The Other Kind of Crazy

First of all, before I wax poetic, it’s Paradise Icon weekend, and Icon weekend. Starting tomorrow night, I’ll be engaged in a lot of the activities that the average SF/F writer might be engaged in. There will be a book signing from 6:30-8 at our local Barnes and Noble. I’ll be wrangling 9 other writers on Friday for a workshop, and Saturday we’ll have guest lectures by Jim Hines, Elizabeth Bear, and Scott Lynch. There will also be a Paradise Icon reading and an author meet and greet. In short, it should be a terrific weekend of author fun. Look forward to it.

And now, psychobabble under a cut for those of you who do not care. Please, really, this is not even interesting. It’s just me sifting through some thoughts and feelings for myself.


The universe has apparently decided to pull the rug out from under my psyche. Cutting out all the domestic details about which you do not care, I have been told this week that my advice in regard to a situation was wise and right, but that the person I offered it to chose not to take it. My goal? To encourage this person to draw some boundaries around himself to protect his own emotional state, and to try to protect our relationship, which has been coming in about dead last over the last few months. But definitely more the former than the latter.

This person would be my husband, of course, dealing with his situation regarding his mother, and his childhood issues about how he feels his older brothers see him as frivolous and useless.

And I have pulled out. I do not intend to say anything further about anything regarding him, his mother, or his family. What I have just been told is I value, but I will ignore your advice. Which is essentially I don’t want your advice because it makes me feel bad because I can’t follow through on it. So why should I keep giving him advice?

Now, of course this is psychologically difficult for me. In the immortal words of Sebastian the Crab, “Children got to be free to lead their own lives.” Your husband, even, has to follow his own psychological destiny, and it is no reflection on me or my excellent advice. But you must understand that I grew up trying to reform a dysfunctional family and that family had dire consequences because they followed a shaky path. I had smart solutions for them. They were denied.

Let’s clear up the ego issue. You might be thinking my psychological problem is that I am arrogant enough to think I know all the right answers and solutions for everyone. No, I don’t. But I do sure as hell know when people I love are damaging themselves, and I sure as hell am smart enough to offer reasonable, calming, half way smart alternatives to them doing that. I am good in more ambiguous situations as well. This is me, telling you that I know I can be right or wrong, and that I do not have to control people’s lives like a puppet. That’s not the issue, and no, this is not a “She doth protest too much” moment.

These problems are mine. Other people have the freedom to do what they want. And the husband says that even though he values my advice and knows it’s the right path, he chooses an alternative because he is broken. And I have a history of seeing people not follow my advice and bad things happen. In this case he only gives up a little of his well-being for a short time, and shafts our relationship and his own mental health temporarily. TEMPORARILY. But this feels so much like the whole dynamic of my early life that I don’t know what to do here.

There are two things going on with me. First of all, I feel undervalued and ignored. This is really not my problem, you say. He admits that you are rational and he is irrational. Why should this bother you? Move on, citizen. Well, it bothers me because I hate people I love hurting themselves. Secondly, I am tired of not having my husband care for himself and put our relationship on the back burner. I only modestly ask for him to choose not to go help the family, who has the situation under control, for one weekend of fun with friends that he has had planned for a year. I ask him to enjoy himself, and even perhaps, enjoy himself within my company. I am hurt that he could not choose this option.

My reaction is irrational and overblown. I feel like everyone I touch finds out ultimately that I have expectations for them. I do not judge them severely, as is often the misconception. Rather, I want them to do the smart things to take care of themselves because I care about them, and it frustrates me that they don’t. It hurts me. So what? It’s not my business. Live and let live. Ah. That’s it. There’s the jagged edge. I carry these refusals of good advice like cut glass rubbing against my soul. It’s a common misconception that I take it personally that I haven’t had my way. I hurt, and my choice is to run away from the pain. It’s not the expectations I have for you that you fall short on. It’s that you don’t care enough about yourself and I have to watch.

Like I said, in this case my reaction is overblown. So the way I’m choosing to deal this time, the unhealthy way, is to suggest that my behavior is at fault, that I know I am wrong for wanting something for someone that they refuse, and then being irrational about it. Is it too painful for me to even interact with people, knowing in the end that there will be some situation I will see, analyze, and then hope that they will take good advice on, knowing that they won’t? That’s what it feels like right now.

Bryon has been trying to make things up to me, treating me like I am important, complimenting me on other things, and I can’t get over the feeling that I am a problem, that I am worthless because I care too much and cannot get beyond this defect, and I cannot let go of the pain of letting someone choose their own destiny even though it is damaging to them. Degree of damaging does not seem to matter.

So I’m hurting and I’m messed up, and I’m regressing like Bryon is doing something that will put him in jail, which certainly forgoing a weekend with his friends, even though he sincerely needs it, will not. I also don’t trust that he will make wise decisions regarding himself or us in the future. We have a bed and breakfast gig next weekend to help him relax. Will he call his mom and get on an emotional roller coaster while we’re there, not allowing himself even one day off?

I’m tired. The one thing I realize, however, is that all I can control in this situation is my reaction to it, in spite of how much spewing I did above. I’m back to counseling to get better coping strategies. I’m not blaming Bryon. He’s just a trigger for some old, emotional crap.

I just wish things had turned out differently. I just wish that he would take care of himself. It would be a way to show that he loved me and loved himself. He’s certainly illustrated over and over that he loves his family. Just one day. One.

I know he doesn’t love me less. But you know, it’s a blow when someone tells you that they don’t choose you. Or your sound advice. Or whatever. It makes you feel diminished.


I am going into the weekend with this on my shoulders. I will really try to have the best time I can. But you know, if I’m subdued, well, there it is. I find myself crying at night, alone in the car. I am managing not to do it in front of others or in public. Counseling, here I come.

ETA: Got myself set up with David for November 19th. It’s a big week for Schaff-Stump’s brain. I’ll also be seeing a neurologist about sleep issues on the 21st of that week.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

4 thoughts on “The Other Kind of Crazy”

  1. I am always here for you. Your opinion does matter. You’ve helped me so much. Wish I can do the same for you.

  2. Love to you both. Despite everything, I still think you are two of the most loving and best matched couple I know and I do know how much it hurts to see someone you love be less than their most perfect self. Since I think God feels that pain constantly one if my coping strategies is to give their future and my hopes for their best self to God so that I don’t get immeshed inside them and lose both my own sense of power and freedom or try and live their life. I fail sometimes, but it does help me get a sense of space while not withdrawing my love or care by backing up all of me.
    I hope you remember your joy and notice the love around you. Much love and blessing your old and distant friend Michael.

  3. I just saw this now. It seemed like the weekend went well for you? I hope so. *hugs*

  4. Well, Michael’s entry helped a lot, and I think Bryon and I have cleared the air. I also think that this is a finite crisis, and with luck is now over.

    And I will work on a more positive, less extreme reaction. Bryon has things he should work on too, and I hope he chooses to, but I don’t think he’s inclined, because he doesn’t see that he has things to work on. Therapeutically, I mean. Otherwise, he’s killing himself to try to impress upon me that he’s back in the game.

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