Ugly. Hurting. Misunderstood. Frustrated. Disconnected.
I think we’re both (Hubby and I) feeling this way and I truly don’t think PTSD has anything to do with it, or not my reaction anyway. That was a huge fight that had more to do with our marriage. Any marriage.
Maybe I made this worse by trying to protect his feelings?
First, we’re both feeling rejected lately. I’ve been sleeping terribly for months now, terrible dreams, restless fits, waking in a sudden panic for no reason. I’ve been sleeping on the couch because I can’t handle Hubby breathing and moving next to me right now. I don’t know why the step backwards. I think the dark fall months, holiday stress, and job stress have me worn out, so I can no longer handle my night time fears. Just an idea. I have tried multiple times to have those snuggly romantic evenings while awake, and none have worked out recently. I try not to feel rejected, and so does he. Nothing feels right, and when it is right for me, I find him sound alseep, too tired from a long shift at work. So the morning before this ugly fight, the kids leave for school and I sit on his lap playfully, hoping to start up something, but quickly get the idea he is not interested. It seems unless I put on the lingerie and go all playboy I can’t get his attention. Well I have not been putting on the lingerie because my eating is still out of control and I don’t fit into any lingerie I have. So then I’m afraid I’ve gotten too fat and can’t get his interest. We went through a whole intense kinky period when we got back together a year or so ago, and I’m really sad to find out I can’t excite him by just being me in my baggy nightgown. He says I keep pushing him away, I think he’s pushing me away.
Not a good frame of mind to start a day, so I think the big fight was inevitable, thinking back now.
First we were talking about Christmas plans. I shared with him again all of my concerns and the plans given by new therapist and asked for his opinion and ideas. I showed him a few items I thought I might paint for each family, and each one he turned into something else entirely, and something that he would make. I showed him a cute simple snow gauge that looks like snowman. I could paint on paint stirs or slate posts and I wanted his opinion. His idea was to make them out of metal and weld it and keep me out of it completely. His idea was really nice and classy and I felt silly for mine, but also felt like he won’t have time to do it. He often has grand ideas that he doesn’t realize will take more than a few hours and few weekends.
Then I asked what about the kids? This isn’t really a fmaily gift. He says he wants to make wood toboggans for each kid, niece and nephew. Wow, that sounds great, but again, nothing for me to do, and no way he has time to do it.
I’m not sure what else was said, but I said I was so tired of repeating and that he still does not seem to understand what I’m trying to do to make this holiday better for myself. He started yelling and I started crying. This was all while the clock is ticking and I really should be working, so behind this week. So I decide to get to work, and he decides to plop himself in my way too small office next to me. I just wanted him to leave before I poked his eyeballs out.
I somehow focused on work with him shopping next to me. He keeps asking my opinion now, desperately showing how helpful he wants to be. I try to be nice. But then after an hour he says, oh no those craft kits would take too long to get here and abandoned it all. (yes that’s why I asked you look at all of this weeks ago I said to myself, still trying to keep it together)
And then – then he sees an ad for a deal that reminds him of the gift he gave me for my birthday a few months back. A gift I have been unable to use.
A couple months ago hubby gave me what he thought was a perfect birthday gift. It was generous and for many other wives it would have been accepted happily. Instead his gift caused me instant pain and inner turmoil. I was shocked by the insensitivity but decided to let it go because he seemed so sincere and genuinely pleased to give it to me.
So what gift could be so problematic?
He got me a gift card for a massage at a spa.
I should be thrilled that he thinks I am healed enough to handle this situation, right? How is he supposed to know the great lengths I go to to avoid anyone touching me? It’s not like he has lived with me for the past 20 years. Oh wait, no he has lived with me, and worked through the sexual healing journey book with me, and gone to counseling sessions with me, and been there to personally hundreds of flashbacks, freeze-ups, panic attacks, etc.
I cut my own hair to avoid the intimate touching of a hairdresser. I’ve never had a mani-pedi or any type of spa treatment. I have to go through deep breathing and visualization to survive doctor/dentist visits.
So when I got that gift card, I felt like a freaky failure. And I stayed quiet, thanked him and tucked away the card, and stuffed down my feelings of confusion, inadequacy, and being misunderstood. I told my new counselor about it, and we decided that I did not need to share this with Hubby, that I wasn’t feeling too connected to him in general lately and that this could make it worse. I’m not sure that was the right choice, because it came up. I never thought about him asking me about it.
He casually reminded me about the gift card and I felt I could not let it slide this time. Maybe it was time to bring him in and let him know I can’t use that card. The thought of getting naked and laying in a room for strangers to touch me is about the scariest thought I can imagine. Even clothed, the experience is too triggering to think about.
So I tell him I won’t be using that card, and start to explain why, and before I even get it all out he throws the card across the room and starts screaming. He is more hurt than I am?? He says he put a lot of thought into that card and even asked a bunch of people at work for suggestions, wanting to get me something special. I’m guessing no one at work has endured 16 years of sexual abuse from an abusive family.
So I actually apologized (screaming sarcastically) to him for not loving his gift, not being able to have a massage from a stranger, and for being a freak of nature that makes his life so difficult. We exchanged so many terrible screaming words, I can’t even remember it all.
And so here we are again. I can’t keep explaining myself to him. Yes I appear ok on the outside, yes I usually do. But no, I am usually far from ok. My job is super stressful and takes most of me out of me – I am all worn out from the people managing I must do daily. Add in the mom stuff and everything else and I am barely on the functional spectrum.
I don’t live.
I manage. I cope. I get through it day by day.
Is it too much to ask for him to remember all of this, to actually understand me? Is it my job to continually remind him of my pain and weaknesses? Is it my job to protect his feelings or should he be able to handle it? I’m no good at playing pretend any more.
So after the fight, I know I needed to talk to someone. I reached out to my sis in law, who has become a good friend to me. I was going to go out with her, but decided for my marriage I should probably talk to Hubby and not just her. So I reach out to Hubby the next morning (after I spent a nice night alone actually sleeping in my own bed with the door locked so no one would interrupt and scare me) by text since kiddos are home, and we discuss needing to talk. He invites me upstairs and when I go I find him in the bathtub. Not exactly where I want to talk to him, sitting on the stool or toilet while he soaks. He stays in there for hours while I catch up on work, he goes shopping, he makes a lovely dinner, and then he falls asleep early. And today he is at work and still no talking. Well that’s not true, he apologized to me this morning, but I don’t know what he meant. He said “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize your trigger and took it personally” ?? I think I said “ok” or something else mumbly in my sleepy head. I’m not sure what to do with that, but I accept that he is trying and will put down my wall a little. A little.
I’m not so angry now anyway, a couple days to cool off helps with that. But I am hurt. And the distance is growing between us. And I’m tired of being the one to fix it. The one to bring it up. Not to play games, but out of exhaustion, the next move is his. Let him suggest the time to talk, send the note, find the support book or website, or actually sit next to me on the couch and stay awake long enough to discuss something.
Sadly I have lost all enthusiasm for improving the holidays, especially after sis in law shared that they all talk about me like I’m crazy when I leave the room, just as I suspected. so I am back to “What the hell is the point?” Why do I try so hard?