Happy?

I forced myself into action yesterday. In cartoonesque fashion, I pictured a numbing bubble coming from my solar plexus and consuming me, anaesthetising my pain and fears.

Of course there were ripples of hurt which threatened to pop said bubble. But I didn’t allow myself to dwell.

Instead, I sat with my legend planner – the new one I bought when I first realised I had issues at work – and planned how I was going to work on my house in the next 8 weeks.

For, I realised, with or without him my life will go on. That’s a fact.

I had my union meeting yesterday too and things are moving along. My settlement should be completed in the next few weeks. I will paid until Christmas but officially leave their employment at the end of August. This means that I can start a new job in September. I just need to find one.

So, I reasoned, that gave me eight weeks to spend time with my family and get my house sorted. There is tidying, cleaning and decorating to be done. As seems to be the annual tradition, the kids want to swap rooms. There’s plenty to do.

My numbing-bubble visualisation got me through the day. I thoroughly cleaned the lounge and made dinner. I didn’t allow myself to go back to bed. As I said, I can’t pretend that my hurt didn’t threaten to overwhelm me. I just didn’t let it.

Wildcard called me as much as usual yesterday. He was a little more chatty. The slow thaw continues. I even got a kiss goodnight. I actually plucked up the courage to tell him what my ex had said. I could see him thinking and processing that, and I know that he will need time to do so.

Later, I spoke to my London friend about her upcoming trip to see her boyfriend and we discussed Wildcard’s continued sulkiness. She advised that I be normal now and don’t bring it up again. She was surprised he was still moody- over nothing – but said it showed his jealousy. I took her advice on board.

So this morning, I chose to be happy. I put my makeup on before he called. I sent a lovely good morning message. And when he called before work, I was bright and cheerful.

“Why are you happy this day?”

“Because I love you.”

He pulled his usual face in attempt to tease me. His parents got in the car because they wanted taking somewhere, and Wildcard kept me on the phone the whole journey. Once they had left he asked me again:

“Why are you happy?”

I told him that I had spent the week crying and not sleeping and feeling sick. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was choosing to be happy.

He said little but again I could see this running through his mind.

As he parked up at work, I said my customary goodbye whilst he said his sulky one. But as I showered him with phone kisses and I love yous, there was a little amusement there which he tried to hide.

He is still sulking. I am still nervous. But there is nothing more I can do. I’ve apologised and cried till I couldn’t breathe. I’ve not slept and panicked and ruminated. I’ve tried to explain, ignore and now I choose to be happy. Not because I am, but because that is what I need to do.

Maybe I should have done things differently. Maybe he is overreacting. But I still love him. This will need discussing at some point but when he is ready.

In regards to my August trip- well, that remains to be seen. I could cancel, rearrange or…and here is a thought…actually go. I’ve looked at some hotels which aren’t too expensive. I have a week to make a decision. Let’s see what the next few days hold.

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Sulking off the pedestal.

In a vain attempt to pull Wild Card out of his sulk, or at least learn how to deal with it better, I of course have read whatever I can.

Anything you read online has to be taken with some caution. Just because someone claims to be an expert/doctor /whatever, doesn’t mean they are or even that they’re any good. At least though, it makes me feel some control and gives me a distraction – – even though the distraction is still him. Weird but true.

These are the highlights from my study:

Sulking in adults usually comes from learnt behaviour as a child.

It is passive-aggressive and non confrontational. But designed to create the most impact and irritation for those on the receiving end whilst the sulker is feigning innocence.

Sulking happens when someone feels betrayed or let down by someone close to them. Someone they thought knew them better. Someone that they love.

Sulkers act this way because they are hurt and angry and don’t know how to express these feelings appropriately or how to deal with them.

The purpose of sulking is to get the other person to feel what the sulker is feeling. Their intended’s attempts at reconsoliation or apology will be ignored or denied a number of times.

