Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sometimes you love people not because, but anyway.

So, last week, I went out to dinner with my Mum and my step-Dad. They invited H and me to a nice restaurant in a bit of a surprise! Last minute! way (H and I had made other plans, but hey, nice restaurant won). It’s how my Mum rolls. Anyhoodle, I particularly wanted to see step-Dad as he had been very unwell and I hadn’t seen him since he was unwell and so the last time we met he wasn’t feeling at all sociable, poor man.

By and large, the dinner was very nice. I was feeling a tad gastrointestinally fragile, so I ate things like grilled chicken and salad while H fell gleefully face-first into something involving cream, more cream, truffles, and gorgonzola cheese, but it was nice grilled chicken *sigh* and yes, well, anyway, I wasn’t there for the food *sigh*. We all chatted amusingly about art and opera and travel and plans for the summer and how Thingamajig was these days and had anyone seen Whosis lately? It was all going so well.

And then, apropos of absolutely nothing at all that I can think of in retrospect, step-Dad leaned back in his chair and said ‘what do you think of all this about letting gay people marry?’

Now what he meant was, what did I think of the current Government consultation on whether to extend the right to have an actual (non-religious) marriage to gay couples, rather than only a ‘civil partnership’? And what I think is, yes, unequivocally, absolutely, gay couples should have the right to marry, to marry in town halls, and to marry in any church or synagogue or temple that is happy to marry them, and I think all this fudging about with ‘civil partnerships’ and pretending they’re ‘equal but different’ (they’re not entirely equal, and what is this, anyway? Separate but equal water-fountains and toilets for whites and coloureds? No. Just, no) and that it’s only ‘a matter of semantics’ is bullshit.

I didn’t put it quite like that, but I said that if the consultation came down on the side of ‘yes, let’s do this’, I for one would be pleased.

Step-Dad looked baffled at this. But surely, marriage is a traditional, centuries old tradition that needs protecting?

Protecting from what? It’s spent centurites being about power and property and legal ownership of assets and children and treating one half of the human race as a chattel and breeding stock. How is that worth protecting?

He changed tack. He said, ‘well, I think marriage should be about having children, so it’s not appropriate for gay people.’

There are so many things I could have said to him at this point, starting with ‘BULLSHIT’!, progressing through ‘And this from a divorced childless man’, veering back for another round of ‘BULL. SHIT.’, segueing into a rant on bigotry and intolerance and human rights and equal rights, passing through next-of-kin recognition problems in hospitals and old age and so on, thumping right down into ‘and gay people do TOO have children!’ But what I went for, in the end, I hope calmly and evenly and without a wobble in my voice, was: ‘Well, in that case, H and I should never have got married.’


My mother leapt in on my side of the debate with a light remark about it being so lovely when old people get married, and they’re hardly going to have children.

‘Well, why do they need to marry?’ said step-Dad (disclaimer – I call him step-Dad, and he and my mother have been living together for about 15 years now, but they aren’t married. But he was married once, for a few years, in his youth, and that went… well, it went).

‘Because people want to make sure that the person they care for most in the world can be legally part of their family,’ I think I said. I’m not sure. I was getting a little rattled now. And my mother nobly dragged the conversation off course into shallower, less murky channels and dinner sailed smoothly on.

And I am still utterly bloody livid about it. I knew step-Dad was a bit of an old-fashioned Conservative with a small ‘c’ as well. I knew he had been well-off all his life and had a tendency to a ‘let them eat cake!’ attitude due almost entirely to ignorance and slightly sclerotic empathy skills (I blame boarding-school from toddler-hood). I knew he had a knee-jerk tendency to think of non-white people as ‘foreigners’, but he’d always been so very pleased to meet them all, if occasionally bemused to discover they’d actually been born in Birmingham. And we know gay couples. We have gay family. He’s got gay friends, no, really, he really has. He’s not particularly religious, he’s, I mentioned, childless and divorced, he’s watched his nearest and dearest make 87 kinds of screw-ups out of their own relationships (infidelity multiple and serial, divorce, remarriage, re-divorce, children legitimate and illegitimate and even unacknowledged, runnings-away with the pool-boy, shacking up with a cousin). And yet, here, in 2012, he dares, he dares, not only discriminate and belittle the love and commitment of gay people, but to assume I would share this, this, this nonsense of an attitude. And for such colossally, hugely, hypocritically cretinous reasons. Tradition. Child-rearing. Feh.

And, yes, the ‘marriage is for having children’ comment stung like a mofo. I admit it.

Oh woe, woe is me

It’s been a bitch of a week.

