There is so much about Mirror Image that I appreciate, but nothing so much as a conversation we had a few days before Christmas. She noticed that I hadn’t been myself in recent weeks. A combination of having lots of work, winter blues and generally feeling run down, I think I have been a little short with her at times.
She is a capable woman, intelligent and able to do things for herself which is why I get a little irritated when she expects me to know and understand things that she doesn’t especially when it is a situation where neither of us have experience, or make decisions about simple things that she is perfectly capable of making for herself.
I always resented the way in which my ex-wife came to rely on me to know everything, to know what to do and what to say, that I have become a little intolerant of it in others, and sometimes I admit unfairly. There is nothing wrong in asking for or offering advice or help, but when you start to feel that somebody is looking to you to make all the decisions, and to decide things for them when they are perfectly capable of doing so on their own, and expect you to know everything, it gets tiresome. It gets tiresome being treated as a surrogate father, an encyclopaedia, an odd job man and a GPS in one.
If we were in a new place and looking to go somewhere, it was as though my ex thought I should know, or should be less clueless than she is, even if it is my first time too in going to this place. If something went wrong with the television, I was expected to know what was wrong (the implication, of course, always being that “you’re a man, you know about such things”). If I know anything about “such things” as technology or where a place is, my penis and testicles have nothing to do with it. What is to do with it is prior experience, having come across this problem before or having seen a map and having a vague sense of where we are in relation to the place. I know next to nothing about cars and DIY, and not all that much about wine. I only know about technology because I was introduced to it at an early age and always managed to keep up with it and I am certainly no technological wizard. I got my first smart phone in 2010 and pretty much had basic smart phone models ever since.
Anyway, back to the conversation. Perhaps being aware of my irritation at being relied on too much, Mirror Image said to me something like this. “I know you’ve been working hard and I know you’re tired. I know you have your off days and I know that you are prone to depression. I know I can’t rely on you to do and know everything all of the time. I know I can’t expect you to always be the emotional rock in our relationship.”
And that meant so much, not just for me because of how I still have to take care of my mental health with CBT and Mindfulness. I may not write about my own issues at the moment, but that’s only because I haven’t had really bad days about which to write. I still get days where I feel low. I still get anxiety, sleepless nights and worry. I still feel my mood dip from time to time, but that is to be expected. It was an admittance and acknowledgement that I (and by extension, men in general) need emotional support too.
And that is all I ask for in a relationship. I couldn’t be with somebody who expected me to put on that face all the time without some acknowledgement of my own weaknesses and vulnerabilities.