Friday, January 20, 2006

Rolling along

Women, notoriously, let a lot a lot of things slide. Sometimes its because we're too busy to fight it out. Sometimes its because we're too tired to fight it out. Sometimes its because we're too scared, too frustrated, or too subdued to fight it out. Sometimes I am all of those and sometimes it makes me a little too selective in choosing my battles. The little things get big, and the big become impossible.
When N and I got back together, this 13th time, he declared that he wanted us to talk about everything. Any little gripe I had, he really wanted me to bring up, immediately. I had a good laugh about this one with L: "Does he realize that if I brought up EVERY little thing, we would be deemed completely incompatible within 3 hours?"
"You left the toilet seat up again...in the MIDDLE of the night."
"You dumped out my coffee before I was done with it."
"You made me feel petty while I was bitching about my day...Isn't that one of the main perks of this kind of relationship?"
"Don't give me that look!"
"Geez you breath loud...stop bogarting the air!"
And so on...and so on. A lot of these things just are not worth the feeling of nagging someone. I'll just check the toilet next time, and clutch my coffee, and rant about my day whether you like it or not. It's really one of the primary strengths of women...our adaptability. But I think that my adaptability is a little too big for its britches sometimes.
When I was with Little A's dad, I let a infinite amount of issues roll right off of me. I had a small child and just didn't have the time or energy to deal with the Grand Teton of our issues. So when I was exhausted after a day with colic-y Little A, and he still further had to drain me by acting, literally, suicidal after dealing with crying for 20 minutes. I let it roll off of me. I went and got the baby and found us a counselor. When the counselor decided that only his issues were the important ones (always adept at getting attention, that man was) and ignored anything that I had to say, unless it was about him or how he was, I let it roll off of me. I went home to the baby and felt myself drifting away as I drifted off to sleep. When he refused any anti-depressant medication to ease the strain on us (because how could he get attention if he didn't have his depressed aura hanging over him constantly), I let it roll right off of me. When, day after day, he offered minimal help, and heralded himself a hero after meticulously organizing one desk drawer while I cleaned the rest of the entire house, I let it roll right off of me. When we tried to connect by sharing things from our past, and he deemed any painful memory I had as silly and nothing compared to what he had gone through like some pathetic little competition, I let it roll right off of me and stopped talking to him about anything that was really deeply inside me. When he declared that a theoretical conversation we had on a bus into Boston in the first weeks that we were dating indicated that we had an open marriage, I raised an eyebrow, but let it roll right off of me. When he told me that he'd slept with a friend, and would've continued had the friend wanted to, I let it roll off of me. When he told me he slept with another man, a stranger, months before, with no knowledge of his sexual or medical history and then proceeded to have sex with me for 6 months without telling me, I tried to let it roll off of me, but I never trusted him again. When he smacked Little A, not hard, but for no reason other than his own stupid temper, and defended it as a perfectly fine thing to do, I couldn't let it roll off of me. It was the end. There was no way I would ever let him teach my child that it was ok for any man to hit her, if he was just frustrated or angry enough. Ever.
It was mid-March and L and I had a rare night out on St Patrick's Day. Surrounded by green beer and all the leprechaun luck in the world, I recounted the story to her. The story ended with the words, "I could leave him." And as soon as I said it, as soon as I allowed myself to speak those words out loud, I knew. We officially split about one month later.
In hindsight, I clearly let too much roll with him. But at the time, it was just what I did. I was a mother and all the other stuff was just fluff.
And now, with N, I never know just how much to let roll. What conversation will help us grow, and which will make us reticent to be who we are. Which will build and not deteriorate. Choosing the battles is not easy for me and I worry that I'll never find that balance. I'll end up being the shrew or the subdued, but never the me that's in between.

16 Comments:

Blogger SO said...

Wow V! You put up with A LOT with the ex, eh?? I don't know how you find middle ground. But in your heart, you know what can be let go and what can't be. You always do the right thing for your little girl, you need to always do the right thing for you too!!

10:28 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Deciding which battles to fight can be one of the hardest things to learn in life. I say, if it's an issue that has to do with your moral beliefs, or if it is something that over time will break you down and crush your soul, it needs to be discussed. Otherwise, let it roll.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

It's hard to strike a balance. I'm not one who believes that every thought that crosses my brain needs to be shared or every gripe I have needs to be addressed. Sometimes the things that piss me off are truly MY problem. We all struggle with this issue. I think the key on negotiating the "little stuff" is to be respectful and courteous and know that while things don't HAVE to be done your way, you really, really appreciate it when they are done your way.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous krista said...

