Thursday, 22 May 2008

I can't help it

I just had a reminder of another reason why, when asked directly by my wife several months ago if I still loved her I just couldn't bring myself to effectively lie and say "yes", I had to tell the truth that I really didn't feel the same anymore.

I'm trying to figure out how to explain this without making it sound to harsh or unfair on my wife so I'll just describe what happened this evening as an example of what I'm trying to get across.

My wife came to pick my son up from the brief 2hr stay he had with me after I picked him up from school and I'd forgotten to read his school book with him which, it was pointed out to me was the whole point of him coming back to mine after school. My wife had told me about reading his book but I simply forgot, too busy watching Star Wars, making tea, eating tea, photocopying bits of paper, and then playing Star Wars to remember.

So I got told that I'd made a mistake there and I found myself apologising and saying that I forgot and that I was sorry and doing the whole "calm down" type way of talking and holding my hands up to signify the same thing. I do make mistakes, I do forget things; I get side-tracked or tired or just have other things on my mind and these probably do sound like pathetic excuses but I'm not doing anything out of malice but I'm treated as if I am, as if my behaviour is just wrong.

That was the first thing that made me think about the problems there had been in our relationship. I always thought it was rather unfair as well that I generally never got that upset if my wife made a mistake (I would generally dismiss things and say it wasn't a big deal), or when I did say something I was accused of having a go at her!

The second thing was that, on leaving I offered to help carry a bag down to the car and my wife, still clearly still annoyed about the whole book reading thing mumbled something about "no, I can manage it myself" followed by "I wouldn't want you to break a nail" said with definite venom.

And that was the clincher - it wasn't what she said it was the underlying tone of everything: I am wrong, what I do is wrong, what I am is wrong, what I have decided is wrong, it is all my fault and my fault alone. I am to blame for being how I am and for not revealing this to her sooner. There are no ifs or buts, I am simply to blame, I am a selfish person and I have done this deliberately and with malice. And if I really cared and wasn't selfish I wouldn't do it.

It isn't that simple. I really can't help wanting to be me, even though I'm not entirely sure what "me" is yet. I didn't plan to any of this and there is nothing I can do about feeling this way, it's part of who I am and part of what makes me like this. I've had thoughts and feelings like this long before I fully knew what they were or even that they could be "wrong" in some way. I've even had them while I thought they were wrong bug it still didn't stop me from thinking them. I really can't help it!

I know that the same rules apply to my wife, she is who she is and she wants certain things from a partner and there we don't match and I have to accept that and I don't her responsible for not being able to deal with this, but I do think she must acknowledge that she can't assign me the entire blame for everything that has happened, no-one can ultimately help who they are and they should not be persecuted for it.

Update: The other phrase that just got thrown at me, which I've had alot is "Don't forget, it's you that's done this, not me" - this when I was trying to offer to help out and give advice and this was all rejected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The trouble with such apparently simple questions as “do you still love me?” is that they fall into the same category as “when did you stop beating your wife?” only they're just a little more subtle.

Just because someone else seeks to find fault doesn't mean one is necessarily bad/wrong/guilty. At the root of all this is the question of one's own self-esteem. Until one is at peace with oneself, one will tend to be vulnerable to such barbs. As Eleanor Roosevelt said (approximately) “no one can make you feel inadequate without your consent”.

Incidentally, one way of dealing with such emotive attacks is to move the debate. You are not in dock and required to plead guilty or not guilty; in an adult world, there are more answers than the simple bi-polar choice which is the very thing people such as you (and I) find inappropriate. You could, quite truthfully, talk about how you're having to go back to understanding the fundamentals of self. Only when those foundations are in place will you be in a position to start thinking about serious relationships with other people, which happens to include your wife.

Best wishes for your journey.