Something occurred to me recently, as Noah and I are in round 45,203 of our Epic Conversation. This has been going on since we met. We… we like to talk. A lot. We are cutting into our sleep patterns in ways that might prove to be a problem because we censor ourselves in front of the kids and they WANT US ALL THE TIME.
Side note: I am feeling surprised by my interactions with the kids’ therapists. I keep expecting them to think I’m doing something horribly wrong and I keep thinking they will give me feedback that indicates I’m totally fucking up. Instead they say things like, “Things seem pretty developmentally appropriate but gosh your kid wants to spend more time with you.” We then had a civilized adult conversation about how there are not more hours in a day and I’m with my kids all the fucking time. So I guess that means it is time to talk about how feelings and wants are valid and real even if they can’t be acted upon. I can’t spend more time with you. That time doesn’t exist. But I get that you want more from me. That makes sense. I’m really glad that the big feedback from your therapist is, “Gosh your kid likes you and wants to be with you all the time.” I love you too.
Back to main topic for this babble. My marriage.
I realized something when we were talking. Noah was emphatically talking about a current set of priorities and I realized… I don’t have a good map in my head of who Noah really is at this point. That’s complicated. I still think about conversations from 13 and 11 and 8 and 3 years ago when Noah expressed different preferences and needs and… I get it all mixed up. That’s really not a great thing for facilitating good communication.
Noah was asking me how many times he had said a particular thing and I had to admit that I don’t know for sure. It may be once. It may have been an almost flippant thing one time 11 years ago but for some reason the phrasing stuck in my head like glue.
It’s making me feel really shitty and awful. I don’t know what set of “requests” and priorities I’m supposed to follow at this point. That’s… overwhelming and kind of scary.
When we first got married I felt very much like what I had to offer was constant sex. We did… a pretty terrifying amount of it in the first year. We went to work and we fucked. We didn’t see our friends much. I felt like it was very clear that I was expected to maintain that pace. I… can’t. It’s not physically possible.
Later in marriage I was told that at least 10 times a month would be… acceptable. So I hurt myself keeping to that schedule for many years through times when my body literally was not god damn interested in sex because I believed that I had to.
Then I kind of collapsed under the weight of that and Noah tried to pull back from his demands. But I could still see the tally system and that was enough for me to pressure myself and it just kept going badly.
So I decided that since what Noah cared about most was me being constantly up for sex I should find a way to make that happen. Sex with lots of people will make that work for me pretty much regardless of other stressors. I’m still getting hurt by the sex, but I go into this hypomanic state where I’m highly dissociated from my cunt and it isn’t the same problem in terms of my daily life. I’m hurting myself, but I’m numb to the damage.
That blew all the way up. Ok, that’s not the solution.
But now what. What is the most important thing? I don’t know.
This is complicated by the fact that Noah has spent a lot of time telling me that sex is how he motivates himself. He rattles off the stuff he does for me (much of it without me directly asking for him to do) and explains that doing ALL THAT makes him tired and he needs something to make up for it. So I respond by taking over as many of the chores as physically possible until I overstrain myself and collapse because I am just not great with the dynamic that I owe sex in exchange for him doing the dishes. I’ll do the fucking dishes.
Man those Cosmo articles that tell men to do housework to earn sex are complicated.
Because the thing is, if I’m falling down on my share of housework because I don’t feel good, the housework being done isn’t going to make me feel good and make me feel sexy and make me feel like I want sex. But if I have to feel up for sex in trade for housework then I’ll do the god damn housework if I have to drag my nearly corpse-like body around to do that shit.
But the thing is… me doing more and more and more of the housework so that he’s not worn out so that I don’t owe him more motivation… yeah that fails completely and totally. There is never a reflection (that I see) that I am taking strain off of him. Nothing I do removes strain. The only thing I can to do to make his life better is add sex. Everything else seems to be basically worthless.
This is hard because when we got married I was touch averse in a big way. I would have freaked out and physically attacked someone for trying to get me to snuggle as much as I do in an average day now. I could handle sexualized touch or a bdsm scene, sure. But I didn’t do casual just sit around and touch each other shit. It was a big concession for me to sit on the far side of the couch and let Noah touch my feet all the time because that was something I had to work through. That was overwhelming.
But I’ve worked on that. At this point I snuggle my kids and Noah so much that I feel like I spend almost 1/4 of my waking time with one or the other of them touching me. Some days it’s a much larger block of time.
And that doesn’t count as being something I’ve done to increase connection and that’s really god damn hard for me. Noah was touch starved and that wasn’t ok… I had to figure out how to touch him. But I don’t get credit for that being part of what I have done for him. That doesn’t count as connection when he wants sex.
(Disclaimer: We’ve had good sex this month. Lots of masturbation near one another without it having to escalate. We are trying.)
And when I say “It doesn’t count” I don’t necessarily mean that Noah has never acknowledged it or has never commented on it. I mean that in aggregate I feel like conversations about his needs always come down to one kind of need and all that I do to meet his other needs is kind of hand waved away. I *feel* like this happens. I’m not sure it is the only thing that happens but my emotions camp right there and throw a mean as fuck party.
I’ve worked on being kinder to Noah. For all that I worry that I am still abusing him terribly… I know I am better than I was early on. I’m not as negative. I don’t bitterly complain about him as much. I don’t swear at him as much. I don’t call him names like I did. I’m still not where either of us want me to be in terms of my treatment of him… but it’s come a long way and I still don’t think that is good enough.
I feel like no matter how hard I try to change it will never ever ever ever be enough. No matter what.
But a lot of the current problem is I’m still tied up in my head in trying to meet demands that were made a decade ago and he doesn’t really still feel like I should be doing that. But I don’t know what I should be doing.
I don’t know how I could be good.