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…


8 responses to “Abash’d the Devil stood

  • valeryvalentina

    Lonely and sad, I remember, we’ve done that too. (And my BambiEyes helped with that. Without her, and without HB I’m not sure our relationship could have survived, me being more of a runner-awayer than a sidler)
    But now we have A Plan. So I’m thinking that IVF may be good to put in your future if it gives you hope. It might give you strength and direction. And man tend to like it even more to have a plan.
    Maybe find your way forward rather than back?


  • Emily Erin

    Sending hugs, hot water bottles and good thoughts for a way forward that works well for you both.

  • Jan

    De lurking here to say-Well yes ideally but also maybe give yourself and H a break. You’ve a lot going for you as a couple (personally I’d give the poetry a miss) and obviously a lot on your plate. Adding a burden of trying to fix stuff before starting IVF might be just that, an extra burden and be unrealistic- maybe just plod on being polite and having those hugs. Sometimes in long relationships just rubbing along together is the best you can do. Hope I’m not speaking out of turn.

  • xj2608

    Who doesn’t spend some time being lonely and sad? Even in marriage… You both have a lot to deal with; emotionally, physically, and more. You’d think that dealing with it together would be useful, but for now, it seems counterproductive. Where your pain is physical (and certainly there is an emotional component to it, but I suspect your main feeling toward your period leans to impatience/annoyance), H’s response is purely emotional. Where your pain is purely emotional (not having the baby you should have), H is at a slight remove and probably doesn’t know what to feel. Because of your different views on the same situation, you can’t really commiserate. It would seem that a 3rd party is necessary for you two (or even a 4th). I’m sure H doesn’t resent you, but he can’t say how he feels about things without feeling like he’s telling you that he resents you. Telling someone else might help. Eh, blah, blah, blah – I’m probably misinterpreting again.

    On the other hand, I think Valeryvalentina is on to something. Worrying less about all the other stuff because you have to deal with the stresses of IVF might bring you closer together. You have a common concern with very specific roles. It might actually take away the current stress. While it will certainly bring on a different type of stress, you will both know better what to expect. Kind of like the old joke where someone tells you that their head hurts, so you punch them in the stomach and then ask them if their head still hurts…

  • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

    One of the things I don’t like about opiates is the hung-over feeling, without having done anything fun to deserve it.

    Having read here and there about H’s CRAAAAAAZY family, putting it all in a box to
    ignore seems like a very functional response. I know many people with crazy, crazy families (including some of my own first-degree relatives) who have done the same, and it has allowed them to have happy lives.

    Being as you are not crazy, merely upset and in pain, etc., it’s no longer functioning as a response. I hope that the counselor at least provides an outlet for the poor man.

  • mackiewalker

    I hate that you are both so sad and angry and hurt. I want to be able to snap my fingers and bring resolution. I hope that H does find someone to whom he can talk to so he can say all the things he wants without feeling guilty about how it might affect you. I also hope you get to stay tolerably pain free in this particularly grim bit of the month.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    I’ve had comments open on this post, and the two Feelings posts, for DAYS, damnit. And have thought about them so much… and just can’t quite summon the phrases I want to. And I’ve probably left it a bit late for tonight, because I can feel the Brain, she is struggling, but I am going to come out with something soon if it kills me. Something clever, that will solve everythin… well, something thoughtful, anyway. Something well-meaning, at least. Tell you what, how about about I just aim for pontificatey, and then no-one gets their hopes up?

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