He is My Shepherd; I am a Sheepbitch

It’s the way I feel humiliated, duped, manipulated. That struggle of reminding myself that I must not let down my guard, that it is not safe to trust. Last night, he subtly and adeptly did what I consider to be one of his fortes: he maneuvered me into initiating a dialogue about something that he has privately told me was important to him. He maneuvered me into broaching the topic while our son was present, and it involves our son. I feel like his mouthpiece.

I lay on the couch last night crying and allowing myself to feel the pain. This is a constant pain. This a frequent occurrence. How is he so good at it??? He catches me off guard, usually in a happy moment, when I might be sharing, trusting, and being vulnerable. Sometimes in a fearful or hurt moment, when I am sharing, trusting, and being vulnerable.

I don’t look at him the same way anymore. I have no clue what he is up to, why he lies so often, what he’s hiding from, or how I’m going to finally develop the know-how to keep my guard up.

Who is doing your dirty-work? If you are passive, you can manipulate people into doing things for you. You don’t have to own up to anything, nor do you have to risk rejection or being vulnerable. You can come off like this really nice, charming, well-mannered person. And a passive aggressive husband can be skillful at not only getting his wife to initiate everything, but he can also look like some beleaguered teddy bear when she ACTUALLY EXPRESSES FEELINGS AND NEEDS OF HER OWN HOW DARE SHE.

I live with the enemy. He is a secretive, manipulative, passive, untrusting, “tired”, hostile, sarcastic enemy. And I blog here as an outlet, because attempting to discuss any of my concerns or observations with him either results in his starting a sullen argument or starting a cold war.

It reminds me of when my dad was talking to me like a pos and I told him I didn’t like how he was talking to me and that it made me feel bad, and he said he didn’t like how I was talking to him. People don’t like the discomfort of self-examination, but instead of getting over it, manipulators attack those whose boundaries they violate.

Im still in shock that I can absolutely NEVER let my guard down. Why did it take this many years for the lesson to sink in? What on earth does he get out of manipulating me, ignoring me, and punishing me?


I Married a Plant

My husband works a lot. I only work part-time, now. Sometimes my son asks when I will go back to full-time because he misses his friends in evening care, where they used to do homework and then just play! Only child.

My mother never worked outside the home. She was a constant presence in the home. When she and my father were together, we lived on a small farm and life was orderly and they did chores. They divorced when I was three, and then everything went to hell. I have no memories of them as loving one another and I cannot fathom WHY THEY MARRIED.

I married my husband because he is a nice guy. Also, he reminds me of me.

I do a spa treatment on him sometimes. I mix brown sugar and olive oil to make a skin-softening scrub. I use oatmeal to draw out impurities. He enjoys a home-made sauna in the bathroom. I give a full massage with his favorite lotion. Our son gets to participate in parts of it (the clothed parts!). He sees us communicating non-verbally. He sees his mother helping. He also loves to rub Daddy’s feet and hands!

I don’t really know what this husband of mine needs or wants. It seems it is all the same to him. He could leave it or take it. He asks for little. He declines many of my offers to help and doesn’t answer questions. This goes on for years and years.

I feel like a useless appendage. I don’t want to push my agenda, but he did seem to enjoy his spa. And Mr. Buttons is witness to affection and healing service.

Ciao for now.

My Nickel, My Nickel

Good morning. March is a moody lion, isn’t he? Yesterday was spring, and today is a gusty day that may knock out the power. I have the candles ready.

Reading in I Samuel today. I’m fascinated by Elkanah and his family. Elkanah sounds like a pious man, traveling to Shiloh to worship and make sacrifice. He had two wives – Penninah and Hannah. And Penninah tormented Hannah through the years because Hannah did not have children. Hannah would be anguished and could not even eat. When Elkanah found her this way, he told her not to be downhearted just because she had no children. “Aren’t I better than ten sons?” he asked.

My first question is how did Elkanah come to marry a bully like Penninah? Perhaps he didn’t take sufficient time to know her character; I doubt she will impart good values to those children she is having. Perhaps Elkanah didn’t care about her ethics; maybe Penninah was an Old Testament hottie and Elkanah just liked her body.

I also wonder how Elkanah didn’t know what was happening in his own household. The Bible says , “And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children.”  Why could Hannah not tell him of the taunting she endured, and why did Elkanah make a joke of Hannah’s longing to have children?

My family does these meetings called Nickel Meetings. We usually only have one or two a week, but anyone can start one at any time. My husband has a buffalo nickel that he found as a child, and whoever is holding the nickel gets to speak uninterrupted. We use Nickel Meetings to air concerns, to express feelings, resolve issues, and plan for activities and goals. My husband is very informed about my and our son’s needs, feelings, worries, strengths, and character deficiencies. And what he seems ignorant of, I tell him if I know it is important, even if he doesn’t want to hear it. He usually doesn’t want to hear about his own deficiencies, and he listens in silence when I share about being hurt by someone in his own or my family. I’m basically on my own if I have a problem with anyone, and he rarely will take a stand with his mother or sister; they are very free to blame me for any difficulties and to abuse me.

So Hannah does get a son. And he is dedicated to the Lord. Elkanah seems to let his son Samuel go easily, despite the Numbers 30:13 allowance for a husband to null any vow his wife makes. Elkanah reminds me of the vicar of Wakefield – all passive-aggressive unavailability covered over with a veneer of sweet, humorous charm and piety. Meanwhile, his household is one of betrayal, mistrust, suffering, and an abandoned son.

