Monday, April 28, 2014

To All You Normal Guys

The other day I was getting ready to run some errands of the sort that require real, grownup clothes, and as I moved a computer chair (not mine) to lean over a laundry basket (not mine) and a coffee table (mine, but full of stuff that is not mine) to slide open the closet door, an effort further hindered by the dress shirts (not mine) hanging from the sliding-door track, I pulled out an acceptable three-quarter sleeve mom-top, and
I realized I didn't care.

I. Didn't. Care.

I didn't care that my delicate fucking sense of order was disturbed by random stuff.
I didn't care that I was going to have to lean over all of it again to put clean stuff away,

(I hate putting the clean stuff away.)

Anyway, yeah, the house is a hodgepodge of mismatched shelves crammed with all manner of books, games, music and knick-knacks I have been lugging around since childhood,
but damn it, those things have their place.
The only thing stopping me cordoning off the area and labeling them all is that I already know where they go.

So in the midst of the casual arrangement of... of...
of empty Excedrin bottles and torn envelopes and winter hats piled, essentially, in a room where there is
"a place for everything (except my own clean laundry basket) and everything in its place,"
not caring is a huge deal.

Anyway, All of You Normal Guys...

Okay, yeah, you're cute, and goofy, and smart, and fun.
The kind of guy we should have dated except when we were young

we didn't know any better,
but also...

You don't lose your nut when we forget the Horsey Sauce. You don't tell us we're incompetent when we drive by the post office twice in one day and don't check the mail. You don't insinuate we cannot do things because we are women, but sometimes you do those things for us anyway because you are nice and have a little spare time.

You don't have a creepy dynamic with your mother.
Love her, hate her, you've picked one.

Hopefully the first one, but points for consistency either way.

You don't freak out over words like "forgot," "lost," "broken," "cat puke," "male friends" (any friends) or "electric bill."
You don't automatically accuse us of having an affair with the drive-through bank teller or the guy at Subway when we've been out twenty minutes longer than expected.

(Seriously. The guy at Subway. Because you went to get the sandwiches that CAPTAIN CRAZY ASKED YOU FOR.)

You don't insist that you want us to be stay-at-home moms while simultaneously being angry with us for being unemployed.
You don't beat up the cat.
Or the dog.
Or the refrigerator.

You don't question when we hold back a little because we still have that murky reservoir of fear.

You bring us flowers and listen when we ask you to not put our favorite mug in the dishwasher. You smack our asses AND treat us like we're interesting. You give great hugs and wash your own laundry and watch The Princess Bride with us at least once and are nice to our families and understand that we might want to see Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket in concert even if you don't.


and you wash the dishes.
DAMN that's sexy.

No, we're not twenty, and we're in piles of debt, and we might be a little reactive...
and trying to squelch it.
Not well.
But we love you.
So all that normal stuff?
Keep that shit up.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Part V - About Leaving

Ellie Goulding is singing on my Spotify station, "This love will be your downfall," and I wonder aloud back to Ellie, "Oh, Ellie, where in the Hell were YOU 18 years ago?"

My Achilles heel (and, apparently, Ellie's) thinking that I can pacify the disturbed and soothe the needy, and that I reflexively feel that is something I should have to do.

That's what really got me in trouble, because the worst thing about dealing with someone who's emotionally crippled is how they think they need you, and how they convince you of the same thing.

And they really do think they need you when what they need is:
a parent
a cheerleader
a cook, maid, secretary, financial adviser...

But they don't need YOU.
They don't care that you're smart or an artist or that you're good with dogs or that you know how to use a level and you're really good with a power drill or that you can locate the alternator on your Japanese car and that you're a damn fine customer service rep with a knack for explaining the concept of "proportion" to little old ladies who are frustrated with the copy machine.
That you are three quarters of the way to two college degrees. (No, that scares them.)
Not unless it's a bragging point for them.
Not unless it comes in handy for them.

They don't need YOU, because "You" come with feelings and friends and a family and needs of your own, and so they systematically strip the part of you that makes you... you until all that's left is a weird, compartmentalized shell that houses:

A driver (someone has to pick up the auto parts)
A scapegoat (for when someone has ordered the wrong auto parts)
A verbal punching bag because now the store is closed and they still don't have their auto parts. Or door hinges. Sanding belts. Enough ranch dressing for their fries. Whatever.

You are introduced as "the wife" when you are introduced at all.
You become sort of an extension of his body that just so happens to walk and drive to the parts store independently of his body when it needs to be done.

Eventually, if you have a good friend, or you had a good upbringing, or you see those hokey public service announcements in the year-old Woman's Day magazine in the doctor's office, or maybe you are just strong enough to be holding on to some vestige of your self-worth,
you'll hear a familiar voice that whispers to you when it's quiet,
"This feels wrong."

You'll discredit that voice for a while,
until you realize it's yours,
and it's right.

Hopefully, you leave.

Later it will seem so obvious that you weren't the problem.

I mean, it's just sense,you can't make someone happy who is clinging to the boat anchor instead of the life raft.
They're Hell-bent on going down, and they'll think nothing of taking you down with them,

and they won't even be grateful for the company.