*Features adult language and themes.*
I don’t know why, but when I read the new Kurt Sampson article each month he seems to be talking about my life in a very specific way. It’s a little disturbing. I said this to Jon the other day and, of course, he dismissed it with a derisory wave and a chuckle.
“He writes those articles like an astrologer. He picks up on generalities that could be applied to anyone’s life. It’s written in such a way that anybody can relate to it.”
He might be right, but that doesn’t stop me reading.
I think HTBH is helping me make some changes.
Last month I decided to try and open up to Jon a bit more. Let him see behind the curtain, as it were, and glimpse the craziness that I hide from him on a daily basis. It took a lot of courage for me to do that. I felt like I was going out on a limb.
It started on Valentine’s day. I got a little drunk and jumped in with both feet.
I just looked back through my diary to see what I wrote the next day. I think it bears repeating:
* * *
Last night I finally confronted Jon with the question that has been bugging for the best part of two years. I worked myself up into such a state of tension that I finally burst in the middle of the restaurant while we were eating.
“Have you ever thought about having an affair or leaving me?” I asked.
There was a moment’s pause while my words sank in. I began to feel afraid of what he might say. I wondered if he would spill out an admission of infidelity, or he’d be angry at the suggestion.
Instead he laughed.
He laughed like I’ve never seen him laugh before. It was spontaneous, uncontrollable laughter. His face went red and his eyes streamed with tears. People sitting at the tables next to us turned to see what the joke was. I started wondering what the joke was.
He soon ran out of breath, and began doing that strange wheezy laugh when it becomes painful, but you can’t stop it. I actually wondered if he was having some sort of stress induced fit.
Eventually, after what seemed like an age, he began heaving in great lungfuls of air and calming down. He was panting like a dog stuck in a car on a hot day. His eyes were red and slick, the wide grin on his face looked like it would need the assistance of a crowbar to go back to normal.
“I’m sorry, Sweetheart. I’m really sorry.” He panted, desperately trying to breathe and talk normally. He held his hand out to me as his shoulders heaved up and down with the last few giggles.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
He let out a long soothing sigh and managed to get his breathing back under control. His face was a deep red. “How long have you bottled that up for?”
He almost went off again, but coughed it back. He stood up, dragging the chair behind him to sit next to me at the table. He draped his arm around my shoulders and hugged me to him and whispered in my ear. “Do you know how unbelievably stupid I would have to be to let you go? How mentally deranged I would have to be to even contemplate leaving you? How utterly damaged I would have to be to even notice another woman other than you?
“Don’t you get it, Evie? I love you. Just you. I love everything about you, your strengths, your complexity and your flaws. Especially your flaws. All of that stuff makes you into the person you are, and it’s the sum of all those things that makes you, you.
“I know there’s always a lot more going on in that head of yours than you ever let on to me. You think about us, yourself, and the world on a completely different level to me. Do you know why that is?” I shook my head. “Because you are a lot smarter than me. I’m just about clever enough to know I’m dumb. I don’t have the capacity to think about stuff the way you do. I just don’t. That’s why life seems so simple to me. The stuff I don’t understand, or the stuff that seems complicated to me, I ignore. For me, ignorance really is blissful.”
Tears were welling in my eyes as I asked: “Why were you laughing?”
“Because it was the only thing I could do. To start with I wake up every morning and wonder how I got a beautiful, clever woman like you to marry me. Seriously. I always think one morning you’ll wake up and realise you’ve made a dreadful mistake. The idea that you are insecure about my feelings for you is the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard. I couldn’t help but laugh.
Then I realised you’ve probably been stewing on that question for a long time. You’ve been worrying about it for ages, haven’t you?” I nodded. “That made me so unbearably sad that I had to carry on laughing, because crying wouldn’t have cut it. The idea of you torturing yourself over something so ridiculous for so long hurts.
“Do you get it, Evie? Do you see?”
* * *
I have to give my husband a lot of credit. For someone that believes himself to be stupid, he makes a lot of sense.
