After the fight with Hubby, I didn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep. He sent an email, because I wasn’t speaking with him (again). I read the email as a list of my faults, as proof that he had lied when he said he loved me “just because I’m Alice.” It broke my heart. I couldn’t think past the fact that I had screwed up, it had been a mistake to let him in, to let anyone in, but now I didn’t know how to undo it. I needed the two people I had begun to let in.
Desperate, and sad, and unsure, feeling way too needy, and not wanting to admit I needed her, I emailed Bea on Tuesday. I told her about the fight. I included a copy of Hubby’s email. And, at the very end, I told her, ” So, okay. Risky and unsafe, and not okay, and I don’t want to do this because it scares me and seems to be not okay and everything in me is saying to run away, but help me fix this, help me understand it. Obviously, I am going to have to talk the relationship stuff. Fine. Okay. I don’t want my marriage destroyed, Hubby continually hurt by me, because I am stubborn and too scared. You maybe understand how awfully scary this is to say okay, help, let’s talk about the relationship crap. But I don’t know what else to do.”
She emailed back, fairly quickly, for which I was so glad. How is it that she is always there when I need her? I know she is busy, and she has a life outside of her patients. But, even when I think it has taken her a “long” time to respond to an email, she has always been there when it’s been something important.
I think I can reframe this–it doesn’t sound like it’s about standards for you, but about needing the two of you to function as a team. Also about Hubby’s needs to be seen and validated.
These kind of fights are normal and the repair of them is what really will build trust and intimacy. Talking about and resolving this will be healing, even if difficult. You can do it!
I emailed my viewpoint back, arguing with her, not happy with her response. I didn’t know what I had wanted, but I didn’t feel better. She was on Hubby’s side. She was saying I screwed up. Somewhere, in my rational mind, I knew that idea was wrong, but I really wasn’t thinking straight on Tuesday.
Bea responded again, with something that made sense, a lot more sense.
“It is scary because you have to put yourself out there and take the risk that you could be hurt. There just isn’t any other way to resolve it and move on, unfortunately–it won’t just go away on its own, but would resurface in resentment or another fight down the road. Hopefully you will both be able to really hear what each other is saying–and try to ask about the feelings he’s having because that’s probably most important of all. Is he resentful, hurt, sad, feeling left out, irritated with things other than this? More than the content of “you said” and “I said” the feelings are the key to really hearing one another.”
She gave some encouragement, told me I could do this, that she believed in me.
So. Tuesday night. 5:00 pm
I haven’t made dinner. I haven’t done much of anything. There was the ABA meeting today, and I’ve worked on a new schedule, tried to add in some social time activities for Kat, because she is desiring social activities with her peers— which is HUGE– I’ve made phone calls to preschools and preschool activities to see how they feel about having an autistic 4 year old with her aid attending their activity. But, as a housewife? I’ve done nothing.
“Let’s take Kat to McDonalds,” Hubby says, “let her run around. Maybe other kids will be there, too.”
I’m tempted to let him take her and stay home. But I figure we can go, I can bring up the conversation, maybe have it in small bits, keep it safe, not overwhelming.
Kat grabs her things, she is like a little bag lady these days, carrying around more than a new mom with a full diaper bag. Then, off we go.
In the car, I sit, trying to figure out what to say, how to bring it up. Silverchair’s “Ana’s song” plays via my iPod on my phone. I sing along, really thinking of the words. Appropriate.
I don’t say anything until after we are at McDonalds and Kat is running around the playland.
“You know, I didn’t mean to ignore you yesterday. I realized when we sat down to dinner that I had forgotten to ask about your interview, and I was going to. Then we had our fight, so I never got to,” I say.
“Okay. Thanks for telling me,” Hubby says, sounding very diplomatic.
Then, silence between us. In the background kids are screaming, and laughing. But the silence seems loud, big, like it will suffocate me, us.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt you by ignoring you. I wasn’t even mad. I was trying to hold myself together and make it until Kat’s bedtime, because my feelings were hurt. I felt like you didn’t listen.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I snapped,” he says.
He’s not getting it. He’s not understanding that he said that this, what we have, what he feels, is different than what I grew up with, and then he treated me exactly the same as I was treated when I was growing up. My feelings, my thoughts didn’t matter. I just needed to go along, follow along, play my part, be agreeable to be wanted. He brought up all the old feelings, and he hurt me by going back on what he said. It hurt because I trusted him, because I opened myself to him, and he didn’t do what he said he would.
I try to explain. I do a messy job. I don’t even understand what I just said. I’m more hurt now, because he’s not seeing me, hearing me, really talking to me. I give up, dissociate, go away.
Tuesday night 7:00 pm
Back home. Kat is watching her show on her iPad, curled up in our bed. Hubby and I are in the living room. I decided to try again.
“I think we should talk about our fight,” I say.
“We did,” Hubby says, not even looking up at me, playing on his phone.
“Well, I….um….I just….I felt like…..I don’t know,” I mumble.
“Do we really need to talk about it again? We already talked about it. We don’t need to talk everything to death, Alice,” he says, still playing on his phone. The words sound cruel, but they aren’t, they just are. They’re just Hubby. He’s not a dig deep kind of guy. But I need him to dig deep on this.
“Fine,” I say. I grab my stuff, curl in a ball on the couch. I’m gone away, detached. Numb.
Later, much later, Hubby asks me if I’m sleeping on the couch tonight.
“No, why would you think that?” I ask him.
“I don’t know, you’re all stretched out, you have your pillow and a blanket. I don’t know,” he says.
“Did you think I was mad at you?” I ask. I am, in fact, a little mad. Not mad enough to admit it, and it’s a hurt mad. I needed to talk about our fight, and he shut it down. I could have pushed, but he clearly didn’t want to talk about it, so there would have been no point. I think, though, if he was worried I was going to sleep on the couch, he must know, on some level, that I am mad-hurt.
He ignores the question, changes the subject. I allow it, as I move my things back into the bedroom, change into pajamas.
Then, as I climb into bed, “You never answered my question.”
“What question?” Hubby asks.
“Did you think I was mad at you? Is that why you asked if I was sleeping on the couch?”
“No, I didn’t think you were mad at me,” he says. Then, “Good night, I love you.”
I did something new tonight. I didn’t sweep the problem under the rug, I confronted it, I tried to talk about it. That’s not what I normally do. However, it seems, even though Bea and Hubby both proclaim he is different than my parents, that I married right back into the family I grew up in.