Here I go again. Use me as the role model to avoid. What Happens When You Marry a Passive Aggressive Man 101
I do know that asking is fraught with risk and a high probability of being sabotaged in whatever I’m asking for. You see, I know that, but yet I asked. Yesterday, I told him I wanted us to go to Costco together the next day (instead of just him going or just me going). I told him that I wanted to try to find something to wear. Something I could go walking in or go to town grocery shopping in. Maybe a pair of lightweight exercise pants. I told him that I’d like his support to face going in a store.
Does it sound strange to you that the simple act of going into a department store is a giant giant overwhelming step for me to consider?
If you haven’t walked in the shoes of a world that’s been shrinking to a very small size (translate: manageable), then you are probably not going to understand this post at all.
Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have understood at all the me that I’ve become. I’m not sure how much compassion I would have had either, probably disbelief or bewildered horror from total incomprehension. When I was young, I would not have believed and not understood that one day I’d not only have hardly anything to wear, but would feel paralyzed to change that. I would not have believed and not understood that the thought of having to go into a store and try on clothes would make me want to be sedated somehow first. (hmm… not unlike the thought of going to the dentist now) It involves spending money (which always gives me anxiety now), and facing myself in a mirror.
To be fair, the mirrors in dressing rooms in department stores are universally kind of awful. I’ve heard most women say they dislike the dressing rooms. Still, just the thought of even walking into a department store makes my heart rate start to speed up unpleasantly. I need a haircut, and I’m thinking of cutting at it myself rather than have to go to a salon. The last time I went to a salon to get it cut was probably only a couple months ago, but it wasn’t a good cut, and I think it notched my depression factor up a little. Now the weather is warmer, and going to the salon in sweatpants would make me stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a humiliating kind of feeling that I need to prepare to swallow and forge ahead with.
For those who are normal, I could try to explain that it’s worse when the weather gets warm. Normal people are out in shorts or sun dresses. You don’t typically see women grocery shopping in sweat pants in July. I love summer. Ironically, I love to go to the lake to swim. I have a swimsuit! I put it on, stick my pajama bottoms on over the suit, go quietly to the beach, and quietly into the water. Once I’m in the water, I can just swim for an hour or two, and completely feel soothed. I know what’s coming, and it makes walking through the crowd of people bearable.
On Saturday morning, I asked him about going together to Costco on Sunday, and that I’d like us to go together because I wanted to try to find something else to wear.
This man is my husband. He lives with me, so he has to be aware of what those words meant.
He said, “I don’t want to go to Costco on Sunday. What about a different day?”
(Hm. A weekday means he shouldn’t go because of work deadlines. Putting it off until next weekend means we won’t have some of the staples we’re running out of. Also, did he just hear the reason I asked him?)
I replied, “I really hoped we could go together so I could get moral support from you. Even though I wish I could be drugged or inebriated to face trying on clothes, it wouldn’t seem as horrible with your support.”
He said, “Oh. Well. I just thought it would be good not to shop on Sunday.”
I replied, “Please. It would mean a lot to me if you were supporting me.”
(knock head against wall)
Late that evening, it came up again.
I said, “I’m hoping we can leave early tomorrow before it gets warm, and get back at a decent time.”
He said, “I really hate shopping on a Sunday. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with my conscience about, and feel like I should be honoring the Lord’s day. I know I haven’t been good about it, but it just seems like it would be better to plan to shop on a different day.”
I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Because that sounds like the reasoning of a Pharisee to me. What kind of conscience thinks it’s okay to treat your wife in unloving and hurtful ways, but focuses on tithing mint and not shopping on a Sunday? Okay, it’s not that I’m against honoring the Sabbath, it’s not that. But it was the only day we could go together, and you know what a big deal this is for me… You know how hard this is… Wouldn’t that be more like helping your donkey out of a pit than sinning?”
He said, “You interrupted me before I could finish! I was about to say that even though I don’t feel right about it, I was going to say that –“
“Just stop it! I will interrupt you now!” (I’m feeling angry and stupid to boot now.) “Don’t even bother to tell me that you’ll go against your conscience to help me, if that’s what you were about to say!”
(He pauses… looks like his thoughts are scrambling as to why that might upset me.)
I said, “Your first response indicated nothing of intending to go with me. When I started to point out that it felt uncaring and hypocritical to me, you tried to make it sound as though you were intending to go. And even if for the sake of theory you were intending to go, what possible motive could you have to tell me that you’d have to go against your conscience to do that for me? Why would you even tell me that?”
He snapped, “You never let me finish! You gave me about thirty-five seconds to process going tomorrow! I needed time to think about it!”
I replied, “Uh… I asked you this morning. That was many hours ago, and should have been plenty of time for you to process.”
He said, “Oh… hm… that’s true…”
I said, “I was stupid to ask you in the first place. I know better. I should know better. I’m going to ask oldest Son to take me sometimes soon. I’ll explain to him, and I know he’d be low key and patient to try to help me with doing this.”
(He’s getting that wheels turning look again. Now sad puppy.)
“No, no, you aren’t stupid to ask me. I want to do this for you. I really want to support you.”
I said, “Why do I feel like you’re saying that because you probably realized that you’d look uncaring and not supportive? Why do you suddenly want to do this, when you were so resentful about it before?”
He said, “I really want to do this. It has nothing to do with what you said.”
I said, “I think now it’s probably a bad idea, and would cost me too much.”
Fast forward to today. We’re walking around outside. It’s my first walk around since hitting the knee and twisting the ankle. I see the damage the hail did to the garden and fruit trees. Discouraging. I look at the cosmos popping up quite well. Happy thought. I try not to feel awful about my battered garden with dead plants, or the apples that won’t happen in the orchard this year. I notice that the hoses need to be turned on, and mention to him that the plants need water, and would he turn on the hoses?
He responds that he will, and that he thought he’d tie up the roses, and do some weeding.
Weeding. He’s already been busy inside cleaning up a laundry shelf (he said our youngest son didn’t do a good enough job and felt he needed to redo it). Cleaning and weeding.
I asked, “Isn’t that working? Why is that okay, but it upset you to go shopping with me?”
He said, “Being outside isn’t work! It’s joy! It’s soaking in the glory of creation! It’s completely different!”
I turned to go back in the house, realizing that if joy is his criterion for whether something is okay or not to do on a Sunday, there was apparently no joy for him in my taking a step towards healing and growth. At least it looks that way to me, but maybe I’m missing something or looking at this from a skewed perspective.
The question I’m asking now to myself, is why did I ask him?