I did torture myself for a long time about something that, once confronted, seems like an impossibility. I see it now. I do. Jon is committed to me totally. I can’t even remember why I began to suspect, or wonder why he might leave me. It really does come back to my own insecurities.
Insecurities that still badger me now. I still find myself feeling down on myself or my life and I have to clamp it off like a heart surgeon trying to repair a vessel. I have to stop the thoughts before they spread and do real damage.
It’s easier said than done.
Reading through this month’s HTBH has made me pause for thought. Kurt discussed how people can stifle themselves through a fear of success. I’ve never identified this as my problem before, but some of the tell-tale signs he highlights sound very familiar to me.
I procrastinate constantly.
The ‘process over result’ is spot on too. I have so many half finished paintings. So many canvases where I got discouraged because I felt like I wasn’t doing it right or that it wasn’t working out the way I visualised it.
Now, I wouldn’t say I was a perfectionist, but I do like to get close to what I’m aiming for.
As for finding problems instead of solutions… I think I’ve commented on that in this diary a number of times. I can find the negative in any situation. I could be riding a unicorn over a rainbow worrying that I left the washing out to dry.
I’ve always known I do these things, but never confronted them to myself as problematic. I just thought I was being an angsty, arty type. No creative person I’ve ever met was happy with what they produced, they simply managed to fight their own demons and negativity to present it to others, who in turn displayed it, or bought it.
I guess I need to actually finish something before deciding if it’s crap on not. I need to finish something so I can fix it and make it better. I can’t improve upon nothingness.
Again, I find the coincidental nature of HTBH, ironic. I’m re-reading the article and it has a passage on the importance of health. I’m sitting in the living room listening to some quiet music as my husband and son are stuck in their beds with head colds.
I think they are well on the road to recovery but selfishly wish that they’d stay ill for just another day so we can avoid what’s planned for tomorrow. Dinner with the in-laws. Does that make me a bad person?
I don’t seem to get ill. I should consider it a blessing, I suppose. In fact I read through the article and wondered what all the fuss was about. I’ve always been a healthy weight no matter what I eat. I don’t particularly exercise and I can’t remember the last time I had to visit a GP for myself.
I guess that’s the appreciation log sorted for today.
I have begun to notice changes in my attitudes lately. It’s a little unnerving. As intelligent as Jon believes me to be, I do have a habit of overlooking the obvious. Until now I’ve never considered my good health to be a positive aspect of my life. It’s something I have taken completely for granted.
I guess that’s the trick, isn’t it. You never appreciate the things that are always there for you.
It’s like my boss, Layla. The other day she was late getting into work, which in itself wasn’t strange. She keeps her own hours according to how bothered she is about the business that week. A perk of being the boss, no doubt. Anyway, her car broke down, which I sympathise with, but she only lives a 20 minute walk away.
When she eventually got into work, she was so distraught and angry about her car. It was the first time it had let her down. She fumed about how she relied on it heavily and couldn’t believe the inconvenience it had caused her.
I guess it’s an inconsequential story, but it just popped into my head. At no point in the two years Layla drove that car back and forth to work did she appreciate the convenience it afforded her. The one time it didn’t do what she expected of it she was ready to trade it in for something newer and ‘more reliable’.
Maybe I’m getting the hang of this ‘appreciation log’ idea?
So, now I’ve read a little about health, and its importance to happiness. I realise I’m OK on that front, for the most part. I’d like for us all to eat a little better, but it actually costs a lot of money to do that.
I read stories in the paper about an obesity epidemic, how everyone’s kids are fat, and the world will soon be populated by lard-arses and I think, no wonder. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to eat crap than it is to eat healthily.
Why aren’t the things that are good for you cheap, and the harmful foods expensive?
My worries about Jon have transformed now. Instead of worrying about his fidelity, I worry about his cholesterol. My biggest fear isn’t him leaving me, it’s him being taken away early by heart disease.
