Monday, April 07, 2008

Of Friendship. And Fear.

The other day, I was rather upset about some family stuff. Nothing particularly new and it may not have bothered much another time, but on this particular day it did and I fretted about it off and on all day. I'd read in my horoscope in the morning that talking to an old friend would help, but no old friend turned up. I didn't call/email/meet any and none got in touch with me.

Came home unexpectedly early from work, so I got to feed and cuddle The Bhablet before he was packed off to bed. Then V and I sat down and had dinner together -- a very rare occurrence. Usually he has his in front of the Mac and I sit with a book. These days, now and then I see him hesitate before he turns to the Mac, but mostly it's too much of an effort for me now to break my habit. I used to want to sit and chat with him, but how long can you make conversation with somebody who listens to you with half an ear and doesn't pay attention to what he hears?

So I really appreciated him turning to me and asking me about my day. And I found myself telling him all about it, how the whole family thing had been on my mind, nagging at me. It helped so much, and afterwards, I felt so relieved.

Long ago, before April 2005, Vicky and I were truly friends. Years ago, we'd felt a mutual attraction. There had once been mutual respect. It had all combined into an interesting friendship. Then everything changed and marriage didn't bring the friendship back. There has been love all these days, but not that cheerfulness, the back-slapping affection. Not that I want him to back-slap me particularly, but I remember how he could distance himself from my problems and come up with effective solutions. Both he and I have forgotten how to do that, perhaps.

In the last couple of weeks, since the last big fight, our relationship has been changing. I know I've considerably changed the way I react to him. Like I said before, I don't know that this is for the worse, and perhaps it isn't; I just want it to bring the companionableness back.

It's a good time to write this post. We aren't fighting right now. But these days I have begun to look at my husband and look for the man I fell for. Not the man I married, because I don't think I like him so much. But the man whose visits I used to wait for, lonely and alone in Garfa, that man I miss. We both lost out way and I know when and how. I badly want to come back to what we had. Rahul can't ever help us reach it, because he's never known us to be the people we were back then. We don't spend too much time now with the people we hung out with then, so nobody really marks the difference; those who do attribute it to getting married. In our case though, marrige was only one more step on the path I don't want to follow any more.

I find myself thinking thoughts I don't want to think. Shouldn't need to think. Because V had it in him to be all the man I need. If he had it once, surely he has it still? And while I wish for some of the old Vicky to re-surface, I try to remember the girl I used to be, whose trust hadn't yet been found misplaced, who was looking forward to the future, and who had no reason to not try her very hardest. That girl whined but never gave up. When she couldn't beat it, she joined it.

I've been struggling with his smoking for so long now. It's stupid to mind it so much. When my colleagues smoke, when my friends smoked during Proof rehearsals, I stood around inhaling the second-hand smoke. I still love the aftersmell on a smoker's fingers. But now it's become a symbol of Vicky's callousness and double standards. Having made me stop he continues himself. He sneaks in his smokes when he counts on me not wanting to kiss him. It results in me wanting to hug him but telling myself not to, because I don't want another scene and there will be one -- I'll make it -- if I smell the nicotine on him. The stained teeth repulse me. It feels like he's constantly lying to me. It all feels very uncomfortable.

I know, the dust is still settling on this one. I know, it's an addiction. I don't expect him to have the mental strength of the Roys. I do know that's a rarity. But I haven't been able to accept it and I am still fighting the attraction myself. I gave in once, in January and it was so hard not to do so again. And that was only a cigarette. My smoke of choice is ganja, which I haven't had in two years now, I think.

Alongside this I'm trying to work my way out of this fear that comes between him and me. Fear of his violence. Fear of my own. Fear of making my son bleed again. Most days, it feels easier to cave in, claim to be wrong, apologise and carry on. That's not the relationship I want or respect and some days I'm scared I'm putting up with this until I have the strength to walk away and start afresh, but I don't think I'm going any where. I can see what's going wrong here, but I'm still only praying for the strength to set it right, from my side at least. In between all this, there is always a little boy caught in the cross-hairs. As my brother and I were, once.

