I am one cranky girl, and I think I need to put some strong tape over my mouth, because when I’m in this sort of mood, my mouth runs off and gets me into all kinds of trouble.

There is a fine line between self-care and selfishness. I haven’t yet figured it out, but I’m pretty sure I’m just plain selfish.

Growing up in Indiana in a Protestant home, I learned to put others before myself and give and give and give. It was the right thing to do. When I grew up and moved away, I learned that if I neglected myself in giving to others, I could only give with resentment, and the gift became a poison apple… so I took the attitude that I needed to put on my own oxygen mask first before I could help anyone else.

When everyone takes care of himself first, things don’t always go so smoothly.

When the Belgian first arrived and spent the first two weeks in bed half the day and spent his waking hours complaining about how bad he felt, I was angry. I took care of myself by trying to stay away from him so I wouldn’t get sick, because if I’m sick at Christmas, the household goes to hell. I asked him what he needed and I tried to provide everything he asked for. But I did not offer more, because I have a billion things to do, including caring for 3 kids and a dog.

My plan didn’t work, and the germs got the best of me, so now it’s my turn to feel like shit. Although I’m not complaining about it all the time, I am very grouchy and I don’t have the energy level I usually do.

I took everyone to the mall on Friday evening, against my body’s subtle complaints, so they could all finish their Christmas shopping and I could spend the weekend relaxing and resting like I should. I told them this was it – no more trips to the mall.

The irony of that is that I ran into my ex there after our crowd had separated, and he and I had a wonderful long conversation about the kids and how they are doing. He was Christmas shopping for the kids, complete with his spiral-bound checklist and pen. (It’s really great to see him thinking about what the kids want and need and choosing personal gifts for each of them.) I know it’s a bad week if a conversation with him is the highlight of it.

The Belgian mistakenly bought the wrong size shirt for himself and wants me to take him back to the mall before he leaves on Wednesday. Today, I need to run errands that I don’t feel like running to buy food for a meal I don’t feel like cooking, all in the opposite direction of the mall.

Today I wanted to finish decorating the sugar cookies that the kids and I cut out and baked yesterday afternoon (another family tradition here). I figured that and the errands would pretty much wipe me out.

Tomorrow, I planned to finish wrapping, clean house, and cook Christmas Eve dinner early enough so we can finish before heading off to Princeton for the Christmas Eve service at the chapel there.

On Christmas Day, we usually just hang out in our pajamas all day and rest and enjoy our gifts and old movies on television.

The next day, my kids will be coming home in the morning after spending that night with their dad, and then I have to drive the Belgian to NYC in the afternoon for his flight home.

Yesterday, I took him to see a new local housing development at his request, and again, against my body’s protesting. We walked through 9 models.

I don’t want to go to the mall – not even to drop him off. The traffic will be hell. I’m tired of listening to how bored he is. He has seven books stacked up on the end table this very minute that he appears to be reading all at once??? Meanwhile, there is little or no social interaction between the two of us… the relationship has dissolved into the “walking on eggshells” stage that is so uncomfortable and not loving at all. I’m sure he’s just as anxious for his flight home as I am.

I’m trying to put myself in his shoes, but I just can’t imagine whining to my sick host to drive me around and complaining that I have nothing to do… unwilling to join in on any of the family holiday activities… no, I don’t think I would do that.

Would I?

Or would I stomp around with resentment, making all of us miserable without saying a word?

Communication takes all kinds of forms… it’s not just talking. Silence speaks volumes.

I just really don’t know how to do relationships, and frankly, I think I’m tired of trying.

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