Item – H and I are still less than charmed with certain aspects of each other’s behaviour right now (all the other aspects are adorable). H is shilly-shallying about booking an appointment with the counselling service, and I am being self-righteous about it despite the fact I have done absolutely grand fuck-all about finding a counsellor of my own, because do as I say, not do as I do, that’s why. Meanwhile, H is in a permanent low-grade sulk, and I haven’t had sex for nearly a month, and I can’t begin to unpick how the two are related.

Item – For the record, I’m not the one who’s avoiding sex round here. That is not our relationship dynamic. I am given to understand that we are unusual, but there it is. I want more sex than H does. When stressed, he avoids sex and seeks cuddles. When stressed, I avoid cuddles and seek sex. I am basically a bloke with tits. Apparently. Especially according to the Relate website which is one of the most patronising, stereotyped, unhelpful, and just plain scientifically, biologically, and emotionally wrong things I ever did read on the subject. How the hell do they think reading that makes a woman with a higher-than-her-partner sex-drive feel? How isolated, abnormal, freakish, lonely? How do they think it makes a man whose not as randy as his partner feel? Eh? Did they think at all? And these are the number one people supposed to help relationship issues? No. Just, no. Not going to a Relate counsellor. Not now, not ever, not if it was an ultimatum. No. Jesus. Seriously. It’s 2012.

Item – On Wednesday, I struggled through the day at work with increasingly unpleasant, err, gastrointestinal distress. I wondered if I’d eaten one of the many (many many bloody Goddamn many) things that I now appear to be allergic to (the HELL, immune system?). I was well enough to go out to dinner with my parents that night, but the next morning, well, basically, I was just about ready to leave for work, and The Lower Bowel, It Objected. I spent hours of that day in the bathroom. Hours. (About 50 minutes in, I thought ‘and that is why they invented iPads’).

Item – Anyway, my digestive track appears to have got a grip again (hahahahahaHAHAHA). I said to H, perhaps this is actually some kind of IBS? and he pointed out that, technically, he has the IBS niche in this household covered, thank you, so I’m back to recounting my allergens and glaring suspiciously at labels. I can’t see us doing IBS as a joint hobby working out very well.

Item – Therefore on Saturday we were at the shopping centre (mall to you transAtlantic types) looking at toasters (we rock so hard) when I noticed a lacuna in my vision, and people’s heads getting peculiarly (horribly) distorted as they stepped into it. I blinked. Now I had two lacunae. BUGGER. Migraine. H bustled me into the nearest chemist and I choked down two liquid ibuprofen capsules while standing in the queue to pay for them – the sooner I can get aspirin or ibuprofen down me when the aura starts, the better chance I have of heading off the Skull-Crushing. We went back out onto the main concourse and I considered the overwhelmingness of the noise, and the visual distortions, and the growing sea-sick feeling, and decided I was going home. We live about 10 minutes walk from said shopping centre and I had about 20 to 30 minutes before Mjölnir plunged out of the stratosphere into my parietal lobe. H would have to look at fish in the supermarket without me. And off I wobbled out into the rain. I bumped into the main doors (twice, like a pinball), four passers-by, a bus-shelter, a bollard, and the table once I’d got home, but I made it, and had even constucted a nest consisting of blankets, pillows, blinds drawn, and lap-top playing factual literary programmes from Radio 4 (no laughing, is vital) very very quietly before the first great crushing onslaught. I am a very lucky migraneur. I wasn’t sick, and though it felt like someone was scraping out the left side of my skull with a sharpened melon-baller for a few hours, it had faded considerably by 6pm, after the application of paracetamol and more ibuprofen. I still can’t say long words without buggering them up, and I’ve corrected the spelling on everything I’ve written today at least twice, but the headache! Is! Mild! Yay!

Item – So today H decided to up the ante and poison me by feeding me taramosalata. I was about two mouthfuls in when it dawned on me that taramosalata is, in fact is supposed to be, 40% breadcrumbs. I love taramosalata. H knows I love taramosalata. He got it for me as a treat while I was lying in the dark remonstrating feebly with Matthew Parris for dissing W.H. Auden. BASTARD SON OF A BASTARD BASTARD’S BASTARD. The gluten, that is, not H, or Matthew Parris, or even Auden. H also bought me tulips, so he can stay.

Item – My step-father said something on Wednesday that made me so boilingly cross I don’t know what to do with myself. Which is awkward. As I love the man dearly. But I think it needs a whole post to itself, so I shall post this one and go see if I can make tea without pouring boiling water into the filter jug and then milk into the kettle.

