Big giant head


In Other News

Trying hard to ignore the ongoing events of Column Right, I've been busily analyzing the structure of Everybody Loves Raymond. I've gotten a handle on that and now I'm brainstorming story ideas. I expect to begin writing in the next few days, at which point I'll probably institute a page count here.

Saturday - October 10, 1998
Domestic Un-Bliss

Man, did it get ugly around here last night. Scary ugly. This escrow thing has turned into such a cluster fuck that last night Beth and I turned on one another. We've had our share of fights in this relationship but we've never fought as viciously or as intensely as we did last night. It was bad.

Beth had spent the day going back and forth with the buyer's people all day, getting more and more frustrated as she kept getting more and more of the same: nonresponsive responses, delays, disagreements, etc. It culminated with them proposing a face-to-face meeting with us that evening, to which we agreed, and then they cancelled the meeting an hour later. When Beth finally got home after dealing with all this while she was simultaneously dealing with her job, she was physically ill; nauseous, headache, crying. She couldn't take any more of it and turned the negotiations over to me.

I got on the horn with our agent and dictated a letter for the buyer to our agent, the gist of which was that we were through being jerked around and that they had until 6p tonight to respond only to the proposal they had yet to respond to from that morning. We wanted only a yes or a no and anything else -- a counterproposal or no response at all -- would be considered a no, at which point we would declare escrow broken and start proceedings to seize their deposit. When I got off the phone I told Beth what I'd done.

Beth was not pleased. Apparently, it undercut a similar letter she had transmitted giving them a different deadline. Apparently, she wanted me to tell our agent to start legal proceedings now. Apparently, I fucked up. She was furious, so of course I was furious. If you wanted to close everything down, why did you ask me to get involved? Why didn't you say it yourself? You wouldn't have brought me into it if you didn't want to buy more time, now would you? She felt that I'd betrayed her, I felt that I'd been set up for failure. Both of us were angry and both of us, when confronted, attack in defense.

Oh, it was on.

But this wasn't a classic screamingshoutingyelling fight. For the most part it was conducted silently, with slammed doors and cupboards, baleful glares and set jaws because it was conducted over Zoe's head as we played with her, bathed her, fed her dinner and prepped her for bed. I've never felt such tension between us before. Zoe felt it too and was whiney and clingy, which only ratcheted things up between Beth and me, especially on my end because Beth opted out and left me to do everything she normally does in the bedtime ritual. At one point we were arguing softly but intensely and as Beth stalked away I looked down to see Zoe looking up at me and crying silently, obviously upset by our fighting. The beseeching look on her face sent a chill down my spine, but I was so angry I couldn't calm down.

The biggest outburst came just as we were about to put Zoe down, when I said something to Beth and she turned on me in cold fury and told me to fuck off. That, for me, was the point of no return. No matter how angry I get when arguing I'm still careful not to cross a self-imposed line into deeply wounding the other person. A little emotional bruising is fine, but wounds sometimes can't be repaired, I've learned. Beth doesn't have such a limit, not when she's really cranked up like she was last night. She knows that saying "fuck off" or "fuck you" crosses my line for acceptable fighting, knows that that hurts me. It's hard for me to explain why I feel that way, it's just that at its most basic I think it betrays a lack of respect and concern for someone you're supposed to respect and be concerned for. And so when she said that, I started making plans to leave.

I tried hard to balance my need to leave against the inflammatory consequences doing so would have, but I couldn't do it, I had to go. I started calling around, looking for a couch to crash on. No luck. Then I started considering a motel, but doing that would really kick things up to another level. I thought long and hard -- and angry -- about it. Finally I decided to stay. Leaving for one night would exacerbate the tension, leading to two nights, exacerbating things even more...and I looked further down that road and saw that leaving tonight would make it easier to leave next time and we'd get to a point where every fight meant a night out of the house and every stay outside got longer until finally I was out more than in and we eventually called it quits. I choked back the anger and the hurt, bit my tongue, and stayed.

I came to bed long after Beth was asleep and was up before her. I played with Zoe all morning and made her feel happy and safe. When Beth got up we continued our silent dance, but some of the tension was gone. By this afternoon we had cooled off enough to talk about it calmly and I found out that between my phone calls and thoughts of leaving, Beth was making phone calls and thinking of leaving too. We ultimately apologized to each other. I think Beth is feeling a lot better now, but I don't think she's all the way back from it yet. She can't be, because I'm not. Apologies are fine, but wounds don't always heal quickly.

This was probably the quietest fight we've ever had, but the ugliest. The tinder for another flare up is still there. We have to sell that house, and soon.


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Copyright © 1998
Chuck Atkins