I don’t know about anybody else but I have a big problem when events fail to turn out the way I expect. It’s one reason I try not to plan what I’m going to do in advance. Take what happened yesterday for example – I knew there was mince in the fridge that needed using along with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and carrots. So I thought, “Pasta sauce!”
And then I got home and my wife had somehow managed to cook me a chilli despite her feeling so ill. Did I react with gratitude? I’m sorry to say I didn’t. I was knocked off-balance because some of the ingredients I had been going to use for my pasta sauce had been used instead to make this chilli. I managed not to get angry or melt down – took some self-control – but I did complain. I knew my reaction was upsetting my wife but I couldn’t stop myself. I tried to explain that it was the fact that my plan had been scuppered that had stressed me but the damage had been done.
I must say that I ate the chilli and enjoyed it very much. But. It. Wasn’t. Pasta. Sauce! How do you explain this kind of feeling to somebody who can handle change? That despite appreciating the effort she had gone to, I was unable to get past this clash – this discrepancy with my mental image of myself cooking a different dish. It’s my normal reaction to change – I try not to respond in this way because it hurts or offends people I care about but it causes me stress and I find it very difficult to hide. That would be the same as lying which I also find very difficult, even to save people’s feelings.
In this case I got over the worst of the feeling quite quickly and apologised – this kind of thing has happened numerous times before so my long-suffering wife is sadly used to it by now – but I’ve still got a little lingering disquiet that things didn’t happen as I expected. And I feel bad about not showing my gratitude from the outset. I know it’s a shabby way to treat somebody who’s made an effort to do something for me but I really don’t know how to get past the intense disappointment and stress I feel in these situations – the feeling is so intense that it swamps any other, more rational, thoughts I may have.