Another broken biscuit assortment

Item – Right. I went back to work. There was a lot of it. I did it. The people who picked up the emergency slack for me while I was Indisposed refused all my offers of shift swaps and so on, saying I’d do the same for them. Which is true, but they don’t have Inner Organs of Recurrent Doom, so I don’t get the chance to do the same for them. Not once an emmineffin’ month, anyway. Am verklempt. (As H pointed out, it doesn’t hurt that I always go back to work after an Indisposition, disgustingly pale with fetching navy-blue under-eye pouches. I think they all treat me very gently for a couple of days in case I really do actually shatter into a gadzillion shards and the whole office has to be evacuated for clean-up).

Item – H, whereas, is coming down with another cold, and is skulking in the study in his dressing-gown and a slight fever. Poor bastard. Stress really does hold your immune system’s head down the pan and pull flush, doesn’t it?

Item – I think, finally, I have come to the conclusion that H and I really are not going to get pregnant the fun private way anymore. 12 cycles since I was last pregnant (actually, 13, but we carefully didn’t try for one of them as I was having surgery, so it doesn’t count. Clearly, that was the cycle we would’ve conceived Baby Einstein Prime Minister Nobel Prize for Literature). We’re back to being infertile, as well as recurrent miscarriers.

Item – You will see from the Ticker of Shame down there on the right, the combination of holidays, bereavement, The Chocolate Festival, and anxst, has embiggened my bottom, and we’re back at square one. Excuse me one moment… [AAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH]… So. Anyway. Given that I have Officially Lost All Faith in my body’s ability to produce an egg with any sperm-related social skills at all, IVF it is. And I have to lose a few pounds again (again (again again)). So close, and yet so utterly fucked up.

Item – Next quest (to go along with the Salad, You Shall Eat It one), actually do more of the things that cheer me up, and a lot less of the things that piss me off. To which end, a list -

Things that cheer May up:

  1. Knitting – I have raging Knitting Attention Deficit Disorder, caused, or so I like to think, by having to jam projects in and around commuting, work, and being tired and vague (this last being pretty much a full-time job in and of itself for the likes of me). *sigh*
  2. Reading – I don’t read as much as I used to. I always think there’s something better I ought to be doing, and that reading would be self-indulgent, and then I fribble my spare time away on nothing very much and just think! I could’ve been improving my mind with a good book!
  3. Writing – The more I write, the happier and more balanced I feel. And yet, it suffers from the same sort of fribblage that messes with my reading time. And, also, an ugly feeling of ‘there’s no point writing anything unless it’s brilliant, and it’s not going to be brilliant, so don’t write’. What is this crappy inner monologue in my head for and how do I turn it off?
  4. Cooking – This happy habit came completely unglued in the Recurrent Miscarriage Years of Soul Destruction. I used to do most of the cooking, I enjoyed it, and I was pretty good at it. Now H does most of the cooking. It started because I would go through weeks and months of being utterly flattened with apathy and depression after each miscarriage – I’d get home from work every evening so very tired I could barely eat without crying with exhaustion – and then I’d miscarry again just when I was starting to get a grip and perk up. And now, my periods make me really ill and weak, which doesn’t help. My plan is to do more of the cooking at weekends, and do more of the sort of thing that can be put in the fridge/freezer for later in the week, which will still allow me to be completely apathetic on Thursdays but take the pressure off H.
  5. Art galleries and museums – I work in a big city. I could really truly go to a museum for a quick brain refill during my lunch-break. Why don’t I?
  6. Films – OK, we don’t do too badly on cinema-going.
  7. Long walks – This, we fail on miserably. But I like them!
  8. Restaurants – A couple of times a month, H and I go out to brunch. It makes me happy. As does meeting H for dinner in town after work but before cinema. As does saving up to treat ourselves to a special meal somewhere fancy on a birthday or anniversary. Again, this sort of thing falls victim to Depressed Apathy. I hate Depressed Apathy.
  9. Sex – Specifically, the sort of sex we have because we’re both in the mood for sex, with absolutely no reference whatsoever to the time of the month and whether or not we can just do what is sweetly referred to by our American friends as ‘heavy petting’ instead. That might be one good thing to come out of setting our sights on IVF, ironically. Better sex. (You said ‘come’! Teeheehee!)

Item – Another thing that makes May happy, in a weepy, over-joyed, hopeful, heartful sort of way: Long-time blog-friend and all-around witty, lovely Liz at Womb for Improvement is, well, she’s… you know

Item – It’s been a bit of a week for pregnancy announcements. I have another good friend, who I know has been trying for well over a year and who was starting the whole sad grind of going to doctor’s appointments and having tests, also struck lucky (yay!). So that was nice.

