A better moment.

As I was saying on Friday, the state of my house had me all fucked up last week.  I was looking forward to working on that this weekend.  Well, it ended up that we didn’t work on the house this weekend.  But that’s still OK, and I’ll explain why.

About midday on Saturday, when it was clear that nothing would be done all day (my wife had to work all afternoon at least), I basically told her I’d had it, and we ended up in a significant argument.   In the midst of this, she pointed out to me a few salient details, namely that she’d started a new job a month ago, and despite that had been able to make some inroads into the wreck that our house is.  We’ve just been back from vacation for a week.  Maybe my expectations were completely unreasonable.

I heard what she was saying, and didn’t really care.  It had such an emotional effect on me that I knew on some sub-intellectual level that I should not and could not back down from this, despite the fact that I knew that what she was saying made logical sense.

Then she said something…I don’t even remember exactly what it was, but she said something about my being influenced by the past.  And that came with the needle-ripping sound that stopped my thought process cold.

Without going into too much detail, my wife and I came a few cross words from an ugly divorce a few years back.  There are several large reasons for which, but the root of those reasons were that we were both somewhat fragile and fucked-up people who tried to communicate without revealing our own weaknesses.  That is, we each thought we were communicating with the other but they weren’t hearing us.  In reality, neither of us were saying what needed to be said.  So, before that, we’d had a marriage characterized by a certain degree of usually-benign neglect of each other, occasionally mixed in with some passive-aggressive behavior.  (Thanks to lots of individual and marital counseling, we’re much better now.)

What she said about the past made me realize that several circumstances had conspired to put me subconsciously into a frame of mind back to when we were horrible to each other.  Our bedroom being back where it used to be; her office being back where it used to be; her working late nights again; our son being out of school so I was getting up in the morning and leaving, alone, trying not to wake anyone…all of those things put together just neatly dovetailed with our Bad Time existence.

The light bulb went on.  Almost literally.  It was like a switch being thrown.  It all made sense.  On some emotional level that came before intellectual realization, my brain was telling me that things were back the way they used to be.  And if that was the case, my brain was saying, I’d best be preparing for a whole world o’ hurt, because there was a shitload of emotional pain waiting right around the corner.  That’s why, despite knowing that her words made sense, I couldn’t accept them.  Because the part of my brain that was engaged on the “house is a wreck, too much chaos, must get out” theme couldn’t be reached by rational dialog.  It was only when that emotional panic was short-circuited that I could go  “…oh.”

So, ultimately, I realized how screwed up I was viewing the situation.  And I apologized over and over for dragging her into an argument based on that.  I felt very foolish.  But she very graciously accepted my apology.  She said she understood how my emotional gut-response could color my perception and cause me to freak out like that (and I know she does).  And we reassured each other that this time, now, is not like it was before.  That was good.

Then I did a little cleaning up myself while she worked, and on Sunday I took my son shopping, including buying a new flapper to fix his damned toilet (finally!).  So even though significant change didn’t come to my messy-ass house this weekend, I feel a whole shitload of a lot better about the whole thing.

So that’s that.  I just thought that whether my wife reads these couple of blogs or not (and she usually doesn’t) that she deserved to have the resolution of that earlier blog aired as well.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m glad one of you realized that the old pattern was sneaking up on you. It’s hard not to fall into it. Damn hard.

  2. Yep. As I said, afterward I felt really foolish for falling into that trap again. But I feel much better now.

    (Does anybody besides me hear John Astin as Buddy on “Night Court” whenever they hear the phrase “much better now?”)

  3. Something I figured out a long time ago, whether it’s me or somebody else. Benign shit like a messy house or dinner being late is usually just a coverup. It’s good that you’re the kind of person who acknowledges it though. Most people don’t, and it drives me absolutely batshit.

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