Friday, March 25, 2011

Intimate Marital Sharing Post

So...things are a little shitty between D$ and I right now.

I've been noticing for weeks that something was off. We got in a huge fight about a  month and a half ago that was never really resolved, mostly because we feel fundamentally different about the event that started and the underlying behavioral pattern. Basically: we went to an engagement party where I apparently swore a lot in front of people we'd just met. These people thought I was funny and charming and were not in the least annoyed (I don't just swear if I think it will offend people). Apparently D was mortified and basically gave me an ultimatum a few days later about swearing in front of his friends. He has mentioned before that he thinks I swear too much and he feels like those mentions were akin to requests to stop swearing that I ignored. I really never thought he could possibly be serious because I fundamentally disagree that a) my swearing is a problem, b) that I am a reflection of him that he gets to order around. I have also always, always had a filthy mouth. When we got in the fight I felt like there was this aspect of me that he used to find charming that he now finds abhorrent, which felt (excuse my language) shitty as hell. I felt nauseous that I would embarrass him but also annoyed that he would all of the sudden find fault with something that has always been a part of my personality. The fight basically ended with me saying yelling, "I'll stop swearing in front of your friends, but I think you are being an asshole." Real mature, I know.

So, like I said: never resolved. We moved on but D has been short-tempered and snappy. I have been over-sensitive to this and tried to avoid being snapped at...which means I have basically ignored him when we were home together, except to nag about something I wished he'd done. We got in a lot of stupid fights when we made an effort to carve out time to see each other.

A few nights ago as yet another evening ended in an argument (that we thankfully nipped in the bud before it became full blown), I made D come sit with me as I went to bed. I said that something was off and I thought we needed to talk. He was noncommittal - now wasn't the time to talk, no real acknowledgement that he felt anything was wrong. I asked to try and think if there was something I was doing that was bothering him, and he said no.

Then, last night, it all came down again. I'm not sure how it happened, but I made a comment that sent him off. We brought up the swearing fight again (bad idea) and the real issues were brought to light. I've been nursing this wound that my husband is embarrassed by me but D doesn't want to hear it because he thinks that he can't make any criticism of me without me becoming vehemently defensive and turning my behavior back onto him. This, apparently, is a long-standing problem of D's (and mine, I suppose). We fought until we left the house to go on a walk (which makes my head want to explode with anger) and then went to sleep. We did cuddle, at least, but nothing was resolved and we both feel like shit today.

We are stuck. I don't want to be defensive as a knee-jerk reaction but I also don't want to take all the blame for issues in our relationship. I want to show that I can listen to him, take criticism, and make changes but I also don't want to sit down and be read a laundry list of my faults without the chance to speak up for myself. That is just really not how I roll. (He is not wrong that I am very defensive).

I also want to be able to talk about this and honestly agree that I need and will work on listening and changing faults, and then *poof!* have me be great again in his eyes. Unfortunately I know that he will need a lot of time to feel that he can bring things up to me and have me listen. My gut reaction to this is: a) fuck, I want this to be solved and b) crap, does this mean that things will be bad for even longer and c) what? does this mean that every time we have a fight I can't defend my position or feelings without it causing him to solidify his opinion that I refuse to admit fault? How do I get out of this without totally losing all power to speak up for myself in disagreements or to defend my feelings over whatever he thinks is fact? I know there are times when he has legitimate complaints, but what about if the complaints aren't legitimate? I don't want to be backed into a corner by his (angry and therefore maybe exaggerated) conception of my response to criticism.

Blech. This sucks. I want a lot of things right now. In the short term: not to have to go volunteer in a few hours. Not to have to meet some girlfriends for happy hour. I want D to come home and I want to work some of this out before we go work in my parents' yard all day tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bone: picked

The meeting went pretty well. I was dead exhausted when I got to work so I pumped myself up by listening to Irish pop punk* (primarily this song).**

My hands were shaking during the whole meeting and I relied upon a ridiculous page of notes in order to ensure I completely said my piece, but I did  say my piece. I said it without being aggressive or mean, and I communicated that I also cared about Young Guy's needs. For his part,  Young Guy was very receptive. He hadn't realized that I was frustrated, which at least tells me that I wasn't being as aggressive and negative as I felt (this is a good thing). I felt heard and acknowledged and we figured out how to ensure that our discussions meet both of our needs in the future. Work went really well the rest of the day and I'm hoping that we're over the hump.


