Sometimes, in order to achieve a greater strategic goal one must make some tactical sacrifices. The evacuation at Dunkirk was necessary if Britain was to continue the war against Hitler, but it sure looked like a defeat at the time.
One of the things I hate most about being in a relationship is that I cannot be guaranteed of solitude. I do not have any moment when I can say "I do not have to have any social interaction that I do not choose." S, my hopefully soon-to-be ex, wanted to drive 45 minutes north and across the river today to go to a discount closeout store ostensibly to buy brackets to build a shelf on the bedroom wall. It was understood that I would go along with him and we would have lunch at this restaurant we like on the way.
Only, I didn't want to go. I wanted to do some housework and get my tax materials together and then I wanted to go into town in the evening and have some fun. I didn't want to spend the day with him driving through Outer Mongolia to go a store to buy stuff we don't need.
I went out this morning to go to the gym, and I was angry. Why should I have to waste my Sunday with him? Why should I have to sit in the car for nearly 2 hours to drive to some godforesaken rural backwater to go a store I don't like? Why should I put my life and plans on hold so he can go shopping? Can't he go shopping on his own? It's not like we have loads of unbridled fun together enjoying each other's company. I had resolved, before my workout, that I would decline.
Afterward, though, I don't know what happened. I was concerned about hurting his feelings. I was worried he would be sad and disappointed if I said no. I began to feel like a selfish brat. The lesbian couples therapist has told me over and over again that his feelings are not my fault and his moods are not my responsibility and that he has a right to feel what he feels and I have a right to feel what I feel -- and I should honestly express myself. If I don't want to go, I should say so. How many times have I wanted to do something only to have him say no? Too many to count.
I was agonized. I just couldn't make up my mind. The little boy who felt like he needed to make everything OK, that everything is his fault and his responsibility, that his feelings do not count, was in a mess.
I gave in. I capitulated. I went with him on the damnable shopping trip, gathering more twig for the nest that has long since been empty and really ought to be torn down.
I had a brief glimmer of joy. There is a designer outlet store next to the restaurant we ate in that was a having a tremendous sale. I delved into an orgy of shopping, buying $1200 worth of many, many, many new clothes and shoes for $300. It was almost sexual: when I brought my bags of conquests back to the car, I had that warm post-coital afterglow I usually associate with a truly mind-blowing orgasm.
But then I realized I had lost my cell phone. I know I brought it with him, but it wasn't in my pants or in my jacket. It wasn't in the bags or in the car or in the restaurant. The stores had closed, but the kids I shouted at through the doors said they didn't find one. It wasn't waiting for me here when I got home. The cell phone is my link to the world and I feel incomplete without it. I'll call the stores tomorrow morning to see if they found it, but I'm not holding out hope. I'll have to get a new one - but I'm not eligible for a new phone yet. Oh well, that's what credit cards are for.
Then, it turned out that the damnable store we went on this expedition for didn't have the brackets he wanted. That didn't mean, though, that we didn't have to spend two bloody hours there while he rooted through garden ornaments and tools and cookware. I felt just like I was 8 years old again waiting for my mom to finish up at the grocery store so I could go home. Of course I don't have the right to say "I'd like to go home now." That would get him angry and sad and put him in his pissy mood and make me have to deal with his foulness when I got home. He's like a great bloody cloud of negativity that I can never escape.
I would like to think that I made a tactical retreat and by humoring his ridiculous desire to go to this far away store I gave him a nice day to make the couples separation process smoother. Plus, I love the new clothes I bought.
But I really would have liked to have achieved even one of my chores today and I really would have preferred to not lose my phone. And right now, instead of posting online, I could be enjoying myself (or enjoying someone else) in the city.
Never again. Next time he wants to go shopping and I don't want to, I'll say no and do what I want.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde