Daily Archives: April 10, 2012

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.


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