Now I am off to Seattle to visit two of my very best lady friends on the planet. I am so, so ready for some female energy I might explode with joy.

 In fact, I gotta run: off to pack my cutest outfits*** and hit the road.

Me, snorkeling on our honeymoon and waving you goodbye as I head off for Sea-town

*What can I say? It was St. Paddy's day and I love a good theme.
**I forgot to note in my last post that we start work at 7 am so a 8 am meeting was not a cruel tactic on my part.
***Last night I asked D: What are some of my cutest outfits? I want to bring cute clothes. D's response (in a wrangled voice): I don't know! I can't think of these things on the fly! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Step Right Up

"Test your Strength" by Ben Shahn, via the Library of Congress

I set up an 8 a.m. meeting with Young Guy tomorrow to talk about group expectations.

I'm scared, but am trying to feel strong and assertive.

Here's hoping I'll hit that mallet right out of the park.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stepping away from the brink

Thank you.

Your comments yesterday were a huge help. As I said in the comments it was nice to know that my rage wasn't totally irrational or oversensitive. Of course just being able to write about something always helps and getting it out there (one-sided and overdramatic as it may have been) was verrrry cathartic.

I'm doing better now. I took Carrie Dee's advice and focused on the micro-managing and condescension when talking to my mentor and she was very helpful. She helped me identify one of the main sources of annoyance. See, I tend to like to talk things out with co-workers - in our line of work we spend a lot of time hashing out a point or trying to look at things from all angles. When I try and do this with Young Guy he reacts like I am asking for him to tell me what do to. He gets a patronizing voice on and starts to tell me about the basics of our work or tell me what I should be doing/thinking; going over really basic shit I know and was not asking him about. It's gotten to the point where I don't want to try discuss work ideas with him because I feel like it makes me look weak and it fills me with rage. On the contrary, I also feel that it is professionally irresponsible to shut down in the face of an unpleasant situation.

Before your comments and my meeting with my mentor I wouldn't really have been able to articulate the paragraph above. Even being able to identify a concrete and solvable aspect of the problem feels like a weight off my shoulders. My mentor also gave me some practical tips for changing the situation. Basically she gave me professional permission to clarify with him: I would like to bounce some ideas off you, but I am not asking what do to or how to do it. Basically, communicate that I am asking for a discussion between equals and not for him to advise me as if I am a lesser entity.

Of course we do not need to be friends and this is always something to keep in mind. One confusing thing is that our team started out really jokey, which is okay, but it has made it difficult for me to draw  boundaries. I think the Men would rather we be friendly and jokey-jokey and I would like to have some of that but also be taken seriously. I still haven't worked out how to make this happen but I am going to focus on my own behavior and reactions to situations. I will repeat to myself: they do not need to like me but they do need to respect me. I do not need to like them but I do need to respect them.  It is hard for me to fight against my pathetic need to feel liked, but I will try damn hard.

I think if we can get this worked out it will take us a long way towards working together. I am at a point where I can recall positive things about both of them. They are both really funny, and mostly kind. They do clearly love their wives, even if it isn't the kind of relationships that I would want. They are good at their jobs.

Things are much better. Cul-de-sac man's wife had their baby yesterday and he texted me two photos, which was really sweet. The little tyke is gorgeous and I am very happy for them.

Photo from our trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for D's birthday. We can really geek out over sea creatures. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A bone to pick

Normally I avoid talking about work on the blog because, well: the internet is scary, I work in the public sector and I would like to keep my job. I also deal with a lot of confidential information. Tonight, it just so happens that I need to vent.

I am really struggling with my job right now. The work I am doing is intense in both content and amount but that isn't really the issue. The issue is that I am working on a team with two people who make me crazy. Two men who make me crazy, to be more exact. 

When I am being diplomatic about these men I say that we are very different. When I am bitching about these men (which happens a lot these days) I say much, much more. 

We are very different and that is a lot of the problem. They are both young, from small towns, married with pregnant wives, and very, very sheltered. That isn't just the problem, though. The problem is (just a few examples):

Both of them talk about their pregnant wives like they are fucking disabled. "Well, she's pregnant so she doesn't make any sense," "Well, she's pregnant, so..." It makes me want to punch them in the face.

