Noah thinks about our history in a more linear fashion than I do. I don’t remember things in chronological order and I never really have. I think in terms of associations. When I was writing No Secrets I had to categorize my memories based on a bunch of weird little associations then try to stitch them together in order. I’m still not certain I got it perfectly in order.
So when we talk he can list off how I mistreated him year by year. Ok. I can talk about “Ah, when this was happening this other thing happened and this other thing and that’s why that thing over there happened.” But I don’t remember which years of our marriage have been better or worse. That’s all very fuzzy to me. I mean… I could go read my archive but who the fuck has time for that?
I think I’ll remember “2016” until I die and shiver whenever I hear it though.
Noah and I have both done a lot for each other. We do things for one another all over the place. We have both learned an amount of affability and predictability that is shocking. Clearly he’s better at that than I am, but he started from a better place too. We have both done a lot of work in this department. I am still a bitchy person; I’m sharp and critical and demanding. Pieces of that I now see as me trying my best to manage my extensive list of weird ass requirements in life. I’m a delicate fucking snowflake and I need fairly particular amounts of exercise and people interaction time and rest and sleep and sex and foods and… My body is not easy going. My body can’t just take “whatever” and be ok.
I am struggling with my commitment to stay alive. Because the problem is the kinds and quantities of pain I carry around. Which isn’t fair and it sucks and it hurts Noah and I absolutely understand why there are people in this world that believe I am emotionally abusive because I am mentally ill and they don’t even need more evidence than that. “You hurt people by existing. You abuse people by talking about you existing.”
Noah and I have both worked on adult financial responsibility for one another. We both came into this marriage with gaping holes in our skills and we have both worked really hard to manage our combined resources way the fuck more responsibly than we ever managed our independent resources. Most of our money goes to medical care and food. Then travel. I have been very consistent about saving money for the future. I like to joke that Noah is providing for this stage of our life and I am providing for everything that happens after he stops working. Because that man was not on track to be so comfortable before I got my hands on his money. The best part, in my mind, is how rarely we argue or fight about money. We have more than we need to meet our needs. We have so much that we can afford to give wads of it away and that’s not a problem for our life. That’s an incredible privilege that I would not have if Noah were not so hard working.
And you know what? Even that is complicated. Cause I know a lot of people who work as hard and harder than Noah and they aren’t doing very well financially and that’s bullshit. Noah does this well because he has been set up to be in the right time at the right place since he was a child. He made good choices all the way through his college and career. He has rapidly acquired all the knowledge he can related to his entire field so that he can figure out which choices will get him in the right place to work how hard he wants to for a fantastic amount of money. That’s very lucky and cool for him.
Big problem in our marriage: my difficulty being nice to white men. This has manifested in a great variety of ways through our marriage and creates a noticeable strain for us.
When we started our marriage things were very different. I was a lot less capable of meeting a variety of Noah’s needs. I was not comfortable with how much time he wanted to spend touching me. It was very difficult for me to adapt to his expectations around physical contact but I have done so. In the beginning I couldn’t handle that much touch that wasn’t sexual. So we fucked all day and night long because that was the compromise we could manage together.
I worked on accepting touch. I had babies. I stopped having time or interest in sex all day every day and night. It became a problem that my sex drive had dropped. There were a lot of years where I didn’t really orgasm. I think there was like a 3-5ish year gap? Yay breeding hormones. But we never stopped having sex; it didn’t matter how it was going for me.
We both came into our marriage with, in my opinion, a fair bit of sexual dysfunction. We both have hypersexuality impulses. A lot of my hypersexuality impulses are both impulsive and compulsive and they revolve around self harming choices. (When I stepped out last year I may not have picked dangerous people but I did a tremendous amount of permanent harm to my life.) Noah needs to have sex in order to deal with his tremendous feelings of shame and basically nothing else helps. That puts me in the position of being like his drug dispensing machine and that’s not ok. (Yes, we both know that semen is an anti-depressant and we do have sex frequently because we notice that my mood varies tremendously based on when I’ve last had some deposited. BUT STILL.)
Sex is complicated for everyone. I hear that folks go into therapy to talk about: sex, kids, money, housework.
