I’ll talk to you when I’m ready.
It’s been a fucked up few weeks. I should have vented my feelings off before now, and perhaps we could have avoided this.
It was my mother’s birthday two Saturdays ago. For clarity, I am an only child and apart from her, I have no other family to connect with. She is it, in all of her alcoholic, narcissistic glory.
We had a nice day planned. Waste time in town, have dinner, take her to the movies. Except feelings often have a way of interrupting things, as it turns out.
In the middle of what had been a beautiful day, I had a moment of sudden realisation. My wife and I had inescapable tension that had been building for weeks. I already knew, waking up that morning, that the sentences were forming in my throat and on my tongue, but I knew I could manage them. They weren’t ready, they were just forming. I still had time.
After my epiphany, she hit me with something so simple.
That [can I just drank from] is tainted now. You have it. It stinks of smoke.
I smoke. It’s not one of my best habits, but on balance with raging alcoholism, it feels like the lesser of two evils.
She doesn’t like that I smoke. I don’t like that I smoke. But it is what it is, and I have quit in the past to satisfy other people, and I have always gone back. You have to do things for you, not for those you love.
I take great precautions to keep my smoke away from her, and to not go near her when I am smoking, or after I’ve had a cigarette. I know she hates it.
But being told I have personally tainted something, and she now can’t touch it, that was it. I snapped.
She tried to make small talk immediately afterward. She realised she had said something pointy. She had wielded a sword she wasn’t even aware she had picked up.
I ignored her and bit my tongue until I couldn’t any longer. The tension was palpable. While waiting for our shitty takeaway dinner to be eaten at the beach, I asked her to come outside. I told mum to wait inside.
I hit her right back.
Tainted? That’s the word you choose, despite this ongoing and ever increasing chasm between us?
It escalated, albeit quietly because we were in public. I stopped everything in its tracks by saying the words I immediately realised had finished forming and were sitting on my tongue, ready to be spat out with a lash.
What are we doing?
You know when you think something, or feel something, and you know that committing it to words might cause your empire to start crumbling? When you know the weight of what you feel becomes too much to bear, so it comes tumbling out of your mouth like an avalanche? No warning, no time to stop it, no ability to clear the area.
I knew saying those four words could start the crumbling. I knew saying those four words could be the earthquake that gave rise to the avalanche, but I said them anyway. I leaned into the fear.
We ate our fish and chips in almost unbearable silence at a beach where the wind whipped our faces and the seagulls surrounded us, waiting for something to slip from our grip.
My wife cried while eating her crab stick.
My mother stared out to the horizon praying for death to grip her immediately.
I ate my dry, tasteless fish while attempting to keep my facade up, as usual.
The decision was made to abandon the tickets to the movie and to take mum home. I drove everyone to mum’s house in silence for 42 minutes. We said goodbye. I knew I was facing two more battles – fighting this tension out of my marriage and then tidying up the mess I’d left my mother with.
My wife and I discussed, calmly, to my surprise, everything. In the driveway, in the car. That’s what adults do right? We resolved to stay married. We resolved to renegotiate our marriage. I felt lighter. She felt lighter, but heavier. I knew she would have a reaction a few days later. I knew my reaction had already preceded and been processed before my outburst. I felt better.
Several hours later I emerged at my mother’s house to apologise. I was met with the other version of her. The one that appears after wine number three. The one that is an abandoned, scared and young child. She berated me.
She berated me for over an hour. I apologised, many times. I explained this wasn’t planned, nor was it ill intentioned, nor was it something I had wanted to expose her to. She did not accept my apology. The wine did not accept my apology. I left, on realising she wasn’t going to forgive me.
Fast forward two weeks
Much has happened. I have been away for 5 days and come back. My wife and I have had hundreds of conversations. She has had hundreds of feelings. I have been waiting.
She is hurt. She needs to distance herself a bit. She has pulled back. She has buried herself in work and social activities. She has forged new friendships that she describes as filling time. We had dinner with her girlfriend. I have moved into an office that happens to be the same office as Mr Thunderbolts. I met Mr Thunderbolts’ ex wife and her husband. I seemingly broke two fingers at a trampoline park. I spent an inordinate amount of time in a mascot costume. My best friend has officially separated from her wife. I have not spoken to my mother.
Being that my mother doesn’t cope when I don’t speak to her, I thought I should call her tonight. Make an attempt to display that I do care – because I do.
I made a mistake in calling her.
She berated me again. This time I was told I ruined her birthday. I was told I will probably ruin Christmas. That she doesn’t want to have Christmas with me unless I can guarantee it will not involve any difficult feelings or awkward exchanges between my wife and I. She is very angry. I have hurt her beyond belief.
I will talk to you when I am ready to.
Then, she turned her back. I must wait.
Abandonment is pointy. Feelings are pointy. Words are pointy. I could no longer cope with the pointy, so I lost it.
Instead of drinking, I had a bath and read a book. Seems quite ridiculous but I didn’t know what else adults do when they’re coping with feelings.
My wife came home from the gym and epiphany number two happened. I vomited out everything. That I’m scared she’s exiting. That I don’t cope with waiting without an end date. That I don’t know what I’m waiting for at this point. That I don’t cope with withdrawal of affection, or withdrawal in general. That I don’t cope with being the person that people seek out for comfort and solace and to dump on (which is my role in life it seems) and that it’s difficult to be rejected, constantly, when I seek out the same comfort and solace. That is not my role. My role is to recharge those around me, not seek to be recharged.
I’m sitting in the car, in the dark, in a less desirable neighbourhood, wondering what I’m doing. Wondering why the people I love so often find it easy to justify shutting down or withdrawing or keeping me on a back burner until they need to pull me out for their own purposes. In the meantime, ironically, I’ve had messages from clients and friends asking me to fix a variety of things. For them. Tonight.
Am I a unicorn or am I a dumping ground?
Am I a mug or am I my mother?
Am I better off alone?
Am I better off leaving them before they leave me?
Stay tuned for the next gripping episode.
I haven’t, and won’t proof this entry before I post it. sometimes pointy and raw is best.