Things Get Weird
I’m going to walk you through a particular evening that sums up years of disturbing behavior.
It was December, a winter month made colder by my husband’s lack of affection. I thought he was just having a hard time at work, and in the meantime it had been a lonely few weeks. I was desperate for his attention and feeling isolated in a town far from family, friends, and familiarity.
Christmas came and my family rented a house near us by the beach. It was a little spot of much welcomed warmth, complete with a plastic tree and decorations from back home. We did puzzles and walked by the water, and while the husband disappeared to work my mom taught me to sew. We were working on a quilt for him made of football shirts he’d been collecting over the years, and I was feeling very thoughtful and wife-y about it.
We met Christmas Eve as cheerfully as any family, dressed up and crammed into a church hall for the overflow mass. I was glad to have him sitting next to me in a place that I loved, his poor attitude to be ignored. We feasted our hearts out on pierogi after church until we were ready for the looser waistbands of new PJs. It was a happy little bubble where we were all warmed by grace and magic and wine.
As was his tradition, Die Hard went on when everyone else tucked into bed. How cozy were we! How sweet it was to have my husband near me, snuggled in on my favorite night of the year. The tree lights glowing, the candles burning… Could anyone resist a little romance? Unluckily for me, my ovaries were not cooperating and the possibility of Christmas babies loomed large. However, in a surprising turn of events, he didn’t seem to mind. Can you imagine my excitement! My little heart had been longing for both his attention and his baby. And look at us! Reunited and unafraid of the future bathed in the artificial glow of the tree.
How disorienting when he decides halfway through he’s changed his mind. Instead, he asks me if he can finish in my mouth, and I am pulled out of my Christmas-magic fantasy to the reality of my marriage. Instead of choosing life and a future with a man that I love, I am now explaining why I think that’s gross and makes me feel like a trash can.
So, that Christmas Eve when I chose to say no, he turned away from me and I fell onto the floor. I was naked, rejected, embarrassed, lying on the ground, and emotionally jarred. I was no longer the trash-can, I was the actual trash. He did not care. I pulled my clothes back on, turned the tree off and went to bed. He followed later and did not touch me the rest of the night. I was discarded. Not a mother, not a wife. Just alone.
The next day he opened his quilt and barely cracked a smile.
I thought about talking to him about it, but I’d tried to talk to him about behavior like that in the past and it never went well. How do you explain how it feels to be used? Especially to someone who thinks it’s your fault because I don’t do what he likes? He thinks I choose my values over letting him do what he wants because I don’t love him. He feels rejected too. And just like that, I’m in the wrong, and maybe I imagined it.