Item – Booze I can no longer have because I have developed allergic reactions to grapes, wheat, barley, rye, and, clearly, fun: White wine, champagne, rose wine, sherry, brandy, beer, Guinness (I was totally a Guinness drinker, from the age of 16), lager, whisky. This is why I’m obsessed with gin. It’s the only thing I can still drink. (Yes I know gin is sometimes made with wheat mash. It’s triple distilled, and has pretty much no wheat proteins left in it by the time it’s bottled. Also, many British gins are made with corn and sugar, so. Here endeth the lesson). For those of you bouncing with eagerness to mention rum – the first time I got pukathonic drunk it was on rum & coke. Rum is dead to me. Tequila, I could get behind.

Item – Nobody ever gets my clever references to Milton and his ilk in my post titles. I feel such a colossal dork. But your indifference will not stop me! I have a mind not to be chang’d by place or time. And again I say:

For who would lose,
Though full of pain this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity
To perish rather, swallow’d up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night?

Abash’d the Devil stood

Unlike yesterday, I didn’t forget to take my mid-morning dose of tramadol today, so I am feeling a lot better than I felt yesterday afternoon (to whit, like a wolverine was tearing my lower abdomen to pieces with knife, fork and jack-hammer).

Not that I like taking tramadol. It makes me feel unpleasantly like being drunk (“What’s unpleasant about being drunk?” “You ask a glass of water.” – Douglas Adams). And mefenamic acid makes me feel sick, heartburny, and sleepy. And diclofenac makes me feel like I’m trying to drive my body from inside a box of cotton wool in the next room. I’m amazed I can still spell. Can I still spell? I may be hallucinating correct spelling right now as I type, and not a word of this is making sense.

Anyway, given that the pain is under control (that is to say, I have backache, and an ugly dull bruised feeling extending from belly-button to knee (why in the name of sanity to my thighs get involved? Seriously, what’s it to them if my uterus is pitching a fit?), but I am not nauseous or in tears), I am finding spending the day in bed with the radio, the internets, and my knitting almost pleasant. And alternately, there’s cold heavy rain beating on the windows and bright glassy sunshine pouring through them. Weather very odd. I am rambling. The rainy bit is cozy-making, what with double-glazing, a functioning boiler and a duvet.

Before Cute Ute The Ironically Named kicked off, H and I had gone to his parents’ for the weekend. Last Saturday was his Grandfather’s memorial celebration (not a service, as it was totally secular, what with Grandfather being a humanist and philosophical atheist (another reason why I adored him so – we had similar outlooks on, well, nearly everything)). H and I were reading the eulogy between us, and along with all the other sorting and organising and making of ham rolls and crudites for modern day Funeral Baked Meats (H’s Grandfather loved Shakespeare too) … (I am being entirely too parenthetical. What was I saying?) … Anyway, we and the In-Laws all stuff to do, and everyone was anxsty (In-Laws bickering more than I think I’ve heard them bicker for years, poor people (damn, ‘nother parenthesis. BLOODY TRAMADOL)), and I was rather concerned that my period would turn up a day early and Fuck Things Over. I’d been spotting since Thursday and Cute Ute and Satsuma between them are prone to brinkmanship. However, one of my more unusual and inexplicable gifts is that of calm, straight-backed, unfazed, clear-voiced public speaking, even when four centimetres from the verge of tears and/or falling over. I was fine. H did fine too.

The memorial celebration was, in fact, very beautiful, joyous and moving. We all laughed, we all had at least a little weep, we all agreed H’s Grandfather was a Mensch. And a talented, witty, charming man of great gifts and great achievements, but most wonderfully and above all, a Mensch. We should all be so lucky.

I started to flake out during the restaurant dinner we had afterwards. Couldn’t finish eating, felt increasingly woozy. And then H and I were sleeping on the fold-out couch in the In-Laws living-room. How do you make people sod off out of their own living-room so you can lie down? Especially my Brother-In-Law, who is a) a night-owl and b) chatty and c) the last person I want to discuss my uterus with and d) I was getting too frazzled to think of something nice and vague to say to him about being tired or under-the-weather.

Sunday I was Proper Afflicted. H went off to visit his Grandmother and give her all our love without me, and I, pale as milk, curled miserably up on the refolded couch while MIL made me cup after cup of tea and chatted gently to me. At one point I was visibly shaking, and she was visibly upset to notice this. I felt an odd mixture of one part ‘see? I am not fucking around when I say this hurts,’ one part ‘OK, I do actually feel quite selfconscious that you’ve all noticed I look and therefore obviously feel like hell,’ and about ten parts ‘OW OW OW OW’.

And then H came back from his Grandmother’s and we drove home.

