I am so very blessed to be part of a sibling relationship which is so close and where we so get each other. Caley gets melty* sometimes, and I don't take it personally when she acts differently from the way she normally does as a result. It's not her feelings towards me, it's just her reacting to the situation, and I honestly don't think twice about it.
Today Caley reminded me that this goes both ways. I am an introvert. I love being around people, particularly in a caregiver or teacher role, but I REALLY need my alone time, too. Recently, I haven't been getting that. Between working six days a week and other responsibilities, I'm always around people. I love the job, mind you, but as a caregiver I am definitely never alone. Add to that the fact that Caley and I are sharing one small room over the summer...and my much needed alone time is an artifact of the past.
As a result, I've noticed myself getting rather snappish lately sometimes when Caley tries to interact with me after I get home. Normally I like talking to her and hanging out with her, but now when I'm home when I finally get some peace, I feel like Gollum**, jealously guarding my treasure. It's not conscious and I pretty immediately realize I'm acting out of character and apologize, but it happens. And every time it does, I feel absolutely terribly guilty, so I push back down my feelings with an added dose of guilt. The guilt was even worse because Caley's very sensitive to others' emotions, and if she thinks someone's angry with her it leaves her very frightened.
Finally, I figured out what was going on and I pulled Caley aside for an even bigger apology than the previous far too many to count. It wasn't her fault, I told her, I just wasn't getting alone time and I was really really super sorry for how I'd been acting. I was particularly sorry, I said, because of how I knew I was making her feel upset when I got snappish.
And you know what she told me? She told me to please stop apologizing, that I understood it when she got frustrated with me when she was melty, and she understands that in the same way it's not personal when I do the same thing. She told me the only thing that bothered her was that she worried something was wrong since it's uncharacteristic for me to act that way. (But she knew nothing was too terribly wrong, because apparently I act very calm when terrible things happen. If I was calm, she said, she would have been nervous. I'd never even noticed that about myself before!)
So there we go. Guilt, gone. And I have a plan to get myself more alone time, too. (Which mainly has involved actually telling people no when they want me to do something for them.) So the problem should be taken care of. But something good came out of it - a reminder that Caley gets me as much as I get her. We're a good team, and I'm glad she's there for me through thick and thin - I'm more than happy to return the favor. I love you, chica.
Also, parents of the world, for whom the alone-time-less scenario I described is not out of the norm, but part of daily life, know that I have a very deep sense of respect for you!
*Melty is the term I have deemed the stage pre-meltdown...where you're at risk for melting, but haven't quite reached the full thing yet.
**She read the bit about being like Gollum and told me, mid hug, that I was the best Gollum ever. She assures me this is a compliment, because "Gollum isn't awesome. And you're awesome. Therefore you're the best Gollum ever." Not sure if I quite follow the logic, but hey. Also, I have the best sister ever.