I have done the vast majority of housework throughout our marriage. Noah has had periods of doing a lot: pregnancy, during the remodel… but mostly I do the cleaning. Sometimes I go through these pseudo-modern-woman phases and I set up a chore chart and ask Noah to do more for a while. Somehow that never lasts very long. He does to the cooking and meal planning now though. Except when I do it. Which isn’t that uncommon either. Whether Noah is in a phase of actually doing a lot of housework or not he expects to be praised and petted as if he were doing it. Specifically: he tells me that he needs me to have sex to motivate him to do all the stuff he does for me no matter how much he is really doing for me.
He doesn’t view most of what I do as being for him even though I can link it directly with logical reasons why I do it the way I do out of respect for his preferences. I don’t view most of what he does as being about me even though he can link it directly with logical reasons why he does it the way he does out of respect for me.
It’s a real festive situation.
We are trying to find the words to communicate about his emotional state. It’s hard because we run into these situations where the words he is using have vastly different meanings in my head and it’s definitely like we are speaking a different language.
He told me that I go through periods of treating him like a roommate. I blink real hard at that and think of the many people I’ve lived with and sputter and go, “Whaaaat?” Cause…
I have never in my life put as much thought and energy into an adult as I’ve put into Noah.
I feel like we go through periods where I take him for granted and he gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my attention. At those times he often gets the brunt of my frustration and overwhelm regarding some other part of my life. It’s not random or targeted at him. Things in other parts of my life go up and down in intensity and that massively impacts what I have to give to Noah.
To the point where I feel like it is not a good idea for me to have very many out of the house obligations or overly consistent presence on social media or forums or anything like that because if my mood fluctuates and I pay less attention to Noah… that’s a problem.
Noah feels like he can’t have friends. Despite me spending a lot of time for many years begging him to go see a fucking friend. When he wants to travel and dump many hundreds of dollars to see his friends I cheer and shove him out the door. When he goes to see his friends I don’t interrupt unless I am literally in the fucking hospital and I cry and apologize for interrupting then.
Hosting people in the house is subject to my rampant social anxiety. Hi pervasive belief that everyone hates me and me inviting them is creating an onerous situation where they have to do something they don’t want to do, clearly because it’s not like they ask to come see me unless I pressure them and they feel guilty and…
I go through long periods of not reaching out. And it’s not really about you. I have a god damn mailing list of people who said, “Hey! IT’S OK TO PESTER ME WITH INVITATIONS” and I would rather cry than do the work involved in reaching out. I just don’t have anything to give.
I feel really sad and helpless and unable to carry the weight of trying to create a community because I don’t really fit into any other community anywhere.
BDSM has been hard for both of us through our marriage. I can partially understand why Noah was irritated with me playing with friends last year because when I’m doing heavy SM there are a few predictable consequences. One: I withdraw from physical contact… especially with the person who hit me. I mean… I can turn it on to touch them for a few hours but then I will be withdrawn for the rest of the day and night. I live with a lot of chronic pain and sometimes if I am dealing with having been hit a lot… you can’t really touch me without me wanting to lose my mind and start hysterically screaming and beating on you like you just committed the gravest assault. Because I’m no longer consenting to you giving me more pain and the only way I can keep you from hurting me more is to stay the fuck away from you.
Yeah. Ask me how well that kind of fucking cycle goes in my current life with Noah and my kids expecting to god damn paw me 24/7.
I feel like we have done most of our bdsm play in the psychological or D/s realms. I mean, I haven’t had a whole lot of orgasms without his permission in eleven fucking years. I feel like it is god damn appropriate to say that we have always had strong D/s elements in our sex life. But I’ll admit that we don’t do a lot of the SM part. And… he doesn’t ask for bondage and I’m really not up for asking for it so we don’t do it.
I go through long periods where I just can’t deal with feeling like if I ask for something he will do it halfheartedly to hurry and get to the part he wanted to start with. So we do a lot of fucking. And no bondage.
I go through long periods where I just can’t handle hearing “no” or being flexible about being moved around in someone’s life. It causes too many other negative effects in my life at those times. So I shut off from most people so I don’t have to hear it.
That has an impact on our marriage.
