve been learning about shutting down, particularly in the context of a relationship. That awkward, hurtful silence as you realise something has gone awry.

Opening up is difficult, especially when you’re very upset or pissed off, and you just can’t seem to find the right words to express yourself, if indeed you wish to express yourself at all!

The situation may become more complicated when tricky mental health issues are involved. As someone with OCD, anxiety issues, and a history of depression, I’m only too aware as to how these sort of problems can skew an already difficult moment in relationships and friendships.

Unfortunately, shutting down often has a consequence. If I talk to you about something that you’re insecure about, and something I say “triggers” you, thus leading you to shut down and feel upset, then it’s problematic.

Why?

Because when someone shuts down like that, the other person doesn’t know how to react; the person being blocked out has no facts on which to base his or her thoughts and feelings, which leads to confusion, frustration, and sometimes even aggravation.

But wait!

This can be resolved with some careful communication. Even just a word or two from the person who has shut down—and an understanding approach from your partner—can make the world of difference.

Let’s say I tell you something that nudges your insecurities and you find yourself getting upset. You could then tell me “I’m feeling insecure,” or something to that effect, then it would very likely prevent my brain from jumping to the conclusion that I’ve totally and utterly screwed the pooch. Incidentally, who would screw a pooch?

Communication is so key because miscommunication can be damaging. Without clarifying misunderstandings, we can be lead to believe and react to all sorts of silly things that may be no more true than the sky being made out of chocolate. Mmm.

I was once in a relationship with someone who would frequently shut down on me. In my young ignorance, I handled it badly. I didn’t understand, and I didn’t know how to deal with that sort of thing. As a result, I became bitter and felt as though I couldn’t say anything for fear that it would be the wrong thing. While I did feel a similar way recently, I had the experience and foresight to deal with it better.

With that in mind, I recently ran into this situation in which mein Schatzi shut down on me a couple of nights ago. The situation was not handled well, because communication went entirely out of the window, leaving me confused (as to what I did wrong, for the most part) and frustrated, then eventually upset and annoyed. Once again, I went through that fear that anything I say could make her feel like crap; because of this, I myself started shutting down. I felt shut out, which doesn’t feel great.

There’s a happy ending here, I believe. We did talk very recently and the problem came to light—it actually wasn’t me, but rather, something with which she struggles and has done for a long time. Praise Jebus! A real problem became only a hurdle over which to leap. Progress was made, and we’ve began healing, now having more understanding and more strength as a couple.

Please don’t shut your other half out without so much as a how do you do. I know it can be hard. I’ve done it myself, many times. But, for the sake of you both, you are best to push yourself to say at least something that could alleviate any possible confusion or misunderstanding.

If you really can’t tackle whatever caused you to shut down, try something like, “I can’t talk right now. I’m going to take a break.” If it’s not something your partner has done to directly piss you off or hurt you, then you could try adding, “it’s not you.”

As for the person trying to deal with someone who has shut down on you: don’t force him or her! Encourage, sure, but know when to call it quits and give that person space, even if they don’t say anything!

My advice, should you choose to accept it, is to be mindful of how you give your partner space. Shouting, “I’ve had it with you!” then disappearing for a day might not be the best solution, nor is vanishing without saying anything.

However, calmly saying “I’m going to give us both some space to figure this out,” or something along those lines, could really help make it clearer what’s going on. Whatever works for you guys, really.

By no means am I a couples counsellor, so feel free to ignore all this—I’m just a 29-year-old guy with frankly lacklustre experience, however, I am an observant, analytical man who tries to pay attention to the details, and likes to learn from life, rather than breeze through without a care in the world.

Thank you Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this.

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Dear Extraterrestrials

I’m having a rather interesting evening sucking up all sorts of information via the interwebs. A thought occurred to me: what would I say to alien life should they come a-knockin’?

I’m probably going to sound like my deck has been replaced with soggy toilet paper shoved into a pack that once housed cards, but I have always wanted to be taken away.

There have been occasions in my life when I’ve looked up at the night sky full of undiscovered mystery, and then damn near begged the sky for someone to show me something more; something better. At first it was God, but as I got older, it became the stars; them.

Let’s assume these remarkable beings are not inherently aggressive, and are a lot like humans, but of course still completely alien. Let’s also assume these outlanders speak English, or are at least so massively smart that they can grasp such a language with ease.

“Hey there, martian. What brings you to my planet?”

I want to tell them we can be awe-inspiring; the compassion we can have for one another. At the same time, I rather desire to show them the bad side to humanity; the gluttony, the abhorrence, and the jealousy; to show them our blemishes in the hope that perhaps they have the answer, or at least some helpful wisdom.

I want to tell these sentient life forms that, together, we have felt deeply alone for such a long time. How many of us can be surrounded by others like us, yet still feel unheard, unseen, unappreciated, and even unloved.

I need to show them our strength, courage, and persistence. How one single person can fight tooth and nail for those he or she holds dear. How just one human being can stand tall for what it believes to be true and just. How one couple, despite all odds, can make their union work; to show the world that they will not be defeated.

I long for them to show me what exists out there. Who are they? Where are they from? What is their planet like? I want to learn from them and communicate with them. The possibilities are endless.

I don’t ask for much, do I?

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What if we’re smaller than we think?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in space. I’m no astronaut, I’m no astrology nerd. I’ve never really had the opportunity to pursue such an interest, and to what end anyway? It’s not like I’m going to solve any giant mysteries. All I can do is what we can all do, and that’s wonder.

One freaky idea that crossed my mind tonight, is this: what if we’re all just a tiny part of something much, much bigger? Turns out this question has already been asked and scientist are apparently already considering it—typical.

Basically—not that anything about space is basic—what if the universe (and not just the observable universe) were just some microscopic spec on the back of an unthinkably big creature on an unimaginably big world? What if galaxies, suns, and planets were simply hilariously small parts of a far, far bigger world? Maybe there are beings out there looking through telescopes of their own, watching our planets, or even just our galaxies, and wondering what we are, how we work, and how we pertain to their existence, just as we look through our adorable little telescopes to understand our puny, insignificant selves. I’d really like to see a movie that puts this idea into something visual. They say the universe is infinite and is ever-expanding, but what if this growth is merely the growth of alien skin on an animal?

I wish I had more knowledge of space and time so I could better wrap my head around it all. As it stands, I feel like I’m just a kid asking his parents silly, annoying questions. When you possess knowledge about something, you start to ask the right questions, otherwise you just fumble around in the dark. Where’s that light switch?

How can space be infinite anyway? I can’t get my head around that, naturally. I doubt many people look at that and are like “yeah, that totally makes sense—duh.” I can’t help but to think the universe is finite, but I guess that’s just because I refuse to believe something can truly be infinite, unless we’re talking mathematics. The scary thing is, if the universe isn’t infinite, then what else is there, …nothingness? It just doesn’t compute in my mind. Think you’re alone? Damn, imagine being stuck in the emptiness of the non-universe, assuming that’s counted as the universe, but then that raises the question of whether that empty void is itself infinite or not! I’m fairly sure that the one thing which truly is infinite, is our ability to question, seek, and wonder.

Next time your problems get too much for you, look up and consider the bigger picture. We’re just 1 tiny person on 1 large planet in 1 giant galaxy that hosts an estimated minimum of 100 billion planets. Do you think they’re lonely?

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