I also noticed that the “new” shelf brackets in the bedroom closet were rusted. The contractor had painted over the rust, but you could still see it. I called him out on the brackets. His response had the feeling of “Oh, you caught me.” No guilt or embarrassment over his shoddy work and inferior materials like I would have expected. I didn’t even mention the damaged insulation to him, because my husband had warned me not to make waves or the contractor might take it out on us by doing an even crappier job.
You can perhaps imagine why I am feeling frustrated and angry and disgusted. And you might be wondering why I don’t just talk to the contractor anyway. Get it off my chest, make him do it right. We paid good money; we should be getting a decent job out of it.
The big problem is that the “other day” when all of this occurred was about 18 years ago. I’m no longer in the house, no longer in the marriage, and my hunch would be that the contractor is no longer in business. So why am I mentioning all of this now? Because I am still stewing over it.
I have been having difficulty getting to sleep at night lately, and a great portion of the problem is that when I lay down to sleep, these and similar negative memories come pouring into my thoughts. And even though I can rationally tell myself that it is all over and done with, that there is nothing I can do about it now, and that there is nothing to be gained by letting these recollections continue to suck my energy away, the thoughts persist.
This morning marked the end of Daylight Savings Time, and at 2:00 a.m. the clocks were turned back an hour. I guess you could consider that a “do over” opportunity. We got to repeat the hour from 1 to 2 o’clock a.m. So if I had committed any regrettable actions during the wee hours of the morning, theoretically I could have gone back an hour and set it right. That could have come in handy if I were engaged in something more egregious than lying in bed and trying to sleep. But as it was, the extra hour was pretty useless.
Unfortunately (or not) we don’t get “do over” decades. So we need to learn to let things go. There is absolutely no good reason for me to be dredging up past disappointments. It’s not healthy emotionally, and it can even be physically harmful.
I didn’t Google this one, but I recall reading that our nervous system doesn’t necessarily know the difference between current stress and thoughts of past stress. When I think about negative things from years ago, my muscles tense up and my anger stirs up anew. My body doesn’t know that it is 20 years too late to respond to the incident, so it goes into the same “fight, flight or freeze” mode that it probably engaged in way back when. The problem is that this time there is no proper bodily response, no action that is going to release that tension, so it gets stored up in the nervous system and begins to wear away at me. Kind of like spilled acid.
When I can catch myself having these thoughts, I try to redirect them. I consciously release the tension in my body, willing the muscles to relax. I try to come up with more pleasant memories to replace the troublesome ones, or at the very least find something neutral to think about. It takes some effort and I am not always successful at it. But sometimes it works and the relief it brings is very freeing.
I have enough stressors to concern myself with in the present without going back and digging up woes long gone. This is probably another case of learning to control my thoughts instead of allowing them to control me. An ongoing project for me, it seems. I need to lay the contractor to rest. I’m sure he’s not losing sleep over the incident. My time and energy is better spent on issues I can actually have an effect upon.
Now is the time to create pleasant memories for future reminiscing. That’s an effort worthy of my energy. If I spend my time wisely the first go-around, I won’t need to be looking for do overs.
I turned my clocks back an hour this morning; that’s as far as I can go. Welcome back to Standard time.