I think it’s a healthier fear to have, but Jon is being quite resistant to it. He isn’t in bad shape. He carries a little extra weight, which I don’t have a problem with. I’ve always been a bit of a chubby-chaser. I like a bit of something to hold on to. When Jon hugs me it’s the safest feeling in the world. I can’t really imagine him without a bit of meat on him. It’s the extra gravy that might be a concern.
To save money Jon lives on peanut butter and jam sandwiches. It’s not the best thing for him, but it’s surprising how cost effective it is as a meal. It’s been difficult to strike the balance between budget and health.
The only other option is to make sure he gets a bit more exercise. He perked up at that idea, until I told him you only burn about 150 calories for every 30 minutes of sex, and that’s only if he gets on top, which is rare.
I suggested that he starts taking Robbie out for walks more often, now the days are getting longer. Robbie loves the park. It was something Jon couldn’t say no to. I figure it might give me a little more time alone to paint as well.
The prospect of dinner with my in-laws looms large in my mind as I come to consider my friends and family. I realise I’ve been quite upbeat in what I’ve written today. Should I spoil it now?
Here’s the list of people in my life:
Jane (Jon’s Mother)
Daniel (Jon’s Father)
Tracey (Jon’s youngest sister)
Briony (Jon’s middle sister)
Theresa (Jon’s oldest sister)
These are the people I interact with on a day to day basis. A very short list, and I could do without two of those relationships most of the time.
I have a habit of making transient friendships. I get on with people really well, but I don’t seem to be able to sustain friendly relationships. I haven’t spoken to the friends I made in school, or college since I left. I can’t really count the regulars at the cafe as friends, just people that circumstance has surrounded me with. We are thrust together by the fact they want coffee and cake, and I happen to bring it to them. Saying that, Mrs. Higgins is a lovely woman, and makes a point of sending us a Christmas card and even gave Robbie a birthday card last year. That was nice of her.
Would I seek out Mrs. Higgins for advice if I was having a personal crisis? Probably not.
I’ve always made friends according to my situation. I had a circle of friends at school and college. I’d see them each day, occasionally socialise outside the educational setting. As soon as I met Jon and settled down everyone, sort of, faded away. I saw a few of them again when Robbie came along, they used to pop by to ‘oohh’ and ‘aahh’ at him. Then he’d cry or vomit and they didn’t seem as enthusiastic. Especially if the prospect of babysitting looked like it might threaten.
I speak to Jon’s sisters on the phone every month, or so. But they all live so far away with families and lives of their own. We might see them on special occasions, but even that isn’t carved in stone.
Jon is the only child that stayed close to the family roots.
As much as I detest computers I do occasionally log onto Facebook to keep in touch with them all. Jon is a lot more enthusiastic on that front. Apparently there is a photographic record of Robbie’s life so far on the internet. Jon sometimes jokes that he could make the pictures into a real-time flip-book.
As much as I would like to cut Jane out of our lives a little, it’s impossible. We rely on her help with Robbie and she knows it only too well. She always makes a point of showing us that she is taking time out of her own busy life to help us. We are an inconvenience, a duty that she fulfils with stoicism.
I believe that she loves her other grandchildren with a zealous fervency. Probably because she only sees them once or twice a year. Robbie, on the other hand is a hindrance to her.
I also suspect that she has been calling him Robert when we aren’t around. She never did like his name, she always thought it too informal and working class. Robbie has seemed a little confused about his name recently. I must talk to Jon about that.
I wish that I could spare my son her company, but at the moment it’s impossible.
The other person I wouldn’t mind culling is Layla but she gives me money so we can pay the rent and eat. I guess we all wish we could live our lives without bosses, but that’s a dream for the self-employed and millionaires. In fact I’ve known a few self-employed people and they never seem very keen on their bosses either.
No. I am stuck with the people in my life. My immediate family are too important. My husband and my son are all I need.
The rest I will try to improve upon. Starting with dinner tomorrow.
Again I ask: Is it wrong of me to wish ill health upon my husband and child so that we might avoid a family gathering?
But I’ll live with it.
Many thanks for reading. If you have any feedback or thoughts, feel free to comment below.