Because Noah and I are in a situation where neither of us feel like we have a lot left to give. We do a lot for each other and the well of “I want to give” is about run dry and neither of us know how to get much outside help with that when we get to this point.
The systems I try to build to help with this all fail for a variety of perfectly valid reasons. Life is about a lot of moving pieces and getting those to line up and stay lined up is a challenge. I’m not blaming anyone or feeling angry about any particular situation. Like, the babysitter’s family moving away has been a serious blow to the support structure for our family. We were so god damn enmeshed with them and that’s been really hard. The other divorces that happen with friendships are hard too.
But they are part of life.
My kids feel like they have a stable life with a lot of people in it. At least, that is what they tell me. Rebuilding this seems absolutely daunting… but I would build experience elsewhere too. I don’t really believe I would hermit forever. I’m a sunny soul. When I’m not depressed.
I make a fantastic number of choices all night and all day that are not focused on my needs. That’s really complicated. It’s both a good and a bad thing. It is part of why I am so rigid about how I do things. Because one of the biggest factors driving a lot of how I’m trying to shape my behavior is: I’m supposed to figure out how to be in less pain so that I can live longer for Noah and the kids. I created this fucking situation. I put myself in this position so I would have no choice but to grow the fuck up and change things in my life.
I mean… I know people who spawn and don’t grow up. Let’s not invalidate that as a life path. But I didn’t god damn do it. I have worked god damn hard at maturing. I’m not perfect and the cracks in my mask are biggest on the side that faces Noah.
And that’s complicated.
I spend a lot of time and energy trying to solve my feelings of inadequacy and failure and depression. I perceive that Noah does very little to work on his own similar feelings besides want to be more famous in his field and earn more money and say that only sex can make him feel better.
I feel like we go back and forth because it’s not really about how often we “have sex” it’s about a kind of attention that Noah only really feels when it involves sex and I don’t know what to do about that. I’ve tried a lot of things.
I’m not invited into his masturbatory life much. I’ve indicated for many years that if he wanted me to be around for masturbation that would be fun… but instead we both hide and masturbate alone. I mean, I have to ask for permission first. But it’s not a shared activity for us.
I don’t think Noah needs to be ashamed of what he wants. I just don’t think I can necessarily meet what he needs and that’s a different problem. He doesn’t have a lot of spontaneous desire to ask for the rope practice that would turn him into the rope top of my dreams either. *shrug*
He does ask me to dance in the house now. That’s a huge thing. Sometimes it is even really fun instead of awkward and uncomfortable. He is trying. I do see that he is trying.
And I am too.
And is that enough?
We are both clearly devoting our lives to one another. How is that working out for us? It’s mixed. The balance is off somehow.
I feel like daily snuggling and 2-3 meals a day together and talking all the time and having sex at a rate well above average for our god damn demographic means that clearly we are both putting a lot of god damn time into our relationship.
Time spent is not the problem.
The problem is that we are so tired we can’t give one another the kind of intensity that we both use like rocket fuel to plod through what is otherwise a very exhausting round of Being An Adult. Being An Adult is boring and shitty. We do the work of being semi-healthy animals but there is something we just aren’t finding. There’s a piece we have failed to figure out.
And I’m pretty fucking sure that me doing more talking isn’t going to help that much.
It’s kind of funny that after years of bitching loud and long about how white men need to shut the fuck up and listen more… I’m not pretty damn grumpy at this white man for not talking more.
It’s not that I need more time of him talking but I need to hear about his feelings instead of web comics and video games.
I’m such an asshole.
I’ve been the designated Problem for a long time now. But part of what gets kind of heaped in my direction is my inability to cure Noah of shame. If only I wanted more sex with him then everything would be perfect.
Yeah. But you married the wrong woman if the measurement stick was the sturdiness of the cunt.
I cannot do that.
That is something that my body cannot do and I need to stop trying because the emotional fall out is too great and it impacts too many people. I can’t keep dashing myself against that rock.
So what’s next?
There’s this thing that when people grow (and I think Noah and I both have) sometimes they don’t fit as well with people they picked at a different level of dysfunction. We need some shit to change and I don’t know what and I don’t know how.