Here is last night’s situation from my perspective:
[Our daughter is seventeen years old, she is currently recovering from anorexia, and it appears that it has been more difficult lately (she has had some disappointments surrounding school, and this has magnified her anxiety, depression, and eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. She also shows some signs of being on the autism spectrum, but we as parents have only just started to realize that.]
Every night Daughter has taken a shower for the past few months, Wifey blow dries her hair. They both like it a lot because it’s intimate, and it makes them feel connected. Also, Wifey is better at styling girls’ hair than I am. Although, I am no slouch.
Wifey took a half day yesterday because she usually pulls Daughter out for a therapy appointment (one of three each week. Wifey takes her to most of her appointments because I am a teacher, and I work during the day.); however, yesterday’s appointment was canceled because Daughter’s therapist is in Norway or some shit. So, Wifey took a half-day to take Daughter to the Field Museum and to dinner. So, it had been a long day…
Wifey did not finish a part of her work, so she had her laptop on the couch while Daughter took her shower. I moved around the house between laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and checking on insurance reimbursements (we’re broke, so we are nickel and diming until next paycheck).
Daughter asks Wifey to blow dry and style her hair. Wifey states that she needs five minutes to finish her task. Daughter says OK, but hovers because as I said before, she is most likely on the spectrum, and time and needs become conflated, and she becomes anxious. So, she let Wifey work, but she just hovered over her left shoulder behind the couch. Wifey then becomes anxious, and complains that Daughter is hovering and that she still needs five minutes. Then, Wifey says, “Why don’t you ask your father? He is probably off somewhere doing art.”
That statement belittles me, and she knows it. It diminishes my talent and passion and disrespects an entire aspect of my personality. Part of what upsets her about my art is that she feels that I have used it in the past to not be present for my family. She is right about my not being present, but that had very little to do with art. I have been working very hard to be present, to not disappear somewhere in the house to avoid the hard conversations and situations. So, this statement puts my teeth on edge.
Daughter is trying to read Wifey, to anticipate her true feelings, and she determines that Wifey ultimately does not want to blow dry her hair this evening, so she considers asking me to do it out loud. Wifey says that if Daughter truly cannot wait, then she should ask Dad.
I walk into the kitchen, Daughter asks me to blow dry her hair.
At this, Wifey slams her laptop closed, stands up and begins ranting about how she has to always take care of everyone else before she can take care of herself. I match her volume, and I proclaim, “I don’t even know what the fuck is going on here! What would you have me do?”
Daughter begins to speak just as fast and loud as Wifey, insisting that it is just not that big of a deal, that Wifey can finish her work, it’s just that Wifey isn’t always forthright with exactly how long it will take her to finish, to which Wifey replies that Daughter is accusing her of lying. In a very agitated state, Wifey then insists that she blow dry Daughter’s hair. Daughter finally acquiesces, and the tension eventually melts, and Wifey explains to Daughter that it she is not mad at her, etc. But, is she mad at me? I don’t even know, because as soon as she finishes with Daughter, she grabs her computer and bolts up to our bedroom.
Later, I come in to put away laundry. Silence. Wifey is finishing her work. Silence. Wifey is on facebook on her phone. Silence. Wifey is on indeed, looking for part-time jobs because we are fucking broke. She wants me to be as upset about us being broke. She wants me to be scouring these bullshit dead-end sites to be scooping up all of the part-time jobs that I can so that I can contribute to our family in our time of need. We both work full-time already. I teach high school and coach tennis. I can probably get a weekend part-time job, but with both her and me working part-time jobs to make ends meet, nobody will be at home to keep things from going to hell here, and they will with no adult supervision. So, that is an underlying tension. Anyway… Silence.
I fell asleep.
This morning, I wake up with Daughter, make sure she eats, packs proper snacks, maintains her daily hygiene routine, help get her and her twin sister out the door for school. They go to two separate schools. Wife stays in bed looking at her phone. It’s late. I have to get to work. I hug Wifey, and she says, “So, are we going to talk?”
I said, “About what, exactly? Last night? Sure…”
She said, “It feels like you don’t talk to me. There are so many huge things going on, and if you don’t know what it is that we should be talking about, I don’t know what to tell you. So, I’ll just let you sit with that question, and YOU determine what we need to talk about.”
I guarantee you, when I come back to her later with everything in this post, it will be the wrong thing to have been focusing on.