What happened, part I (my version—I haven't heard his yet)
We had decided Saturday to go to Elmwood Cemetery and The Heidelberg Project on Sunday, the one day Keith has off because he works 6 days a week. We needed a place that wasn't too far away because we were having dinner at ML's at 6 and picking up Graham.
Keith made breakfast while I worked on Silk Creek Review and in the shower this morning, we discussed an agenda. We decided to pack our gear at 1:15 and at 1:30 leave so that we would have sufficient time at both places and plenty of time not to be late to ML's. If we got done early, we planned to go home first and then to ML's.
We packed the car and started out and Keith asked if I knew the way to Camp-O'Fun where I'd theoretically be taking Graham in the morning. I said, "No, how would I know?" I probably sounded slightly annoyed (because—HOW WOULD I KNOW? It's in a new place this year, different from last year or the year before etc.) I don't live there, never have lived there, and do not know my way around. I literally had no idea at all where this place was or what it was called or anything else about it.
So he said he was going to show me and started driving.
We drove past a woman riding a bike and he made a negative comment about people riding around in their underwear. (It was not the first remark of that nature). I turned as we were just coming next to her and she was on my side so I looked closely. She was wearing something that looked like a bikini top from a bathing suit or a halter top. It was yellow and had flowers and I looked closely to see if it had bra-like attachments. It did not.
I said something to him about being a stodgy old man and he said "that's what happens to men when they get old." I said "that's stupid," and he said, "that's your opinion," and I said, "yes it is, and you could make different choices," he said, "YOU WANT TO CHANGE WHO I AM." I said, "no I DO NOT," he said, "Yes you do."
And then he said, "here's the school," and pointed at it and I said, "I have no idea how to get here, I forgot to pay attention," (because we were arguing), and he said, "Does that mean you don't want to drive Graham here tomorrow?" and I said, "No, it doesn't mean that, it simply means I don't know where it is," and he said "The whole point of this exercise was for you to see where the school was," And I said, "We could go back and do it over, or better yet, just let me out. Goodbye." And I got out.
I attempted to retrace the route we had taken and got very frightened for a while, because I had no idea where we were and all the streets had unfamiliar names. But I kept walking and hoping I'd recognize something and eventually, I did.
It turned out it was very simple and had he taken the time to explain it or draw a map or in any other way be nice or helpful, I could have done it with no problem. But never once did he say, "OK, now, we're turning left at Richard, OK, note that Ridge turns into Waterloo and Waterloo turns into Vernor (?) etc and it's right here at the corner of Waterloo and Cadieux where Waterloo turns into Vernor and also it's right on Kercheval. If I had driven him somewhere in Baldwinsville like that and then expected him to remember the way, he would have been pissed. What happened to the Golden rule? And I couldn't watch because we were arguing.
When I got back, I wrote down the directions carefully and drew myself a map. At that point, I was still intending to drive Graham to Camp O'Fun both Monday and Tuesday.
1)I was annoyed about the whole showing me the way when he said nothing and pointed out nothing and made no mention of where we were turning or any landmarks. I was also annoyed that he immediately assumed I did not want to drive Graham and was shirking my duty, which was totally untrue. (The tone of his voice was angry and negative). I have a lot of issues with not knowing my way around and hate it when he assumes I know something I couldn't reasonably know. He had pointed it out in passing once a while before, but I had no idea WHERE WE WERE at the time and didn't even get a look at it, and nothing further was said.
2)I was upset about his remark about the woman in her underwear. A. It wasn't true (that is, it wasn't underwear), and B. It seemed misogynistic and puritan. C. It seemed like a slap at ME, since I would like to be able to be cool and comfortable.
3)I was upset because he told me for the second or third time today, "You want xyz." That is a form of ABUSE. No one can know what another person wants, thinks, or feels. He often says to Graham "you think qrdst or you feel uvw, and he will NOT start saying it to me. He did not ask me if that was how I felt or if that was what I wanted, he stated it as the truth.
4)It was NOT the truth. I don't want to change him. I love him as he is. I might want to change his OPINION, but it is my understanding and belief that an opinion is not who we are. For example, when I met him, he told me he was too old to camp, and that he was born too old to camp, but now he camps. Is he no longer himself? Is he no longer Keith?
5)If that particular stupid opinion IS ACTUALLY PART OF THE CORE OF WHO HE IS, then I need to reevaluate our relationship. I am not sure I want to continue to love a man who would invest his heart and soul in putting someone down for riding a bike in a halter top.
6)I was very upset when he said, "The whole point of this exercise . . ." Because of the mean abusive lecturing way he said it (like past abusive partners) and even more so when I saw how simple it really was and how easily he could have just explained it to me.
Richard Chamberlain (or someone) wrote a book called "Don't Sweat the Small stuff." Any one of those things by themselves would probably not be worth getting too upset about, but they were coming fast and furious, all at once. And as a poet, I have a problem, in that I tend to see things as symbolic. I read more into events that they perhaps should have read into them. As "Courage says, "Sometimes dirty dishes are just dirty dishes." [And not symbolic of an uncaring partner, for example.] My problem is, when he acts abusive, even in relatively small ways, I am afraid it's a "red flag" and a harbinger of worse things to come.
I will not live with abuse. I will not stay in a car with it, or in a house with it or in a relationship with it. I will simply remove myself if it begins to occur. I will remove myself permanently if it continues to occur. I would rather be alone than be in an abusive relationship. I would rather be dead.
I was sorry to miss Elmwood Cemetery and the Heidelberg Project, I was really looking forward to it. I was sorry to miss dinner at ML's. I was sorry to leave and drive across Canada alone in the dark. It wasn't how I wanted things to be. I was sorry to miss our one day together. I am sorry to be home alone. I miss Keith and Graham and would prefer to be happily with them.
But if it all happened again, I probably would do the same thing.
I love and miss Keith and Graham and I also still feel upset about all this, and worried.
I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats