I asked M when he was leaving for his trip. “Before the gathering begins,” was his reply. I knew that the gathering began on the 6th, so I guess he thought that was enough. In years past, he has left two days before, around noon, to spend the night at his friend’s house, which is three hours away from where he launches his boat. He burned down his relationship with his oldest friend back in April, so I figured that he wouldn’t be staying there this year. He only made a vague comment about “driving in one day” up to the launch site.
I asked him several times when he was leaving and when he expected to return. He never gave me an answer, but left me to deduce from the state of his preparations when he was going to leave. I still don’t know when he will return and I’m going to carry on as if he’s never coming back.*
He often accuses me of withholding my emotions from him. He says that he never knows what I’m thinking because I never tell him. He says that he has to ask twenty questions to finally get the answer he was looking for in the first place.
The fact is I learned long ago that the only reason he wants to know how I’m feeling is so that he can make me feel bad (or worse.) He wants to know my opinion so he can shoot it down in one of the lectures he likes so much to give. The question he asks out loud is never the question he is really asking, and I have come to recognize that each question is a trap, designed to show how stupid/naive/selfish/whatever I am. I rarely speak my true mind and I never answer even the (seemingly) most simple questions without carefully considering my response.
Because I “withhold” my emotions, he has decided to withhold information. He says that I have trained him to behave this way by refusing to converse with him. I have pointed out many times that he cuts me off repeatedly in any conversation that we engage in and that it is pointless for me to speak. In the end I have lost all interest in whatever the conversation was supposed to be about.
He left at 0’dark-thirty on Thursday** and called Thursday evening and left a message on the machine to say that he had launched the boat and would call me later. He knows very well what hours I work (my schedule is posted on the wall so he knows where I am) and that I would not be home to receive his call. He called back later to chat, but added a bunch of conditions right at the beginning (he has to finish rigging the boat, he needs to get some food, he has to prepare to sleep in his truck, etc.) so that I wouldn’t “keep him hanging on the line too long.” He then proceeded to criticize me for various things that I “never remember” and to chastise me for letting the dog bark in the house (some kids were screaming right in front of the house, playing like only kids can and the dog wanted to join them) etc. etc. etc.
I let all this flow over me, and then said, “well, I’ll let you go so you can get your stuff done before dark. Bye.”
He called yesterday (again, I wasn’t home yet, and even if I had been, I would have been outside with the dogs and not able to hear the phone) and left another message. Seems he has arrived alive but will not have a cell phone signal while anchored off the island. Same as last year. No big deal, really. What he wants is for me to call and leave messages on his cell phone, telling him that I miss him and hope he’s safe and to call me as soon as he gets a signal. I know that this is expected of me because we have been over this ground before. This year I am going to be selfish and not give in to his expectations. Let him think I’ve moved out. I don’t give a fuck.
* It’s very telling that I find myself not even caring if he does come back. Would I paint the living room and finish the trim work? Add on to the greenhouse? Fence the yard so the dog could run free? Breathe?
** After being up (and keeping me up) until after midnight on Wednesday. He was a total shit. I have a hard time believing it was because he was stressed out about the trip. He wanted to make sure that I was tired when he left, just to be spiteful because I have told him I will never make the trip with him. Who would volunteer to sail with Captain Bligh?