Background story: For D's birthday, I (along with other family and friends) went in purchasing him a new video game system. He's wanted one for a while, especially for the social aspect of playing with his friends, so he was thrilled. The system came with a game he hadn't played before, and we've both actually really enjoyed it so far. Even I'll admit that it's a little difficult to put down once you get into it. This past weekend, D spent an inordinate amount of time playing the game, which frustrated me because I felt like we didn't see each other much as a result. We discussed my feelings about it and basically agreed that while the game itself wasn't an issue, we'd both be careful not to spend quite so much time with it as opposed to with each other.
Last night started out well--D got home from work pretty early, he played for a little while while I made dinner, and then we ate together and watched tv for a while (including the presidential address, which was really important for me). Once the press conference was over, he asked if it was alright with me if he played for just a little bit more before bed. I had no problem with it, figuring that we typically go to bed at the same time each night and he'd play for a brief while and then bedtime would commence as usual.
But then the system locked up and he needed some extra time to just get to the end of something he was trying to do. And then he was almost there, and would have been done half an hour ago if this one thing hadn't gotten screwed up, so just a bit more. Come midnight (a good 1 1/2 hours after we usually head to bed), I got up and went to the bedroom. I mentally filed my actions under self-care, telling myself that I needed to take care of me no matter what he chose and that it was his own business and problem if he was tired at work the next day from staying up too late. But then the brooding began, and I have to admit, I was incredibly annoyed and angry about his actions. Hadn't we just discussed not letting things go too far with this stupid game? Wasn't it ridiculous to stay up way past your normal bedtime, sacrificing self-care in lieu of some new quest? This was absolutely outrageous!
As I lay there in bed stewing away, I asked my HP to help me let go of this stupid situation, to help me remember that his choices were his choices, etc. But what I couldn't figure out for the longest time was exactly why this whole situation was so bothersome to me--until it hit me. I was letting my codie get the best of me (again). When that happens, there's almost always a trigger of some sort happening, so I set out trying to put my finger on what was so triggering about this whole scenario. What I eventually figured out was that I was not annoyed by the fact that D was staying up late. I was not even really annoyed with the fact that he was playing his game, because we had had a good compromise earlier and spent plenty of good quality time together earlier in the evening. What was really the problem was that his behavior was reminding me of how he used to use his computer when he was acting out.
When D was in active addiction, he would stay on the computer late into the night, even though I begged, borrowed, and pleaded for him to come to bed. Back then, I would struggle to stay awake with him, going so far as to get on a different computer in a different room to talk to him on IM, just to keep my eyes open. I'm not sure why I thought I needed to stay up with him--perhaps out of fear that he would be angry, perhaps because I wanted to know exactly when he came to bed--but I know that it was an incredibly self-destructive behavior. And now, this whole video game thing was frightening me, because it felt very similar to the old computer days when D would stay up til 3 in the morning looking at porn and chatting with various women online. I was scared that he was unable to put the game down and come to bed (a replacement addiction?), but more than that I was experiencing a visceral sort of fear that was simply a throw-back to those times when I knew in my gut that his words of "yes, I'll come to bed in just a minute" meant nothing but a long, sleepless night for me. I knew, then, that something was Not Right, and this video game thing was so similar that it was putting me through similar reactions even though the situation was different.
It's kind of like when you're a kid, and you eat macaroni and cheese the same day you happen to get the flu, and you end up throwing up the macaroni and cheese the whole rest of the night. You just can't bring yourself to eat macaroni and cheese for a long, long time after that without wanting to run to a toilet. This situation was similar enough to those old scenarios that my mind had that same gagging sensation in response. The good news: I was able to recognize that I wasn't really sick. There was no flu this time, and I didn't need to stock up for a week of illness. I was even able to explain the passing sensation to D, and we can both now work toward a solution wherein I either avoid mac-n-cheese or work my way back up to eating it again.