I call myself Goldilocks sometimes. Himself accuses me, and it’s true, of avoiding any kind of discomfort or inconvenience. And complaining about it if it’s something I have to do, a duty I don’t really like.
Of course I don’t think of it as complaining, but as stating how I feel or think. There is a fine line there. I’m learning to keep my mouth shut more often, but to paste a neutral expression on my face for days at a time is pretty tough.
We had verbal fisticuffs the other night because he has agreed to go to his son’s in the city for 10 days to help with the existing grandchildren as our daughter-in-law is having a caesarian. I will go along because it is a duty, I feel, and certainly would be noticeable if I didn’t, but I hate the thought of being there for so long. Also our daughter-in-law’s sister, who is gah-gah over the kids and really good with them, will also be there the whole time. So why are we needed too, for so long? However, it’s what Himself wants; it doesn’t matter to him what I think is needed or what I would rather we do.
I’ve never liked being there; to me it’s like being dropped into a box with four walls and no escape. I go fucking nuts, I pace, I go to bed early, I go for walks to get away from the TV that is always on, I do whatever I can to get some solitude but I just don’t love playing with kids or running around shopping or visiting with our son’s friends or other members of Himself’s family for more than an hour or two at a time, while he is all about that stuff and perfectly happy going with the flow they live in. Even getting out for a walk is no pleasure as their house is packed in among blocks and blocks of endless houses and there is a lot of traffic noise from vehicles and planes. I’m sick with dread, even waking up at night anxious, and I’ve told him so. It kind of helped me to feel that he understood I am struggling and I didn’t have to hide it from him in private.
But now I know he is angry about that, as he thinks he has done so much for me, gone out of his way for me in the past, but I can’t do this for him without being miserable. I do my best to hide it but he says I don’t do it well enough. I thought I’d done pretty well lately, but I guess not.
Repressing my real feelings for days at a time and pretending to want to be there or have them here is exhausting. This last time, however, I didn’t cry in the bedroom although I drove home from work as slowly as I could to delay my arrival in the noise and the full house of activity and people because not only are there 2 more adults and 2 young active children besides us, but Himself’s mother invites herself over for supper every night they’re here. Often for breakfast too. If we all sit at the table we are elbow to elbow. We’re crowded. I fucking hate it.
The wine and the edible cannabis seemed to relax me. I still went to bed as early as I could without making them feel unwelcome — I said I had to work the next day but they should go ahead and enjoy their movie or their board game or whatever — and I made an appointment for a haircut after work one day, or I had to get groceries, or I stopped for coffee at my sister’s after work, so I didn’t have to come straight home.
I have even considered, many times, leaving Himself so I don’t have to be part of it several times a year when we go there or they come here. He tells me I don’t have to go when he goes next month — he doesn’t want me to be miserable — but I feel it is a duty I have and I have to adjust my attitude and keep trying to make the best of it, and maybe as the children get older I will enjoy them more. And maybe eventually I’ll get this stick out of my ass and be able to go with the flow. It’s not like it’s 12 months at a time or anything or as if they live with us, though if Himself had his way they would. It wouldn’t even surprise me all that much if he moved out there to be near them. I’ve suggested it, since he seems to want to be in their pockets every hour of every day. I wouldn’t go, but there are times when I wouldn’t mind if he did, if that’s the only way he can be satisfied. Otherwise he feels he’s missing out.
I don’t want to be left out of it, but I’m not comfortable with the lack of boundaries either. Himself wants to be in the middle of everything that has to do with them. I don’t. Once when we were there I asked him to go for a walk with me just so we could have a few minutes break alone together, and he immediately invited others along. I didn’t even want to go anymore once he did that, as it wasn’t what I was after. It wasn’t the walk I craved, it was the escape with him. He wants to spend every moment with them, while I would probably do better if we went and did something ourselves for an hour or two now and then. But what? There is nothing to do there for us but visit the kids and family. Himself likes doing that. I don’t. Visiting family is his idea of a holiday. I do it out of duty — my own family too, not just his. A holiday, for me, is a very different thing. Even if I had something to go and do alone in the city, that would probably help. There is not even a mall or any place close enough to walk to, and I don’t drive in that traffic, and taking a bus, too, would seem standoffish when they know I don’t enjoy shopping or have any need to.
