Okay, so this is a text conversation I had with The Pedant a couple weeks ago:
Me: …Fuck. I think the anti-anxiety meds I’m on are causing weight gain. Fuckityfuckityfuck.
Pedant: More exercise.
Me: I think this is one of those rare times that I need empathy rather than solutions. My body is doing things I can’t really control; my body is becoming strange to me. I don’t like it. [A little later, in the throes of a big-time anxiety freakout] Or, okay, give me solutions: tell me how to exercise more when I’m essentially trying to run three business and it’s busy season for one of them and I don’t belong to a gym and it’s fucking cold out and I don’t have enough outerwear and I don’t even know what size of warm clothing to buy because I don’t know how goddamned fat I’m gonna end up. [Then, realizing that the previous rant may have sounded hostile or like me being doomed/sarcastic rather than legit asking for help] For serious. I am having anxiety about this and you seem to know how to cut through and simplify shit. It’s a strength of yours that maybe comes from NOT having empathy. I dig it.
So The Pedant talked me down and although I’m not sure his advice was terribly useful or accurate this time, his calmness and his black-and-white, structured view of the world did make me feel comforted.
When he was over the other day, he brought up that text exchange when referencing how I seem to “get” and accept him more than other people. Most other people apparently see him as unfeeling because he doesn’t get all frenzied in sympathy when they’re having issues. I bask in the fact that he doesn’t frenzy. He always manages to make everything look simple and to convince me that I’m getting wound up over nothing – somehow without being mean or dismissive about it.
Maybe he didn’t fully comprehend how much I appreciate him though because in that same conversation he referred to me as having “yelled at him for not empathizing” and I was like “What? No! I guess it’s hard to tell tone via text but I was literally stating what I felt like I needed. Usually, I want solutions and suggestions. When I rant about something to a friend and they just nod sympathetically, I’m thinking ‘FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT!‘ – I’m totally on board with you offering suggestions. Except in that particular moment it seemed like suggestions weren’t gonna make me feel better. So I said so. And then I changed my mind.”
And I told him explicitly that I need his calm, rational, “unfeeling” approach. He balances out my tendency toward anxiety and freaking out. He’s good for me. The Pedant glowed, hearing this, and it was just the most lovely thing to see. I know he likes to be useful to those he cares about so I imagine this particular compliment hit him in the feels for reasons beyond just “holy crap someone likes this thing about me that everyone else hates”.
I also pointed out that he can’t be completely without empathy, since he’s always there for me when I need to be talked off a proverbial ledge. I forget his exact reply – something about well he does care about my well-being. Or something. D’awwww. I gotta start wearing a wire so I can actually replay this shit and know it word-for-word. I feel like I miss so much. But then again we’re naked all the time so I’d have to stow the recording device in my ass.
So yeah. Much bonding and mutual affirmation of caring that day. It was very very good.
On a side note, The Pedant’s preliminary advice of “more exercise” irked the shit out of me. Like derrrrrp can exercise be used for weight loss I DID NOT KNOW THAT. O.o My anxiety over the situation went way deeper than just “oh noes, I’ve gained weight, how shall I lose it again?” – I was worried, as I said, about how to exercise when I’m agoraphobic and also pretty busy (and I get lots of exercise already at work and if that wasn’t doing the trick then Jesus, how much activity would I have to get in order to see a difference?!?). I was worried about how big I might get and whether I’d be able to control it at all. I was worried about how I would afford a new wardrobe, if it came to that, and how I would find a new wardrobe. I had a hard enough time finding clothes that fit when I was thin.
It was hard for me to even bring any of this up with him because in the past he’s displayed a bit of fat hatred – conflating someone’s body size with lazy habits, etc. – and indeed part of his talking-me-down speech was to inform me that nobody gets “goddamned fat” from taking medication; “a bit bloated at most.” Um, no. I’ve known people who’ve gained like 50 pounds because of medication (people who are shorter than I am so yes, it translates into them being fat). I myself am about 30-40lbs up from what I think of as my “base” weight, although it’s hard to say how much of that is the drug I’m taking. The deal is that I got into some bad eating habits for a while so I would say that I came by the extra poundage legitimately; the “oh shit the meds are doing something to me” epiphany came when – after a month or two of eating way better – I had lost no weight at all. My weight has been yo-yoing by the same 30lbs for years now and in the past when I saw that I was creeping up to unacceptable levels I would literally just stop keeping mayo in the house and be back down to my base weight again in like three months.
Anyway. I was afraid that The Pedant hadn’t noticed my weight gain before and that if I mentioned it had happened he’d be like “ohhhh shit now I see it” and get weird with me. But so far we’re good. He still thinks I’m hot and we still fuck like crazed rabbits whenever he’s here. And he strikes a good balance of encouraging me to exercise if I bring the subject of weight or anxiety up, but shutting the fuck up about it the rest of the time – and when he does tell me to exercise it’s framed as something that will make me feel and function better, not something he needs in order to feel attracted to me. I feel supported but not pressured.
Oh, another moment I wanted to mention from his visit the other day: I cannot for the life of me remember the context, but he uttered the phrase “you actually got angry at me for being so enthusiastic about oral sex!”
I protested that I had no problem with his enthusiasm in and of itself, but, y’know, when he’s mauling a spot that’s way too sensitive…The Pedant said “…ah.” What, he’s only just understanding this concept now? We’ve talked about this…
Anyway, I told him that I missed having his face all up in my business and would totally like him to go there again sometime soon – just, y’know, with a bit of a tutoring session first. He was like “can we not call it a tutoring session?” and then we got onto some whole other tangent but I followed up with him via text the next day, asking him what phrase he’d want to use instead – a “debriefing,” so it sounded all cool and military n shit? He said “why don’t we just call it ‘sex’ and leave it at that? :-P).
I’m really pretty sure his objection to the idea of being “tutored” stems from the prevalent idea that men are supposed to just magically know how to sex a woman and shouldn’t ever have to ask anything or be taught anything. But I wanted to hear him say it, so I could reassure him that teaching and learning in bed is normal. So I could try to undo a bit more of that toxic masculinity. So I texted him asking what his issue was with the phrase “tutoring session,” anyway, and he hasn’t answered. Unsure if he’s busy at work or avoiding unpacking his issues. I’ll try to back off him for a day or two and see if he eventually replies.