Now I know where The Dandy gets his refusal to talk through issues from, I guess. Or vice-versa.
A few days after the awful drunken incident, I got up all my nerve and asked Dandette at the dinner table if we could lay off alcohol for a while*. I assumed this would be the beginning of us talking through what happened that night so I’d rehearsed, over and over again the gentlest possible ways of saying what I needed to say. It made me feel barfy to have to face it all head-on but I figured it was the only way to make my feelings clear and make sure Dandette was less likely to repeat any of the shitty things she did.
But no. When I took a deep breath and casually asked “Hey would it be okay if we stopped drinking for a while?” she said “Yep” and then immediately segued into another topic of discussion, giving off a palpable vibe of “I know you didn’t like how I acted last night but I don’t want to explicitly hear about it because it’ll be too upsetting.” And I didn’t have the nerve to pursue it. But since that night she’s done some very tame versions of the things I didn’t like (fishing for compliments from me on how sexy she is, poking me in the boob and going “Ooooh, squishy!”) so clearly she doesn’t know what exactly I disliked about that night. She just knows it’s something, and she doesn’t want to feel all bad and guilty hearing about it. Or maybe she just assumes I don’t like being around drunk people for no other reason than them being drunk. She has phrased it that way before: “I know you hate being around people who are drunk.” Like just the fact of someone having had a lot of alcohol is my problem and not the invariable sloppiness and boundary violations and maudlin soliloquies that come with it.
Tangent necessary to get to my second example of discussion avoidance: I spent an entire day feeling crazy and gaslighted because The Dandy refused to concede my point about the grocery thing, like, at all. Or refused to hear my point. See, I brought it up yet again the day after it first came up because I didn’t feel like anything had been resolved. I said “So, about yesterday…all I want is for you to let me know if you didn’t get to an errand you said you’d do so I know it still needs to be done and I can maybe pick up the slack. That’s reasonable, right?”
He said “No, I don’t think it is. It sounds like you’re just mad at Dandette for being anxious and me for being sick**.”
“Oh, for – I didn’t even say anything about that. I have anxiety and other health issues, myself; I’m the last one to be judgey about this stuff. My point is that if you or Dandette say you’re going to do something – an important thing like getting more groceries when we’re almost out – but then you don’t do it, I need to know that it didn’t get done. I need you to keep me informed so I can decide what I’m gonna do from there. Get it?”
And The Dandy replied that when he used the word “unreasonable” he was talking about how angry I got that night and I was like “Okay, yes, I feel bad for that, I didn’t intend to yell like that. I was exhausted and sore and probably having a blood sugar crash and I snapped. I’m sorry for that- ” The Dandy seemed mollified “- But you do get what I’m saying, right? I need to be kept in the loop about things that affect me.” And he went silent and stared at me with a belligerent expression like I was pushing him to do something completely crazy and unreasonable and he was bracing himself for a fight to defend his boundaries.
Which made me lose my patience somewhat and I said various versions of “For fuck’s sake, just do your best to fulfill your agreements and if you can’t then tell me you couldn’t. This is basic adulting. I can’t understand why it seems so foreign to you.” I said this to him in the car on the way to my model gig (he did end up driving me) and when he still didn’t say anything I said it to him some more when I got home. And he still sat there being belligerent and silent.
Eventually he said something that broke the stalemate – I forget what. I think maybe he finally admitted that it wasn’t unreasonable for me to want to know whether or not there was food in the house. But then he kinda acted like the argument was over and I was like “Well, I kinda need to hear an ‘I can understand why you were frustrated and I will try harder to keep you informed going forward.’ During all of this you’ve basically acted like I was crazy for feeling like I do. You still haven’t validated my feelings or said that you’d try to change. And without that, I don’t know how to stop feeling angry.”
The Dandy sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation but didn’t fucking say anything. “This,” I said. “This right here. What’s going through your mind when you get silent like this?” He didn’t tell me, of course. And I honestly can’t even remember how our fight ended. Probably he grudgingly said “Yeah, those things you said, I concur with them” or something and I decided that would have to do.
So the day after that, I brought up my fight with The Dandy to Dandette, really only as a pretext to make sure she knew my core issue with everything, too: being kept informed. ‘Cause when we’d texted about this, she too kept getting stuck on “you’re mad at me for not doing the thing” even though I expressly said no, I just want to be told when a thing doesn’t get done.
We were hanging out in the living room and I casually said “So all day yesterday The Dandy and I kept talking about the thing with the groceries and he basically made me feel like I was going crazy.”
Dandette’s demeanor completely changed from relaxed to “Ohhhh shit” at this point but I forged ahead because I didn’t know what else to do.
“All I said,” I continued, “Is that if something important doesn’t get done, I need to know so I can figure out a plan B if necessary. I mean I was at a grocery store that night. I could have picked up some stuff for myself, if not everyone else. But nobody told me that I needed to. And The Dandy kept missing my point and thinking I was mad about the lack of groceries itself. Which was not the issue at all.”