I try to imagine how I would feel if he responded to my kids the way I respond to his, which is why I am trying so hard to do better. But failing, partly because he seems obsessed with them and always puts them first, and I think that’s what’s driven me away from being so involved with them as might otherwise be natural. He has lately stopped video-calling them on a virtually daily basis (in my presence, at least; I think he goes to his mother’s to do it, assuming she’ll enjoy it and she probably does, while I find half-hour videocalls with small children boring and once a week would suit me, and even then I sit there and participate for 10 minutes and then go), and he doesn’t talk about them to me several times a day anymore. I don’t care about every word the grandchildren have said and whether they pooped in the potty and so on, although the kids can be sweet and quite entertaining and I appreciate him sharing the experience with me, going out of his way to make me feel part of it and important to them as grandma. He does all he can to share his joy with me and I just find too much of it intrusive. It seems to me that he texts his son or daughter-in-law every day, more than once. At least I no longer have to hear every exchange, but I still hear plenty as he is dying to share them with anyone at all times, and I’m the one who’s available I guess. He is so focussed on them that it’s like his life now revolves around them. That bugs me.
Right now I can’t think of anyone to leave our small dog with while we’re away, as my sister Merriweather who normally keeps him will be away visiting her own grandchild being born the same day as ours, so maybe I won’t have a choice and will have to stay home and except for the three or four days I could normally handle being in the city (when I know what day we’re coming home because Himself has, under pressure, agreed not to let them talk him into staying longer than we planned – because he has no fucking backbone and can’t say no to his son or sister who try manipulate him to stay longer by making their own plans for which his presence is the reason – then I have an end date to gear myself for and that seems to help me get through), and I’d like to hold the newborn and let Himself feel good about having me to share his pleasure with, I would feel I’ve avoided spending 10 days in a hell I will never get back. At the same time I would feel outside of things when I should be inside them to welcome the new baby.
So: conflicted. And not looking forward to feeling like this for the rest of my life. Keep thinking I should get counselling. I have had counselling before — though not for this particular situation — and each time, the counsellors have said I seem to have a good grasp of everything and know what to do. It helps when they tell me I am seeing clearly and am not a rotten selfish person for feeling as I do, but … well for this, I really don’t see that offering much solution. Maybe I’d best try it anyway. Won’t hurt. And when you’re waking up at night feeling sick about the next trip to the city, that can’t be good. Something’s gotta give.
Birdie tells me if I hate being there so much, just don’t go. She says she would hate it too; she always understands and supports me, thank god, while reminding me that his strong connection with them is normal and my lack of that same strong connection is normal too. A friend like that is worth her weight in gold. But I think I have to keep trying for Himself’s sake because it would be awful for me if he hated being around my kids. Although he’s never stuck with them in the same way I’m trapped with his; we don’t stay in their homes and Himself, unlike me, likes small kids so was great with mine until we moved here, when they were older mind you, and when he became such a prick (verbally) overnight that my son BiggusLunkus hates him to this day and doesn’t respect me, he says, because I’ve stayed with him. Even though the man has smartened up considerably and I’ve been content since August after leaving for that 3 days, BiggusLunkus is not the forgiving sort. No one holds a grudge like that kid.
My first thought is always move out, escape! as if that solves every problem. But does it, really? Or am *I* the problem I can’t get away from?
Ah the tangled webs we weave … I am so sick of not having things better handled at my age.