One of them told me that he likes his cul-de-sac because you know right away if someone is on the street who doesn't belong. When I - trying to piece together a response that didn't betray my horror - mentioned living in the city because there are lots of people around his response was, "Oh, you'll change your mind when you have kids and start thinking about their safety." I was unable to stop myself from saying, "No, I won't. I want my kids to grow up and know how to interact with lots of different kinds of people." (Note: this man is not white.) (Double note: I was able to stop myself from asking him to please not assume anything about my desire to have children and/or my ability to keep said hypothetical children safe.) He also micro-manages me like a motherfucker.

The other guy is three years younger than me but gets to act as my in-charge when cul-de-sac man goes on paternity leave (Quote: "I'll probably end up getting bored and coming back to work early." GRRRR) because this was his first job out of college. This man told me that the only woman he would ever be alone with outside of work besides his wife (who he married at 21) is his mother. He goes to the kind of church that encouraged him to stop carpooling to work with another woman from the church because she is single and he is married (something about avoiding the appearance of evil, I don't know). He unabashedly doesn't care about politics, loves to hunt, and either talks down to me or jokes with me like I'm his buddy.  He is completely unaware of the insane amount of White Male Privilege that has afforded him almost everything that he has. He thinks he the world is owed to him and that he has earned it.

Phew. I could go on but I feel I may have said too much already. I have a meeting with my mentor tomorrow to ask her advice on how to handle this situation as I have to work with these men (and pretty much only these men) for another year. I am trying to sort out what is really an issue and what is my own snobbishness/oversensitivity. I am also trying to remind myself how lucky I am to have made it through 28 years and many jobs before encountering people like this.

Any suggestions welcome. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

So I shot a 9 mm handgun this weekend.


I know.

Backstory: My good friend Z's step-mother died of breast cancer a few months ago. I've known Z since high school and I know that we share a common attribute: anger as a kneejerk reaction to grief. When I heard the news one of the first sentences out of my mouth was (after the requisite condolences) was, "Well...wanna so shoot some shit?"

He did. So we did.

For all our bravado leading up to this weekend we were both totally nervous, which surprised us both. When we walked in we tried really hard to look nonchalant. Then, as we stood in line and tried to look cool we overheard a bearded employee very seriously tell the father and son in front of us, "Now, you're gonna wanna use the restroom before you shoot this gun." Z and I turned to each other and stared wide-eyed without speaking. Should we go to the bathroom? Did we dare? I decided we'd be okay, mostly because I didn't want to call attention to myself by running to the bathroom and crying and/or throwing up.

A very nice and very tiny woman greeted us with a smile when we got to the counter.

"Non-member?" She asked cheerily.

"How did you know?" I asked.

"The huge smiles on your faces." She responded with a friendly laugh.

"Oh," I thought, "What a very nice woman! This isn't so scary at all!" Then as she handed me the application form I realized that she had a hook for a hand. As I handed her my drivers licence I suppressed the desire to wonder if she had shot her hand off and reconsidered my decision not to use the restroom.

Once we'd waived away our rights to sue if we shot our faces off another nice man helped us pick out our gun. We told him we had never shot a gun before and he gave us approximately 20 seconds of safety lessons, including such tips as "point the gun downrange," and "don't walk in the line of fire." We were smart enough to ask how to load the gun otherwise he wouldn't have shown us. Then we picked out two of the more-offensive shadowy figures to shoot at (Tactical Encounters 4 and 5), put on our eye protection and were on our way.

I'm so bad-ass I match the shooting range

I'm not gonna lie, folks: it was totally awesome. A crack shot I am not but I did hit Tactical Encounter No. 4 in his jaunty beret several times (I was aiming for his right eye, but whatever). I got Tactical Encounter No. 5 right in his jugular.

This is before I shot the shit out of No. 4's beret.

We went through two boxes of ammo, taking turns loading and firing the full clip. When we turned in the gun and our shell casings we still had the shit-eating grins on our faces but the fear was edged out a little by pride and wonder. Nice Hook-Hand lady asked us cheerily if we'd had a good time. "YES," we responded.

Then we got hotcakes and skillet breakfasts.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blanket apology

I said that I would stop apologizing for not posting (even though I should be apologizing) so I won't apologize for that.

But I owe y'all another kind of apology.

I am really sorry that I am soooooo bad at keeping up on everyone's blogs and leaving comments. I have been particularly allergic to the Internet lately and my Google Reader is bursting at the seams, but really I've never been very good at this. I am thinking about you guys, and wondering about your lives and all the big stuff you have going on. I am going to try harder to be a better part of the little community that we are all trying to build. It is important to me, even if I am bad at showing it.