Intimacy is Emotion: It’s Not a Job

don_t_touch_me_by_pikminaaa-d62olak-e1386481783975I’m trying really hard to nix that habit I have, where I make these broad, sweeping generalizations about men (or women) and human behavior.   So to make sure I avoid that nasty habit, I am going to preface this blog post and say, “this is how I feel,” and acknowledge that all intimate relationships are unique.

After having what my step-son’s and husband felt was the best and most fun summer of our marriage so far, the fall has presented some unique challenges, both in terms of health and budget.  The life of a freelance professional is never easy, and lately it makes less and less sense to me.   I’m averaging 60-90 hours per week or more, making about what I would make, with a single day job in Dallas.  Maybe a little less.

I’m stressed.  I’m homesick in a way that is disabling, both cognitively and emotionally.  Four years is a long time to be gone from your family and friends, and unless you’ve actually done it, you won’t understand how quickly it can take you down.  How every day there is this underlying ache to be in the same room, eat the familiar foods and be in your “home base”, where shit actually feels secure, and known.   And safe.

To sit in Second Cup at Bloor and Spadina with Rahila.   Or go for hot pot or really great dim sum, with Diane after work.   Or swing by my Aunt’s house, and sit at her large octagon granite table, and talk about everything, while my Uncle tries to get me wasted on the wine he makes.  (Stuff is mucho strong, but delish!).   The click-clack of heels on the sidewalk.  The chicken noodle soup from Tim Horton’s.   The asian market and hot pot doo dads that I can’t find here in Texas, to save my life.  The absence of shrimp balls, and fresh glass noodles makes life feel strange.

When I am stressed, I don’t feel cuddly.  Let me be honest … I’ve never been a very cuddly person with humans.  Give me a fur ball or four, and I am all about the kisses and petting and cuddling.   Give me a bottle of wine (or two), and I am all about a passionate romp in the bedroom.  I still like sex.  A lot.   But when I am stressed, I pull in and pull back, and frankly, I don’t want to be mauled, or touched, or crowded.

Part of that has to do with ADHD too, as I understood it during therapy.  You see, it’s on the spectrum.  Much as a child with autism does not want to be touched when he or she is under sensory overload, I too, feel the same way.  I can barely cope with what is processing INSIDE me, let alone bear someone touching me when I am stressed.   Another conflict with my husband is that he is a cuddle person.  He’d crawl up my nose if he could, to get closer to me physically, and while I enjoy that from time to time, in this exact moment I am stressed, upset, homesick, over worked, and frankly… not feeling like I want to be anyone’s teddy bear.

Except the dogs.  They’re allowed, which I am sure makes the husband that much more jealous.

This morning I talked to my husband and laid down some new ground rules.

“You are not allowed to complain about me being not ‘touchy feely’ when I am stressed.  You aren’t allowed to take it out and beat me with it, like it’s a stick.  You aren’t allowed to sit there, and assume that no matter how I am feeling inside (or how sick I am), that I have a job to do, which is to gratify your need for sex or cuddles.   We’ll talk when I am feeling better.  But intimacy is not “a job” that I have to do every day… I’m allowed to be in a funk, and I’m allowed to process.  You are NOT ALLOWED to constantly make me feel deficient if you are not getting what you think you should be getting.   And complaining about it?  Or nagging?  That pretty much guarantees I’m not going to do what you want, because I’m an stubborn bitch, that doesn’t like to be told what to do.”

And then because I am a vile and cruel person, I added: “If you would like me to start each day with an emailed list to you, in alphabetical order, of the things you are deficient in providing in our relationship, household, finances etc. please let me know.  That’s essentially what you are doing to me, and that shit stops now.”

Then I mentioned that affection for a woman, is psychological.  This year hammered our marriage.  He thinks I should simply “get over it”.  And every time he says that, I drift a little further away.  And sometimes, I look at apartments for rent, in Windsor Ontario.   And that completely and utterly, breaks my heart.  Because what I visualize, isn’t as heart breaking as it should be.   And what does that mean?

If you are making it feel like a job on a to-do list, you’re doing it wrong.  And that’s about as honest as I can be about that, for any relationship, including a marriage that has hit a bumpy patch.   New rule created.  And you better believe, I will back it up.

Photo: pikminaaa

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