“You know I do care how you’re doing, right?”
My husband is being conciliatory.
I’ve noticed, over the 18 years we’ve been together, that he doesn’t apologize and he doesn’t use language that formally accepts responsibility for anything inside our relationship.
He will, instead, soften and attempt to reconnect. Every now and then I’d get annoyed that he couldn’t offer even a simple apology, but generally I accepted his method of reconciliation without thinking about it too much.
I’m thinking about it now.
Yesterday I felt like crap. I’m pretty sure it was because of the stress involved in our two major conversations over the weekend. During Sunday’s conversation, I felt as if my physical strength had drained out of me. I could barely think straight and I just wanted to sleep.
Yesterday I still felt weak and exhausted, with the addition of being sore. I can’t say for sure it’s a response to stress, but from what I’ve read of mental illness and the effects of stress on the body, that seems to make the most sense.
So when he crouched next to me while I was laying down and said he cared about how I was doing, all I could do was stare at him in silence. The only things that came to mind that I could have spoken were ‘then listen to me,’ and ‘your actions aren’t reflecting that.’
I’m pretty sure he’s dealing with depression, too – but instead of acknowledging that, he tries to power through it. I can’t help him to the surface without going under myself.
Call me selfish, but I already spent 16 years destroying myself, mind and body, to try and give him the life he wanted. Selfish or not, I’m going to focus on my own survival right now.
My therapist recently commended me for my coping methods. She’s seen a lot of unhealthy coping strategies in her patients, but she felt I was picking the best available to me.
Music, writing, walking, chatting with friends.
It could be drugs, alcohol, dangerous sex, binge eating, over-spending, or walking out the front door and letting my brain disconnect from reality – all of which could have devastating effects for my family.
But it’s music, writing, walking & chatting with friends.
My husband has expressed anger, frustration, paranoia and insecurity about my coping methods.
He sees it all as me isolating myself from him, and is not able to ask ‘why would my wife want to isolate herself from me?’ instead feeling that I’m wronging him and failing to deliver behavior that is owed because we’re ‘in a relationship.’
Sunday he accused me of failing to communicate with him. I had to remind him that I had deliberately initiated a conversation trying to keep him in the loop. Instead of accepting that perhaps he hadn’t understood, it was my fault for not communicating clearly.
Also, I shouldn’t have told him I needed emotional distance while processing without discussing it with him, first, because we’re ‘in a relationship.’
As far as I can tell, saying ‘I need this’ doesn’t count as a discussion, because it didn’t give him a ‘veto this while still looking like a decent human being’ option.
I don’t think that option actually exists, of course. When our needs and coping strategies clash, he wants his to be prioritized without looking or feeling like the villain in the piece.
I gave him that for 16 years. I’m done, and he’s just going to have to figure out how he wants to proceed from here.