Thursday, August 22, 2013

When You Hurt the Ones You Love

The words tumble out before I can think through what I am saying. Half thoughts that try to explain the hurt that I feel inside. The emptiness that I can't seem to shake.

That look snaps across his face. The one that says I've crossed a line. That he's just a little angry but he won't say as much. The look that shows how my insensitivity has caused him just a bit of pain, but he won't share that either.

Instead he snaps back a comment, to which I reply in turn, and then stares at me, silent. It's become almost a game we play. He feels he has nothing to say, so he doesn't. I say what I need to and wait for a response, and get nothing.

The summer has been busy for him. He took a 6 day class back in the spring and has spent most of his free time studying for a big test that he took this week. When he hasn't been studying, he's been working. When he hasn't been doing either of those things, he's been watching TV. If I get to spend any time with him, it's been during the "Do you want to watch ...?" times. His idea of watching TV is to have the TV on, and be working on his laptop.

In the midst of all of this, I struggle. I struggle with feeling less than important. I struggle with the lack of quality time spent together. I struggle to not sound like a needy wife who has to be the center of her husband's world, because that isn't how I feel at all. Mostly, I just feel lonely.

It is possible to live in a house with other people, and feel incredibly alone.

So in my weak attempt to explain why I slept on the couch last night, I said some things that were a little unkind. Like how I was glad that he was going to be gone again this year for another 6 day class and busy studying all the time so I didn't have to deal with how he never wanted to spend time with me. The truth is, I'm torn in two over it. I'm proud of him for doing it, and know that it will advance his career if he ever decides to pursue a new job. I also hate the very idea of it, knowing how much time it is going to consume.

Those words I said were bred out of selfishness, I realized later today. That is not something I am proud of, and if I were to go back and analyze most of our conflicts, I would probably discover a pattern.

 I was focused on me, and my own situation and not thinking about him. Not about how he would feel, or how all of this studying has been a lot of work and maybe stressful and he's needed that downtime to just zone out. I was too hung up on feeling neglected and letting it effect my mood, to think about the big picture, which involved him as well.

So as a result, my selfishness hurt him and it's too late to take it back. I often think that we treat strangers better than we treat the people that we love, which is a sad reflection on life and the way things are.
How can I expect him to want to spend time with me, if I can't even treat him with respect and love?

Friday, August 16, 2013

When A Week is Not Long Enough

The notation on the calendar stares at me like a flashing neon sign on a Vegas hotel: Corey to Clarkson. All month long it has been there, a looming deadline that seemed to be approaching far faster than I care for. Every summer I'm taken by how July, with it's hot, lazy days can seem to last for so long and yet August goes speeding by in the wink of an eye. How having that first day of school on the calendar makes the last weeks a blur of getting ready and trying to fit in last minute vacations and trips and lounging about. If I could, I would push a pause button and stay here for a while. Right here, with this last week laid out before us, and let it drag on for just a bit longer. I would fit in some hiking trips and adventures in the woods. I would plan for movies with bowls of buttery popcorn. I would attempt to have the conversations that are brewing in my heart, but afraid to come to the surface. I would try to impress the images of him, sitting there at his desk into my brain, so when it is sitting there all year empty, I can remember our summer sharing a space together and how much I enjoyed it even when he drove me a little crazy.

As this last week looms before us, there is packing to do and sorting to get through. His room looks like a hurricane blew through it, although that's not really any different from how it normally looks. He has received his fall schedule and his roommate assignment and has already informed me that he's not thrilled that we are planning on coming up for family weekend in October. I like to think that we have given him what he needs to go out into the world, confident and strong, but I know that in many ways we have failed, both him and ourselves. Despite that, he is ready, perhaps even a little bit more ready than I am. Next Friday, when we head out with all of his things packed into the van, I will do my best to leave my worries at home. To not ask all those dorky questions that will make him crabby and shut down. To enjoy the long ride, and our time together while we have it. On Saturday afternoon, when I have to leave him there, I will not make a deal if he won't hug me goodbye, as he hasn't hugged me in more years than I can even remember, but I already told The Boy™ that he has to drive home. I won't be able to see very well through the tears.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

When You Find The Time Getting Short

The temperature on my weather app read 43*f when I checked it at 4:06am yesterday. The day before I was sitting around with some girl friends, enjoying the afternoon and catching up when one of them remarked about the beautiful fall day we were enjoying. I felt myself scowl before I choked down the rant about how unhappy I was about the weather and how it did in fact seem that summer was over.

The light has started to change, on both ends of the day. The sun is taking longer to come up over the mountain in the morning, and it's starting to get dark again by 8:00pm. The day time temperatures have been in the 70's, and scattered about my lawn are dried up leaves that have already changed and fallen off their trees. Our summer season has gone from the three months I remember as a youth, to the 31 days of July. As much as I love fall, and all of the things it has to offer, this saddens me. I am not ready for it's arrival in August. I still want to be able to don my shorts and flip flops and take naps out in my hammock. I want to be able to eat dinner out at the table in the backyard and not have to be wearing long pants and a sweatshirt. I want the days to climb into the 80's and to feel like summer, so I can hold onto it for just a little bit longer before having to head back to school at the end of the month.

As this summer comes to an end, and I prepare to send my son off to college, I realize that the time I have left with my daughter is running short as well. Last month she celebrated her sixteenth birthday and this fall she will start her junior year of high school. She's struggling, my girl, to find herself in a wave of teenage drama and complicated friend challenges and low self image problems. She has days where she is happy and social and days she holes herself up in her room, engaged in activities known only to her, or napping and I feel my worry radar climb a notch or two. Through all of that though, she brings out the best in those around her. She is smart, funny, talented, beautiful, thoughtful and witty and those of us who are fortunate to have her in our lives are blessed more than we deserve.

This summer, I have watched as she has spent time with her brother, watching season after season of Dr. Who. I have listened as he has asked her questions about things that he normally wouldn't have taken an interest in before. I have heard her having discussions with him about nothing, and everything, and I have taken it all in. He asks me questions about her when she has been sleeping for what he deems to be too long. She offers her thoughts on what a wreck he's going to be out in the world alone when he's out of ear shot.  They both claim to be looking forward to the day that he leaves. He says he can't wait to go. She says that she won't miss him. I think that deep inside they are both frauds, but I don't dare tell either of them that. They need to discover it for themselves.

Me, I'm counting down the days, and trying to enjoy the time left. He is starting to get short, and cranky, which is his way of pushing me away. I can see right through that facade, knowing that it won't hurt any less if he distances himself before he goes, and I still engage him in discussions. I let him think that he can go, and it's not going to be any big deal. I don't make a huge fuss about the fact that I am going to miss him and his presence in this house, but I do mention it sometimes. I don't want him to leave thinking that he's not loved and wanted here. I am grateful that I will still have 2 more years with her after he goes, though experience has shown me it will be over before I know it. My time with these kids is running out, and I can only hope that I have given them what they need to soar on their own.