Stepping back into my daily life has proved to be difficult this week. I just want to relax but I would need at least a day to myself and I might as well ask for a million dollars.
So instead I have to just work to suppress the panic and try not to snap at people. And I don’t always succeed.
The day after I got back, our old couch finally gave up the ghost. Suddenly Hubs was all action. My shellshocked ass hadn’t even gotten dressed that day, and he says, “Put your shoes on, we’re going to Aaron’s.”
Now, Aaron’s is a furniture rental place. I’m not working at the moment and we already have two car payments. We are existing in a very tight place until this Fall when I plan to sign up with the school system for substitute teaching. We don’t need to pay three times retail price for furniture.
I tried to say this but he was having none of it. He got pissy (later denying he was upset, but also said I shouldn’t have “argued” with him. Men! Smh) and walked out, saying that he was going and I could come with or not.
So I stayed home.
And slowly freaked out over the course of the day because I had thought it was understood that I had just come back from a little taste of personal Hell. I was expecting to be gathered around and comforted. I got some hugs and welcomes, but wasn’t presented with an opportunity to unpack mentally. Apparently I was supposed to ask for it.
And by the time I got desperate enough to, I was seeing meanness everywhere. Here he was, incensed about a sofa and apparently not understanding that I needed a little extra love. By the time I tried to explain I was very upset and had already attacked him for his lack of sensitivity, so we just ended up arguing. He said some pretty mean things and I just wanted to disappear.
I’m still not really clear on what happened. Was it unfair of me to expect a generous greeting? (I don’t think so….) Did I perceive slights that weren’t there? (Probably.) Did I flip into defense mode when I didn’t get the attention I thought I deserved and alienate him when all I wanted was to be pulled closer? (Almost certainly.)
I do have a terrible habit of getting defensive and angry when I’m actually sad and lonely. I feel embarrassed to ask for what I need and let down when it isn’t automatically understood. Having to ask your lover for affection when you’re upset feels like groveling. And I don’t know how much of that is fair and how much is me spiraling into panic mode.
Then a couple nights later my bladder woke me up at 3:45am and I found him watching TV. He gets home from work around 2:30 and likes to unwind for a while before coming to bed. But I have had issues in the past with important people preferring the television to me. Conversations had to happen during commercial breaks back when DVR was not an option.
In my half-awake state that’s what I saw. He didn’t come to bed and cuddle, he put on a 2-hour movie at 3:00 in the morning. I laid into him until he came to bed, saying he was giving me what I wanted. But it really felt like he was just trying to shut me up.
He couched it in terms that made me feel like it was my fault, saying he waited until he had the TV to himself to put on something he knew I wouldn’t enjoy. It took an argument to get him to remind me that he just needs a little space sometimes. That stopped me in my tracks, because it’s so damn reasonable.
Upon reflection, his own life experiences have probably taught him that framing his needs as beneficial to others is a useful strategy.
My anxiety is kicked into overdrive since facing my dad, and knowing I still have to go care for my mom. They have been divorced for almost 30 years, I’m not used to having to deal with them both at the same time. Mom is doing really well, she’s been downgraded out of ICU and is working on physical therapy to be strong enough to go home.
Tonight I’m sipping red wine, trying to stop my brain from jangling in my head and spitting out awful things. People only tolerate me for what I do for them. I’m a basket case who will never amount to anything. My kids will remember me with regret. I’m just a fool for believing in love anyway, and I deserve to cry alone in the dark.
My brain really knows how to push my buttons.
After a few days of trying to communicate that I just needed some extra attention and him being thick in that way men are when they don’t have patience to understand, I was at my wits’ end. Having trouble sleeping at night, I took to dozing on the sofa while the older kids watched the baby.
“Have you gotten the tires for the van?” He asked when he came out at 12:30. And something else, I don’t even remember what all I was supposed to be doing that day. Just keeping my head above water was a near thing there for a while!
I’m embarrassed by my own melodrama in retrospect, but I have already been in two serious relationships that eventually degraded into me seeking connection and them criticizing me. I’m fairly certain this is because I chose narcissistic partners in that way we all tend to recreate relationships from our formative years. But of course I also strongly fear it’s because there really is something wrong with me. Whatever it is, I don’t have it in me ride that ride a third time.
Unable to hold in my confusion and despair, I told him that I needed a friend, not a taskmaster. And that if he was sick of my shit then that’s fine, he doesn’t need to spend time with me if I’m just getting on his nerves (I sure have been getting on mine!) That we had a good run, we had some good times and made a beautiful baby, maybe that was good enough.
He held me for a little while I cried, all the while surfing Facebook (he kind of has a problem….) I got dressed and left, unceremoniously and without saying anything further. I got some used tires for our van, my affect flattened by the weight of pure terror. I learned a long time ago how to dissociate enough to get things done.
When I got back he greeted me with hugs and kisses, suddenly willing to connect. “Maybe we’ve been less patient with each other lately, but I still love you. I’m not ‘sick of your shit.’ I still feel that warm glow when I look at you. I still want you around for the rest of my life.”
And we spent a couple evenings over the weekend hanging out, him making dinner (the man needs to open a restaurant!) while I watched the little one. Me doing dishes while he wrote his paper for class. Watching a show we both enjoy. Low-key stuff, normal stuff. And I feel so much better.
And I know I should go to bed but it’s finally quiet enough around here to think!
(….For those keeping score at home, I found us a really nice reclining sofa on Facebook for $20 flat. So don’t worry, our fat asses are quite comfy now.)