We’re in a phase that doesn’t happen very often, a phase I call the Calm Before the Storm. He seems to feel guilty about something (his “old lover (who I still care about)”?) and is treating me much better than usual. This is one of those phases that makes me doubt my sanity. If I had not recorded our conversations over the last couple of weeks, I would be questioning my memory, especially since he regularly denies many of the things he says to hurt me.
For instance, last week he said that, “it would take eight of you to keep me entertained. Do you understand that? Eight of you.” I have it on tape, so to speak, so I know for a fact that those were his exact words. It was not said in jest, but to point out how boring and stupid he thinks I am. Other things were said in the same vein during the conversation. He made it very clear that he needs many more people than stupid little me in his life to keep things interesting for him.
I brought it up last night after he asked me why I was making intelligent dinner conversation (I generally let him lead any conversation to avoid his dismissal and/or a lecture on how boring/uneducated/naive I am) I told him that I was stepping up my game so he wouldn’t need to go out and find seven more of me to keep him entertained.
“I never said that,” he protested.
“You said exactly that just the other night, that it would take eight of me to keep you entertained. Exactly that,” I replied.
“I was just joking…” he muttered.
Right. He “jokes” like that constantly. I’ve told him in plain English that he hurts my feelings with his constant put-downs and that I would like him to stop. He tells me that I’m “too sensitive” and shouldn’t take it so seriously, he only jokes with me out of affection.
Where does one draw that line? I do understand joking, and in fact have been told that I have a great sense of humor. A “joke” doesn’t go on and on until the person being lampooned is in tears, right? That’s not joking, that’s torture, right? Doing it deliberately with no witnesses, over and over again, day after day isn’t joking, is it?
Where do you draw the line between joking and verbal abuse?