05 April 2006

Rotten Revelations.

So far this morning I have:

rowed with my Husband.

Yesterday by this time all I had done was, well, erm, row with Husband.

Its a horribly easy thing to do.

We're both the same, on days when one of us doesn't have to get up at all, his/her body clock shuts down. Completely. Like him, when there is no routine, when there are no demands, nothing ticking away in the back of my head like a 'must do' time bomb; I find that I can neither get to sleep at night nor wake up in the morning. Trying to get to sleep is an absolute hell when you lay down at gone midnight and still have this feeling that you haven't actually done anything with the day, yet. Remorse is not the best tranquilizer.

Unlike his, my 'days off', the school holidays, do not involve any real peace or opportunity to go and cat nap in the middle of the day, they are not days of rest, so much as days of heightened interruption and need for greater flexibility and creativity. Every mum knows this.

The only 'must do' that remains totally embedded in my psyche is that I must hug him at the door to say goodbye, and be awake to do it. I set that rule, or my subconscious did, and I hang on to it like a 'get out of jail' card on judgement day.

He asked whether, through this holiday, he should wake me before he leaves. My instant gut reaction is a resounding 'Yes'. Its to do with feeding off the one remaining routine, as if being awake to have coffee with him, having time to watch the news with him, then seeing him off to work and closing the door with enough sense in my head to have a game plan somehow fends off the silence that pervades this place when he is gone and the kids are still asleep. It sets me up for the day and provides possibly the only regular sense of 'job done'. I need it, physically, to have a clue, because once he's out of the door I don't hold the kids or myself to any sort of a routine, on holiday. The next 'must do' on the holiday list, pretty much, is go back to bed at night. Perhaps that's why, if I miss the first, my mind doesn't really wake up and start formulating plans until I achieve the second - which is a bit self defeating, to say the least.

Once he's gone out to work for the day, I run out of every last thing in my life with the phrase 'have to' attached, so if I haven't woken before that task, sufficiently to create myself a new little game plan before he goes, then I am lost and angry and I spend all day fighting to get my head together.

I'm not an automaton, but I like one or two little routines, 'have-to's, 'want to's, ''must's, I like a gentle little mental tick list that proves I have any purpose or meaning or use at all. Something to measure time and achievement by, and somehow, to remind me that there's a point.

I guess really this all grows out of some fairly complicated coping mechanisms for being indoors pretty much all day every day, for the long periods of silence. If you're not mentally talking to yourself, if your day doesn't have a knitting pattern, if you don't have your internal method of measuring time and positive achievement all geared up and ticking over when it starts, then when the silence hits, boy does it knock you sideways.

So this is how we fight.

He doesn't have the heart or the impetus to use his normal morning tones with me, at least not at the start. When the alarm goes off and wakes him, I sleep straight through. He'll give me a very gentle cuddle and say something softly like 'morning sweetheart' before tiptoeing out to the living room. To be frank, I think that when there's no perceived need to wake me, he revels in having the house to himself, because if the kids wake up he even makes them go back to bed.

Poor sod, he goes to sleep before me of a night time and once he's out of the door it's all work and people and demands in his face. I should be so lucky, but I think we have a classic case of 'grass is greener'; that in asking him to let me hear another adult human voice, asking him to let me have a single, real, awake conversation with someone who isn't after anything, isn't a caseworker or an official or all that; me asking him to do that also asks him to give up the only chance for reflection and silence that he'll see for another 24 hours. I'm drowning in silence, and he can't get any.

So, his tone of voice only steps up a notch toward normal as the time comes for him to leave. He only really puts any effort into waking me up (or rather stops making sweet cooing attempts to let me sleep on) when there's about five minutes left before he has to go.

That's when he puts his business head on, starts speaking at his normal morning speed and volume, and starts managing to reach my consciousness. This also means that about the first words to both sink in and connect me to the idea of wanting/having to get up are generally, in his less than dulcet tones, something along the lines of "So are you bloody getting up, or what?"

