Friday, 27 February 2009

Fresh out of flippancy

Warning - I'm writing this because I have to get this out of my head and down. It's probably going to be horribly self-indugent and not about diets etc so not appropriate for this blog. But I need to talk to someone and I don't know who - my friends are wonderful but we don't have that sort of relationship and I don't want to lay my melodrama on them, their lives are so far from this that it would feel odd - this is the only thing I can think of.

Where to start? I met with a friend on Wednesday and we were talking about He's Just Not That Into You and she said that on leaving the cinema she'd said to the friend she was with something along the lines of 'You know you're in a bad way when a chick flick seems profound'. Oh yes. It was a depressing film for me because there was a couple in almost my scenario - they'd been together for ages and she really wanted to get married but feared it was never going to happen, he didn't want to. Well, because it was a chick flick it all turned out all right in the end - maybe because she was Jennifer Aniston with perfect hair (and I am a scruffy frump with kinky hair, sadly)! And this is kind of my problem with fiction - be it book or film - have I read/watched so much that I have a wholly unrealistic view of life? That I expect relationships in real life to be like they are in books and films? I'm sure that Darcy would have been extremely difficult to live with, moody, withdrawn and sulky and Aragorn would have been distant and preoccupied -my childhood crushes there (rather than pop stars like a normal girl).

I'm 38. I've been with bf for 14 years. For about the last 10 years he's said we'll get married 'one day' - although this has varied a bit as he had said he didn't want to marry me whilst I was fat (I'm less fat now) or in debt (I keep buying the lottery tickets), now he says he'd 'like to marry me one day'. I know in my heart of hearts that this day will never come - and I've probably passed my sell by date on a white wedding in any case. And, on a practical note, we could never afford it anyway. But I'd love a wedding - a curious thing for a girl who doesn't really like being centre of attention, finds dress shopping traumatic and is very unphotogenic - but I'd also like to be married. Mainly for the security I imagine it would give me and also because of my weirdness that I feel that at my advanced age not having a ring on that finger badges me as unwantable - it does actually do that to me, but I fear it also does to others. I think, if I am brutally honest, I'm simply not the sort of girl men would marry - I don't have that special unattainability that would make a man feel they had to hold on to me, I'm very girl-next-door. If I were in a film I wouldn't be the heroine, I wouldn't even be the supporting cast, I'd be peripheral (if I were unlucky, and it was a thriller, I'd be marked out for death early on in the plot!)

But I'd like to feel that bf wanted me. I think in his way - an abstracted, slightly disinterested sort of way - he does love me but I always feel he has one foot out of the door. He'd argue vehemently against this and point out we have a joint mortgage (oh the romance) which he also points out I insisted on (he wanted to go for an 'in common' one) - I so wish I hadn't insisted now and then I might feel that that was some indicator of feeling, freely given.

So what's prompted all this? Well he came home last night, slightly pissed, having had a bad day at work. He's got a rotten situation at work at the moment but he loves his work - I would say (and I think he would agree) that it's one of the most important things in his life, maybe even the most important. He got very angry with me because he said I wasn't sympathetic, I have no empathy or even the ability to be interested. I was very tired and slightly wrung out from a difficult day myself. I was wary because he was a bit drunk and because I couldn't read him and he's been very criticial of my 'abilities' in this department before (it's something we have in common - criticism of me). In the past he's got annoyed when he thinks I'm trying to solve things - I was very careful therefore to ask neutral questions last night (he says I'm so self-absorbed I never ask questions). But what I didn't do was express sympathy. It was wrong of me, it was, I know. And he was annoyed that I didn't go and sit at the table with him (he was eating during this conversation) but remained on the sofa. He told me - in an angry raised voice - I was no use to him, was "f-ing sh*t" and he'd know never to try and talk to me again. I tried to apologise and he was almost in tears but he shook me off angrily. He then went to bed. I finished my cup of tea and went to bed too - and spent most of the night awake, miserable. I apologised again this morning (at 6am - he got up about 4.30am) but there wasn't much softening - he just repeated that he knew not to speak to me about anything again, I was useless at this, but that he appreciated the fact that I apologised for failing him - which I clearly did. I then went to the gym and did a run - I'm not even sure why other than the alternative of doing nothing in the flat, waiting for the time to go to work. I couldn't summon up the energy to walk up the escalator on the tube commute though.

I don't think I can ever be good enough for him - to meet his approval, I mean. I take on board his criticisms and try and change my behaviour accordingly but I never seem to get it right. It also irritates him that I 'try too hard' but presumably because I get it wrong - if I tried hard and got it right I guess it wouldn't be such an issue. I can't imagine this relationship is ultimately going to last - maybe because I'm overtired and feeling unhappy, maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow. Or whenever. He says I stay because I don't want to be on my own - I'm not actually bothered by that and would prefer that to another relationship (never again - I don't think I'd actually get the chance to but even if I did). I do love being with him when he's not like this - he's funny and clever and we have alot in common.

I accept in a slightly bewildered way that my future is likely to be pretty lonely and, frankly, impoverished - I won't be able to afford to buy a place, I have looked to see in the past when I thought we were at breaking point and I'd have to rent a bedsit somewhere a bit dodgy (if I'm lucky) or go and live with my mum (which I really don't want to do - as well as we get on). I'm just not sure where I made the turn in my life that took me to this place - was there something I could have done/should have done that would give me a better chance of a happy future? I just don't know and I don't suppose it's helpful to try and work it out really. The best I can hope for is that I can get it right more often and we stay together - and then I have to accept the feelings of sadness, inadequacy and emptiness that intermittently come with that. There will be no Jennifer Aniston 'suprise diamond' ending for me.


