Well, we made it to the house on the lake in the Adirondacks near where my younger brother Stevie stays in the summer managing lakefront rental properties… but not without some rather flowery language on the way.
“Dam fucking dam! Stay the fuck away from those fucking shit-heads,” I shouted, referring the wedge of cars, campers and trucks Samuel had just boxed us into.
“I am,” Samuel replies in the whiny defensive tone of a 12 year old.
“You child,” I retort, unwilling to dissolve into a heap of sobbing tears like the one on the way to the Adirondacks just two weeks ago.
“Just once I’d like some respect and consideration for my feelings. Just once!” I say evenly, containing the rage, not calling him the slew of names boiling up, my tongue, lips and teeth working hard to block their exit.
This has been an issue throughout our marriage, an assertive driver with a wife whose body escapes her grasp, heart racing in traffic, and wanting to open the door to jump out rather than be trapped in-between traffic with no escape. I need air space around me, but am put down for needing it.
“You have to learn how to drive in traffic,” Samuel replied, disgusted.
I become quiet as I think of ways to respond, some not so nice. Later after the boiling died down he gets behind another vehicle a little closer than I’d like.
“Fall back some, will you?” I ask.
“You have to learn to trust,” he says, assured that he knows what he’s talking about.
“Just go the speed limit, and stay back. I’ve asked you twice,” I respond, the list of ways to ‘off’ him becoming a mental check list I re-check with relish.
“I am, I am,” the adolescent responded again along with, “You have to learn to trust the driver.”
He doesn’t get it. He never will. The rage-beast still exists. I thought she dissolved years ago, but a loved one not bothering to understand my plight brings ‘her’ back in full force. I calm her down before speaking because I want him to HEAR me, not become defensive or angry.
“Right, take a wife who has had a horrific, traumatic childhood and suffers permanently from post-traumatic symptoms, and take her into traffic boxing her in!” I exclaim, fed up.
My mind becomes busy stringing together names to call him that seem fitting; You ignorant selfish insensitive ogre. I don’t say them. I want him to hear me, to understand.
I haven’t explained my needs this way before, using the term PTSD, nor referenced my childhood that way. But it’s as if he didn’t hear me because he cuts me off with more defensiveness. He is sure that the problem is in my inability to trust. I know it is not. My body takes off without my permission.
How do I get him to understand?