Dandette paused. “You made me feel like shit about that, to be honest,” she said finally.
I said I was sorry and that wasn’t my intention at all – I gave her the spiel yet again about how I’d never judge about her having an anxiety attack and not being able to do a thing. I just want to know the thing wasn’t done. That’s all. (God WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR BOTH OF THEM TO GRASP.)
Dandette said she didn’t realize it was important to me to be kept informed like that but she’d try to do so in future. (GOD WHY ARE THE TWO OF THEM SO WEIRD. I REALLY DON’T THINK THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE. THEY SAID “WE’RE GONNA DO A HUGE GROCERY RUN TODAY WITH THE CAR TODAY.” THEREFORE I CAME HOME EXPECTING THERE TO BE FOOD IN THE HOUSE. THERE WAS NOT FOOD IN THE HOUSE. IF THEY HAD TOLD ME EARLIER THAT THEY HAD NOT IN FACT PURCHASED ANY FOOD, I COULD HAVE DONE SO ON MY WAY HOME.) Then she change the subject, so I guess that was the end of our discussion whether I liked it or not.
Oh, just so you know, this is the text conversation I had with Dandette while I was out that night angrily getting myself something for dinner:
Me: Make The Dandy take you out for dinner.
Dandette: Where did you go?
Me: Grocery store to see if they have something I want. [New message] You two also need to eat and I very much want to be alone so if you could go eat somewhere that would be good.
Dandette: Shit I’m so sorry. I can go to the store and grab something to make for dinner. He’s not going to want to go out while he’s sick. [New message, I guess responding to my second one] Ohhh ok.
Me: Let me know which way things end up going, then – if I get space or not.
Dandette: He’s in the shower right now. The brain weasels are making me ask – did I do something wrong?
Me: I get anxious when there’s not enough food. At least twice now, you and/or The Dandy said you’d do a grocery run but didn’t. And (this is key) didn’t TELL ME. So I go home from work, right past a grocery store, to find there’s nothing and I’m out of spoons to go out again. [new message] I was AT a grocery store after work today. I only picked up drinkable yogurt for work. I wanted to text you and confirm that groceries had indeed been gotten but I pretty much figured nobody would answer me in time.***
Dandette: I’m sorry I ran out of spoons today. I’ll go to the grocery store right now. You can hide in my room. I’ll be a while there. [New message] I’m such a useless piece of shit.
Me: I do understand about the fickle spoons. I just need *communication*. I can deal with plans changing. I can’t deal with people saying they’ll do a thing but then just not doing it. [new message] And I get home and ask about groceries and The Dandy is like “Oh, no, Dandette ended up passing out” like dude YOU HAVE A CAR and working legs and a working brain why can you not do this unless Dandette is awake?
Dandette: He’s not very good with getting groceries. I should have just sucked it up and gone.
Me: Just texting to say it didn’t get done and I’d need to pick something up would have been fine.
So, reviewing this now with a clearer head…I mean Dandette has anxiety issues and if I could do it over again I’d’ve sugarcoated things more but I don’t think I said anything particularly horrible or seemed like I was trying to make anyone feel bad – just trying to make it very clear that I was inconvenienced, and what to do about it next time. Considering this exchange happened while I was angry enough to punch someone in the fucking face until it collapsed, I think I did pretty well. I wonder if The Dandy told her about my yelling etc, after I’d left for the store and Dandette had come back from having a smoke? Or I wonder if Dandette assumed my wanting to be alone meant I hated the two of them, even though I never said that?
(My rage did feel centred on the two of them but it also felt sort of overblown to me, like maybe PMS or a bad bout of anxiety poisoning my thinking. I really just wanted time to cool down and figure my shit out without accidentally losing my temper at them for no good reason. Also, I like being alone and Dandette is almost always around so I’ve had frequent times of feeling kind of boxed-in and overly-peopled and wishing everyone would gtfo for a bit even when I wasn’t mad at anyone).
Anyway, that’s twice recently that I tried to have a serious face-to-face talk with Dandette to let her know what I need from her in order to be happy here and she cut it short as fast as she possibly could. I don’t think it bodes well.
*To her everlasting credit, she invited me to ask this of her anytime I needed to because she knows I was married to an alcoholic and have some triggers around alcohol.
**I forgot to mention he was getting over a cold that day. This is the excuse he used for not getting food (but, tellingly, only after he saw I was angry about it). I call bullshit. First off, Dandette says he’s always needed to be coddled and prodded and hand-held into getting groceries – and I’ve somewhat noticed this, too, even in my short time here. Second, even at the peak of this cold he wasn’t feeling shitty enough to call in sick at work, and the day before the grocery incident he told me he was actually feeling a lot better – that maybe he sounded worse because he was coughing so much, but that was just the germs working their way out. He was not by any means so sick that he couldn’t get off the couch.
***The Dandy never checks his phone. Dandette does, but her sleep schedule is all over the place and indeed it sounds like she was having a post-anxiety-attack nap all that afternoon and would not have been available to read any texts.