Badger said...

I don't know where to begin or what to say really....but I do know that everyone deserves to be happy. Also that being put down all the time isn't healthy for you and you don't deserve it.
Things seem crap now but it doesn't/won't always have to be like this.
Personally I think you'd be better off without him, but what would I know...
I don't think anyone has a fairy tale ending though really as I don't think things are always what they seem. It has just been revealed to me that two of my friends who I thought had perfect lives, do not at all. they are far from bad but it did kind of make me feel better that the perfection I was striving for was not as it seemed.
Thinking of you and wishing you true happiness. You deserve that at least.

Claire said...

Awwww...where do I begin? Can I be honest? You deserve better. You deserve someone who appreciates you and supports you.

You know I'm a pain in the arse sometimes, I make bad choices and I can be grumpier than Grumpy the dwarf in Snow White - but my fella never puts me down. You don't have to be perfect - you just have to be with someone who appreciates you.

My last relationship was more similar to the one you are describing. I thought I couldn't live without him - it turned out when it ended it was like the sun coming out. It wasn't easy at all but I felt freer and younger than I had for years.

You must decide what to do with your life for yourself but I believe you could have that fairy tale ending. I'm due to get married this year. I'm not saying my life is perfect, it ain't, but I will be marrying a man than makes my light burn brighter not dimmer. I hope you will find that too. xxx

J said...

Dear Peridot
When I was in your situation (which I was for many years and it took it's toll)I couldn't bear unsolicited advice from happily marrieds! So please forgive anything that sounds remotely like that - but I feel we have lead parallel lives (even though my life has now changed so much it is only since early 2007)before that I was in a strikingly similar situation I feel. Only you can decide whether this is good enough? Whether the highs still outweigh the lows? I havn't got a fairy tale ending but it's pretty close and I regret the time wasted on a relationship that still affects my self esteem and self worth to this day - not that there wern't good times of course, and not that I don't have some responsibilty for the whole thing. So I guess I just want to say are you settling? Compromising yourself too far? Staying in because the alternative is too scary? Or do you love your partner enough to compromise this far and make the best of your future together? Have you ever talked these issues through? Does he read your blog? Sorry if in any way preachy - just feel for you so much beacause I've been there. You can choose something else - it's whether you want to xxx

Lesley said...

Hi Peri

Sorry I'm late commenting on this, been away. It's a tricky one for me to say anything about because, as you know, there are so many parallels between our situations. Your paragraph about the criticisms and how you try to change and then he is annoyed because you are trying too hard - I might have written that if I were being more open on my blog!

Only you can ultimately decide whether it is worth "settling", in your words but there are a few things I would say:

1) I have noticed that when we have a good trip (I think in terms of D's times at homes which does provide a useful break from what has gone on in the last trip), it is NOT because I have done everything "right". It's generally because, I'm feeling better about myself and more relaxed, less defensive, less trying to "read" him. I then enjoy his company more and he seems to do the same. Is that about having higher self-esteem and it being reflected in our relationship - absolutely.

2) Is your wanting to be married more about you wanting HIM to commit? If so, if you really need that, tell him and in those terms. But might it be a "test" for him that you don't really want him to pass?? Just a thought.

3) I know what helps me and D is for me to be clear about what I want and not to take any crap. I also know it is incredibly difficult to avoid the crap once it's on it's way so I sympathise totally with you for the rows as I'm sure I've had the exact same experiences and they're horrible. BUT - standing up for yourself (not in an agressive way) and holding onto YOUR core beliefs about who is right and who is wrong DOES make a difference.

4) Don't scared of not having him anymore - it's a much healthier way of deciding whether you are in the right relatonship. It's never as easy or clear cut as I'm making it sound but if you try to be open to the possibility that your life might be better or at least not worse then you can gauge whether you want bf for him or for the situation you're in.

Enough - if you want to email me, please do. I don't want to preach or even advise to be honest but I DO know where you're coming from and I've chosen to stay and can see it improving over time so I thought it was worth showing that side of the picture as well.

Massive hugs and sympathy winging its way to you.

Lesley xxx

Mrs said...

Good morning Peridot

I was really saddened to read your post and so pleased that the very wise women have given you lots of food for thought. Food of the right kind!

Instinctively, I think we all feel wronged on your behalf - anyone who uses conditions to move forward (ie I'll marry you if...) means that they are not accepting you for who you are.

But a relationship is always about two individuals and how they operate within it, which is why Lesley's answer gives you a different slant again.

As an aside,most men I know think a mortgage is more of a commitment than marriage. That's just how they are.

Ultimately, it is up to you and I would be loathed to give advice as it's easy to judge from the outside with one person's view of the situation. But you ask for guidance. My suggestion is that you get some support for you - seeing a counsellor may be the answer, if you want/need an objective, safe listening ear. It may help you understand what you really want AND deserve. And that is the critical part.

I also wonder how the LighterLife process was for you in terms of your relationship. I say that meaning the head stuff, particularly.

I sincerely hope that you can find a way through that works. Writing it down is the first step.

Good luck and let us know how your weekend was.

Take care.

Big hug.

Mrs Lxxxxxx