I used to be a smoker.
I liked it.
Every time I was frustrated, confused, upset, angry, worried (you get the picture), the first thing I did was light a cigarette. It was soothing. It gave me time to sit and think, to ponder my problems, to figure out what I was doing, to fix the thesis that wasn't *quite* right (I was an English major. Most of my best papers were fueled by beer and nicotine).
When I got pregnant, which coincided with when I got married, I quit. I did it, obviously, for the baby, but also because I had set the wedding as an arbitrary stop date well in advance. Once I got married, I figured, I was a grownup. And I never wanted to be the kind of grownup who smoked. Somehow, I figured that if I didn't stop when I got married, I'd never quit. I always knew it was bad for me, disgusting habit, cancer, socially verboten, etc. So I was perfectly willing (mostly) to give it up.
With only a few lapses (nothing permanent), I've been a non-smoker for three and a half years. There's only one catch.
What do I do when I'm frustrated, confused, upset, angry, or worried?
I have nothing to do.
Mostly, I eat. Binge eating. I'll grab whatever's near and shovel fistfuls of it into my face. And that helps, a little. But it doesn't really satisfy the way smoking did. It doesn't make me feel good in that same way. It makes me feel fat, bloated, guilty (I have a weight complex), and weak. When I'm upset, I want that damn cigarette.
The reason I bring this up today is because today I was angry. Irritated, mostly. A bit annoyed. Well, more than a bit. I was ready to say very rude things to people who are close to me, and to whom I really shouldn't say rude things. Picture this:
I've been home, alone, with the girls, all day.* There was explosive poo, there were grouchy children, there was calm but bitter Mommy. That's fine, whatever. Typical day.
I work online now that I quit my "real" job. I have X number of hours of work that I *have* to put in every day. That's the deal. There's pretty much no way to do that when I'm alone with the kids. The Bear, maybe. She's a very biddable kid, very content to amuse herself, and she's very easy to reason with. But Mouse? The kid either eats or destroys everything she comes in contact with. She never sits still, and she can *never* be left unattended. Not for even a second.
So today, when my SIL (16, almost 17) came home from school, I took the opportunity to put in a bit of time at work. In plain sight, I got out my computer, said "I think I'll get in some time at work," sat down, and began working. The girls were sort of romping in the living room, right with me, but occasionally wandering around the house. I sort of assumed that my SIL would at least keep half an eye on them, and whenever they wandered out of my sight, I kept calling things like "Girls! Come back in this room, please! Don't go there! Come over here! Mommy's working!" hoping that my SIL would take a damn hint and look after her only nieces for a bit instead of, get this...
...shutting herself in her room, phone glued to her ear, telling the Bear "Bear, don't go in my room!" and generally ignoring them and leaving me to fend for myself.
I was fuming. I finished my project, closed up shop, and packed the girls up. I had to get out of the house. As were putting on coats and shoes, to my utter disbelief, she actually came out by us and said "Jane, I can watch the girls while you go to the store!" To which I pointedly replied, "I can take them to the store by myself just fine, thanks. It's when I'm *working* that I need help to watch them." And walked out the door, which may or may not have been shut with a bit more force than technically necessary to make it latch.
I wanted a cigarette so badly I could taste it. Had to have it. Right then. But with the girls around? No way. What to do?
I ended up with a large Dr. Pepper and Taco Bell's new 7-layer Crunch Wrap. I ate it sitting in the garage. Crying. Listening to the Stone Temple Pilots on the radio. I wanted a cigarette. I still do, a little bit.
What do you do when you're angry?
*I'm staying with my in-laws because my house has no roof and no heat.**