Today started out promising, almost didn't live up to the promise but ended rather nicely. Maybe tomorrow will end as well, too. I'm willing to live this a day at a time.


dipali said...

Blogger ate up my comment.
Sue, it is not easy. I went through years and years of torment about my husband's smoking. I used to be in a dilemma much of the time- was the nagging and fighting going to be more damaging to his health than the damn cigarettes were? And he had had some health issues over the years.
He finally kicked the habit only after landing up in the ICCU nearly ten years ago. And our total quality of life has improved so much since then.
But before that I was personally at the end of my tether.
But one day at a time sounds like the only way to go ahead:)

Sue said...

Dipali -- Does it have to be the ICCU before he realises the toll it's taken on him, me, our family?

I know I'll eventually decide how I want to live with this, but right now I can't decide. It would be easiest to start smoking myself once more. And right then, I think, what kind of a mother would that make me? I know what kind of wife I'd be, and that's not a good thought either.

dipali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Itchingtowrite said...

You know something I hav realized-irrespective of the degrees we brag of and how succesful we are in our work life, human relationship, marriage, etc requires a different set of skills. we can understand consumer psyche while selecting products but when it comes to understanding our spouse we fail, as we think with our heart and not with our brain. I know my comment does not help but this is what came to my mind reading your post. I am sort of throwing my hands up in the air rather than thinking of a solution

hack said...

I wish you the strength that you have shown until now, and I do believe you will work your way to the best solution. Not the most amicable solution, necessarily, but one that will ensure happiness for you all in the long run. It might be difficult either way, staying or leaving, but I do trust you'll know the right thing to do.
This isn't an idle hopeful comment. I say it cause I experience similar questions, though I am not married, and find myself reacting in ways similar to yours. And I would trust you as I trust myself to make the right choice, even though it might be difficult. Best.

chronicworrier said...

I struggle with it, everytime my husband smokes too. You know what? I've given up. While earlier I would raise hell and sulk and nag, now I act indifferent. No, I am indifferent. If it's gonna take a trip to the ICU to make him quit how can I possibly do anything to change it? (I shudder at the real possibility everytime tho, esp now after reading Dipali's comment.)

dipali said...

Sue, finally this is his call. I hope he realises soon enough how high the risks are, and with no positive spin-offs. If he is serious about quitting, perhaps a little medical assistance may help- nicotine patches are supposed to be helpful.

Getting miserable about it doesn't help either- it'll only make the Bhablet unhappy. If he's gotta change, he's gotta want to change.

All the best:)

Suki said...

As for the smoking - be careful. And see a doctor before trying any of the nicotine substitutes or whatever. My biological father fell really sick after trying nicotine patches, and since then he's given up on trying to stop smoking. His problem.
Seriously, lady, I can't help being somewhat in awe of your strength. But as Dipali says - getting upset won't help the Bhablet. The sweetie will figure out his stance for himself, and all you can do is guide him with a level head. Big hugs to him, by the way :)

I hope you do find the love of your dreams, and wishing you many more days that start and end nicely :)

Rohini said...

I'll tell you something that I tell myself everyday - pick your battles. Ditch the ones that you have no chance of winning... easier said than done though, I am still struggling with it.

DiTtY said...

Parents always walk the thin line between discussing and airing out their differences and bottling those differences up because of the way either will affect the kid(s). However, children are very, very perceptive and they will sense your grief just as easily as they tend to sense happiness... So, it is not easy either way...

Like Rohini said, pick your battles.

Though, if V's smoking really bugs you (I know it would bug me if my husband smoked), then see if there is a way to talk to him when the Bhablet is not around.. You are an awfully strong person, Sue, you will find a way out.

Take care!

Sunita said...

Pray you & V find the strength to deal with it. I am dealing with a very diff problem, but almost same state thought process wise and emotionally. I let it pass these days since I am so so tired of talking, arguing and then yelling trying to make him see the point. In the end, I only have some entertained neighbours, who are straining their ears to the doors, windows and walls for the theatrical performance we are busy delivering here. Hugs to you dear Sue. Take care.

