Lists, Part 1   Leave a comment

This is the last time I’m asking you this, / Put my name at the top of your list, / This is the last time I’m asking you why, / You break my heart in the blink of an eye Gary Lightbody, Taylor Swift, Garrett Lee

There was a conversation I used to have on a fairly regular basis with my ex. It happened often enough that I probably should have seen the divorce coming from early on. But I was either naive or overly hopeful. Possibly both.

The lead-up went something like this:

I would ask him to do a task or he would excitedly outline a plan for completing a project around the house then I would leave to go to work or do whatever errand needed doing. Not long after my departure one of his friends would call to ask for help with something, and he would drop whatever it was he was doing or had planned to do and go help his friend. Later on, I would come home to find him gone and the project either undone or started and not finished. He would eventually return from wherever he was, and with a glow of accomplishment, tell me about the phone call and regale me with the story of how the problem had been taken care of.

It was only after he paused to take a breath that he would look at me and notice I was fuming wasn’t happy. Then he would ask what was wrong.

After taking a breath and counting to ten, I would say that while I was glad everything worked out for his friend, I wondered if he realized what I expected to be done was still not done.

He would explain his friend needed him, it was an emergency, something had come up, (insert reason here), and he would get to the house task soon.

I would take another breath and tell him I was glad his friends could count on him for help, and he truly was the best friend in the world. The only problem was it felt like he was the best friend in the world to everyone but me. I would explain that it felt like everyone else’s needs came before mine, and everybody else’s wishes came higher on his list than mine did. And that it hurt. Then I would try to soften my words by saying I didn’t need to be at the top of his list, but I needed to feel like I was actually on the list.

Apparently I didn’t need to soften my words. It didn’t matter how many times we had the conversation or how many different ways I said it. He didn’t understand.

The worst time was one Saturday I was working. I had asked him to straighten up the house as we were having dinner guests, and since I was the one cooking that night, I wouldn’t have time both to pick up our regular clutter and work on cooking when I got home. As I left, he stood holding our son and assured me the house would be neater by the time I got home.

Three guesses…

Needless to say, it was not entirely a surprise when I got home to find people other than those who were coming for dinner in my kitchen drinking tea. Friends had needed help with a car repair, so he had them come over so he could see if could figure out the problem.

For the first time, rather than getting disappointed I got mad. Furious, actually.

After saying a terse hello, I started the job of decluttering. Once the friends left, I plopped my toddler in front the VCR to watch a rollicking episode of Blue’s Clues, brought my husband in the kitchen, and – seething the whole time – quietly informed him if he ever did something like that to me again, I would leave him.

He was surprised, shocked even, and I’m pretty sure even after I explained through clenched teeth why I was so upset he still didn’t get it. Because it was just another permutation of that same conversation.

I felt like I didn’t matter to him. I felt unimportant. I felt like the housekeeper or the nanny or a roommate rather than his wife.

Different iterations of the same conversation.

Sometimes I wonder where I would be now if I had left him when it happened the next time. Because there is a vast difference between choosing something yourself and having it decided for you. Would it have taken longer to get over him? Would my self-image have suffered as much? It’s interesting to speculate but impossible to know for sure.

If some of the blogs I follow are any indication, other people have lists as well, and many of them keep their ‘important to me’ list in a weighted order: immediate family/significant other, birth family, friends, etc.

Whether it’s a holdover from my marriage or function of how my brain works, I prefer to keep mine fluid. This is partially because I find the order of importance fluctuates from time to time – for example, whether the cats place higher than my son on any given day depends entirely on which of them didn’t wake me up at five in the morning – and partially because I don’t feel comfortable looking at it that way.

I guess I’d rather think of my list more like one of those word clouds you see on the internet; whatever is currently uppermost in my mind is in a really big font while everything else hovers around in slightly smaller ones. Sort of like this:


It’s both kind of cool and a much more accurate representation of how my brain actually works. (Although I am surprised ‘chocolate’ is in as small a font as it is. Odd…)

What has thrown a wrench into the word cloud is the new relationship. Completely in a good way. Suddenly I appear on someone else’s list again, and I find it’s taking some getting used to. The funny part is I’ve gotten so used to not being on a list that I don’t always know what to do with it. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just been so long that I forget what it’s like.

But I’m slowly starting to accustom myself to it again.

And, you know what? I think I like it. I’ll have to check my word cloud again next year and see what it looks like. Who knows?

I am expecting ‘chocolate’ to be a larger font, though. Anything else would just be wrong.


Posted June 21, 2017 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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