“I’m a pretty dangerous dude when I’m cornered.”
“Yeah,” said a voice from under the table, “you go to pieces so
fast people get hit by the shrapnel.”
Douglas Adams – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
And so, I am spending my regular Monday off work hoovering splinters of myself out of the carpet.
It was an unfortunate vicious circle of stress (happy stress and bad stress), stress-induced insomnia, insomnia-induced headache, headache-induced stress… and then poor H decided this would be a good time to show off his best ‘I am Man, I do not do empathy’ skills. To be fair (for yes, I can be fair, no really, I can. Be. Fair.), H is normally pretty sweet, caring, thoughtful. Did I tell you about the earrings he gave me for Valentine’s Day? So pretty. And to carry on with this fairness theme, he has had his own troubles at work and is a bit worried about his own health and a couple of family members aren’t so kittens and roses either. So, you know, Preoccupied Man meets Stressed Woman. Oy vey, the screaming.
I am one of those irritating mortals who has a real problem expressing her needs. At the age of 31, it is of course not really very classy to blame one’s family, but I think I proved after last night’s melt-down that I am not very classy, so fuck it. I blame my family.
Needs, in my family, when I was a little girl, were verboten. As a ten-year-old who’d been bullied at school I would try to explain why I was crying and my harrassed mama would say: ‘Well, what did you do to provoke them?’. As a twelve-year-old I was not allowed to mention that I missed my daddy in case my step-father went off on one about ingratitude. I remember once telling my mum I had earache and to my horror she burst into tears because she just couldn’t cope with a sick child; I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convince her I was fine after all. I must have been six years old. The first time that, as a teenager, I had a seriously heavy period (after not getting one for four months), I woke up one morning in a pool of my own blood – I got such a telling off for ruining a mattress. It was a standing family joke for years that I was a hypochondriac, always pretending to have belly-ache to get out of things, right up until the day I collapsed and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance to have my very large dermoid cyst, twisted ovary, and ruined fallopian tube ripped out in an emergency operation. And after that, it was still a standing family joke that I was a skiving hypochondriac. So, you know, my ability to say ‘I’m miserable and need support’ is rather compromised. As is my ability to bear people being dismissive about any physical discomfort I might be in.
Writing all this is making me feel both choked up and sorry for myself, and hideously embarrassed. And anyway, where am I going with this?
The Town Criers posted a very good piece on competitive suffering in the IF world. (I had a little snivel in the comments. I’m really going to town on this self-pity thing). I feel all this horrible anxst and fear about the immediate (bleeding! Yes! Still! But I start Provera next weekend!), the near future (HSG, and frankly, the blogosphere is not helping with the scared of pain thing), the future (ART and MA, compatible much?), and the rest of my life. And yet I feel shamed, fraudulent, not entitled to my fear and anxiety. I am not an ART veteran, for a start. My family do know I am having ‘issues’, but think they are little, silly issues I’ve bought on myself by being fat, and incidentally, entirely solvable by a mad guru in a German forest who would give me enemas and/ or by giving up biscuits. I don’t eat biscuits, but hey, since when does a fact get in the way of a good theory?
I don’t talk about this with friends. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t die of embarrassment at the very mention of any of the above issues. I don’t talk about it very much with H, either. I hate seeing myself through his eyes as a broken, unhappy thing, and yet I still want, need, want him to notice that I need him, his support, his patience. Even when he’s fed up and not feeling patient or supportive. Especially when.
All the perfect ingredients for a stupid, door-slamming, weeping, storming-out-storming-in-again row.
And yes, I do have a fucking headache again today.
Edited to add: And guess who came home from work today with a spray of orchids for me? I nearly cried all over again, for happy reasons.