Grafxgurl said...

im gonna pray for you.
You might not like what im saying, but i do care for you. I feel in some way, selfishness has found a way in your home.. i dont know why but i see it. Independancy too. i felt like crying when i read this post and i know that both of you are hurt and are showing it in ways that continue to hurt the other person.

Our pastor taught us that its not 50-50 that you give in a marriage.. its 100% -100%.... and i am in no way judging this.. i am speaking from my heart and i know that you two need to sit down together and ask each other, no matter how awkward or painful the questions are... whether you are giving each other 100% in this marriage or not.

Grafxgurl said...

I was extremely selfish when i first got married... in ways i didnt notice i was...and even though its only been two years, I have had to work things out between me and God, and i have learnt that each spouse MUST put the needs.. all the needs of the other one before themselves.. that will be hard since we tend to think of our own comforts first.. but if couples really try hard... you'll notice yourself being taken care of and being given attention and the other person getting the same.
Ed says he is happier now and so am i.... it takes a lot of " denying yourself" each day... but it works.

DotMom said...

Sue, sue, sue. don't know how to begin and what to say. so many thoughts racing. It's not easy. But try to do it right. Even if he doesn't. This may take time, but you have to lead by example. It always works. Also, is there a family therapist you both can see? It will help you both a lot when there is a third party objective mediator to help set your goals within the marriage.

the mad momma said...

its not the end of your marriage but i realise that very often comments get more intense than the post....

let me lighten things up around here. i come from a family of smokers. when i decided that i was falling for the OA I thought abt the pros and cons - and the one thing I DIDNT like - was that he didnt smoke.

its funny and childish - but in my head, REAL MEN smoked. fortuantely i got over that real fast!

and getting back to ur post... sometimes its more than the small issue. the smoking. its a bigger issue and the smoking is just the last straw. i think we're turning into the ppl we mean to be for life. now that the kids are here we're pretty much what we're going to be.... and sometimes i dont like the person i am becoming.

Nat said...

Hi Sue - maybe it's time for a small break from each other? Just a week or so away might change things around a bit. More if you can manage it. Go visit someone - I dont know if you're away from your mom, I dont know if thats where you want to go. Sometimes it helps to be taken care of instead of doing all the caring and going back home is usually enough to familiarise yourself with the old you again. I find that helps.
Might bring the spark back. Might.

Shobana said...

When I read this post, somewhere inside me, I felt a deep saddness. I guess many marriages are like what you wrote...there is a growing distance between the spouses, when there is a lot of expectations and they are not fulfilled. I am sorry for what you are going thru and hopefully all this would sort out soon.

Sue said...

Itchy -- You know, I think I understand but refuse to accept what I understand. Deep inside me I mostly understand V pretty well -- despite what I say to the contrary -- but I cannot come to terms with what this understanding tells me. Is that worse than just not understanding?

Hack -- Thank you. I guess I just reached the point where I took a deep breath and started being optimistic once more. Took me long enough to get here!

ChornicWorrier -- Jaya told me the nagging made it worse when one wants to quit anyway or even to just cut down. I'm trying to keep that in mind. I can't stop worrying any more than you can!

Dipali -- He doesn't smoke enough to need medical help. But the idiot smokes to cope with a headache. How silly, to expect nicotine to make a headache better!

Suki -- Thanks. Like I said, I don't think he needs medical help, if he really does smoke as little as he says he does. Maybe one day he'll figure out how to cut it out altogether. Maybe.

Rohini -- I've just done that. Taken the first two steps. Now am waiting to see if I can carry it through instead of just making a good beginning. If it doesn'tt work out, want to run away with me? :)

Ditty -- We have these awful, rip-roaring fights and we've stopped trying to fight when The Bhablet isn't around. The fights that start up and stop don't bother him. The cold wars that go on for days do have an effect on him. I wish I did have the strength you credit me with!