And I suppose what it boils down to is, how much respect do I have for myself.
How much longer am I willing to tolerate this intolerable situation that is making me feel very unwell. What am I sacrificing myself for? Who am I sacrificing myself for? Why am I sacrificing myself? Is this really what I signed up for? Is this the sum total of my existence? Clearly, as it stands in this year 2016, at the age of 40 years, nobody on this earth is doing this for me. Nobody. There is nobody that has given anything up, halted plans, above what one might reasonably expect, for the sake of my personal well-being. I, on the other hand cannot think of a single day of my independent existence where I have not reached above and beyond to help the people around me. I do not know how to live a day without being selfish. If I can find something to do that can help someone, just one iota, then I will do it. Even if is acknowledging their presence.
So I struggle to understand why it feels like the majority of the time, I feel like I am being treated like rubbish. I am never quite sure if is my paranoia. I am never quite sure if I a just unable to read the social cues or whether I have failed to understand the social rules. I just do not know.
Early Monday morning I was talking to my husband, telling him again, that I felt underwhelmed by his attention to me. I told him again about how I was disappointed that he made no show of fuss or acknowledgement of me when I came home from work, in comparison to the devotion I showed to him. (I suppose this is just symptomatic of the wider problems). He told me that it did not come naturally to him, that it was not on his radar to think about such things i.e. me, when I came home. He told me that I did not look like I needed anything. He told me that I was extremely unusual in my levels of affection and attention that I bestowed on him. That most people generally ignored each other when they returned home, with a perfunctory hello, before going about their separate business. He told me that, in fact he had been told by previous girlfriends that he was quite loving (I had to interject at this point and remind him that I was his wife, the woman he married and that the other relationships did not last, so he could not have been that ‘loving’). He told me that if expect him to be like I am, affectionate and caring, then I was asking him not to be himself. He told me that my expectations were too high and that I should lower them. He told me that I should not be thinking of him and his needs (because presumably he was not thinking about mine) and that I should get on with my own life, while he got on with his. He suggested that he and I separate for a year and live with someone else and then would just see how loving he was in comparison.
It left me sleepless. I could not sleep at all. I left the bedroom and wrapped myself in the orange blanket and lay on my lovely blue sofa. But I still could not sleep. I climbed back into bed and snuggled into his side but I still could not sleep. I sat up cross legged on the bed, watched his sleeping frame, my white pyjamas with the little pink roses, from Marks and Spencer, seemingly glowing in the dark, and I still could not sleep.
Eventually I must have fallen asleep because I woke up with the most vicious headache – it felt like my head was splitting open. This headache has not left me more the past three days. It might fade to a dull ache but it’s always there. I am almost in tears at times. But somehow, I have managed to appear ‘normal’ to my husband. At least he does not appear to see anything different. He is just carrying on as normal. I expect he might vaguely wonder why I have been in pyjamas for the past two days but he has not really asked me anything. The only acknowledgment is that he did not give me a kiss when he came home because he did not want to catch my ‘cold’.
And so I don’t know what to do. Well what I should do, is tell my husband again that I am unhappy with the way I feel that I am being treated. I have told him this three times now and there is no change. All he talks about is this car. When I ask him what he is thinking , he tells me that his is dreaming about driving this car, in the outdoors with a couple of guys. I again wonder just what kind of man I have married. I wonder if he really knows, what it means to be a husband and to be married to a woman. I am no saint, I am no angel, I am flawed and imperfect but I am not quite sure what I have done to deserve this. I feel a sense of shame that I have allowed myself to be in this situation. It comes naturally to me to be kind to him. I feel that I am being very understanding about his health issues, going above and beyond to support him, as any good wife or person should do. When I come home from work, tired as I am, even if he has been home all day, I will cook for him. I want to make him feel special and loved. I will massage his legs when they are aching and tired. I cannot help myself, he is my husband and I love. I am in love with him and that love will never stop. But it seems the nicer I am the more horrible he is. Actually, no, I take that back. He is not horrible but at times, his apparent lack of empathy towards me seems like an undeserved cruelty. This morning I sent him a text message that I was unable to go to work for the remainder of the week. I then told him that I had managed to get his creams for his hand (he has had a rash on his little finger for weeks – I think that it is eczema.). His total response for the whole day was a one worded text ‘cool’. What does that even mean? I suppose I was expecting him to ask me how I was, to call me during his lunch or tea break, it is something that I would do for him. Yes, maybe my expectations are too high.
And then the devil’s advocate comes along, a little voice within me, asks me if I am perhaps to blame, because while I have been able to provide physical support for for my husband, I perhaps I have struggled to provide the appropriate emotional support that he needs because of the health issues he is enduring. I have struggled because I do not really know what it is that we are dealing with, I do not know what the future will hold and I am frightened. I am scared that if his health is not restored he will sink into a depression (if he is not in one already in a depressive) that I will be unable to help pull him out of. The most logical thing to do is talk to him about this. Maybe, I should ask him about how he feels (except I know pretty well how he feels about it, I can see and feel it). Instead, I keep insisting that when he next goes to the doctor, he gets a proper answer, maybe some baseline investigations. Instead I gently hint that perhaps, he might need to rethink his career plans to something more sustainable and achievable. I can see that he does not like this when I say this, and in the past he has accused me of being negative. However, I have gently told him that it is more realistic to have other options, within his grasp. I have told him that he needs to prepare of all eventualities and not put all his eggs in one basket. This is probably the real conversation we should be having (in addition to my dwindling egg supply). A car is not going to fix him (well it might provide the emotional high that shiny new toys do) and a baby at this very moment in time might not be the wisest of choices (but that has its own deadline that a car has not). I can see that now. The car, I think, is a symptom of bigger problems.
In the meantime, I have somehow arrived at that place, that I promised I would not go to. I have not been their in years, over 10 years in fact. It is not a nice place. The elephants have arrived at the door and are waiting and I am not sure I can fight them or keep them at bay for much longer. And I know that now I need to be strong, powerful and decisive, like it says in the bold and beautiful books and the blogs that I read. Like my sisters, my mother and my best friend have told me that I need to be. I know that I can no longer be a passive recipient of the things that are thrown at me. But I do not really know what that looks like. I am afraid and fearful of being alone. I am afraid and fearful of being that woman who failed. I cannot be the woman who married man who acted like owning a car was more precious and important than his wife and her needs. I cannot be the woman who did not notice her husbands despair about the future. I cannot hurt his feelings in the way his has hurt mine. I feel shame. I feel anger. I feel despair. I feel worthless. I feel useless. I feel rejected. How did I get to this place? I keep moving in circles and getting nowhere.
Maybe I should concentrate on me for a while. I am not sure what that really looks like. I was at this stage in my life focused on being a wife and a mother, it did not seem an unreasonable thing given my age. Maybe I need to let go of that tightly held dream for a while and accept something different. Maybe I should make that emotional detachment that my husband seems to talk about. I do not know what that would be like. Maybe, I should spend a day or two taking care of number one, then maybe extend it to a week and then perhaps a month. Who knows what might happen? Maybe I should try treating myself with a little respect and compassion. Maybe I should try to like myself. It could be life changing. My father, when he was alive, would always tell me to think again, when he thought I was not taking action to help myself. So that’s that I need to do, think again.