Mitch and I got into it — yet again — yesterday. We had the same argument that we’ve been having for nearly twenty years; and though I don’t fight the same way I used to (i.e. screaming obscenities and often getting physical), Mitchell does (with psychological warfare); and I don’t know how to break this awful cycle.
The Crux of the Problem
Mitch doesn’t sleep well. He’s up until past midnight — often until after 3 a.m. — and then sleeps until noon (or later) if unchecked. I, on the other hand, am often in bed by 9:30; and then I’m up before 6:30 a.m.
Because my health issues (migraines, seizures, stomach/intestinal discord, etc.) usually strike in the late afternoon/early evenings, making plans after 3 p.m. is a difficult feat for me; and Mitchell knows this — not only because he’s lived with me for more than two decades, but because I have to remind him of this fact on a regular basis.
For awhile, he set an alarm for 10 a.m.; which meant he was up by 11 a.m. Then, he spends over an hour in the restroom (something that frustrates me to no end). As a result, we don’t start our days before noon.
I shared with my husband that if he is determined to keep to his morning routine in the bathroom (whatever that entails), that he must compensate by getting up earlier… and unfortunately “earlier” for him is actually getting up at 10 a.m. But when he does, he spends nearly ninety minutes in the powder room — so it’s all a wash.
Plans? Why Make Plans?
Mitch sucks at making plans. He doesn’t like to commit to anything until the last minute; and he’s always running nearly thirty minutes late.
Earlier in the week, he had spoken to his mother on the phone and asked us both if we’d like to go to lunch and see a movie this past weekend… and we were both up for it.
When he didn’t attempt to rouse himself at a decent hour on Saturday, I figured he’d set aside Sunday for our visit with my mother-in-law. When he didn’t get up early on Sunday, I knew he hadn’t made any plans at all… and I was really disappointed.
An Emotional Curve Ball Makes It Worse
My folks are currently in Montana for a family reunion (and my cousin’s wedding). My baby brother, Rige-o, will be flying into Bozeman on Friday to join them. I’m not there, because we can’t afford to travel. (Hell, we can barely manage to pay our bills on time.)
Yesterday, my Dad — very thoughtfully — sent me a short video of my beloved grandmother dancing with my cousin, with my extended family laughing and having fun at the wedding in the background.
It made me smile; and then, it made me cry.
I get to attend all of these types of events with Mitch’s family, because they live here. My family lives clear across the country; and I haven’t been home to see them in more than twenty-one years. So I was a bit sad, and frustrated… and rather surprisingly, angry. Angry that Mitch gets to see his family, while I do not.
It Simmers to a Boil
I managed to explain to Mitchell that I was both happy — and sad — after having watched the video my father sent me, and he totally blew me off.
We got in the car; and on the way to the gym, I broke down into tears. Partly, because I miss my family. Partly, because I knew we weren’t going to see my mother-in-law after all. Partly, because it was so late in the morning that I just wanted to throttle my spouse.
He pulled into the lot, and asked me what was wrong.
“Well, obviously, we’re not going to see your mom today as you promised. I was really looking forward to that, you know?”
“I can call her right now.”
“No, you can’t. We won’t be home until after 12:30. It would take two hours to get ready, and another ninety minutes to drive to Tubac. By the time we get down there, it will be after four in the afternoon; and you know I can’t do that.”
“Clearly, that’s not all you’re upset about, Cass. Let’s have it.”
“I just… I just don’t understand why I’m not as important as all the other priorities in your life. When you tell your mom you’re going to do something for her, you follow through. When you tell your siblings you’re going to do something, you follow through. When you tell Bug you’re going to do something, you follow through. When you tell your boss and/or co-workers you’re going to do something, you follow through. When you tell me you’re going to do something, you rarely follow through. What kind of message am I supposed to receive from that?”
“What do you want to do right now?”
“Do you want me to be honest?”
“I want to go to Great Falls.”
“F*ck. Why not say you want a million dollars? Or to fly to the moon? You know I can’t make that happen. Jesus.”
“That’s a little hyperbolic, don’t you think?”
“Bring it on, Cass. Tell me all the ways in which I’ve disappointed you and f*cked up your life.”
At this, I began to sob uncontrollably, “I never said you were a disappointment or that you f*cked up my life. I just feel like you don’t recognize my needs. I’ve asked you repeatedly to get up earlier in the morning. If you had done that today, we could already be with your mom. I was really looking forward to doing something with her this weekend.”
“I did get up early!”
“No, Mitch. You didn’t. Early for most adults is before 8 a.m. Not after 10.”
At this, Mitchell took a stronger grasp on the wheel and began to grind his teeth, before saying, “You can always get up as early as you’d like and do this shit on your own.”
I felt like I’d been slapped, “I know I can; but don’t you understand? I enjoy doing this with you. It’s one of the few things that we do together.”
“Like you give a shit if I’m here or not,” Mitchell growled.
“Of course I do! That’s why I wait for you!”
Dead silence. I broke it by saying, “I can feel that you don’t want to be here. Let me take you home.”
“I’ll walk,” Mitchell said.
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s over one hundred degrees outside. That wouldn’t be safe. I can take you home, and come back. Like you said, I can do this alone.”
Mitch turned away from me; and we sat in silence… me, with tears sliding down my cheeks. When Mitchell spoke again, he said, “What’s really the problem here?”
“I feel alone. I feel unseen and unheard. I feel disconnected from you and everyone else, which makes me want to die. You know how hard these kinds of feelings are for me… but I’m starting to wonder, what is the point? I keep trying and trying with you. I’ve changed everything, and you’ve changed very little.”
After some more arguing, Mitch pulled out of the lot and headed home. While looking at the road, he said, “I’m what’s wrong with your life. I make you miserable. I do nothing right. I’m a total failure.”
“You’re not a failure. You don’t make me miserable. I just wish that you would try a little harder for us.” I then spent the rest of the day trying to console my husband.
And that is what Mitch does. He twists the argument with words I’ve never said, and I switch gears to soothe him.
And nothing ever changes.
Are You F*cking Kidding Me?!
Mitch returned to his day schedule today; and because he has to get up so early to make it to the summit, I told him that I was willing to go the gym in the evenings. Because he doesn’t get home until almost six, I also offered to cook dinner — as long as he was willing to clean up the horrible mess in the kitchen, so that I could.
He seemed pleased with this. He vowed to clean the kitchen, and promised me that we’d keep going to the gym, as long as I was willing to make these changes for him.
And then this morning? The kitchen is a fricking disaster area; and this is how our text messages read:
Me: Have a good first day back as commander-in-chief. Hopefully, they managed to keep the ship in tip-top shape. Love you!
Mitch: I hope so, too. Thanks, Beautiful. If you need to workout in the mornings this week it’s probably best until I get back to a normal schedule. Love you.
And there it is. I know my husband; and what that text really means is, “I had no intention of going to the gym on the days that I go to work, and probably never will.”
And I could clean the kitchen myself; but that and the yardwork are Mitchell’s only responsibilities here at home, and I’m so tired of picking up the slack.
I am exhausted — physically and emotionally; and I am f*cking sick of feeling heartbroken.
I love my husband, but I don’t know how much fight I have left.