The day after that preliminary discussion with The Dandy, he came home from work after me and came over for a hug and my lower back immediately started hurting. I observed this out loud and asked, kind of rhetorically and kind of not, if he’d done that to me. “How would I make your back hurt?” he asked, bemused and I guess thinking I was kidding. I spelled out for him that we had juuuuuuust had a discussion the night before about him ignoring my needs and I’d spent all of the current day wondering why and if it would end up leading to the end of our relationship so frankly, his presence might be stressing me out. He kept hugging me and didn’t say anything. I prompted “Do you have any thoughts about the stuff we talked about?” and he was still silent.
Later, The Dandy was in his room and I was lying on the couch watching tv. The Dandy had ordered Indian food and we were collectively waiting for it to arrive. Then Bastardcat jumped from the floor onto my shins – I think aiming to land on the stable surface of couch and missing – and clawed the shit out of me trying to keep his balance. Sudden pain just totally fucks my brain sideways and in this case I hadn’t even realized Bastardcat had been nearby so it was like razorblades fell into my legs out of the fucking sky or something. I screeeeeeamed and immediately started to cry.
The Dandy – I think because our big discussion had included “You don’t even come check on me when you hear me hurt myself, wtf” although perhaps he would have come out anyway given how I’d screamed – came out and held me until my crying wound down.
Then food came.
I should give some context to the next thing that happened.
See, in addition to The Dandy having been vaguely negligent about meeting my needs for a long while, he also seems to be going through a phase of never fucking hearing any. Goddamned. Thing. I. Say. I’m pretty sure this has mostly just been within the past month or so. And instead of interjecting “Oh sorry I can’t hear you from over here” so that I come closer*, or coming closer to me, or saying “pardon me?” he always shouts “WHUT?!” which drives me friggin’ crazy. The other night I was in the kitchen and he was in the living room and I was talking to him for like two full minutes and when I came out of the kitchen: “WHUT? I didn’t hear any of that.” Could he not have fucking told me sooner?! Anyway, it irritates me so fucking much, but I hadn’t said anything about it because a) it would feel petty asking him to say “pardon me?” instead of “whut?’ b) my anxietybrain tells me that he doesn’t think my thoughts/words are important, but logically it makes more sense that he’s just distracted or his hearing is going, so I don’t want to make a big deal and have him feel self-conscious about it and c) I could not for the life of me think of how to address the issue without flying completely off the handle. I’m PMSing and I’m sitting on a bunch of other resentments so…yeah. Breaking that seal would be dangerous.
The Dandy also has a bad habit of interrupting me. Usually it’s when we’re having some abstract discussion that he has a lot of opinions about – like the other day we were discussing whether vanilla or kinky sex work clients were more likely to be douchebags. He (a straight guy) had some bizarre thoughts on the subject**. I (a person who has dated both kinky and vanilla men for almost thirty years and has dabbled in kinky sex work) also had thoughts. But every time I’d open my mouth to try to address The Dandy’s statements, some other thought would burst out of him. This is how all of our discussions about human interaction, technology, current events, Netflix shows, etc. go – he says a thing, I open my mouth to respond, he bursts out with more thinky thoughts, I get maybe two words out and he has another mighty outburst of verbiage, etc. It’s unclear whether he notices that I’m speaking or preparing to speak when he has these explosions of words. All I know is that when a thought comes into his head he apparently has to say it right now regardless of anything else that’s going on. It’s not just me he does this with. It might be everyone. Dandette for sure. Anyway he’s so single-minded, oblivious, and effortlessly LOUD that I’ve just been letting him railroad me. The alternative would be to bellow my response at the top of my lungs to try to drown him out (which I think might be impossible), or to repeat “let me speak. Let me speak. LET ME SPEAK” over and over until he finally notices I exist – if he ever does. I suppose the fact that this is always happening during ostensibly entertaining conversations is a factor, too. Like I’d feel like a Hysterical Woman or whatever, shrieking my lungs out and demanding to be heard during what was supposed to be a light conversation. Is it really that important that The Dandy knows what direction I wish the second season of Jessica Jones had taken? Probably not.
Anyway. Indian food came and The Dandy was unloading it on the kitchen counter while I stood next to him telling him an anecdote about my day. And I don’t know if he’d forgotten what-all he’d ordered or what the fuck, but he opened one of the foam containers of food and went “Oh – vegetables!” in a surprised tone – completely cutting me off as I was talking.
