For a while, The Pedant stopped phoning me every few days like he usually does. He said it was because of crunch-time at work – he was so overextended he was falling asleep on the bus home. I believe him. But even after he finished the special work project that was taking up so much of his time, I wasn’t hearing from him much. And I immediately started to panic that he was falling back into old habits and our relationship was doomed.
I decided to give it just a little while longer before telling him flat-out that I wanted more contact, and lo and behold, he did call me. Two nights in a row, in fact. And offered me two visits in one week (although I had to turn one of them down). So I feel better now.
One of those calls had me a bit freaked out for a while, though. The Pedant somehow got on the topic of people with anxiety and similar, and mentioned that recently a friend had been having a PTSD meltdown and called him asking if he would come over to hold and comfort her while she cried. He demurred. He said (to me, over the phone, and maybe to his panicking friend at the time) that he’s no good at comforting people. Which somehow led to him going on a big tangent about an ex-girlfriend who had anxiety and how she’d cry over stuff and he’d basically just sit there thinking she was being an idiot.
After a while of him going on and on about women with anxiety issues and how dumb and impossible they are while my stomach went more and more sour, I finally interjected: “I feel like you’re trying to tell me not to rely on you for emotional support, but I’m not good with hints so if that’s what you’re getting at, just say it.”
And he said that he is no good at emotional support. Although when I probed further, what he actually meant was that he’s no good at just shutting up and hugging someone to comfort them – he wants to brainstorm solutions to their problems, instead, and historically most people have not considered this very supportive.
I’m a problem-solver, too. If someone tells me about some shit they’re going through, my first urge will be to suggest solutions. I get it. But a person who’s just silently crying isn’t telling anyone a problem. There is nothing to solve or offer input on. I brought this up with The Pedant – his friend was crying for no practical reason, not needing to vent about her day or whatever, so how does The Pedant think he wouldn’t be able to hold her without talking? How does that even work? He repeatedly insisted that he cannot silently hug or comfort a stressed-out person.
He’s so weird. He seems to have these preconceptions of himself (stemming from his own ideas? From what others have told him?) and he just can’t let them go, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. So to an extent I just go “yes, dear” and then continue believing whatever I want about him. Case in point: I’ve been super stressed out before and asked him for a massage, and he gave me one. Silently. A lot of the time after I orgasm I get all vulnerable and weepy, and when he sees this he gathers me into his arms and holds me. Silently.
Anyway, in my experience, it’s futile to try to convince The Pedant that he in fact can and will do a particular thing merely by pointing out that he has already done the thing on numerous occasions. If he has an particular idea about himself then there’s no refuting it. Instead I changed the subject and told him that to me, his thing of looking for solutions is emotional support, and it helps me a lot. So I don’t care that he’s “incapable” of silently comforting anyone. He seemed happy to hear that, in his own restrained way.
But I also pointed out that he’d been ragging pretty hard on his ex who has anxiety disorders, and hellooooo I have anxiety too, so, y’know…awkward. He said “Yeah, but you’re handling yours like a champ compared to her.” Which made me tear up because honestly, although I am well aware that my mental issues make EVERYFUCKINGTHING two thousand times more difficult than it has to be, I’ve still been comparing myself to neurotypicals, achievement-wise, and therefore not thinking of myself as a champion at anything. Neurotypicals often have a job and a social life and hobbies and do stuff like run errands and clean their living space, while I mostly just manage to keep myself and the cats housed and fed and everything else goes to shit; ergo, I suck. Except that’s actually not a fair comparison and The Pedant apparently realized this before I did.
The Pedant also specified that the ex(es) he always bitches about were prone to bursting into tears over tiny things or for no apparent reason at all; that seems to be the big thing that annoys him (and I suspect it’s not that he’s incapable of administering hugs when they’re like that; it’s that he doesn’t want to). I’m actually not that big of a crier. If anything I get paralyzed with anxiety to a point where I can’t feel feelings anymore. Which is a living hell for me in its own special way, but probably The Pedant and I won’t end up clashing when I’m in crisis. Also I suspect he’s doing that thing of claiming that a particular behaviour is just universally intolerable to him when this may not in fact be the case. It seems to me that I’ve occasionally freaked out over what would appear to The Pedant to be nothing and he’s dealt with it pretty well. It’s feasible that his exes’ behaviours annoyed him because they weren’t a good fit with him, anyway, for other reasons, so he was annoyed with them in general.
So the phone call resolved itself okay; he assured me that my anxiety doesn’t bother him particularly, and I assured him that the way he deals with it is awesome for me – but even so I felt a bit worried about our relationship and needed the reassurance of seeing him and hugging him and basking in the devotion he seems to emit like sunbeams lately when he’s around me. And I did see him a few days later, and he did still seem as into me as ever. So it’s all good.