So, I’ve managed, once again, to completely ruin the holidays for my wife. Why this would come as a surprise to either of us is anyone’s guess, but it still stings that I couldn’t help but do it.
Christmas was pretty much a fiasco, but I kind of knew it would be, as I was unexpectedly devastated by a fierce attack of bittersweet sentiment of grief, and the fact that, from a personally selfish point of view, Christmas has been, for the past decade and a half, generally disappointing.
But I’d really been hoping that I could get it together yesterday for my wife’s birthday. I’d spoken with my psychiatrist, and stocked up on my anxiety meds with the expectation that I could deaden the nonsense inside of my brain long enough to appear to be a functional human being, of whom my wife was not ashamed, and for whose absence she would have to make no apologies.
To be fair, I was running off of very little sleep, and despite the fact that I got home several hours earlier than my normal workday allows, I was completely wiped. She insisted that I try to rest, but I was afraid that if I let my body dictate my affairs, I would sleep through the changing of the year. Would that that had been the case.
I went to the store to grab a couple of highly caffeinated beverages (which I didn’t consume until much later), and a couple of canned cocktails which I felt that she might enjoy, and then took her advice to lay down for awhile to try to rest.
Hours later, I was still dicking around on my phone, and trying to squeeze in some last-minute reading to pad out my 2018 reading list. Basically doing anything to avoid doing anything positive to mend my mental state and growing unease at the notion of being surrounded by entirely too many people (which is apparently any number over 3 or 4). I dutifully took my medication and waited for the numbing to begin.
As the sun sank beneath the horizon and the shadows of dusk became evening’s darkness, I could hear people beginning to arrive outside my bedroom door. I decided to wait awhile for the meds to kick in, but the longer I waited, the harder it became to engage some form of social inertia required to launch myself into the orbit of these people (with most of whom I had no real connection, or even previous knowledge). I could hear the conversations and laughter beyond the door, and felt that it would be unfair for me to make an appearance just to bring them down,
Eventually, I did manage to abandon my seclusion for a bit to hide out in the kitchen, where I was asked for my expertise about the cooking ham. A few test chunks later, I proclaimed it ready and delicious, only to finally truly notice all of the additional people in my apartment.
I’d told Wildflower that she should have the people over that she wanted, as it was her birthday, and that I would try to cope with it as best I could. My best, apparently, was to quickly exit stage right and briskly make my way back into the safety and solitude of my bedroom.
At some point (though where on the evening’s chronology it fell, I cannot for certain say), Wildflower did come in and ask for help removing a table which we’d been storing there (presumably for occasions like last night). I should have been more conscious of my reactions: irritability, inability to work out simple geometry, and entirely misplaced anger, but I couldn’t. Apparently it takes the next day’s anguish and depression at having failed so completely at such a simple task (and by this, I am not only referring to the passage of the table, but at my inability to be an actual fucking human being for any length of time) to realize that there was no way that I could have been of any use in that moment.
The longer I remained secluded, the more the shame and terror built. In between the bursts of laughter and merriment, I could plainly hear the silent recriminations of my absence, and the shame my wife most assuredly was feeling as her useless husband hid away like some sort of antisocial personification of rudeness.
I watched the clock inch closer to midnight, just praying for the year to finally be done with; hoping that, somehow, at the year’s end, I would be washed clean of everything, and that I could join them in their celebrations as if nothing had ever happened (though, I suppose, that should read as if something had actually happened). Alas, it was not to be.
Toasts and cheers were made, and I turned off the light and wept myself to sleep, for I had missed my opportunity to spend yet another special moment with my wife.
When I woke, sometime in the early morning, she was snuggled up beside me.
When I woke again, she was gone.
As the daylight grew, I could hear the voices again, the noises of a household already waking up. By the time my nicotine addiction had given me the courage to try to make it out the front door of my apartment, I still found that I could not bear to face the people I’d managed to let down. So I left my phone to charge, that no one could reach me on the chance that I allowed my melancholia to win, plugged my headphones into one of my old and dead phones (with which I can never seem to find the courage to part ways), and pretended to have a conversation with someone while walking through the living room, past all of those judgmental eyes (author’s note: I’m pretty sure the intent which I’ve ascribed was entirely in my head), and out the door, waving meekly at those with whom I’d failed to completely avoid eye contact.
At that point, my intention was to rid myself of the burden of myself which I have, for a dozen years, inflicted on my wife. But, as I wandered in the outside world, free of the physical and social claustrophobia I’d been enduring for so many hours, I felt that, perhaps, it wouldn’t be fair to my wife for me to end my failure to her with an even larger one.
I bought a beverage for myself, and a pack of snack cakes for her, and came back to the apartment.
I wish that I could say that I managed to be sociable, or that she wasn’t deeply hurt by all I’d failed to do the night before, but I think we all know how these type of stories wind up ending.
And so I sit here in my bedroom, typing up my failures, and generally avoiding the family to which I pledged myself when I married Wildflower.
‘I wish that I could be someone who deserved her. I wish that I could be someone whom she deserved. But I remain myself, and seem destined to ruin everything between us until the day she meets someone who makes her happy (without a preponderance of tears), and decides to leave me.
Believe me when I say that this is not my ideal outcome, in terms of positive life choices, but I am honest enough with myself to recognize that she deserves some modicum of happiness (especially having had to endure over a decade of Tex Batmart), and this velvet voice inside my brain (the one I know to be a master misinterpreter of truths) assures me that I will never be the one to give that to her, nor, for that matter, am I even capable of providing her with that.
tl;dr- I suck as a human being, and especially as a husband.