I don't know if this is silly- but maybe you could imagine into the future, and think about what you want tell your daughter to do, if she were in your current shoes, and asking you for advice...

10:44 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

You need to figure out what your "Deal Breakers" are. Mine are lying, stealing, cheating, beating, and obvious disrespect. If an argument happens over one of those then it's time to either change it or get out. You're a brave brave woman for having put up with so much. But don't do that again. For your sake and your lil' one's. You deserve the best.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

My therapist - Roger, who was my therapist when I met Terrance- encouraged me to tell Terrnace every thing that was upsetting me. He did this because I had spent 5 years with a man that would not tolerate my saying anything "negative" ( read this as critcism of him).

And I did. And Terrance still loved me and would come back. And then, just as this was becoming a habit of mine to tell Terrance EVERYTHING that he did, as a man, was an annoyance to me, Roger suggested that it was time to "Stop fighting".

At the time, I was a little bewildered. However, when I look back on this period in my life and relationship, I realized that just as he had given me "permission" to express myself, he was reminding me that there is a balance. You must be able to express the important stuff - safely to your partner.

Sometimes that means the coffee and toilet seat and the damn sweaty work out roll that Terrance leaves in the bottom of the hamper to stank it up - but those things - for me- in the scheme of our Life, are just semantics. The hazards of human creatures living in close contact with each other on a day to day basis.

The important thing, for you, is to know that the important stuff is attended to, that you are heard.

And maybe you need to test those limits with him for awhile before you can find the balance.

Learning to trust again is very hard.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

You certainly went through a lot with your ex. Wow.

I am one of these people who gripes regularly about little annoyances, but has trouble expressing the big issues sometimes. So I can relate to the way you describe myself, and I agree with the other commenters who said the key is to focus on the "deal breaker" issues (good term, Tink) that really need mutual work. And obviously, your ultimate deal breaker would be any action or words that could damage Little A. Even though you've been with N for some time, it does take a lot of work sometimes to figure out what level of communication will work. Good luck!

12:13 PM  
Blogger Tweets said...

Wow. What an amazing entry, you really dealt with a lot.

I'm in a relatioship right now, and wondering the same things you are. How much do I bitch/nag/speak my mind about?

But as has already been said, if you believe it will eventually wear you down into becoming someone you're not - then by GAWD talk about it.

thanks for sharing!

3:43 PM  
Blogger JayneSays said...

Thanks for sharing some of your difficult days and choices . . . I have also let so many things roll, I whould be on roller skates. But I tend to speak up if annoyances "stick" with me for more than a day. I read this little book someone gave me on our wedding Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love (totally cheesy title, I know!) but it helped my perspective some.

And then there are days where NOTHING slides and I am a cop or Mean Mommy to my husband (which is SO delightful for both of us. Sigh).

7:49 PM  
Anonymous roo said...

V,

I know exactly what you're talking about. I fought so much with Jeff after he moved in, because I was terrified of losing myself the way I had with P.

I have way to much to say about this to fit it in a comment. And I know you know what I mean.

So, are you around this weekend?

9:47 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

So sorry for what you went through the first time around. It's amazing how many dysfunctional assholes exist in the world.

I think Dawn nailed it. It's a matter of learning to trust again, but not just your current partner, also yourself.

Being able to listen to yourself and know when it's okay to tell someone they have legitimately upset you after going through what you did is not an easy thing. It's hard work but you will get there.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

I think everyone has their breaking point. And when it comes to compromise, well, I don't love it, really, but I do try to offer it, for the sake of my child. It's not easy, however, and as you read, breeds a reasonable amount of resentment on my part. Thanks for visiting! I'll be back.

10:09 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I agree with Tink...some things you can put up with and some things you can't. And the things you can't put up with are your Deal Breakers. Doesn't Dr. Phil say that a lot? "That's a deal breaker!" Anyway...relationships are hard work and sometimes there are times when disrespect is thrown around, or whatever, but cheating? Out-and-out lying about important things? Hurting my child or putting my children/family in danger? Those are my Deal Breakers.

2:36 PM  
Blogger concha said...

you what? wow. wtf? open marriage? isn't that an oxymoron? godamn. poor girl.

12:19 AM  
Blogger V said...

Thanks everyone...I agree about the "deal breakers", unfortunately, a lot of things feel like they are about respect....to me at least. And yeah....very hard to learn to trust. Even in the first place.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Holy crap, woman.

You are a far, far stronger chick than I.

May it be sunshine and rainbows from here on out.

5:42 PM  

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