I woke with a familiar, 40-year-old heartache. I pulled on my robe while heading up to make coffee. With each step, the strong voice in my head chanted, “That’s not love.”
In the dream, it was my birthday. He carefully, and in great deal, explained the gifts he’d purchased. He discussed the lengths he’d gone to in order to find the perfect items. He talked of how he’d spent so much energy tracking down these ideal presents. “Aren’t they beautiful? Do you like how I put this together? I found the perfect gifts, didn’t I?” I reached out to touch the smooth fabric and he said, “Oh, no. These aren’t for you.” I woke with a racing heart and a need to vomit.
The 12 year old deep down inside wanted to scream, “Hey! That’s not right. What about me?”
Fifty-something me knows the futility of trying to explain to one who lacks empathy. It’s equally tiresome to either point out that something hurts feelings, or to pretend that feelings aren’t hurt. I could say, “Hey, that hurts my feelings,” only to be told that it’s not all about me; that he has every right to buy what he wants for whomever he wants, say whatever he likes or do as he pleases.
And the 12 year old with tears welling up in her eyes thinks, “Next year, I’ll be nicer. Next year, he’ll do nice things for me. I’ll be different. I’ll be better.” Continue reading →