“Honey, I tried …” (Did you? Did you really?!)

THIS is how weak and/or stubborn my husband is. I have a really deadline-oriented job. It’s the day before a big project deadline, and I’m tired. I take a nap when I get home from work and ask my husband to please get me up if I didn’t stir by 8 p.m.

So instead I wake up on my own around 9:15 p.m., fumbling with my phone to shut off the third of the three backup alarms I set. And I know what has happened. I go into the living room, where he and one of my daughters are sharing a peaceful moment, with her texting and him reading from his iPad.

I look at him and say, “It’s 9 p.m.” with a WTF expression.

Detail from a Gareth Williams photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

He looks up and says with a small smile, “I tried two times. We had a conversation …”

This is super common for me and I absolutely cannot help it. Apparently, if I’m tired, I will talk with someone when they wake me and then I will immediately go back to sleep, never remembering that we talked. And then I wake up hours later on my own, pissed at having my wake-up request ignored. I don’t always set an alarm on my phone because I do the same damned thing to my electronics without ever waking up fully — I turn it off. No matter how many alarms I set.

It’s never been clear to me whether I (1) wake up, talk and then go back to sleep without ever storing the encounter in my long-term memory or (2) I’m not really “awake” in the moment at all in any meaningful sense of the word.

He knows this. We have been married through 25 years of my shitty stupid wake-up issues. And he continues to believe that whatever I mutter on the edges of sleep is me having a fully coherent, awake conversation, taking ownership of the situation and making decisions and shit. Except that I’m not awake.

So I am pissed, but all I say to him is, “How long have we been married?” He knows exactly what I mean.

It’s like he doesn’t even know me. I can’t count on him to help me deal with this flaw, this maddeningly frustrating weakness of mine.

He is completely unwilling to make SURE I’m really awake when he “tries” to wake me up. (If you keep talking to me, I will actually wake up and become coherent.) But he’s apparently just fine with my being furious at him for letting me oversleep. (If I hadn’t waked up on my own when I did, I’d have waked up around 2-3 a.m. with him sleeping beside me in the bed. That’s always fun.)

Sometimes I could *swear* he gets a mild kick out of letting me down on this. It feels deliberately crazy-making, and then I feel paranoid for thinking that. Is this a form of gaslighting? The “I tried to wake you up” issue is one I had with my mom when I was in my teens, which she handled the same way he does. So I guess I’m working through family-of-origin issues in my marriage, too.

I don’t think there is any ONE answer that covers this situation. I feel like I’m going to need multiple insights to resolve this.

I can’t count on him. How many times do I need to keep learning that lesson?!

I missed supper plus time I should have been working in preparation for tomorrow. I usually just swallow my frustration when this happens, but this time I was upfront about how annoyed I was. I didn’t yell. I didn’t swear. I didn’t belabor the point. But I was very clear that I was irritated.

He had already eaten supper, of course, but our night owl daughter had not. We had very little to eat in the house, so I figured I would find something to nosh on when I had woken up a little more. He said he would go get food and asked me what I wanted. I told him I didn’t know and just can’t even. (To be honest, I didn’t want him to errand-run his way back into my good graces. That doesn’t make it all better.)

So he decides he will go get me a burger, fries and Diet Coke from a place that’s only a few blocks from our house. Gets something for our daughter too. When he returns, I want so bad to let the damned food just get cold and throw it away, but I won’t cut my nose off to spite my face.

It wasn’t quite rage-eating. More like mean-grouchy-eating.

And of course, now I’m the guilty-feeling asshole who got mad at my poor, sweet, “I only wanted to help” husband. And, of course, I’m the irritable, ungrateful asshole in front of my daughter.

I’m as mad at myself as I am at him. I might as well get mad at him for being a bird who’s unable to fly. He’s as crippled as I am, in his own way. I should know that by now.

Since he’s determined never to change what he does, and I CAN’T change this, it’s a recurring sore point. (Thought: I guess it’s possible that he “can’t” change either.)

Has anyone else ever dealt with issues like this? Where you need to lean on your partner because of a weakness of your own, but when you do, you keep falling over ass over teakettle, because he doesn’t stay rock-steady and let you lean. It’s like that “trust” game that people do in team-building exercises or that kids do at sleepovers: One person closes his/her eyes and falls backward, into the arms of one or more people who catch the person. If you fall like a tree, even if they don’t catch you until the last possible moment, you trust.

I keep falling like a goddamned tree.

Edit, the next morning: Feeling better, not pissed anymore. Just resigned. Not everything is the apocalypse.

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