Not an Isolated Incident

The tensions were high. The tensions were often high. I worked 60 hours a week, and so did she. Juggling graduate school, teaching, and working kept me stretched to my limits. Stress ruled our lives. I always did my best, and I guess she probably thinks she did, too. I still tried to maintain the home and play housewife. Home cooked meals, and cuddles in the couch. Gentle touch, and a warm embrace was all I really needed. I still loved her. I wanted to make space for her. I still held on to the Us I wanted us to be. 
I was home for an evening. No class, no work, and when she returned from work-I was happy for her arrival. In those moments, she was my life. 
I heard the door open and close. She came in and greeted the dog, and I waited. I waited. I waited. I know she saw my car in the driveway. I can’t wrap my mind around why her excitement to see ME did not match my excitement to see HER. I waited. Finally, I went to the kitchen. Sadness triggered, defenses engaged. 
“How come when you come home, you greet the dog, but not me?”
“Are you seriously jealous of the dog? It’s just what we do. You’re never here when I get home. I didn’t really think about it.”
“I’m not jealous of the dog. That’s not the point. I know I’m not here a lot, but I am today. One would think that would make it even more important to, I don’t know, say hello.”
“Hello.” Her cold tone matched her cold eyes. 
This was not an isolated incident. So, when I thought that I could somehow be better-that had become my mental refrain. “I’m a bad girlfriend. I don’t give her enough attention. She’s so used to coming home without me here, it’s like I’m not here at all. How could I do that to her?”
I don’t know how it happened. How my thinking got so warped, and how it could get so twisted so quickly. I have no idea how my hurt feelings could so quickly get turned into sympathy for her. I have no idea how I so quickly internalized her shame. But it happened all the time. 

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