Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Let Him Suffer?

Baroy has been having a very hard time lately. It's not really fair for me to talk too much about Baroy and his inner turmoils here, because not only isn't this his blog, but he doesn't read it, and he wouldn't be able to correct my misconceptions. But on the other hand, his hard time has an impact on me, and that is something I do want to talk about. So...here's what I'm seeing or perceiving, and here's what the impacts of those perceptions are.

For the first time in a good two years, Baroy is not only not working, but has no immediate prospects, nothing "coming up." It's making him very sad, very unhappy. I keep trying to buck him up, but it's not really working.

See, I used to often complain--in real life, not here--about my underemployed husband, and the stress of being the sole wage-earner, and the financial difficulties we had because of it. And those complaints, some of which were voiced directly to him, have obviously stuck with him. But it's no longer the case. It's been a good two years in terms of his having income, with some truly stellar months in there. And so we're OK for now. Even moreso because I got paid for my book last year, and will hopefully have some royalties coming in at some point in the future, and because I'm currently doing a whole bunch of fun and interesting freelance work for a very good friend, and that is more than making up for the money Baroy is no longer bringing in. Not to mention that he's still eligibile for unemployment benefits, I think.

Still, that doesn't seem to be sinking in with him. Or, rather, I think that he's using it as an excuse to be frustrated and depressed about having nowhere to go and--more critically--nothing to do each day. I think in the past couple of years he's gotten used to having work, something that wasn't true in the preceding eight years that I've known him. And so, while back in the old days he would have just filled up his week with movies and golfing and buiding stuff for the house, now he's combing job sites and sending out resumes and such. All of which is good, even wonderful. But when he's done, he is mostly sitting around obsessing over the lack of response, and sinking into his "dark place" whenever he's faced with an outright rejection.

I feel badly about this. He's going to turn 50 this year, and that certainly isn't helping his angst any. If he weren't such a stubborn fuck (and, of course, I mean that in the nicest possible way...), I'd suggest counseling. (He has decided he hates counseling, and therefore would be a reluctant participant, at best.) So instead, I suggest activities for him, most of which he's been shooting down in that way he has, where I will say, "Hey, why don't you start working on a new play?" and he says, in a depressed monotone, "Why? I already have five plays that nobody is interested in. Why would I write another one?" Oy. Forget I said anything.

I also keep assuring him that we're fine, that he doesn't have to worry about money, that right now we have a cushion, and we don't even have to cut back, so he should just look around for the right job, rather than obsessing because some completely wrong job doesn't call him in for an interview. But somehow he can't see that.

Yesterday, in therapy, I was talking about all of this, and how frustrated I am that I can't seem to get through to him that, for the first time, I really am handling it, I really am bringing in enough money for us to live on, and while any contribution he might make would be great, it's not essential like it's been at certain times in the past. I was talking about how badly I feel for him, how much I want to figure out the magic words that will lift him out of his funk and get him excited about something again. How much I want to solve this for him.

She listened, as therapists are wont to do, and then she said, "I have to tell you, I think this may be a good thing for him. Let him suffer. Let him feel what he's feeling, and let it push him or direct him wherever it will."

That stopped me cold. Let him suffer? In the past, when he never seemed to care all that much about my carrying the burden, or his not 'contributing' to the family funds, I would have said that I would relish the opportunity to watch him suffer a bit, in the hopes that he'd give up this crazy dream of being a playwright or a television writer or whatever, and get a 'real' job, something with security. But then he proved that he can make it work. And he was so happy doing what he's been doing. So confident in himself. It was nice to see. And now, I want to see that again. I don't want to see him suffer. I don't even want him to give up on his dream. But I can see her point. Maybe what he really needs now is a little tough love, or at least a laissez faire attitude from me, rather than having me make it all right for him.

Still, it hurts to watch him hurt. For years, I've felt guilty because I was aware that there was much less ferocity in my love for him than in my love for N and Em. But lately, I'm feeling that ferocious love start to build up again. It's not a maternal love, but the feeling of a partner, whose life will be changed--is being changed--by the other partner's misfortunes. We're a unit. And half the unit is sagging, being sucked down into darkness, and I can't do anything. I just have to let him suffer. Even if it feels cruel and mean and just plain wrong.

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