Real reconciliation will only happen when the sulker feels that their intended has learnt their lesson, understood their wrong doing. This is often a power or control play. It is manipulative. The intended will need to show a high level of distress or anxiety for this to happen.

At this point, all is forgiven as the point has been made.

Sulking involves silent treatment, one word answers, eye rolling, tone of voice, sighs. They will respond to questions about what is wrong with ‘nothing’. Any irritation shown by the intended will be used as extra fuel for the sulking because the passive aggressive behaviour makes them look innocent.

Despite its manipulative outlook, sulking is actually unpleasant for the sulker too. They are in distress, feel let down and alone.

My last conversation with Wild Card tonight proved that he is still sulking with me but still claiming there is nothing wrong.

But you know, today was more than that. It wasn’t just malicious sulking with the design of teaching me a lesson. That was yesterday. Today, I actually realised how low he was.

I don’t know if our altercation has caused this low mood. But he’s not just sulking, he is unhappy. So maybe, he is not the only one who has fallen off his pedestal. Maybe I have for him, too.

I took something we both loved and enjoyed and devalued it with an angry, flippant comment. Which I don’t even mean. So, yes, I probably have fallen off my pedestal too.

There’s a crack in the plate.

So, there is definitely a crack in the plate. Hairline, I think, but it’s still there.

I was not in a good place this morning. I was tired and emotionally worn out. I had lots of thoughts running through my head, some of them that I did not expect to see a few weeks ago:

Maybe he is not the person I thought he was.

Can I go on like this, if this is his pattern of behaviour for dealing with hurt?

His hurt and reaction is justified to a point – it was my fault. His sulking and, with sad realisation, his subsequent manipulation, was not justified.

Maybe this is the beginning of the end. And if it is, I say here with my hand on my heart, I will not love again. I’m done with it all.

Of course, it’s not over yet. In essence, I myself am sulking today. And there poses my first problem – don’t know how to act today. I’m sad and I don’t want to pretend that I’m happy – he will see through it anyway. I don’t want to be petulant and negative either.

Do you want to know what happened?

In anger, I said, “Why did you call me? Why did you call me if you don’t want to talk to me?”

So let’s go back to what I said. I was too ashamed to mention it in my first post.

Let’s add some context. He’s tired. The moment was pretty quiet and that was an angry outburst. We were doing what we have done for months – enjoying each other’s company even though there wasn’t much to say. We do it every day and I love it. His way of showing his love, whether he is aware of this or not, is the amount of time and contact he makes. He is usually the one to call me and include me in his daily life. And I love it.

So why did I say it? I was frustrated and angry. I missed him and wanted his attention. I wanted him to flirt and laugh with me. I wanted more than he was physically able to give me in that situation. So anxiety took over. Bad thoughts crept in. And, in an explosive outburst, I said that.

Maybe it doesn’t seem much to you. But I know him like he knows me. I have basically thrown a fundamental part of our relationship back in his face. I have cheapened it and made it feel like I never wanted all that contact and those times of just ‘hanging out’. I hurt him and criticised his wanting to just be with me.

The annoying part is, it is actually one of the things I really, really love about our relationship. Sure, it’s become more regular due to coronavirus and lock down. Before that, there were texts in the morning and a few videochats in the evening. We were both at work and had other elements to our lives. But that doesn’t mean I want it to change yet.

So, his response? (Please keep in mind what I’ve just said. I caused this.)

He first tried to end the call. Then, when I wouldn’t let him because I had realised what I had done, he said that he would no longer call me unless he had something to say. And at the moment, there wasn’t anything to say. He said that I could call him if I wanted to. Later , he said that maybe we should just have one videochat a day and texting. And I should choose a time when that should be.

So yesterday, true to his word, and the first day of sulking, he did not call me once. He responded to my usual morning text with a text instead of a call. I called him and we proceeded as usual, although he didn’t talk a great deal. I asked him when he would finish work as this would be the next time we would usually talk. He again said he wouldn’t call but did message me and we had a videochat again. At one point he asked if I had anything to say, which was of course a bitter reference to our argument. He then said that we would talk later.

We had two more conversations, at the usual times – I called him. The last one, he text me so I would call. It all sounds very childish, and it is. He’s hurt and he’s making a point. I get that. Does he need to do it this way? No. I’ve acknowledged the blame, I’ve apologised. But I also know from a couple of occasions before, that this is his pattern.

The last call is the one that has made him slip from his pedestal. The pedestal that I put him on.

It started off OK. I knew that he was still sulking and decided to continue to acknowledge his hurt, even though he denied it, and my guilt. He pursued his present thoughts… He would not call unless he had something to say. I could call him but maybe its best just once a day. Oh and this was my idea, not his.

He got the reaction he wanted. I told him how much I loved the way things were and that I didn’t want it to change. I reminded him of the many, many times where I have just been around him as he’s washed his car, or talked to his family and that I loved that. I acknowledged that I had said something hurtful that I didn’t mean and I was sorry. I told him that his calls were how I knew he loved me and that this was our relationship and I was happy with it. I also said that if we went back to just texts and one call then I was no better than any of his other ‘Facebook friends’.

Only when I was crying did he stop. He apologised repeatedly and asked me why I was crying (!).

Today is day two of sulking.

It’s better than yesterday and much better than the last time he behaved like this. But, he’s quiet – no joking, no laughing. I am getting kisses. I’ve been asked why I was calling and I replied that I just wanted to be with him. He didn’t respond but we stayed on the phone. He did text me spontaneously today too.

So, if he stays true to form, his mood will improve as the days go on until he’s back to normal. There is absolutely no point in trying to talk through this again when he’s in this mood. But talk about it we will.

For my part, this is yet another warning sign that I need to get control of my anxiety and insecurity and not allow myself to blurt out an emotional response. I need to listen to what he says and logically respond. If he’s tired, say goodnight and end the call. Likewise if he’s quiet, ask if he’s OK, try to engage and then end the call if he cant/won’t.

In a way he is probably right. Maybe we were spending too much time on the phone. Maybe it is time things change a little – the way I see it, I’m going to be back in work more from now on. Lockdown will end eventually and not only will this mean that both of our lives will be filled with family and hobbies – things to talk about! – but hopefully we will be able to talk about me visiting again.

Breaking a plate.

John Lewis

I really wish I had published my last post. In it, I wrote down a conversation I had with my boyfriend. He said something so romantic and poignant that I felt blissfully happy.

Disappointingly, I have to report that we have met another bump in the road. A week after the last one.

My experience of relationships is that there are stages where things seem to go wrong and this is often when they tend to end. Around the three/four month mark seems to be a common one – when the lust and honeymoon period end and you realise that actually, this person isn’t right for you. Sometimes around six months. Then around two years – this is usually when one partner wants more commitment than the other is willing to give.

I’m hoping, with all my heart, that we overcome this six month bump in the road.

There are some factors that are having a real impact on our relationship. One, is that long distance relationships are not easy, not easy for anyone. Take all the usual insecurities and anxiety you feel in a new relationship and double it, triple it and you’re somewhere close. Of course, when you really love that person and feel that connection, no problem is insurmountable.

Two is the fact that I was unable to make my second trip to see him in April. I think this would have consolidated things for both of us, either way. I think, if it had gone as well as we both expected, we would have both felt more confident about our feelings and our future together. Instead it’s deepened the missing, added to the anxiety of the unknown.

Three, is coronavirus. Not only did this stop my visit, it’s potentially going to prevent a future one for sometime. It’s meant that we are both in lock down and whilst that initially meant we have more time to talk to one another, there is nothing to talk about. So you want to be together but there are silences. Most of those time we accept those silences because we just want to be in each other’s company. Sometimes, they cause an issue. See below.

Four – more recently, my boyfriend has started Ramadan. I have to state here that I fully respect his religion and his choice. I am amazed at what he is doing and am proud of him for doing it. The issue is, I had no idea how much it would affect his general mood and behaviour. He’s exhausted, most of the time. He’s sleeping in odd patterns. He’s quiet and grumpy. And for an anxious person like myself, far too many erroneous conclusions have been jumped to which have caused problems.

Take yesterday. Relatively good day communicating. Usual laughing and joking. Regular contact. All good.

But then, his last call of the day (which has been occurring just after his first meal of the day when he breaks his fast) went wrong. Typically the call doesn’t last too long. He eats, he gets drowsy, he falls asleep. I can cope with that. I understand. Occasionally though, that short time between the start of the call and him getting drowsy is filled with… Nothing. He’s silent. He’s staring into space.

I need to state a fact here: he is the silence filler. He’s the one that cracks jokes, makes me laugh, fills the void. I am pretty useless. I try to make conversation, but go back to point three. By this time, there isn’t much to talk about. If we were together, no doubt we would just cuddle together, watch TV, content in the physical connection and silence. It’s clear that’s what we want. But it’s very hard to achieve when you are staring into a phone. And have anxiety.

It doesn’t matter that he has told me before – more than once – that his silence isn’t to do with me. Sometimes, he’s just in one of those moods. It doesn’t mean there is a problem or I have done something wrong.

So, the fact that I asked him what was wrong and he said ‘nothing’, should have been enough. The fact that he also said ‘it isn’t you’ should have been enough. Or even that he looked exhausted and we had a good day.

Oh no. Idiot here strikes again.

I made a comment. Something that has really hurt his feelings. I knew as soon as I said it that I shouldn’t have. I didn’t even mean it. It was born of frustration and missing him and childish selfishness and anxiety. I did wrong, not him. I own that. I’ve apologised, profusely… explained myself.

My boyfriend is amazing in a multitude of ways. If he upsets me, he is apologetic and caring. He won’t let me off the phone until he knows I’m OK. He owns his mistakes. If I am upset because of my anxiety or a perceived (and often imaginary) problem, he is equally caring and patient. He talks me through, settles me. Leads my thinking into a better place.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said the other way round. If I upset him, he sulks. It takes time for him to come down from that – I, on the other hand am notoriously volcanic: I erupt, behave badly, quickly realise, apologise and forgive. Move on.

I will state again, this is my fault. I have taken a time where he just wants to be in my company and I have cheapened it and thrown it back in his face.

But. I have apologised. I have tried to explain.

He has said I did nothing wrong – we both know I did. His behaviour has changed accordingly so I know full well he is still hurt.

He’s not ghosting me. He’s still in contact, still answering calls and texting. But he is sulking.

If the past is anything to go by, he will slowly and surely come round. I will need to be patient and positive – like he is with me. Each day things will return to normal until it is forgotten.

Time will tell though. Six months in, we are experiencing each other’s flaws and working out if we can accept them. I know full well you can’t change them.

Mark Manson talks about China plates. That a big problem in a relationship is like dropping a plate. It breaks in two. But with hard work and determination, you can fix it. It may be a little weaker than before, but in time you will not notice that weakness and it will not impede on its use.

But break that plate two or three times and you have problems.

I don’t know if we’ve broken the plate. I don’t know if it’s just a chip – something you accept and get used to and eventually ignore. It might even have shattered and we are both trying, and maybe failing, to put it back together.

I don’t believe it is the last one. But one day it might be. One day, my stupid mouth and even stupider insecurity is going to smash that plate. Or maybe, his post-stupidity behaviour might cause me to smash that plate like an enthusiastic Greek.

I’m calmer than the last time he behaved like this. I was tempted to tell him, since I’ve apologised, to get back in contact when he’s forgiven me. But only for a second. I’m being patient, like he is with me. I was the one in the wrong and I hurt him. Yes, he’s being childish. Yes, despite telling me there is no problem, he is behaving otherwise and he is not in the right mood to discuss it.

So, be it a scratch, a chip, a break or a smash… Watch this space.