Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Trying to Take Control

I went back to the doc yesterday and had a nice, long chat with him. I didn't break down or get really angry. He listened for a long time before asking any questions. We focused primarily on the problems in my marriage.

I have tried to get feedback and change. But the more I try to adjust and the more I try to change, the more I feel like a pet animal being told to catch, stay or roll over and play dead. I never resented my husband taking six months off (eventually more than a year) to write his book. Never bothered about what anybody would think. Never asked him why it was taking so long. Never asked him to pitch in with the finances (he takes care of some expenses including the electricity and phone bills). He started doing a little more around the house, but frankly, that was something he should have been doing in the first place. (The doc agreed: "People work for 12 hours at the office, drive for an hour and then do some housework," he said.)

What did I want in return? For him to just hear my version when he accused me of something. But no, that's not allowed. "That's the problem in talking to you," he says, "You never accept it's your fault." Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't. What's the harm in listening to what I have to say? Again, not an option. For the past four years, all I've done is begged to be heard. Just little things.

In the last fight, I was so shocked to find that he had a twisted recollection of anything I referred to. He refused to acknowledge most of what he'd done, pretending it didn't happen, and when confronted with proof, became offensive. Called me a liar (for the record, I did the same.) Anyway, I must have been pretty pathetic when I said, "I've supported your dream and I've supported everything you've done this past year. Don't I deserve to be heard, at least?"
"Who asked you to support me? Don't support me. I don't need your support."
Something broke in that moment though I didn't realize it at the time. The fight went on for a little more time and my son tells me I collapsed in the balcony. I have vague recollections of trying to understand where I was until I finally realized I was slumped on the floor.

Two days later, he gave me a letter. Said he acknowledged he had a mental illness (he'd been diagnosed with some form of schizophrenia when he was 22) and what triggered it off was if he couldn't eat and sleep on time, if people yelled around him, and if the TV was on in the evenings. (Of course, he gets to watch it during the day, but I'm not supposed to watch it to unwind after 11 hours at work because it kills brain cells and some research showed that the brain took 2 hours to shrug off the effects of TV viewing so the TV has to be shut 2 hours before going to bed.)

I'm also supposed to be a TV addict. Me, who hasn't the faintest idea what's even on television on any channel you can name.

Oh yes, and he hates white rice and stale food too. 'Stale' is defined as chapatis cooked in the morning which are heated at night.

So to cut a long story short, here's what I need to be doing.
1. Define the problem. (I still haven't done that.)
2. Decide what to do about it.
3. Decide how to do it.

Easier said than done.
The doc helped define the problem, although I haven't come to terms with it yet:
Here is a man who has said very clearly that he lives for today. So he doesn't want to take responsibility for the family's long-term financial security. He wants to enjoy the sunsets today. He refuses to make compromises in day-to-day life: if he can't cook, that's not his fault. But it is my fault if I don't cook the food he likes. He's been at home for more than a year and I haven't grudged him that, but he refuses to acknowledge that, let alone appreciate it. Yes, he is a nice father. But that's also because his idea of parenting involves zero disciplining (unless he's in a bad mood) and a give-the-kid-what-he-wants attitude. Yes, he does look like he's searching for another job, but he's not in any hurry about it. And he's made it abundantly clear that he'd rather just sit at home and write books. Even if the first one isn't successful, it doesn't matter.

So what am I going to do? Frankly, I have no idea. Before I saw the doc, I thought I would try doing exactly what he wanted me to do. We sit at the dinner table to have dinner. I don't watch TV (actually, he made a 'concession' - apparently, it was me and my son haggling over the remote that made him upset. So I could watch TV from 9.30 to 10.30 if we had dinner at the table at 9 pm. Hmm...nice. But I guess I just didn't want to take any chances. So I've stopped so much as looking in the direction of the TV. And I have all my meals at the table, just like he wants. And I speak when I'm spoken to...I speak nicely too. But I can't bear to make eye contact for more than a few seconds. That's never happened before.

There are limitations to carrying this on endlessly, of course. Which is what led to my mini-breakdown 10 days back in the morning. I gave him a written note that morning (just about the only way to have a civil conversation) and then realized what a mess I was in. Reached office and realize I had no clue what I was doing, so I finally went to seek help.

The meds help. The doc has reduced my dosage. They keep me on an even keel, so to speak. The waves of desperation, dread and anger have all softened somewhat. I'm more in control, but this is artificial. I need to really be in control on my own. I have no idea how I'm going to do it. But just "feeling" better about myself helps a great deal. At least I feel I can do something. First step. I give myself six weeks from today to make a decision. That's why I'm documenting this. To see if I keep this promise I've made to myself.

(Originally posted on Thursday, December 20, 2007 on an earlier blog, now deleted.)

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