Tuesday, April 20, 2010


My husband needs underwear. Can't ever get him to wear boxers or briefs - he goes with nothing under his pants. Don't quite understand the need to be free. He keeps a spare pair of pants in a drawer at the office. Just in case his pants tear or a zipper breaks. Decency is kept in place by just one thin piece of cloth, and honestly, he doesn't want his co-workers to see anything. He isn't an exhibitionist. His sister, a doctor of psychology, thinks that he is being anti-social by going without underwear. I have no theories, other than that it must feel good.

Lately he has been complaining about sweating under his arms. He rides his bicycle to work and he arrives drenched in sweat. He does his normal work and the sweat continues through-out the day. He thinks that he is going through male menopause.

When he was a teen and his hormones were going crazy he had trouble with sweating. What helped him then was wearing a tee shirt under his button down dress shirt. It was extra fabric, but the extra layer of cotton kept the sweat from breaking through to the outside.

Now that he is 50 he thinks that his hormones are going through another re-adjustment. Thus the excess sweating. I suggested Lupus or Lymphoma or Leukemia or some other blood disease that he might be secretly dying from, but he dismissed this doom saying. He feels fine and he isn't under excess stress at work. The sweat is hormonal.

So last Saturday we bought him white cotton undershirts from Wal-Mart. They came five to a package, and the test is this week. If they work then next Friday or Saturday we will be buying more cotton undershirts.

After Wal-Mart we went to J.C. Penny's. The plan there was to buy a slip for me. I have a dress that is cut too low in the front. The dress is a black and white pattern and a black slip would cover the excess cleavage without compromising the style of the dress. According to my husband there is no such thing as excess cleavage and the dress is fine without a slip. So I said I would wear it slip free when we go out for dinner or to the mall, but in polite company, like Church or to run errands, I would feel more comfortable with a bit of lace covering my cleavage.

At J.C. Penny they had one slip in a size way too large and alas, this slip had no lace decorating it. What they did have were lace panties on sale. Now I never owned something so pretty to cover my bottom with. And since I've lost weight, most of my panties puff out all over. What I've always bought have been full coverage - no bikinis, just cotton granny panties. I have been recently depressed by how ugly and ratty my underwear is. I change at night quickly and privately, I have nothing spectacular to parade around in front of my husband's eyes.

So I wanted to buy some lace underwear but I did not know what size I am. I told my husband to wait for me and I would duck into the fitting room and try on two different sizes.

My husband said he would wander around the store. I looked around the store and saw that it was vast. I said, "I'll loose you, I'm only going to be a second."

My husband obstinately repeated that while I was in the fitting room he would wander around the store.

Honestly, I took his reluctance to do a simple thing like wait for me to be the second major rejection of the day.

Earlier that morning while he was on his computer I said, "can I show you the new dresses I bought?" - intending to change in the bedroom out of my pajamas and twirl around in dresses in front of him and his computer. But to my amazement, he shook his head and said no, he didn't want to see my new dresses. I was stunned by the rejection to my simple request. It had come, no doubt, because he felt that what he was doing on his computer could not be interrupted by the simple act of looking up from the screen. I left him, feeling cold contempt and hurt, and went into the bedroom to go on my computer. What to do? Fashion shows are supposed to be fun.

It took only several minutes and then he was in the bedroom with me apologizing for his narrow focus and "narcissism". His knee jerk reaction had been to reject any interference with his habitual morning creative time on the computer.

But what I hoped he realized was that I had been away for a week with my mother in Maine, and there were fences to be mended between us. Time apart did not apparently make the heart grow fonder. It made him feel more isolated to the point where he could be unthinkingly rude to me. We needed to do something that made us feel connected to one another. Gaining his approval or disapproval for what dresses I wore was just one link in a chain that made our marriage a joining of two minds.

So standing in J.C. Penny's with two different sized lace panties in my hand, I felt again the sting of rejection, the earlier apology forgotten, and I believed that what I faced was a man whose ties of affection were loose, to the point of being undone. His wish to roam, while I was in the dressing room, seemed to indicate that he felt no commitment to me. Thus I hissed, "I hate you".

My husband was, bless him, waiting by the lace pantie stand when I came out of the dressing room. And then, after the new underwear was purchased, while we were driving away from the store, he explained to me why it pained him, so very much, to wait for me while I was in the dressing room.

A man can walk though a lingerie department with his wife and the wife by his side gives him a purpose and reason for being there. Everyone looks at him and thinks, "husband being dragged shopping by the wife". But once the wife leaves his side he is a man alone, seemingly doing nothing other than contemplating the female underwear on sale. And if this were true, if he were a man alone looking at female underwear then he would be, according to my husband a "pervert". He was afraid, that while I was away in the changing room, people were looking at him and thinking "that man is a pervert". He was afraid that people were thinking he wanted to buy underwear for himself, or perhaps was getting aroused by being near the female lingerie.

