So... let's talk about the husband, Dan shall we? I haven't talked about him in a while. We've been getting along really well of late; touching, kissing, talking, cuddling. And then it's time for therapy again...
Each week on Tuesday's I'm all kinds of stressed all day long because so often I end up feeling kicked in the stomach.
And guess what... I got kicked again. He can't ask me for help because I'm not empathetic. Of course the fact that I can't ask him for help because he keeps telling me to go away (figuratively not literally) is, I'm sure, my fault as well.
She had reviewed the assessments we filled out a while ago and was commenting on how we're very similar in our inability to ask for help - that the lessons from our childhoods taught us it was not safe to ask for help and we both adapted extremely well to that. (this is why I'm sure we were initially a match made in heaven initially).
Oh and I found it fascinating that she said my answers, came from a far more emotional space than his did. I did not spit my water all over the room and think I deserve a prize for that.
But - we were talking about how he's really stressed about his upcoming hernia surgery and she started modeling how to ask for help and modeling for me on how to respond to him appropriately. So ultimately he said something and every single thing that popped into my head to say - I was completely sure he wouldn't like. So I told her I had no idea what to say - so she took over and OMG - I had no idea what the hell she was saying. She was basically just going through the .... repeat back to someone what they say, but in your own words. Which Brad responded to really well. So - it wasn't so much asking for help as it was... wanting to talk about something that was hard and I can certainly do that.
But then he used how I reacted about his neck surgery five years ago as a “perfect example of how un-empathetic I am” His only memory of that time is how I kept pressuring him to not delay the surgery any longer so it wouldn’t screw up my birthday party. Okay – I have no idea what he’s talking about, but let’s go with it, shall we… I am a tasky girl I can easily see myself worrying about the schedule.
Ultimately we have this exchange about this topic;
Me: tell me how this is the perfect example of something bad about me.
Dan: you were so concerned about your party that you didn’t care that I was scared to death.
M: From my vantage point you were reacting to that upcoming procedure the same exact way you reacted to anything medical done – the sky is falling.
D: I am a hypochondriac (smiling)
M: ya think? But, how was I supposed to know that this time was different for you?
D: (angry) How could you not know? It was a big deal.
M: It’s not how I reacted to my back surgery.
D: BUT I’M NOT YOU!!! (still angry)
M: and I’m not you and I can’t read your mind. Can you allow for the possibility that I saw you reacting the same way you react to everything else medical and went with that?
D: BUT YOU DID FIGURE IT OUT. (as if this proved his point) You figured out I was really freaking out and you got the surgeon to tell me how serious it was in a way I would hear so I’d get the surgery and stop looking for crazy alternatives around the country.
M: okay, so I did figure it out. I did pay enough attention to determine that this was different for you?
M: but you still only look at this as a perfect example of how un-empathetic I am? Can we look at it another way? How many times have I ever wanted a party for myself in the 20 years we’ve known each other?
D: (quietly) once
M: how many times do I turn 40 in my life?
M: is it possible that having the party was important to me and that your attendance at the party was important to me.
D: (angry again) BUT I WAS ALMOST FULLY RECOVERED BY THE PARTY
M: is it possible that’s because I made sure it was scheduled early enough to make sure that happened?
M: is it possible that I could have interpreted your not wanting a medical procedure – delaying it for months and months – which is your normal go to reaction to any medical procedure big or small, was not being supportive of something I had indicated was important to me – something I have never ever once asked for before or since?
D: yes, it’s possible.
M: Do you know what I remember about my back surgery? The only thing I remember.
D: that I fucked something up
M: that when I was scared and telling you that if I died to make sure the kids know me – make sure they spend plenty of time with my sister (who’s like me) and I told you I loved you that you didn’t say it back. That you didn’t tell me you loved me when I needed to hear it most. That’s my only memory
D: That’s a crappy memory to have to have
M: it is, but I don’t hold it against you. I’m not angry about it.
Of course I was crying by this point and I’m skipping lots of drama that existed in and out and around this conversation and really I’m condensing a few conversations into that one. There was also yelling and storming in and out and more crying and harshness and all manner of unpleasantness – can we see why I hate Tuesday’s???
We went on to talk about how non supportive he is to me and I gave him examples – like my back surgery – it’s not that he didn’t love me, we tell each other we love each other a bunch of times every day. He just didn’t tell me at that moment when I really needed to hear it because he was focused on other things; his fear, the schedule – how long would surgery take, who had the kids, his fear, where would he be, when could he see me again, who was going to come talk to him and probably most of all his fear. He wasn’t focused on me. On how scared I was, on what I needed while I was scared. There were other examples and he heard them and when all was said and done
I do that kind of thing well I think and I think he’d agree with that. What I don’t have are the flowery words or style that highlights my doing it.
When all was said and done it turned out well. I think we moved forward not backwards. We’re still feeling close and connected to each other – and I suspect each time we have one of these awful interactions it teaches him (and me too) that big emotions and chaos or whatever does not mean the end of the world – it just means big emotions and chaos.