For a few months I have been feeling disconnected from Darrin. When I berate myself for allowing this to happen, I remember that I've been through some emotionally trying times, and that it takes two to make a relationship feel connected and vibrant. Since June, I've tried several times to get Darrin to spend alone time with me. Always I was told that he was too busy, couldn't arrange time off, or that he was too tired. Four years ago I would have said, "Too tired? You're kidding! Pack your bag and get in the car. You can sleep while I drive, but we're going." And Darrin would have laughed, packed his bag, gotten in the car and we would have spent a lovely day or two reconnecting.
Presently, however, I've become so emotionally unsure of myself, that Darrin's resistance has felt like rejection. And quite honestly, I've been feeling rejection in a number of relationships over the past couple of years. I've run the gamut from hurt and vulnerability to frustration and loneliness, and I've arrived at a place where I don't really care anymore. It takes two. If I'm the only one trying to connect, there's really no point to what I'm doing. It's time to stop.
Darrin is the exception, though. I chose him many years ago because I wanted him in my life forever. He gets infinity second chances. So I said, "Your birthday is coming. I'd like to throw you a party. Who would you like to invite?" He said, as I knew he would, "I don't really want to spend time with people. You're the only one I'd invite." So I said, "Good. We're going to Denver. I've reserved a hotel for two nights. If you can get Friday off, we'll leave early and go play."
I waited for his excuses. They didn't come.
Friday everything possible went wrong. Darrin found out he had three hours of grading due that day, instead of Monday, as he had assumed. Tabitha had monumental meltdowns as she contemplated work, college, and being an adult. Adam and DJ were being beastly at one another. Our washer flooded the bathroom. Clients were calling me. My dad asked me to come in to work.
I very calmly suggested Darrin work on grading while I nipped the other crises in the bud. I sat down with my children, explained that they were adults capable of taking care of themselves and letting them know that we, their parents, would be leaving soon and they were responsible to deal with their differences equitably. I let Tabitha cry, then asked her to find things to do while we were gone and we could tackle the paperwork for her job on Monday. I cleaned up the flood, told my father I would be coming to work on Monday, and ignored all further phone calls.
Darrin was in a foul mood. I didn't care. I packed the car and waited for him to finish grading.
As we drove to Denver it was clear that Darrin wanted to be grumpy and disagreeable. I refused to argue. He asked if I wanted to check into the hotel or eat dinner first. As I hadn't eaten that day, I suggested dinner first. Darrin immediately gave me five reasons why we should check into our hotel first. I agreed and said we could certainly do that, at which point he gave me five more reasons why we should have dinner first. I calmly said, "I'll tell you what. You're driving. You decide where you'd like to go first. I'm happy with whatever you decide."
So we went to dinner. The restaurant was one we'd never visited before. Other than the hotel, most of the trip had been arranged by Darrin and the kids, so I had no idea where we were going. This particular restaurant was chosen by DJ and looked sort of scary inside and out. However, the food was incredible. It was clearly made fresh on the spot--not like the chains that have premade entrees filled with sodium and preservatives. And the food was Italian, so Darrin was very happy. I had a slice of vegetarian pizza that filled my fourteen-inch plate (I made it through about 1/4 of it before being defeated), and Darrin ordered lasagna.
And we spent a long time at dinner. Talking.
Then we order one of everything from the Italian bakery, took it with us, checked out a very bad movie from Redbox (because I love bad movies), and checked into our hotel. We ate pastries in bed while watching our very bad movie, then got ready for bed, did that thing that people in love do when they're alone in a hotel, and went to sleep.
Darrin had made a long list of things he wanted to do on Saturday. I've not slept for about a week (insomnia sucks), but Friday night everything clicked and I slept from about 2 a.m.-8 a.m. Six hours is a very good night's sleep for me. When I woke, Darrin had canceled all his plans. He climbed into bed and while we cuddled he said he had decided we should just relax and enjoy the day--not be busy.
