Friday, May 23, 2008

Rough Patches

It's been a very busy couple of days, totally unrelated to FLR. But the fund-raiser I was helping to organize is over and I've had time to start decompressing a little.

A wonderful moment after we all got home from our events last night: she poured herself a glass of water and emptied the pitcher. In mid-conversation she just handed me the pitcher. My heart skipped a beat and I just went and filled it while we were talking. Most satisfying moment of my day; I seem to get about one of those a day. I don't want to read too much in to this, but I really don't think it's the kind of thing she would have done in the past.

A couple of days ago I realized that I had so much to do to make that fund-raiser work that I was just keeping up with the barest minimum of what I fell I need to do to be make my beloved's life easier, and in a tired moment shared that "I'm not feeling very good about myself at this moment." I was referring to my fulfilling my commitments in our arrangement, but as we shall see, communication is a tricky thing.

Last night, when it was all over, lying in bed, she asked, "How are you feeling; yesterday you said you weren't feeling very good about yourself." So I shared that I felt I wasn't keeping up my commitments and acknowledged that she had been quite correct about outside involvements perhaps making this impractical. She replied that civic commitment is something we value in our family, so it's part of what we do. All well and good.

Then I asked the fatal, "And how's this working for you?" question. As best I can recall, and I will attempt to quote this accurately so as not to put my interpretation on it, she said (though not in this order, I think), "Sometimes I just wish we could be normal" and "I get tired of being asked if I'd like things" and "I know you're thinking about this a lot, but I wish just an hour could go by without your bringing it up". I apologized for that and suggested that we come up with a way for her to mention that in the moment, but we both acknowledged that it can be hard to perceive and act on in the moment. And later in the conversation, I asked if this was making her life at all more convenient, and she said, "I was pretty tired of paying the bills, so I guess that's nice." No mention of the laundry, which I know she's kind of tired of doing, and which I've been doing.

Apropos of Ms. Rika's comment about using chores to be passive-aggressive, when I walked out of the bedroom, all of the laundry that I had laid out to dry had been put away, something I was intending to do after I got through the fundraiser.

I'll rant about some of her reactions here since I don't want to rant to her. But the "letting an hour go by" question was so unfair, because I have been compulsive about not bringing this up more than once or twice a day in the lightest possible terms. In all fairness, if this is how it feels to her, then I have to acknowledge that reality; I'll suspect that it comes from my changed attitude and my increased attention to what she's asking for, suggesting, and me trying to get out of her way more than I customarily do - in sort the change in attitude that I crave as part of this arrangement. And that feels to her like "asking" all the time, since it's different.

But if all this comes down to is that I pay the bills from now on, and nothing else, then the whole thing is a failure and we've gotten nowhere - I get to go back to feeling frustrated, unrequited and incomplete, and she gets to go on living in the illusion that she's relating to me, not to my "game face."

I put that all out there first because it was the nadir of where things got to. I had a crappy night sleep "realizing" that this was all for naught, and finding my desire for her (which runs high while we're doing this) to have been reduced to the merest casual level.

In the morning we snuggled a little, as we have been doing more of since we started this, mainly because I'm crazy about her, which was better. I was trying to get better about what was said, and assuming that it was because she was tired last night. But in the end, I said that I didn't want to make her miserable (isn't that counter to the whole idea - we chuckled), but I don't want to be miserable either, and can we find a way to make this work for both of us? She agreed (warmly) that we probably could.

15 minutes later she gave me an embrace in the kitchen and told me she loved me, which I appreciate, but (not content to leave the unsaid unsaid, as I have for the last 25 years), I asked if she loved all of me. Because it's really nice to be all here as opposed to skulking around underground. She agreed. She pointed out that I need a haircut (which she usually provides), and perhaps (she suggested), I could shave her legs - another thing I love to do.

So I think we have a place to work from.

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