The Turn-Around is where he takes things that I’ve said recently and twists them around to make himself the victim. He hammers away at me, telling me that I was cruel and he doesn’t deserve to be treated that way and that my reactions and emotions are faulty, I am ignorant of relationship dynamics, I have a Bad Attitude, the whole disagreement was totally my fault and he refuses to take the blame for any of it. There are tears and many anguished statements. He tells me that if the situation were reversed and he hated me as much as I profess to hate him that he would just leave.
The result is that I (used to) spend the next week feeling like shit – depressed, angry, sad. That I can have reached 43 years of age without having a clue about relationships is utter bullshit. I can see very clearly when I’m being beaten down and diminished and maybe I’ve become a bit over-sensitive to it, but don’t I have a right?
So, I am supposed to spend this week hugging and kissing him, talking softly and telling him how much I appreciate him and all that he has done for me. I am supposed to go out of my way to put his needs first and ask his opinion so that he can exercise his considerable brain power on my behalf.
It ain’t gonna happen, and I’ll tell you why. All day at work yesterday I went over my comments to him about his “joke” and his response to my comments. The word “pedophile” never left my lips. He went into the shower and came back out with a full-blown argument on his lips, just waiting for me to say a word – I didn’t bring that on. I simply stated how I felt about his “joke,” which is exactly what he asked me to do.
So. I get home from work last night and he is cool and distant. I fed the animals and was washing my hands at the kitchen sink. He asked me if I would evaluate a zipper that needs to be repaired. I said, “sure, just let me wash my hands and I’ll be right there,” at which he blew up and said, “never mind! I’m done asking you to do things for me! It hurts too much!”* It sounds crazy, I know.
This was just the beginning. I poured myself a stiff drink and turned on the recorder. What followed was three hours of “conversation” that got me exactly nowhere. I have yet to listen to it again and fully digest the import, but I will try to get something up here soon.
In the meantime, here’s a transcript of the Chicken Incident from a few days ago:
Him: “Chicken dinner?”
Me: “Yeah, there’s chicken in the fridge to do something with.”
Him: “What kind of chicken?”
Me: “Chicken breast.”
Him: “What kind?”
Me: “Tenders – I don’t know what you’re asking, what kind.”
Him: “Well, how does it end up in your mouth?”
Me: “It needs to be cooked first. I don’t know. I hadn’t decided. It was on sale for cheaper than the other kinds of chicken breast so I bought it…”
Him: “You know, I was going to offer to do it but you’re such a fucking smart-ass you can do it yourself. You didn’t have some kind of menu item?”
Me: “I didn’t.”
Him: “Why not?”
Me: “Because I was going to open up the fridge and see what looked good. I had not made any plans or earmarks for it at all.”
Him: “But you’re still the smart-ass of the century. C’mon. Okay, so you had to go to work today. It wasn’t bad, was it? It was just boring.”
Me: “Perhaps the chicken should be cooked in a tomato sauce and served over rice.”
Him: “I wonder if maybe you don’t deserve to be teased until it hurts your feelings some times. What do you think? You have a way of dishing it out.”
Me: “I really had no plans for the chicken.”
Him: “I know, but you don’t have to be such a smart-ass about it.”
Me: “Should I just have said that I hadn’t made a plan?”
He starts to get angry. Much sighing.
Him: “I don’t know what you should have said. You should have said whatever you want.”
Me: “Well, perhaps you had an idea.”
Him: “I was trying to get out of you something you would like to have for dinner because you are a very picky eater and you only eat certain things and if you wanted to give me some clues about what you wanted to eat from what you’ve already set out for dinner then maybe I would be happy to fix it for you, but not if it’s a big fucking hassle! I’ll have a peanut butter sandwich and be done, thank you! You want to run me through the ringer about it and make me sweat I’m done. You won’t just eat anything. If I go in there and fix something out of what you got out to eat it might be something you don’t like so much. You have an opportunity to actually ask for what you like and I would fix it for you, but I’m done. Fuck it. I’ll go hungry now.”
Him: “You know what I decided in the last few days? If this hassle bullshit is always going to happen about how shit can’t run smooth between the two of us, there’s only two of us, shouldn’t be too hard, I’d be just as happy by myself. All of the sudden I’ve adopted LB’s philosophy. Shit, ya know? And I have the means to go live by myself and you can fucking afford all this bullshit. You can live with yourself, you can afford to live here, you can spend all the fucking money, I’m outta here! You don’t want to try to get along with me, fuck it! I don’t care anymore. Pussy isn’t worth it.”
Me: “Well, I feel like I have been trying to get along with you..”
Him: (Interrupting) “I don’t see it! You’re as sassy as fuck. I don’t want to know the brand name of the goddamned chicken! I want to know what the dish is. What the chicken is intended for, and you know it! You know that’s what I’m saying. You’re pretending I’m saying something else. I don’t say, ‘what dish to you have planned for the chicken tonight, darling?’ ya know, ’cause I’m a kinda snappy guy. I say, ‘what do you have in mind for the chicken?’ Well, that doesn’t mean I want to know if that chicken is dressed in a fucking tux! (raising voice) You got this while Mc______ sassy thing. Your sister is really good at it. And fuck her very much! With both barrels (flipping me off with both hands, full on angry face and yelling) That’s how I feel about her. I don’t care about her. When she does that to me, fuck it! I’m outta there. I shut her down when she does that to me. For the rest of the evening that she’s being sassy bitch she’s doing it to someone else because I’m done. She does it to me one time and that’s all she gets. You get it more often because, you know, I love you, but you do it all the time. I’m trying to be helpful, I’m just offering. Don’t you get it? Did you misread me or just fuck with me?”
Me: “Well, I misread you. When you said what kind of chicken it is I thought you wanted to know what the cut of the chicken was, to perhaps suggest some menu item. Is it breast, is it thigh, you know…”
Him: (interrupting) “No. Is it chicken burritos? Or, you know, what?”
Me: “You said, ‘what kind of chicken is it’ and I went with how it’s done. Obviously I misinterpreted what you were asking…”
Him: (interrupting) “I don’t think so. You’re just kinda in a mood and you’re being sassy. ‘Cause you haven’t given me anything at all since you’ve been home. You’re in a mood. ‘I had to work today. It was fucked.’ Was it a bad day at work, or was it just boring?”
It goes on from there, but on other subjects that need posts of their own. It was over an hour and a half about how I have an attitude and deliberately twist his words.
What do you think? Did I totally misread his original question? Does it look like I was fucking with him? Do I need to re-think my approach to conversation? Am I crazy to see this as a set-up for him to get angry so he has a “reason” to yell at me?
I just don’t know any more.
*We’re going to go a bit off track here for a minute to give a bit of background to where this argument comes from. He says that when he asks me to do something for him I don’t get to it right away. If he asks me to do several things, I prioritize them in a different order than he does and it affects the way the rest of his project goes together. The problem for me is that he won’t tell me when he needs to have something done, or if he does, he moves up the “deadline” to where he thinks it needs to be for me to get it done when he really needs it. This conflict is years old and has its roots back at the beginning of our relationship when he said that he wanted me to work on projects for him at my convenience, that he didn’t want to impose any time-frame that I might not be able to accommodate, or which I would feel uncomfortable with. Fuck. Ya know, I can’t even make it sound logical.