Well, it’s the end of another week, and I am…exhausted? Drained? Dazed? Confused? A little of all of the above, I suppose. I’m finding that my short-term memory is going to crap these days—I don’t think a day has gone by in the past two or three weeks that I haven’t forgotten something, or walked into a room and been unable to remember what I wanted to do in the first place.
Stress does that. At least, it does it to me, that’s for sure. Stress makes me feel like I’m walking around in some chaotic cloud. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to try to manage all this if I were drinking. I’d be a mess, just a complete wreck I’m sure.
I’ve got a lot of complicated emotions floating around in my head these days, and they’re hard to untangle. I’ve got feelings of distance, disappointment, and loneliness when it comes to my relationship; frustration, complacency, and boredom when it comes to my day job; passion, confusion, and anxiety about my internship/schooling; and defensiveness, protectiveness, and exhaustion about my sobriety.
I had a talk recently with my boyfriend about my need for him to start noticing me, emotionally. About how I need him to attend to my feelings and take notice if I seem “off.” I told him that I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted with everything that’s going on in my life, and that it’s hurtful to me when he doesn’t notice that or ask me about it.
His response? It’s not in his nature to notice those things. He doesn’t do that with me, or with anyone else. He isn’t the type of person to ask about feelings. He isn’t the type of person to read into body language, even if it conflicts with a person’s words. He told me that he would try to ask me about my feelings more, but that it was more likely he’d forget to do it, and if I want him to ask me about those types of things, that I need to tell him in the moment. Like, if I’m in the middle of feeling overwhelmed or upset or anxious, he told me that I need to turn to him and say point-blank, “why aren’t you asking me how I feel?” or “you should ask me how my day was.”
I try so, so hard to see it from his perspective. I try so, so hard to understand the real and unchangeable differences between him and myself and how we approach things like emotion, intimacy, etc. I try. So. Hard.
But this makes me angry. It makes me angry to feel like I need to do his work for him, and tell him to support me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It makes me angry that his excuse of “I forget to do it” is good enough, but when it comes to the stuff I’m working on, it’s still not enough. For example, I’ve promised to work on not bottling things up as much and expressing how I feel in the moment (because, well, he’s not going to ask, now is he?) and I’ve promised to work on talking about these things before they reach a breaking point. Where before, I would wait weeks or even months to bring up my grievances, this past weekend, I brought up my feelings of being emotionally neglected on the SAME DAY. The same day. Literally hours after I felt bad, instead of days, weeks, or months. And his response? I need to talk about it in the moment. I need to call him out as it’s happening, regardless of where we are or who we’re with.
And yet with him? I can’t get upset with him because it’s not in his nature to be curious about my feelings, and I can’t get upset because he forgets to do it. If I get upset and tell him I feel like I’m not important enough to him for him to remember to do these things, it’s automatically an attack on his character. He shuts down. As we talk, I try to check in with him and ask, “How are you feeling about this?” or “Are you upset with me?” and yet he still doesn’t understand the concept of being emotionally supportive.
Wow. I’m really ranting. This really hurts me to the core. And it feels like this in an issue that goes way deeper for me. I don’t feel as important as his friends, and when I tell him this, he gets upset and says that I can’t draw that kind of comparison. I tell him I feel like I have to compete with video games for his attention sometimes, and he tells me he already knows. I ask him what he is excited about when he thinks about us living together, and he says that it will be nice that we’ll be able to see each other “more naturally”; in the same breath, when I ask him what concerns him, he says he is fearful that he won’t get enough time away from me.
WHAT THE FUCK DO I NEED TO DO. Why do I keep convincing myself that it’s OK or acceptable to carry the entire emotional burden of this relationship? And why, when he puts in a modicum of effort (after I ask him), do I still feel so angry at him for putting me in the position of having to ask him to give a shit about me? Why do I allow my self-worth to be wrapped up in someone who obviously doesn’t put much self-worth stock into me, who doesn’t ever talk about his dreams for our future, who never even comments on our relationship as a whole unless prompted? I’ve been running my mind in circles for over a YEAR trying to find a kind, tactful way of getting him to understand why it’s so important for me—why it feels so dire—that he show me that he cares about me without me having to ask him first.
I feel like I sound crazy right now. I’ve been stewing in this newly frustrated feeling for almost a week and I feel stifled when I’m around him. I choke up and start playing the “it’s cool” card because I don’t have enough currency in my emotional bank to spend on this anymore. I spend so much of my time supporting and taking care of other people—friends, classmates, my clients—that I feel like I might crash and burn…in fact, I think I might crash and burn either way. I’ll crash and burn if I try to confront him and stand my ground, and I’ll crash and burn if I keep trying to tell myself that somehow this will magically get better.
This summer, when I broke up with him, I told him that I still loved him and without skipping a beat he said, “no you don’t, that’s not true.” His argument was that you can’t love someone if you choose to leave them. He later asserted that I didn’t give him my 100%, that I never gave him my all.
This love may be dysfunctional and bordering on healthy for me, but fuck if I haven’t given it my all. I’m sliding into complacency and disconnection because I’ve spent all of my emotional currency on someone who isn’t willing to give what I’ve paid for, even as I’m waving the money in his face. I’m saying, “I’m here, I’m willing to give this $100 bill if you could just try to show me love without me having to pull it from you first,” and he’s saying, “I can take this money but I can’t guarantee I’ll have what you need in stock.”
I’m angry and I’m hurt and even if I told him all of this straight to his face, I feel like he’d find a way to turn it around and tell me that I’m responsible for making sure I tell him to support me on a regular basis, even after a year of me asking nicely and trying to make my point about how important it is that he makes an effort on his own.
Sigh. I really took that off the deep end. It needed to come out. Now I’m sitting here with this bubbling discomfort, knowing that I have a concert to go to tonight with him and I may very well need to push this shit out of my mind at least for the night…and tomorrow, since we’re going to visit his family and then going to a soccer game…and the next day, too, because he’s leaving on a solo vacation to Chicago and won’t be back until Wednesday morning.
I’m tired. I still want someone to hold me and kiss me and tell me that things are going to be alright. I just wish I didn’t have to try to justify why that’s so important.