I watch the Kardashians, because I obsess about relationship drama. Not the asinine Desperate Housewives kind of drama where people are throwing champagne glasses and pulling out each others’ hair, but the more complicated kind (yes, I think the K’s are complex) where people have individual dreams and expectations for their lives, and yet all of it has to somehow meld into something that works inside a relationship. This last month, I didn’t really need to watch the Ryan Seacrest productions to get my fix. No, I drummed up plenty of my own– in fact, I had enough personal drama to cut my life expectancy by at least a decade.
Around Thanksgiving, I started feeling bothered again by how much John was working. I know this sounds very much like the same story: I work a government job with very defined hours; he works a startup job with anything but. I fill my time with activities; he works. We do things in groups with our circle of friends. Slowly but surely, the distance creeps in, bc I get frustrated having to deal with all the home logistics on my own, and he doesn’t understand my growing intolerance for his disengaged lifestyle. I try to express my frustration; he dismisses it saying that he tries very hard with balancing. The discussions go nowhere, and a month later, we’re discussing a trial separation. Yup, that’s how we roll. Full blown drama.
So the thing is, there is a pattern. And yet, the conditions are slightly different each time: I was dealing with my depression in 2000; his bouts in 2003, then again after we returned Stateside in 2006. Finally, in 2011, with a combination of therapy, meds, activity, and diet, depression was finally manageable. So we were both ready to be happy, right?
No. Like I said, I was growing increasingly annoyed by his overall distraction and lack of attention at home. I was getting pissed about the labor inequality– with household chores as well as the extracurricular activities/travel planning. We were supposed to be best friends. We were supposed to be genuinely interested in each other and kind to each other, but instead, I felt under-appreciated and neglected. When I voiced my feelings, he didn’t agree or understand or acknowledge. Then earlier this month, I snapped. This wasn’t the life I wanted.
For two days, we were like strangers living in the same house. When the anger subsided, I was just so sad thinking how it had ultimately come to this. On a Thursday morning before work, I made one final effort to explain what I had been feeling and why I had been feeling it. I gave examples comparing how I thought he continually prioritized work over home. This wasn’t about keeping score. I’m good at doing that, but I also know that he very much defines himself through work– I think a lot of childless people do that. I wasn’t trying to compete- I was trying to prove a point and also insist on true balance. Anyway, it was a one-sided conversation and then I went to work.
Later that day, both individually and then together, we arrived at the same conclusion: we didn’t want a trial separation. Somehow that seemed only to signal giving up. Despite the fatigue, ultimately, we still loved each other and we wanted this to work. Whether it was the history, the habit, or the romantic belief in love conquering all…
The following few days, we sat down and itemized every single task involved with running the ship. We put it into a schedule/matrix of things that are daily, every other day, weekly, every other week, monthly, etc. Then we talked openly about what we needed individually from the relationship. None of this (except the matrix) was particularly new or novel, but I suppose it was necessary for our restart. It was also a reminder of something my father recently told me: a relationship requires continual cultivation. And I realize now that “how” you cultivate is also important. I need attention and help with “tasks”; he needs more self time to re-energize, and we both need more private quality time together. It’s been a week since our meeting at Appomattox, and things are better. We have spent a few quiet days at home, and it’s been nice. I’m hopeful for the new year ahead.
Meanwhile, Remy’s been a real pain lately. We are still trying to nail down her thyroid meds dosage, and it’s resulted in hyper, nocturnal Remy who drinks a shitload of water and pisses every 2 hours throughout the night. Yes, only at night. So fricking bizarre. I think this must be what it’s like to nurse a newborn. Yesterday, we returned from a Xmas party to find piss on the hallway rug. Time to take matters into my own hands. Gonna halve the dose and just give it to her once a day… no more of this incremental bullshit. Cannot do this for much longer. Jesus. I’m already a light sleeper, so this schedule has been disastrous. Thankfully, my zombie state is actually acceptable during the holidays. But still, back to work tomorrow so sorry Rems, but we’re gonna need to bring sluggo back!