H is still in a bit of a state, emotionally. And why shouldn’t the poor sod be? He’s just said goodbye to his beloved Grandfather again, and seen his family all sad and stressed, and had to do public speaking infront of 100 people, and his job is not being any less tiresome, and his bloody wife is ill again, and still not pregnant, which is coming under the heading of Unreasonable Also Unfair, Damn You Universe. As he said in his post, he’s actively hunting down a counsellor of some sort at the moment (remind me to nag him about it (what? I’m his wife. Nagging is in the wedding vows)). The thing is, usually, when H is in a state, it has been my job/duty/role/honour to help him work out what he’s in a state about, what he can and can’t do to destress the situation, and what is and isn’t helpful behaviour. I usually understand H quite well – better, sometimes, than he understands himself – and can be actively useful in getting him to have some insights. I can be helpful even if my speculations are wrong, because I give H the prodding necessary to think and say ‘no, actually, that’s not what’s bugging me. It must be something different. Something to do with [xyz], perhaps.’ And H has usually found this sort of thing useful, and leading to improvements in his state of mind, even if it was unpleasant or difficult at the time.

Of late, however, I just haven’t had the strength, the energy, the motivation, to do all that. I am finding dealing with my own health issues, anxieties, and depression rather a full-time job, and with H being unsupportive (sidle, sidle), isolating and resentment-causing.

The thing is, H resents me. Well, not me exactly. He resents how ill I get each month, and what an almighty fucking bore it is to deal with, and how it banjaxes plans and ruins holidays, and he feels guilty about resenting it all, and guilty that I am the one actually doing 100% of the physical suffering, and helpless (no fun at all for a fixer), and then of course sad at the Continued And Persistant Lack Of Baby. Dealing with me (difficult to avoid altogether, I’m in his bed, looking like I’ve been made of wet paper) is a constant rubbing-of-nose into the above issues, which make him feel bad, which he can’t deal with, which he sidles away from, which he can’t sidle away from, which he tries to compartmentalise and repress, which is nevertheless lying in his bed moaning faintly and demanding fresh hot-water-bottles, irrepressably. Basically, he needs to go tell someone other than me, someone safe, that it fucking sucks and he’s had ENOUGH and it’s not FAIR and ARGH and GRR and FUCK FUCK FUCK BUGGER AND DAMN.

Of course, he mentioned his family tragedy, the poor aunt who was bi-polar, and whose hallucinatory highs and terrible, crushing lows scared the living crap out of the family over and over again before she couldn’t bear it any more and took her own life. When H was growing up, strong emotions, any strong emotions, delight, or rage and sorrow, were triggers. He was told to calm down. He was sent to his room. He learnt, quite young, not to have strong emotions. Whereas I grew up in a family where just about everyone was loudly, noisily, extrovertly emotional all the time, and shrieks of laughter and of rage were equally likely at the dinner table. Often during the same dinner. I was an introverted, sensitive child, and found this all quite painfully Too Much.

When H and I met, I saw in him a place of calm, of phlegmatic, stoic, good-natured placidity, and it was so peaceful, and restful. Being with H was like a warm bath and a cup of tea. It was like lying down under a shady tree and watching clouds. After the shouty, anxsty chaos of my family, the serenity was enchanting. Meanwhile, H saw in me a joie de vivre, a lively, fierce delight in and passion for, well, all sorts of things, ideas, art, literature, ethics, flowering trees, Star Trek, kittens, mountains, astronomy, yada yada, passions he himself didn’t even share the half of, but to him, after the guarded fear and worry and flattened affect of his childhood, intoxicating. And to this day, I find his unflappability in most crises, his practical kindness, and his mellow acceptance of, well, stuff, truly lovable. And H finds my righteous indignations, tendency to give all the cash in my wallet to teenage beggars, and raptures over cherry trees and falcons and Doctor Who and knitting yarn adorable and refreshing.

But because we’ve been a couple since we were teenagers, I am driven round the fucking twist by the flipside – his refusal to think about or deal with issues, his inability to get really enthused or delighted about anything, his wet-blanketness; while H, bless him, is both annoyed and unnerved by my ridiculous idealism and unrealistic high standards and expectations, my uncanny ability to be both exalted by thing A and really pissed off by thing B at the exact same time, my tendency to cry and shout when angry, by my fascination with emotions and feelings and every goddamn infinite little variant of thought that anyone has had ever in the history of consciousness.

Which is normal. It’s a truism, because it is true, that whatever it was that attracted you to your mate will be exactly what drives you bonkers about them three years in.

Anyway. It has been quite a few months since H and I have been on the same wavelength. We argue and explain and try to get to grips with it and each other and sometimes, for an hour or so, succeed, and then by the end of the week we’re both back in our own anxst-choked caves and again, unable to find each other or lean on each other for support. We’re still loving towards each other. We still say please and thank you and offer each other tea and help with the laundry. H still reads me poetry in bed (yes. He does. ENVY ME). We still cuddle before we go to sleep. We are not teetering on the brink of the Abyss of Marital Embuggerance – at least, I don’t think we are. But we are both lonely, and sad, and rather angry with each other, and unable to find our way back to equilibrium by ourselves.

