Stormy Weather.

Up to that point we hadn’t bumped into anyone else doing this walk. It’s one of the many amazing things about it – how you can be so isolated here and yet not feel like the isolation is a threat. It might very well be in many similar places elsewhere, especially in South Africa. On the way back we did pass a couple of people with their dogs. There weren’t any issues. About two thirds of the way back a group of more people had gathered and were speaking to each other while their handful of dogs ran around. We had B333 on a lead and B handed it to me in anticipation of our dog interacting with the dogs that were with the crowd. Off in the distance of my internal landscape clouds began to gather.

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At this point we had been having a conversation, or B had been telling me how she was feeling about one of her interests. She seemed excited, happy, she was in a good space, everything was still okay. We were feeling all sorts of pleasant from getting an early start and doing something we really enjoy doing; being at the beach, walking the dog, getting some exercise, reminiscing about the past, making plans for the future. Moments like these are a little precious because, for a long while now there’s been too much tension going on, too much pressure being felt from too many sources outside of our life together. A lot of the time we seem to be stressed out and unhappy so, when things are going well I try make a point of remembering to not mess it up. Not mess up moments when we manage to feel good together, manage to feel happy being together.

All too often though, I forget to do that…

Half-happy
@ psychologytoday.com; “Marriage Problems: Why Couples Fight“; Disconnection occurs most frequently in intimate relationships when fear or anxiety in one causes a sense of inadequacy in the other. There is a survival-based mechanism observed in most social animals, in which fear and anxiety of female members of the pack serve as an automatic alarm system to stimulate aggressive-protective behavior in the males. (The better sense of smell and hearing of females makes them more sensitive to danger and more suited to be social alarms.) When the females get scared, the stronger (and more expendable) males often form a defensive perimeter around the endangered pack.

The human brain is more socially structured than that of any other animal. In us, this primitive interactive mechanism takes on more complicated forms that secretly undermine intimate relationships.

Confronted with the anxiety or fear of a woman, a man typically responds with protection/support. But if he does not know how to protect/support or, more commonly, feels like a failure as a protector, he is likely to turn the aggression onto her (usually in the form of criticism, “superior reasoning,” control, etc.) or rein it in by withdrawing in frustration (stonewalling or going quiet). Anger or withdrawal by men often stimulates anxiety or fear of isolation in women, even when his anger or withdrawal has nothing to do with her.

As we approached the group of people and their dogs B333 got to be more and more of a handful to deal with. It wasn’t really surprising, we’ve been down this road often enough. It isn’t usually a big deal just let the dogs do their thing, say hello etc. I wasn’t feeling patient enough to deal with this in the way I should have. Maybe feeling a bit under the influence had something to do with it, not wanting to interact with people while slightly tripping. Maybe feeling like being out here for three hours already was enough and it was time to get back, maybe I was getting a bit hot and bothered by too much sun. I just wanted to get past these people and their dogs as fast as possible.

The more I wanted to get past these people as fast as possible the more B333 was pulling at the lead and becoming a handful to deal with. What had been a more or less docile civilized pet before was turning into something that belonged in a horror movie, I don’t know, like one of those things out of Gremlins or something. I guess it might be fair to say that I was getting increasingly distracted by this. But it shouldn’t have been a big deal, just a little further and everything should return to normal. The cruel god Fate had other plans. As we passed the group they split up and headed in opposite directions, some of them now walking abreast of us with their dogs so instead of us being able to pass them, we bottle-necked with them.

I was trying to get us get past these people, past their dogs so that we could have a little space and privacy again, could walk B333 without her being a such a nuisance and we could continue our conversation. Except, B had been trying to continue the conversation anyway the whole time, while all this drama was unfolding and me trying to navigate around these pain in the ass people with what was being a pain in the ass dog. Of course what could have been a more or less brief disruption was turning into an ordeal as us trying to get past these people was turning into a race for some imaginary first place.

They were nameless people before, faceless. They had as much personality as my impatient disposition would allow which, wasn’t very much to begin with. That was fine, they didn’t need to have any. But having to race them now changed all that. They had become the enemy. Whereas before they were just somewhat of an inconvenience now a strategy was required to beat them. I had to try anticipate whether they were going to be walking with purpose and maintain a lead or whether they were going to get a lead and then stall with us needing to then pass them again and repeat the needing to deal with the dog being a pain in the ass.

As I had expected they did stall after a brief amount of time spent racing us for a lead. Just like I predicted, see? See how right I was, see how I had done the right thing; employed the correct tactile maneuver. It was a shallow victory. What I had completely forgotten about during all the excitement was where B was at with all this, I guess I just assumed she was on the same page as I was. But while we were racing for a lead things started to get tense between B and me, between the two of us. I’d already ceased communicating for a while during this experience to focus on the task at hand, presently B stopped speaking as well.

Once we had managed to get some distance between us and them, once we had managed to get past these people, B apologized for speaking, she apologized for speaking about what she had been speaking about. She continued with committing to speaking about something else more interesting going forward into the future, as though the silence on my part had something to do with reacting to her choice of subject. As though there had not been another something that needed to be dealt with, as though the drama did not have to do with needing to deal with people acting like idiots and needing to deal with B333. Instead she had done something wrong, she had not been interesting. It could have been so easy to explain that she hadn’t done anything wrong…

But.

I was already a little annoyed about the experience we were having with some of the very few people we were sharing this very large space with. You’d think with so much space everyone could stay out of each others way. And now the realization that I had spoiled what had started off as something that had felt good. I had messed up a rare moment where B had been happy. Feeling annoyed became feeling angry. I didn’t check myself, I didn’t check my attitude, I didn’t check what came out of my mouth next, or for the next while and pretty much acted like an asshole towards her ~ said some terrible things. Because as much as what I felt was anger at myself for failing her, failing at our relationship, of course I could not just accept responsibility. And turned it all into her fault instead.

Prompted by; ‘Argument.’

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