In retrospect I think my brain was still flooded with adrenaline and other stress-chemicals from Bastardcat jumping on me and it was making me more sensitive. But I immediately flung my arms up in exasperation and started walking away from The Dandy.
He asked what was wrong and I turned and screamed “Do you have ANY IDEA how much you interrupt me?!?!? You don’t do things I explicitly say I need. You talk over me like I’m not there. You never hear a single fucking thing I say the first time. Is it a hearing problem? A learning disability? WHAT?!? Or are my words really that unimportant to you?!?”
The Dandy moved forward to hug me, but stumbled and stepped down hard on my bare foot. A second surge of panic-chemicals punched me in the brain, paralyzing me in fight-or-flight mode. “DON’T…TOUCH…ME” I said, and The Dandy immediately backed off a few steps. I stood there in the kitchen and wrapped my arms around myself and just sobbed my face off. After a minute or two The Dandy cautiously stepped toward me again with his arms outstretched. I somewhat reluctantly walked into them. When I tried to pull away a minute later (I was angry with him, after all. There’s only so much he can comfort me when he’s the one who pissed me off, and his arms were starting to feel constraining) he tightened his hold. I stood there for a few more minutes, crying and intermittently pushing slightly against his grip, and then finally decided it was ridiculous to stay there out of politeness and struggled out of his hug.
I said I was gonna take the dog out now to get it over with so I could enjoy my food. I went to pee first and ended up crying in the bathroom for like ten minutes. I couldn’t stop. The Dandy finally came up to the closed door and murmured that he could take the dog out if I needed him to. I thanked him and cried for another five or ten minutes and then shuffled out to the kitchen to get food. The crying had just exhausted the shit out of me.
The Dandy was eating at the kitchen table, but when I took a plate of food to the couch he asked if I’d like company. I said he could come over if he wanted, and he did, cautiously leaving half a cushion of space between us. He asked if I wanted to throw on Netflix – watch one of the shows we’ve been marathoning – and I said no and began to cry, I guess because marathoning tv shows with him is a bonding thing for me and I did not feel in a bonding mood.
After food was done I changed my mind and decided I wanted the distraction of The Santa Clarita Diet. During the course of a few episodes, my brain began to calm down and I felt a lot better for having let out a bunch of bottled-up feelings. The Dandy reached for my hand and I took it.
Then it was late and The Dandy needed to go to sleep. He asked if I’d join him in his bed instead of going to mine, and actually that sounded nice. It had been a while since I’d slept next to him, I think because I’d been ignoring a big clump of built-up resentment toward him.
When I said yes to sleeping next to him, The Dandy gave off a vibe that…well, maybe I read him wrong, but it felt like relief to me, like Yay, now we can put this whole thing behind us!
I said “You know that just because I feel better for having vented doesn’t mean the issues are fixed, right? They’re still there. We still need to find solutions.”
The Dandy stayed silent and the vibe turned to Well, fuck.
And now I’m wondering: is he writing off my huge crying meldown as just a symptom of my anxiety rather than seeing it – rightly – as me expressing genuine feelings and issues in a really unfortunate way because of my anxiety?
I’m also, to be frank, wondering just how stupid he is, thinking everything was solved when at no point did he validate my feelings, apologize, or tell me how he’d do better in the future. Like, I wasn’t freaking out over being convinced our toaster was haunted, I was bringing up actual things that he’s done and knows he’s done that are bothering me for straightforward reasons. This was demonstrably not me having a meltdown over imaginary or silly things. So…that’s…not just gonna magically vanish? He has to fix it.
*Incidentally, when I say that he “can’t hear me from there” I mean like if we’re in adjoining and perfectly silent rooms. I don’t try to talk to him while he’s playing music and using a chainsaw or something. He, meanwhile, has casually talked to me from other rooms while I was right next to the running dishwasher or while my head was under running water.
**He would say things like “I bet guys who go to sex workers for vanilla sex are more douchey than the guys who go to get a fetish indulged. Because, see, the vanilla guys can’t get their needs met any other way, so they’re probably bitter.” Um. First off, there are plenty of reasons to fuck a sex worker besides “I can’t get laid any other way.” Second, why does he think fetishists go to sex workers, exactly?