Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Before the Anger, There Was Hurting

In a comment to a prior post, Starlight made the following remark:
Another point that strikes me - your anger.

This anger did not arise overnight. It took me years to finally admit that it even existed. I hate that it clings to my soul like greasy filth to the skin. At least for the latter, there is pumice soap.

Just as one does not accumulate grease without having handled something like a dirty engine part, I did not just wake up angry with her one day. It was the accumulation of several hurtful moments and realizations over the years.

I was reminded of the hurt last night before going to bed. I'll just describe the events and my feelings with no attempts to justify them. This is visceral stuff, not analysis.

My wife had a long day, and I knew she would be tired. She even asked to hold our younger daughter before I put her down for bed because she said she felt a little fragile. Later on, we hugged before going to bed. I told her that I had been feeling down, but I didn't know why.

When we lay down to go to sleep, she offered to lay by me. I accepted, and she started marshalling her pillows for maximal comfort -- a pillow on my shoulder for her to rest her head, and a body pillow between us, and most likely a layer of blanket as well. She's done this kind of thing for years, and although I don't feel very close to her when she does it, I've let it slide.

As she was moving the pillows into place, I asked her if she could do something for me. I told her it wasn't a sexual request. I then asked if it would be okay if we snuggled just skin-to-skin. That would have required removal of the body pillow, her nightgown, and my t-shirt.

Her response was a look that said, "Why are you asking this of me?" There was a pause, and then she asked me, "What do you mean?" I've seen that look before for requests both in and out of the bedroom. It hurt.

Sensing this was going to spill over into a discussion that would be much longer than the amount of time needed to disrobe and move the pillow, I retreated and told her, "Never mind. It's okay." I tried to be calm.

She made some remark about me getting upset about it. I tried assuring her that it was okay to go ahead with what she was doing originally, and she did after that awkward moment. I fell asleep, holding back tears.
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