We left the hotel around noon and Darrin took me to an English tea house for lunch. It was lovely. Darrin was the only man in the restaurant--and he didn't care. We walked to a nearby farmer's market after lunch, bought nothing, then drove through several older neighborhoods looking at century-old homes that had been restored. Darrin decided he wanted to see a movie. He was fairly certain he knew where a movie theater was.
One hour (of giggling and backtracking and exploring) later, we stopped at a Subway where Darrin gallantly allowed me to ask a very helpful young man for directions. We finally made it to the theater around 4:00, enjoyed a not-very-bad movie, took pictures in a photo booth, and walked the square as we window shopped and thought about dinner. We went to Whole Foods, bought olives, and dolmas, and chocolate, and caramel cookie bars (because dessert is very important), then stopped at Ruby Tuesday's for dinner. I will simply say, dinner was not a highlight of the evening. After the fabulous food we'd enjoyed previously, RT felt overpriced, bland, and low quality.
We got lost on our way back to the hotel, saw an enormous fireworks display, then finally found our hotel again. We ate olives, dolmas, chocolate, and caramel cookie bars, chatted about life, and got ready for bed. Before we did that thing that people in love do when they're alone in a hotel, Darrin said, "Thank you. We've needed to do this for awhile and I've been a grouch about it. I've had a wonderful time."
I lay awake for awhile last night. I realized that one of the reasons I feel so negative about relationships is because they feel like work--all of them. And much of the time, I feel that I'm the only one who wants those relationships to continue. Therapist would warn me not to read too much into this. He would say everyone who shares relationships with other people, feels at some point that they're doing most of the work and the other person involved doesn't care or doesn't want to put forth any effort toward maintaining or nurturing the relationship. But that's not necessarily true, he would say. And he would remind me that what I feel is sometimes exaggerated, especially when the feelings are negative.
It's probable that Therapist is correct. But I also know that I'm still tired. I worked very hard to get Darrin to go away with me, and I'm okay with that. He's my husband and I know that he loves me and wants to be with me. And I'm also very aware that even if he doesn't do grand things for me, he's constantly doing small things to make sure I have what I need (changing the oil in my car, doing laundry, taking out the trash, helping with dinner, telling me he loves me...). But I'm seeing Therapist next week and I think I need to talk with him about finding more relationships that build me.
I have to admit that the disconnect I was feeling with Darrin has permeated all my current relationships. I don't have the stamina to work on those other relationships as I did with Darrin--and I have no guarantee that they'll say, as Darrin did, that the work is appreciated and necessary. So I think I need Therapist's advice. I'm going into another semester of crazy-busy work. I'm teaching an advanced pedagogy class for the first time. I have private students starting the semester tomorrow. I accompany two choirs. I have some clients with complicated tax issues that need to be resolved in the next three months. I'm working online and helping my father with his financial planning business.
In short--I no longer have time to allow myself to become drained by relationships that are demanding, or to expend effort on relationships with people I love but who have become disinterested in me, for whatever reason. I need people in my life who will take time to check in with me, who will tell me about their lives while showing interest in mine. I need people who aren't inconvenienced when I need reassurance and who will turn to me when they, too, need someone to help them feel that life is okay--and so are they. I need to be able to express love and hear it expressed in return.
And quite honestly, I'm so very tired that if I have relationships hanging around with people who don't feel that my above list fits their description of how we should interact, I'm perfectly willing to give those people some time away from "us." Therapist would say I should try to talk about it first if I care about the person. Sometimes Therapist overestimates the amount of time I'm willing to spend being vulnerable with other people.
I'm not crabby. I had a lovely weekend with my favorite man. I'm looking forward to the good that comes with my busy semester. I'm just a little thrashed when it comes to social interaction. I guess, maybe, it's time for me to let other people take control/initiative/whatever in our relationships, while I spend a bit of time regenerating my need for company. So if I seem a bit scarce, I'm hoping I'll still hear from people (phone calls, FB messages, email, chatting when I'm online)--I WANT to hear from them, I just can't always be the one making contact. And if I don't hear...well...with a schedule like my current one, I will hardly have time to lament.