Was listening to an interview with actor Benedict Cumberbatch. He said he was fully vaxxed and got covid anyway (it was never claimed that we wouldn’t, so we shouldn’t be surprised), and it was quite bad for 5 days.
WTF though, that sucks.
I’m still avoiding crowds.
Just a sore arm today after my booster shot so it probably isn’t going to get worse. I know the odd person who got something like a flu afterward. I’ve been lucky. Himself too.
And you, dearie, after listening to my sad tale of whiny woe, does it make you think that even with these irritations you’d rather be in similar shoes than be missing your loved one as you do after his death, even these years later? Like I just need a shift in thinking to remind myself that these are small problems in comparison to the big ones in life? That I could quit being so goddamn self-interested and fussy? I know it looks like this from certain perspectives which I also do view myself from, but changing how I feel isn’t as easy as snapping my fingers and deciding to be different.
Oh aren’t I just a ray of sunshine. There was blue sky when I started this letter, and now it’s gone completely white.
It was pretty icy around here after Himself and I tried to discuss this on Monday night. I’m the one who goes about my business as if he doesn’t exist, though I am not uncivil. He at the same time goes out of his way to be considerate — making a supper, washing the dishes, plugging in my car before work — while I, instead of watching TV with him in the evenings, come in here and work at my laptop or go to bed and read or even sit up and watch TV myself after he goes to bed because I don’t want to lie beside him. I don’t kiss him when he comes home or hug him before he leaves or any of the things I normally do to show affection. I’m pretty sure this is the kind of thing the relationship therapists advise not to do — distancing? — but for a couple days I can’t make myself go near him.
I said to Himself, before leaving the room Monday night, OK then, I will never again tell you how I feel about any of this, or what I think, since you are telling me my feelings are not valid and you are figuratively beating me over the head for having them. I will act my ass off so that it looks like I’m being what you want me to be.
And then I came in here, felt like crying, and over the next days realized I’m angry too. I think if he can’t respect my feelings and only wants to see what is acceptable to him, then I have to act, and if I have to pretend, then this is not an honest relationship, and if I have to hide from him that I am struggling, and if he is unwilling to do anything different that might help me cope then why should I share with him what is true for me at all? In other words, why be intimate with him, period, if I’m to be verbally flogged when he doesn’t see or experience things as I do?
I don’t expect you to have answers or give advice, but it does feel good to get this off my chest. Please do tell me if you’d as soon not be hearing it, especially because I fear I’ve told you before and it does get sickening to hear me bitch about the same things over and over and not solve the problem. I’m trying to break this habit with Birdie, as I do tell her what’s going on with me and she’s a great listener but must find it frustrating at times. I’m tired of myself, actually, and keep trying to break the habit of talking or writing about this shit, but haven’t yet succeeded. I worry that talking and writing about it entrenches it rather than relieves it, and determine not to keep doing it, and then out it comes anyway. Bad habits are hard to break!
He did come home last night sometime after working past 8 o’clock. Starving, he gobbled down the meal I’d made for supper two hours earlier, then because I stayed in the living room he talked my ear off and finally, before going to bed, leaned over and kissed me goodnight. So the ice is off, as it always is after a couple days, but nothing has been resolved or moved forward. I still don’t know what to do to change anything. I can only change myself, although it would sure help if he’d make some changes to his behaviour too when it comes to Princely and family.
For me it would make a lot of difference to be heard and understood by him without being attacked and judged and resented. I would not feel so alone in coping, though I know I have to make adjustments to my attitude of resistance to what is normal and natural to him and probably many other families. He doesn’t see himself as acting obsessed or having no boundaries between us and them, or he thinks having no boundaries is normal, while I seem to need a few. My friends do agree that he acts over the top when I tell them what goes on, but then they are only hearing my side of it. Only once was a friend here to see for herself at the same time Princely was here with his wife and kids, and without any prompting she exclaimed in private, “That’s crazy!” Which made me feel I wasn’t being ridiculous about all this.