This has a very strange effect. Yes it snaps me into reality, but in a way that makes reality seem very unattractive. The physical response that wins out is the overriding desire to 'have five minutes', to slip back into peace and then climb out again, minus the awful feeling of an impending row. The desire, I guess, is for time to steel myself to cope with both 'Husband in a strop' and 'Husband who woke me up in the last bloody five minutes again, the sod'.

Most times it doesn't work, or rather works too well. Most times I will hide under the covers so effectively that the next thing to jar my senses is either him looming over me and grumbling that he can't effing win and isn't going to effing do this any more; or its the sound of the front door slamming as he leaves for work in a temper.


Rather unfortunately, that does the trick.

Rather inconveniently, possibly owing to a previous marriage where it wasn't that safe to be prostrate and nearly naked if things were being slammed, banged or sworn at, that's just what it takes to get me out of bed on full alert, albeit on starey-eyed auto pilot. Hell, I don't even have to think about getting my legs over the edge, I'm out of there like a harrier jump jet, heart pounding.

Provided he's not already storming up off the road, we do the brief and predictable dance where he tells me I always do this, I make him late, he can't bloody win and what in God's name do I want, while I tell him he's a slimy rotten bastard and that he just doesn't get it. Somehow, when he looks so indignant, when he seems by then so centered on 'getting me up' as a task, some chore to be done by the time he leaves, I can't get the simple truth out. I can't just look at him and tell him that he is what I want, that I want and need time awake in his company in order to feel good about myself and the day or even to have a clue what I'm doing. I might be a puppy dog, but once bitten. So I don't tell.

Fifteen years, on and off, we've done this. Back in the earlier days he would try being fully dressed, in his tie and even his coat, before coming round to my side of the bed to try and stir me. In the split second that I first opened my eyes, all I would see was this blurry figure of a fully dressed man, way, way too close to my body. I'm not big and I'm not strong, but I've pushed him right across the room and I've also punched him on the jaw, from that position; I've gone from underneath to on top in less than a breath, and as good as started to wake up after the fact.

He doesn't get right in my face anymore, unless his head is on the pillow next to mine, and he certainly never wears his coat into the bedroom. I'd like to think that after all these years, my previous marriage no longer has such a strong hold on me, but I guess Husband will never be in the mood to experiment and find out. Fair dos.

It doesn't seem that this is going to change, as things are. He is never going to really want me (or anybody) interrupting his precious hour of silence in the mornings, whatever noises he makes to the contrary. He is never going to want us to move from this silent house up a silent road in a silent town, because it provides the peace he needs after a day at work. That's quite a revelation for me. I've normally been too tired, too shaky, too upset and confused when looking at one of these scenarios to even realise that, whether he knows it or not, he lies to me. He lies by default, by never actually having admitted that he looks forward to the time on his own.

I am never going to function properly or feel like doing anything other than climbing the walls if I have to live in this silent little hell hole on the edge of nowhere with sporadic weeks when there is not a single kick start to my day before the isolation sets in.

There's only one thing for it - I'm going to have to realign my needs to match his.

I am a staunch proponent of working from home, of fitting work around the family instead of the other way around, and its going to be hell on legs getting and keeping an employed position, what with one 9 year old and 1 special needs kid to run after, but I think, for my sanity if not my marriage, I am going to have to look at getting a bog standard, clock-watching, 9 to 5 job.



Ally said...

Can empathise with a lot of what you say, including the 'automatic pilot' reaction to a dimly perceived threat.

And also, to the 'must get up and say goodbye' thing. Although have stopped doing that when he leaves at 4am now :).

One of the things I find soooo difficult about working at home is that when I am on my own in the office I find it really difficult to concentrate.

Hence blogging now when I should be web-paging :/.

Hope your day perks up ... x

Stegbeetle said...

*offers tea, hug, home-made double-choc muffins and unconditional sympathy & consolation but is spectularly unable to offer up any kind of intelligent comment or suggestion*
Beyond this: Bummer! Sorry day started so badly. Hope it improves.

fineartist said...

There is no joy in conflict.

Your honesty, understanding and empathy will see you through, maybe spoken at a different time.

It will all buff out. The blogging helps some maybe. It does for me.

I’m sorry Cheryl, hugs from across the ocean, Lori