We started to drive home in silence. I had of course had forgiven my husband for not wanting to wait for me once I knew his theory about "perverts". But after J.C. Penny's we had gone to a lamp store and quarreled again over a lamp. I thought we had found a lamp that would go perfectly with our other black and white lamp in the kitchen. But my husband said it cost too much. I said this is the place where we are going to live the rest of our lives, it is worth it to make an investment. My husband said, "Lets look at what Home Depot has" and we went and looked and saw something less elegant that was in beige, not white, and my husband said he could change the glass shade, but I thought this is just guess work, you might or might not find something that fits, we could be looking for a white glass shade to "fit" for the rest of our lives, - we should buy the sure thing.

So I was angry about not getting what I wanted, and my husband asked me what I was thinking. I told him I thought that he was nice to me about me showing him my dresses, and in general taking the day off to be with me instead of working on his computer, because he knew that if he wasn't nice then he wouldn't get any sex that evening. I said I didn't trust him or his motivations.

After saying this my husband was so insulted that he wished to pull the car to the side of the road and walk home. It was raining and we were many miles from home. So to prevent him from doing this I said, "I will just stop talking" and I did. We drove on in silence.

When we got home my husband jumped out of the car and started to walk away in the rain. I wasn't sure why not trusting him was such a big deal, or why saying that wanting sex was his alterior motive should be such an insult, but apparently it was. My husband is probably old fashioned. Sex is never achieved, in his rule book, by deception. Or even, perhaps, seduction. That would be a form of manipulation. I am usually the one in the relationship who is first to say, bluntly, do you want to have sex? Perhaps my husband is shy. All I know for certain, is that in his head, he thinks himself honorable. A real white knight.

On my husband's walk through the rain he went to an antique and used furniture store. There he saw a used sofa that looked as good as new. He came home and told me about the sofa. In our kitchen is a sofa with ripped fabric. I've covered it with a blue blanket, but the blanket never looks neat. The blanket slips and the sofa looks sloppy.

The sofa my husband found was in mint condition. It was elegant, with wood trim, and the fabric was like brushed velvet. It was blue, like the old sofa. But I couldn't make up my mind. Then in the corner of that same store we found a sofa that was green that had some sun damage, the color was a little faded (but no rips and no stains) and it looked a little forlorn. But I sat in it and it felt more comfortable than the elegant blue one. Maybe in secret I feel more like a forlorn person than an elegant person. The price was reduced on the green sofa, because it had been in the shop for so long. So for $170 we got the forlorn sofa. The adventure of putting it on top of our car and securing it with electrical wire (we didn't have any rope) and hoping we could get it home without being stopped by the police was so dramatic that a temporary truce was declared between my husband and I.

The "new" sofa put into process the desire to clean my kitchen and make it beautiful. I put a hand made quilt over the back of my new sofa and it looks really pretty and inviting. I bought at the grocery store a large potted plant to put in the window behind the sofa. Today I have to do the dishes, and then, with a clean sink, change the water in the bamboo vase. The water grows scum in it and has to be changed once every several months. I don't know how much work I can get done before my energy gives out on me, but I will be working on the kitchen all day long. Last night my husband vacuumed the rugs. So it is starting to look sweet.

The fight we had in the car finished completely the next day with my husband allowing me to buy the original lamp I wanted for the kitchen. It is to be installed in the ceiling, over the stove. Right now there isn't much light to cook by. And my husband's eyes aren't so good. I don't know whether or not to ask my mother's permission to knock a small hole in the ceiling to install it. I suppose I ought to. I wish to simply go ahead, do it on the sly, and have her admire the finished job. That is what she would do. She rarely asks anyone's opinion, she just does what she wants. But she is my landlord, and owner of the building.

There is nothing that brightens your day like getting what you want. I pointed out to my husband that he is getting a computer that I object to, but that I have been silent about my objections once the project with his daughter got under way. I said that if I give a little, he needs to give a little. Also I pointed out that we got a sofa at a fantastic price, and as a sweetener, I promise not to buy any more dresses until next summer. All that money saved, can go into the lamp.

The happiest part about being mentally ill and in recovery is that you can have a wide variety of normal experiences. Both the good and bad are part of the machinery of day to day life. Everything that I have just written about, from underwear to arguments about sex and lamps are the stuff that I adore, - simple, humble, day to day living. As an adult, as a regular person, as a bonified member of the human race.

Now I'm going to go clean. And I'm grateful for the fact that I know I have it in me to clean. When you have a mental illness, any small accomplishment, is in fact, a big accomplishment.

Hope my husband is happy to come home and find the dishes done.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,

    I love these humble tales of your daily life. There's comfort in them for me. Thank you for sharing some of your life online. And I'm happy that you treated yourself to some nice underwear. I am also happy that you have the ability to clean. I've been struggling hard with that one lately. Truth is I have too big a house and too much stuff, but I stick to hoarding too much. And the dirty dishes in the kitchen I just walk by until I have to clean something to eat on. I truly dislike being a slob. As is usually the case, before I got ill I would thoroughly enjoy cleaning. It made me feel proud of my home. I wish there was a clean your home pill I could take, but, alas, no such luck. So this week-end I've determined to do some spring cleaning. Wish me luck!

    Kate : )


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