Which we ought to do before we start IVF, don’t you think? Because if we think we’re stressed now…

Interim assault and battery

I would like to be talking to you all about feeeeeeeelings, nothing more than feeeeeeeeeeelings, but I have my period (again! It happens every bloody month! Why isn’t this banned by the Geneva Convention?), and I feel urgh. On the plus side, I haven’t puked yet. Keep your fingers crossed!

OK, Fine, Let’s Talk About Feelings (H)

I’m not very good at hints, but on looking rather stunned and crest-fallen after reading May’s last post I think her saying “you could always write a response” was just about unsubtle enough for me to pick up on.

I’m not sure what I’m going to say yet, so let’s see where this goes…

Sidling does fit well as a description of my behaviour, I think. Yes, definitely worse when I’m stressed, which as May generously points out is quite a lot recently. The new job is a lot more stressful than the previous (don’t worry I’ll spare you the boring details, suffice to say I inherited a pup of a project that turned out to have real expectations of delivery, but smoke and mirrors support and resources, and more skeletons than a ghost train), but then staying in the old job while the organisation wound down around me would also have been extremely stressful – so I was kind of stuffed either way on that one. At least I have a job for the next 18 months, albeit not an ideal one.

I’m also a mass of misery. I’m not sure what other feelings I have really, as I’m emotionally constipated (I’m in the process of signing up for counselling/psychotherapy). As May recounted I have admitted to feeling scared, so I guess that’s a start.

I tend to think in a fairly binary way and I also compartmentalise (arguably quite badly, see comments on previous post). I think of strong emotions as ‘bad’. There are family reasons behind this – as a child growing up I witnessed regularly and at close hand an aunt who was bi-polar going through the highs and lows (and being hospitalised at regular intervals as she reached the extreme ends of the spectrum). I also saw her seemingly recover and get a couple of good jobs and find some stability in her life, before she committed suicide.

This means, as has been pointed out, that it’s not that I don’t have emotions but I handle them badly. I try and squash them down – and this applies to the ‘good’ ones, such as joy, too. Something that annoys May and makes her sad, I think. It means it’s difficult for us to connect on an emotional level.

So, when someone approaches me with strong emotions my ingrained, automatic response is to either sidle or hunker down into ‘protective shell’ mode. This makes effective communication near impossible and also doesn’t really provide reassurance/support. I know this intellectually, but at the time what I may know plays very little part in my reactions. I panic. this the quickly deteriorates depending on what I’m faced with – getting defensive or silent/dumb or trying to escape. This is only exacerbated when it’s someone I care about. The fear of saying the wrong thing, as I have far too often, is increasingly paralysing.

None of this is ground-breaking stuff and I’m sorry for May, in particular, who will probably be disappointed that there’s nothing new or non-obvious.

I also realise that I haven’t really addressed the non-communication aspect, which did improve a bit (I think) after our previous therapy – but I agree has relapsed. In the interest of getting this posted before the weekend of family fuss, however, I shall save some stuff up for another post soon.

OK, fine, let’s talk about feelings

In Italy they have a saying: ‘Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi,’ which roughly translated means: ‘Christmas with family, Easter with whoever you like.’ Only it rhymes and therefore sounds snappier in Italian.

As regular readers of my whingeing might remember, H and I spent Christmas with family. Therefore, we spent Easter on our own, here in our scruffy little hovel, eating potatoes Dauphinoise (May’s High Holidays Extravaganza Cooking Of Choice), roast duck, and a frankly immoral amount of black chocolate. And I may have had a couple of glasses of red wine, just because I can.

And writing H’s Grandfather’s eulogy (which wasn’t stressful in the least. Not even when H’s father emailed us five times a day each with additions/corrections/don’t mentions. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha). The great big memorial service for everyone who wasn’t at the funeral is next weekend, and it has turned into Rather A Deal. And H will be reading said eulogy, to a crowd of, we now discover, over 100. Yay! Apparently I’m reading part of it too. Yay! FIL has just emailed us another correction. Yay!

Meanwhile, H and I have had three very angry shouty fights in a row (well, I shouted, H pouted (sorry, H, but you did)), which, whatever set them off, were chiefly about the increasingly ludicrous amount of non-communication going on between us.

Yeah, I know. May and H, the wonder team. Look! Clay feet!

H has been in a… I don’t know. H doesn’t get into moods, or strops, or huffs, as such. He just… sidles away. So, H has been in a sidle since before I had surgery in November. It’s a stress thing, I think, from past experience, but it doesn’t normally go on so long. On the other hand, a chap doesn’t normally have seven or eight major stressors happen two a month for months on end (lose job, get new job, mother-in-law is seriously ill, massive public performance to do, wife has surgery, Grandfather is declared terminally ill, BLOODY CHRISTMAS, Grandfather dies, another massive public performance… and then he hurls his guts up). I say this because I want to be as fair as it is possible for such a totally unobjective, partial, involved person as myself can be.

As far as I’m concerned, I know I am a mass of neuroses, anxiety, and misery (my Mum in surgery dramas! I hate my job! I’m still not pregnant! I have RPL PTSD! EVERYTHING BETWEEN MY RIBS AND MY KNEES HURTS! My Dad has stopped speaking to me again! I had surgery and it fixed nothing!), and whenever I try to talk about any of it with H, his response is to remain silent, change the subject, or in extreme cases leave the room.

Oh, he doesn’t storm out of the room, or flounce, or stride, or fling. He sidles. I approach him, I say something – something dramatic no doubt – about being unhappy, and I slowly raise my sad neglected-kitten eyes to his, for maximum pathos, and there’s no H any more. He’s suddenly in the study writing an email, or in the bathroom brushing his teeth, or in the kitchen with his head in a cupboard. I change my tactics, hold his hands (quite firmly, to prevent sidling) and look into his face as I speak, and he somehow, miraculously, the sheer power of his reluctance giving him pre-emptive Bat Hearing, detects a message arriving on his iPhone two rooms away which might be really really important. I tried cuddling up to him in bed before I spoke; he fell asleep. I took to losing my temper and shouting that he didn’t listen and I needed him to; every single time it became a discussion about H’s difficulties with expressing emotion. Every. Single. Time. I’d call him on that, and five exchanges in we’d be back to discussing the wonder that is H. It became bleakly hilarious. It’s been going on for months.

We spent the Easter Long Weekend tantrumical.

It’s all very well saying I can vent on the internet and get all those lovely supportive comments to make me feel better. You, Gentle Readers, do make me feel better. But you’re not very cuddly, and your neck doesn’t smell faintly of sandalwood and citrus, and you don’t make me tea.

And anyway, I like the feeling that the inside of my head is of some interest to my spouse. It’s not a feeling I’ve had for a good while. And I like the feeling that care and consideration of the spouse’s state of mind is reciprocal, not a one-way street.

H insists he does care, he just doesn’t know how to deal with showing it, and doesn’t know how to deal with me being unhappy and wanting to talk. I’d be sympathetic, if we’d only been married a year. I’d be sympathetic if I hadn’t given him explicit instructions (do not leave the room! Ask questions! Recap from time to time to prove you’ve been listening! You know, like I do for you when you want to talk!) over and over again whenever he’s complained he doesn’t know what to do. I’m sick of only being able to say whatever’s on my mind as part of a dirty great row, in fragments, in between multiple (exhausting, pointless) visits to the planet of H Doesn’t Do Feelings So Please Stop Asking Him To.

We reached a consensus the other day that H is being awkward about sex at the moment because he’s actually scared I might even get pregnant, and given our track record so far have another miscarriage, and go to pieces.

Which is heartbreakingly understandable. And also makes complete nonsense of the H Doesn’t Do Feelings thing. Of course he does. He does them lots and lots. And then he ignores them. Which means he has to ignore mine as well, in case they remind him he has some too. And therefore whenever I insist on having feelings at him, his own recrudesce with astonishing force and derail the whole conversation on the instant into a river cruise in Egypt. At the end of which, we are no nearer finding the source of it all, and I am left with a raging case of Feeling Abandoned And Unloved, while H, lacquered three inches deep with obliviousness, nails the lids back down on his emotional packing cases.

I have to say, that what with H’s severe fluey cold followed by attack of norovirus while we were on goddamn bloody holiday, followed swiftly by the amount of almighty anxst we’ve managed to generate over the long Easter weekend, I think I deserve a refund and do-over on this relaxing lark. I feel as relaxed as a steel girder in the Forth Bridge.

About food, again.

Well, now, after not eating gluten for nearly four months, if I go ‘oh, fuck it, I’m on holiday’ and eat, say, a splendid bowl of seafood linguine in a nice restaurant with a spiffing view of the harbour and a distant lighthouse, my belly blows up like a Montgolfier aerostatic globe (alas without the golden fleur-de-lys at every corner). The experiment was repeated a few days later with a piece of bread and frankly, if I’d bumped into a street-lamp it’d’ve been the Hindenburg disaster all over again. So. For whatever reason, May’s intestines have Taken Against gluten. Whether this is a new thing, or whether they were never pro-gluten in the first place and are quite glad I’ve finally worked it out is undeterminable and probably, for the moment at least, irrelevant.

