Monday, March 26, 2012

Tantruming mess

I can't shake this horrible weight all day long. I'm feeling lonely and different and damaged beyond repair and unfit for other humans to connect with.

Today, my husband wouldn't let me have the computer immediately when I requested it, and I just lost it. I started screaming, howling, raging, hitting myself in the face, sobbing and punching the bed. His "OK, OK, have the computer!" sounded funny, because it was so obvious at that point it wasn't about the stupid computer.

It was about starting to react emotionally like a toddler. Like I was never allowed when I was an actual toddler.

My "father" revealed as much when my toddler tantrumed after not being allowed to play with a knife. I held her and gently told her "Sorry, but you really can't have it" as she shrieked and cried (she's very vocal and determined).

He was confused by my actions and said something like "She must learn that she can't have everything she wants, you know," and I said "Yes, all children learn that - by not getting everything they want," a bit baffled - after all, I wasn't letting her play with the knife just because she cried. But he insisted that children needed to learn ... what was it he said? Not to want things? Not to demand things? Not to object? Not to have desires? So they don't suffer when life doesn't give them everything they want.

That gave me the creeps. First, because of the obvious "don't have desires and if you do, don't express them" script that I live by that was promptly explained. Second, because he never said it and I didn't dare ask: how does one train a toddler not to have and express desires? What did they do to me? Did they beat me into submission until I showed no more emotions? Did they stop my emotional development right there, at the beginning of toddler tantrums?

And now, at almost 30, I'm a tantruming mess. A grown woman, wife and mother of two, at the emotional level of a toddler.

And that's progress.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I shouted at him

He managed to piss me off. I usually control my emotional reactions to him, as I try not to give him any supply at all, negative supply included, but I was relaxed and alone at home and his saccharine but controlling phone call just did it... and I'm ashamed because if anyone was to read the transcript, they'd say I was the evil one, and he was just being nice:

NF: I've heard from your MIL (my 5yo daughter is on a trip with my MIL) and I don't know if you've heard from them, but your daughter is having a great time, is eating well, and doesn't miss her parents much! I just thought I should report this to you.

Me: Yes, I know all that, naturally. (I say this in an already irritated tone of voice - of course I talk to my daughter and her grandma and don't need a virtual stranger to them both informing me of this!)

NF: All right. How are you? How is your younger daughter?

Me: We're great, thanks.

NF: No, how are you really? (We have a cold. We're both fine, especially if he asks. He suggested, repeatedly and aggressively, that we take Toddler to the doctor because she has a cold.)

Me: We're really fine. Getting over the little cold.

NF: I'm sure you got the cold because your hair was wet that one time I came to visit and you wouldn't blow-dry it. (I have almost never done this to my hair since I was 13 or so. I let my hair dry naturally, several times a week, in all seasons and temperatures, and only get a cold once every two years or so!)

Me: (This is where I lose it and significantly raise my voice): I wash my hair without blow-drying it several times a week and have done so since I was a teen.

NF: OK, OK, don't be mad at me. Goodbye, dear.

Me: (Still irritably) Good. Bye.

Is it any wonder that no one believes me, including, sometimes, myself? He's Always Civilized, Never Rages, always seems The Perfect Father in front of everyone, including myself. And I'm The Bitch. The Ingrate. That much is clear to almost anyone who sees us together - I'm the one that treats him without his due love and respect, he's the saccharine, civilized one, who always looks like he's unsuccessfully sucking up to me. It seems like that to me too - how wouldn't it?

And then I yell at the phone, after I hang up - things I shouldn't. Angry words. Curses. Things that have no reason for them - after all, hasn't he just been very nice and civilized? How is my rage then justified?

How can anything ever be justified when he almost never slips up and presents the perfect image to everyone, including myself?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

more about my mother and myself

When I was 18 and first started going out with my now husband, I wrote him a song that contained the following lyrics:

"I was at the bottom of a river,
trapped, bereft of joy,
sinking through the dirt and mud,
just the dark fiend's toy:
then a strange and mighty current
came - I could not fight -
by your Sun I was drawn into the light.

And on the surface now flow sparkling waters
covered with the Sun's bright icing
the Universe is a drop of pure gold
and life to me seems quite enticing."

You see, I was a dark, cynical, depressed teen. I hated love and life. My new boyfriend was sane, stable, and generally happy. He showed me it was OK to open up to nice things in life. To smile and love and trust. I felt a change and it prompted me to write the song.

My mother found this. She was concerned.

She wasn't concerned about the obvious references to feelings of depression, despair and hopelessness that I'd been having for who knows how long.

No, she was concerned that I'd made myself vulnerable to my boyfriend by calling him my savior, and that he'll now start abusing or controlling me. I lied and said it was dedicated to God. I'd also just found religion, and the song could be interpreted in that way, too, as can many love poems and songs. So she left me alone, although she wasn't convinced.

Only now do I realize how sick this is. It's OK to be depressed but it's not OK to be helped out of it? Really? It's not OK to thank the person who helped you out of it? Because you made that mistake with your narcissistic husband, and think everyone is like him? Or because you'd like to keep me controlled and depressed, so you're threatened by someone who actually makes me feel better?

The song ends on a note of despair, though:

"I am but a shadow
and I'll melt in your light
maybe it is best to
leave me to my night."

This motif haunts me. The idea of being a dark shadow with no substance, which will either melt in the light of love or, like the figure from Gnostic myth that I keep naming myself after, Pronoia, the daughter of death, devour all the love and light and still remain a hollow abyss.

Friday, March 16, 2012

out of the mouths of babes

My daughter said these things, mostly unprompted, since the watercolor incident:

"I really wanted to let him paint, because I wanted to see what he'd paint - but I didn't tell him not to spend all the paint, because I thought he knew he wasn't supposed to do that." (You'd think, right?)

"I know I don't have to give him anything I don't want to and I don't have to listen to him. I listen to my grandma (my sane MIL) because she's not like Grandpa N - she loves me and I love her and I like to listen to her."

She gets it. On her own. Wow. That's both kind of scary and kind of reassuring.

Scary because it's so obvious he's not like other, normal people who can love and be loved, that a 5-year-old gets it. And I didn't, for so long.

And reassuring because at least I know I haven't conditioned her not to trust her gut. I must have done something right. Or at least better than him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sad and sick to my stomach

My "father" came over yesterday evening. We hadn't seen him in weeks and he'd missed us, he said.

Then my kids ate a Kinder Surprise egg I'd bought them and the toy inside was a paintbrush with a tiny amount of watercolors.

My older daughter loves this toy.

But, apparently, so does her "grandpa". So he just takes her notebook and her paintbrush and her watercolors and starts painting with them!

"Don't take that from her!" I tell him.

"That's all right, Mom. I let Grandpa N paint with them." My beautiful, kind 5-year-old says.

"There's very little color there", I insist. "Give it back to her before you spend it all."

"It's OK, I let him." My daughter is persistent.

He doesn't react at all. He's acting like an engrossed toddler.

"Grandpa, let me paint now", she says when he's finally done.

"You can't", he says. "There's no paint left."

She's visibly sad, but says "Never mind."

My heart breaks. But I don't know what to do.

Could I have prevented it? Should I have?

I told her later she never has to give grandpa N anything that belongs to her if she doesn't want to. She repeated that she wanted to.

I'm buying her a real set of watercolors today. Can't shake the overwhelming feeling of sadness about this relatively small incident all day. Like something very important is irretrievably lost and nothing can ever replace it.

Like something died.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I've been here for exactly a year. Sharing with you and listening to your feedback has been the best therapy I could have wanted. Thank you for being on this journey with me.