Samuel does grow up well. Like Harry Potter, he is exposed to the unsavory behavior of someone else’s offspring – Eli’s sinful and promiscuous sons. In the Tabernacle of the Lord, Eli’s sons are seducing the young women who assist at the entrance.  I don’t read of Eli taking any strong measures to stop his sons from defiling themselves, others, or the Tabernacle. Where is loving authority and discipline when it is needed? What about the laws applying to sexual immorality? What should have happened to Eli’s sons?

Indifferent fathering. Foolish marriage choices. Shallow understanding. Lack of accountability. Refusal to step up even in the face of disgusting sin.

So it continues today, as men continue to turn a blind eye to each other’s immorality. As they continue to use women as convenient scapegoats and to demand the power to go unquestioned, as though they themselves know better than God.

“The woman you gave to be with me gave me of the tree, and I did eat” is very different from “I have failed to keep Your commandment and I did not cry out to You when tempted.”

May Hannah’s legacy of honesty, prayer, and willingness to suffer live on in the lives of women everywhere who are married to passive aggressive men.

Can I Get a Smile, Baby? You’re Too Pretty to Look Sad

It’s Sunday and it feels a little like spring. I took a nice walk and I have some delicious coffee.

Im going to clean my son’s room today. He is so happy when it’s clean, but he struggles to keep it that way. It’s kind of a daily habit he hasn’t developed yet. I help him break it down into pieces when we do chores: first, put all clothing where it belongs. Then, put books away. Clean up the video game/movie area. Straighten your bed. Get food and dishes to the kitchen. Pull everything out of your closet and reorganize it and more stuff will fit in there. The only reason I can even do this is because my husband’s family is super clean and I have worked enough with them that I learned. They have come over and helped me until I caught on.

Cleaning can be an overwhelming task. I myself grew up in a family that lived in utter filth. I just don’t wanna do that to my family. A clean environment feels so nice.

Then there’s the respect thing. We are sharing a space, and you can piss your roommates off pretty quick by being a slob.

Is the family home the new place to have no respect, to let it all hang out, and to stubbornly ignore the needs and preferences of those who live there?

I don’t even know what my job is. I could seriously work here about 2-4 hours a day and it would look great all the time and my efforts would never compare to the 60+ hours my husband now works outside the home.

I still don’t think that means I am a worthless creature. The invisible labor I perform, the kind that that is intangible, is labor women have done for generations. Emotional labor. Connection. Empathy. Understanding. Endurance and strength training so that a family can come together and each person feel heard and understood. This is unpaid and undervalued labor, and it is TIRING. And sometimes I feel like I have parasites hanging off me who DON’T CARE HOW I REALLY FEEL.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

Now I know. I know why people have trouble getting along and why they argue so much and hurt each other. I know why kids resent their parents and why neighbors avoid each other. I know why people whisper and gossip instead of confronting.

Because we rarely hear each other.

Yesterday, my husband said the reason he couldn’t “accept” what I had to say was because it meant his perception automatically became wrong. He did not know that listening doesn’t mean you invalidate your own experience. He wants so badly to be right.

People want so badly to be right.

Not children, necessarily. For a while, they just want to be understood. And when that doesn’t happen, they settle for being right. They also want attention, but will settle for toys and gifts.

I never knew all this time that the reason he could not hear me was because he assumed it meant his perception was wrong.

My son once told me he was hesitant to express anger to me because he was afraid I would take something away from him – like his video games. I believe it’s important that he express his anger. Anger is not disrespectful. I’ve made many adjustments in this area. I want him to be a whole person and to know that his experience is valid.

I do NOT want him to be passive aggressive.

This Is Not What I Owe

My husband is ignoring me again. He always wins because I am weaker when it comes to being disconnected. I offended him with something I said, and even though I apologized and said I was NOT being critical (I really wasn’t), he turned it back on me and just sat down to veg out on YouTube. Normally, I would keep trying to talk it out, but I’m so embarrassed to be that needy. He obviously doesn’t need me that much and will just come looking for me when he does feel interested.

But if I ignore him back, he will double up on ignoring me until I break from the ice of his silent treatment. I swear I hate him. I hate being married to him. I hate it.

Why does he not initiate anything? Why doesn’t he bring things up that bother him? He waits until I have something to discuss and then changes the topic to his own grievance. And if I leave this unresolved, I will suffer because I actually care and he will continue on in stony silence.

He returned the electric bill. To the mail carrier. I laughed.

Should I go in there and reengage with him? Our marriage is dead. He thinks I’m evil. I don’t know what to do.

Do It For the Vine

Y’all. I forgot how difficult it is to build anything with snow. I’m so exhausted! Mr. Buttons and I constructed a wall a foot tall and four feet long.

There’s an electric bill attached to our front door with a magnet. It belongs to our neighbor and it’s been there for three days. My husband got it out of our mailbox, and he has walked it over to the neighbor’s house three times but she’s not been home. He won’t put it in her mailbox because he says that would be a federal offense. I’m happy with myself for giving him space to solve a problem. He loathes confrontation, and it seems to me that it’s not very important to him that she gets her bill.

This is an important incident. It’s important to me. I have learned to stay in my own space, figuratively and literally. I can imagine my husband’s parents stepping in and taking care of the problem. They took care of everything. His mom always took the trash out for him because he would “forget”. She seems like one of those moms who doesn’t think any woman could love her son right or work hard enough to take care of everything and over function and fix everything and anticipate needs and read minds and figure everything out and deliver it on a silver platter. I have never yet met a mom who has expressed any concern about whether or not her son is loving his wife, making good decisions, and setting a good example for his children. I know of no such women. They must exist SOMEwhere…

Oh. I do know one. Me. But Mr. Buttons isn’t married yet. He better put his wife first and care about her needs and perspectives and experiences. I mean, if you’re already married, you might as well, right? And if you’re not married, it is better to stay single and serve God.

An online journal about longing, learning, and practice