A couple days ago, I had a pretty good day as far as getting good stuff accomplished. In fact, every day this week has been decent. It was a very productive day of tutoring, and my daughter is making fantastic progress. Cooked up a big stir fry. Did some laundry. But I was so lonely. I just kept trying to do the right thing, but I struggled because I felt alone. I also wanted to be seen, to be appreciated for who I am, to be enjoyed as a person. By evening, I kept wishing for that miracle. I wished that the man I was married to would walk in the room with a caring smile, a look that said he was thankful I was in his life, a look that said he was hoping to be close to the wife he (says that he) loves.
It wasn’t that look when he came in the room. It was a look of obligatory interest and concern. A look that let me know there will be distance again. The look that precedes hearing how tired he is. The look I see before he asks me in this barely aggrieved tone if I’m ready to go to bed. It’s the way he asks. Not in the sweet way, a comfortable connection that would lead to at least peacefully holding each other before sleeping. It’s a tone that sounds strained, and tips me off that resentment is either there already, or waiting for me to give it a reason to be there.
And that’s what I’ve always been used to. It felt so horrible when I was younger. The despair and pain I felt in those years felt torturous. My emotions twisted, paced, and ran circles in what I perceived as the cage of my life that I could never leave. Now by the time that I realize I can get out, not only my body is unwell, but my very mind and being feels bruised and bent by the years.
That night (like other nights), I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to give love. I wanted physical intimacy. I craved and longed for it. But instead I saw his expression and relived once more that sick moment when I knew that my evening would end in lonely frustration. I felt tears and anger, like a deja vu wave from the past that was knocking me off my feet. I expressed my frustration and anger and loneliness to him. He responded that he didn’t feel well, that I don’t care about how he feels, or care when he feels sick. I replied that he’s been sick since he was twenty two years old, and should see a doctor. Maybe that wasn’t nice, but he seems healthy enough all the rest of the time.
That didn’t go well. I didn’t expect it to. But I didn’t care. I cared about giving myself a voice for it.
The next day he started to say he was sorry, and I forced myself to listen. I told him that if he was really sorry, he’d actually come out in the evening and sit by me and talk to me.
So tonight he did that. I almost hate it, because it feels like I’m Charlie Brown running at the football again, and I don’t want to. I have to go back there to our room and process this and try to sleep. I’m telling myself it’s nothing, just one of those occasional efforts he makes, but somewhere deep inside is the tiniest flicker of wishing there could be a different ending. Maybe only Grinches grow hearts, not passive aggressive men.