It was a good morning that just turned to shit. I’m sure it will roll back around to a good day eventually. It’s just not there yet.
I was putting on my makeup, arguing politics with my politically exasperating husband. I finally threw up my hands (metaphorically) and decided to finish getting dressed for work. I was frustrated with him, but not seriously. Then, just as I flipped off my T-shirt to put on my bra, he walked back into the room and gave me that “Hey there, girl” look.
I told him, nope, don’t even. He kept walking toward me. I said stop, I mean it. He kept coming. I said NO, your stupid work ID badge is cold — I knew he wanted a naked hug and I wasn’t in the mood. And I had to tell him to stop a total of four times in an escalating tone of voice and push back with my hand before he would stop.
Now why have I been on the edge of tears since then? I mean, that was around 6:30. It’s nearly 7:20 now.
It reminded me of the time when I found out about his affair, and he held me down on the bed and wrestled his phone away from me by force, for one thing. I hate feeling helpless. I hate feeling intimidated. I hate feeling panicky.
It’s a helpless rapey kind of feeling when someone intends to intimately touch your naked body with or without your permission. He only stopped when HE decided to, not when I asked. It’s hard to put a finger on the exact feeling. It’s not exactly helplessness or vulnerability or humiliation. It’s a panicked “I can’t stop this” kind of feeling. Like I didn’t have control over what is done with my body.
Now, granted, he stopped because he realized I really meant the “no.” And he’s my husband and I enjoy being intimate with him. But always with consent.
So I rode to work with him (we carpool) mostly in silence, concentrating on my knitting and then on my phone because I did NOT want to cry and feel even more out of my control. I know he thinks I’m being punitive when I’m silent but it’s not that — or at least it’s not JUST that. I was not going to cry because of his behavior. MY choice. And I didn’t want to rail at him without knowing what I wanted to say. I wasn’t even sure what I was so upset about.
Also, I am always, always, always the one who reaches out and bridges the gulf between us, and I wanted him to be the one to fix it for a change.
In retrospect, what I should have done back at the house was to say “Fuck YOU!” and let the tears come and tell him what an ass he was, and I should have taken my makeup bag with me when leaving so I could finish the cry and then fix my face for the day at work.
When we got to work, I was going to get out of the car, be polite but distant so I wouldn’t cry, and go into work and do my job. And then I was going to think about what I wanted to say and then talk with him tonight. He stopped me at the car, wanting to talk. He said he was sorry. I said that I couldn’t talk about it right then.
He knew, after 23 years of marriage, that I accepted the apology but didn’t want to talk at the moment because I detest the ugly cry about to brim over.
And then he said, “I’m so embarrassed I made you feel bad.”
He helped me carry my stuff into the office, and I gave him a quick, perfunctory goodbye kiss.
And this was swirling in my brain: “Um …. embarrassed? What the fuck. Is this about your self image, not about how I feel right now? And here I thought this was about you imposing your will on me and alarming me and making me feel weak. But the problem here is that you now feel bad about yourself, huh? Why is hurting me something that is ALL ABOUT YOU?”
Oh, fuck this. And fuck anyone who says, “What’s the big deal? Why get your knickers in a twist? Why such a tempest in a teapot?”
Fuck your tempest and fuck your teapot. This is my body, my tits, MY CHOICE. I choose not to feel helpless. And I’m overwhelmed that I felt that way anyway.
A side note
If I tried once again to explain the fundamental self-centeredness of his “I’m embarrassed” statement, he wouldn’t get it. I’ve tried in response to similar tone-deaf statements many times in the past. The other memorable time of me trying to NICELY and delicately point out a blind spot of his had him furious and sulking on the matter for more than a year.
“I’m embarrassed” doesn’t say he’s sorry he did something. It says he’s sorry that he can’t deny doing something wrong. It says he’s sorry that he looks bad. It’s a focus on his image. That’s not the same thing as saying “I did wrong.”
Fuck the inadequacies of the English language and my mastery of it — I don’t know how to convey the monumental arrogance of his thought process.
Maybe he just worded it badly, right? He did look upset and sorry. Or maybe I’m just making excuses for him. I don’t know what’s real anymore.
Or I think the real problem is that I desperately don’t want to see what is standing in front of me: He won’t change. I won’t leave. I feel like it is killing me to try to live with his stubbornly maintained blind spots. And it feels like death of the self for me to accept his willful insensitivity. I have decided to live in this limbo. And it sometimes really, really sucks.