Meanwhile, I’d kill for a dish of lasagne and a cake that doesn’t have the texture of sand.

Things I can’t eat, because they variously make me bloated, give me violent instant and very painful indigestion, sore swollen lips and tongue, or eczema: Hazelnuts. Raspberries. Bananas. Kiwis. White wine (and champagne). Dairy products from cows (this has improved in the past ten years. I can now eat dairy several times a week without any noticeable reaction). And now, wheat. Arse.

I mean ‘arse’ as in swear-word, not as in another thing I can’t eat.

And, because I ovulated on Monday, I am cutting down on coffee, as I always, grimly, bloody-mindedly do for the two-week-wait. I think, this time, I shan’t start it back up again post-period. Too much caffeine is too implicated in too many random, poorly-backed-up studies of infertility, you see.

When I announced this to H, he expressed the concern that coffee helps me get through the day, I only have one or two coffees a day, and here I was, giving up this thing that helps me get through the day, and it sounded less like me being cautious and healthy and more like me punishing myself.

Well, yes, said I, as if this was the most logical thing in the world.

H looked at me in total, utter, 100% shiny bafflement.

OK. I have just said, and thought, and am still thinking, the sort of thing an unhinged wing-nut with a major eating disorder would say and think.

I don’t think having food intolerances is good for me. You know what orthorexia is? It’s a way of having an eating disorder without anyone really noticing you’ve got an eating disorder. I once weighed a grand total of 120 lbs, thought I was disgustingly fat, and lived on, alternately, black coffee and fingernails for a week, and binges of buttered toast, carrot sticks and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. For which, of course, I loathed myself. Back on the fingernails! Until my body screams for carbohydrate and fibre! Cycle! Vicious!

Now I weigh, oh, fuck it, I weigh 180 lbs and eat things like salad Niçoise and bacon and avocados and roast chicken and broccoli and chocolate and cherry tomatoes and Pad Thai. And by and large, I don’t beat myself up about any of it. At all. Except maybe when I have my usual PMT break-out and eat enough chocolate to make myself feel a little sick, and then it’s usually only because I could’ve stopped three squares ago and now not be feeling sick.

Or, at least, I did. And yet, here I am, thinking it’s a perfectly logical, sane idea to give up something I love, not because to do so would be provenly healthy (though it may well be (and in fact I am using the healthiness as a justification (which is, you know, how orthorexia works))), but because I love it.


The date is overly meaningful

Item – H is feeling a lot better. Friday night was the worst, in terms of Horrible Minutes Trapped In Bathroom. Saturday, he draped his person across various beds and arm-chairs, sulking and occasionally, when he had the energy, complaining, feverish and stomach-achey. And today, he declared himself well enough to go out for lunch and dragged me to the nearby pub so he could eat roast beef. I pointed out he was pushing his luck, rather, but he merely smiled beatifically at me before grinding to a halt half-way through the yorkshire puddings. Ha. But, yes, indeed, he is feeling a lot better. Even his burnt hand is a lot better (though, you know, blisters, ick).

Item – Early this morning I dreamt I finally had a baby daughter, and she was lying in my arms, breastfeeding (even in the dream this gave me a strange, visceral thrill of bewildered happiness – my own daughter at my breast, my body finally doing something right and doing it well), and H and I were looking lovingly at this darling child and rejoicing in her existance, that after all we’d gone through she was finally here, in our arms. And then, with a sudden lurch of anxiety, I realised I couldn’t remember her name. We’d given her such a pretty one. What was it? Minx? No, that was my niece’s name. Willow? Rose? What was her name? Worried, I bent my head to look at her again, to see if that would jog my memory, and realised I was holding a plastic doll. There was no baby. I sat bolt upright in a sweat of fear and shame, that I’d mistaken a doll for a living child, and realised I was awake. April Fool. Damn it.

Item – Meanwhile H (banished to the spare bed in the study for snoring violations) had also had a bad dream. He was at a big family dinner-party, and then when he got up from the table to clear up, he saw one of the guests had hung herself, and all the while he’d been drinking and playing cards and having a good time, she’d been dangling there behind them all, ignored. And she had the face of H’s aunt, who really did kill herself a few years ago. Of course, today would have been her birthday. Oh, my poor beloved H.

Item – So, there we both are, after our week’s holiday, strung out, exhausted from lack of sleep, recovering from a trifecta of health attacks and/or from looking after a chap with a trifecta of health attacks, and now both nervous wrecks as well because our respective subconsciouses decided today was a good day to get a thorough kicking in. Pfft. Holidays. Who needs them.


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