I hadn't exactly slaved over dinner but, I had made a valiant effort to prepare a decent warm meal for my husband after a hard day of work.
He enjoyed it and even thanked me afterwards. We both sat on our old borrowed couch watching something left over in our Hulu que and just relaxed together.
The baby was asleep and after a bit it was time for us to turn in as well.
I picked up the dishes and took them to the sink while my husband finished using a toothpick just before he went to brush his teeth.
He got up and left the room while I finished rinsing the dishes and straightening up the kitchen before washing up for bed.
I turned around and suddenly felt my face get flush and warm at the sight of this disgusting thing on my coffee table.
I try not to be picky but the sight of a used dirty napkin, tissues and toothpicks left behind on the table bother me to no end.
I got so angry over this stupid little piece of trash my husband left behind.
I was a little surprised by the depth of my anger about it and just took a deep breath and cleaned off my coffee table.
I went to bed but, I was not able to shake my feeling of anger with my husband. You would have thought he had committed treason or something.
I sent him a text later explaining that when he left such things on the table it bothered me and I did not want to have to have a conversation about it but, I preferred he just not let it happen again.
He looked me a little confused and then looked back at his phone.
He replied "I'm sorry baby, I will work on it."
I was satisfied with his response and let it go.
A few days later I was walking through the house and saw this same situation on my coffee table again!
I took a deep breath and decided to give him some time to pick up on it and fix the problem himself.
However, by not communicating immediately with him about it, the inevitable happened.
I became more angry each time I walked by it and finally snapped at him "Honey! we talked about this! I didn't want to have this conversation but, really?!"
He looked at me confused and a little shocked about my reaction to his forgetfulness.
He quickly remedied the issue and peace was restored to the household. Or was it?
I was now bothered by my response to this silly, seemingly meaningless issue.
To me though, it wasn't silly or meaningless. To me it was a personal passive aggressive attack and I was now on a mission to find out why.
I brought it up at my next therapy session and the following is what I discovered.
My therapist probed me about my childhood and who had been passive aggressive towards me.
My sister, father, rapist brother and adult rapist all had been passive aggressive in one form or another towards me.
My sister knew I liked a clean room and I remember one time in particular after I had worked so hard to clean our shared bedroom she came in and left a sock on the floor. I remember yelling "What did I do wrong? why are you mad at me?!"
My sister looked at me and laughed. "How did you know?"
I don't remember much about why she was mad at me, I do remember it got resolved and we both had a good laugh about it later but I never forgot it.
My father was never one for words of affirmation and it was nothing to always have to walk around him if he was walking or standing in the middle of a walk way. I always took this as his passive aggressive reminder that he was "KING and Head of the household." He was notorious for leaving filthy used napkins and tooth picks either on his plate or at his eating area. He would hold his plate out and instead of asking for us to take it to the kitchen this gesture was simply a silent command to do so.
When he got home from work it did not matter who was watching TV and what was on it the living room and TV were his to watch the news and unwind. He would watch TV, eat dinner and zone out.
Present physically but elsewhere mentally.
My rapist as an adult was also passive aggressive. He had a very similar routine to my fathers.
He expected dinner when he got home, and for everything to be cleaned up for him afterwards.
He also left nasty used toothpicks and napkins on the table.
My therapist suggested human filth bothered me more than even animal filth.
This was true on many points. I have never been bothered to clean up animal body fluids when I worked at the veterinary clinic.
I struggled with it more when I became a nurse aide and cleaned up human body fluids daily.
I wanted to understand why this was though. I was not satisfied with "Most rape survivors feel this way."
Why do rape survivors feel that way?
Because, we feel like human waste.
Awe yes! Why wouldn't we? We are taken, brutally victimized and then thrown away like garbage and often times more than once. Even worse this is done to us by those to whom we belonged or were enslaved too. Like human waste that belongs to someone but is thrown away...that is how I was feeling.
I felt like my husbands used napkins and toothpicks were a picture of ME.
A perfectly good thing, used and then tossed aside...only I was now cleaning up the mess.
I hated it, I didn't want to clean up this mess.
I would like to point out that I have NEVER been made to feel like I was waste tossed by my husband.
However his act, a simple, meaningless act was a painful reminder of my life long self image.
Now that I understand it I can let it go.