Thursday, October 15, 2009

Expectations Run Amok

Have you ever wanted to tell your significant other something important, and he/she listens with only half an ear? Ever had something momentous happen, and the SO just seems intent on getting dinner on the table and watching a game of sports?
Sometimes I want to yell: Just Listen To Me! Stop What You’re Doing and Hear Me! I Want to Be the Most Important Person in Your Life Right Now!
Yelling might get his attention, but I can’t do it since I’m not one for yelling. I like civilized discussions.
So I came in here, my little conservatory-office, and wrote a poem. It doesn’t paint him in a very flattering light, but his response when I read it to him was “That’s wonderful.”
He’s easy to love, even if he is sometimes hard to talk to.

The Wife, Suffering Deep Depression, Goes to the Therapist

I come home to you, my husband of 17 years,
and you pull the chicken out of the oven and say
How was it? while you get the spinach ready
and set out knives and forks and plates.
How was it, that visit with the therapist?
You say, I’m going to eat now; how ’bout you?

I stand in the kitchen like a big crow,
black and shiny and standing in that little kitchen
like I don’t belong there; how am I going to eat
this food on this plate, for instance?
At moments like these, you tell the truth or lie,
so I said It was strange. You were eating
and the Phillies came up with another run.

Strange how? you asked. I didn’t know how.
I sat beside you, not like a crow but like a woman,
and I carefully ate that plateful of chicken & rice.
I had told her I was sick of the cheerleading
that the darkness was too big and I was scared,
that we needed to talk about why I melted down

and had to go to the psychiatric ward and all
the crying and the sense of pain. There were long
lengths of silences that I didn’t bother to fill.
She offered me no answers. I’d have been surprised
if she had. It was strange that I couldn’t connect

with her, and now I can’t connect with you.
I take my five pills, or seven, and hope they fix
whatever is in me that is wrong and so unspeakable.
that the best I can say is I am a crow in the kitchen.

Chris Alba © 2009


Gin said...

Sigh...relationships can be so complicated, can't they?

lakeviewer said...

He can't know how you feel. Your poem is telling him, us. Your words stand for everything that you want to say. They will have to do for a while. Nobody really knows how we feel. If one can express herself/himself, one can begin to communicate, paint the picture, reach out and ask what it is they need.

Yet, I can't know except through your words. So, keep writing those feelings down; these words are helping you define what you went through, are going through, and help others understand a little bit how it was/is.

From the look of him, he loves you, and he's trying.

I don't mean to minimize how you feel. Only, this too will pass, in time, and with patience. The meds will help with the chemical balance that you lost. Most depression is associated with our chemistry. Are you going through menopause as well? I remember those dark days too well.

Dulce said...

Oh... It's beautiful to have such a relationship, despite the misunderstandings and imperfections. Yes, lucky you both are and wonderfully depicted in these stanzas!

Tall Kay said...

What a beautiful picture! I would title it 'giggly fun lovers'.

Men just don't understand how much us women really feel. I think 17 years of marriage speaks of REAL love. You are so blessed Chris. Such genuine smiles!

ps: you're already sounding a bit better :o)

Monkey Man said...

Our level of serenity is inversely proportionate to our level of expectation.

Hope said...

Sometimes when my DH is unable to really hear me I think to myself that he is missing out on knowing me in that moment. I used to take it personally but do that less and less.

The last time he did it I had just called him from the parking lot to tell him that I didn't need heart surgery. He was incapable of being present. I felt very disappointed. I sat there and thought about expectations vs needs. I cut the call short. Then I sat in the car and had a few spicy words with God. DH called me back shortly afterwards to tell me he had blown it, hadn't been able to be present and he was sorry. We're both a work in progress.

I liked your poem.

boots said...

wow, I love this, i love that you shared your feelings described in the poem, He does love you and appreciate you!
Sometimes I think my marriage would be better if we stopped trying to talk. I talk he hears something very different, He talks and it sounds so critical.
Thank you again

Shadow said...

sharing the poem with him is an excellent way of getting your message across. some times we are just on different wavelengths to our partners so finding another way to do it is great!

Hope said...


Yes, I am in AA recovery - long time sober but short time working the program. Restraint of tongue and pen seems to come to me more lately. DH and I have been through the wringer to get where we are today in our relationship....the more I like me, the more I like him. :)