Last Saturday, not yesterday but last week, Tilly had arranged to go clubbing. This had been planned for a while and she had asked me plenty in advance about the dates. We were somewhat constrained as Tilly had organised visits from Tim and Lisa the weekend before and Jerry and Rachel the week following. Then there was the visit from Tilly's cousin and her husband yesterday. Tilly's mother is due up next week then we're off on holiday. Basically, getting a weekend for the clubbing so that Tilly's friends could come was hard and so my last weekend at work was asked for. Of course, being me, I said yes. I think by "yes" I meant "not really but I can't see another way to be nice and you've let me go out a number of times in the year and are trying really hard to be nice about it and so I'll say yes". Grudging agreement is something I do really well.
So it was that we bought in some drink for Tilly and her friends, well, I say we, I went to the supermarket and got it for her while she stayed in the car with the children. Then the Boy stayed up a bit because he'd napped during the day and was still awake when Tilly's friends arrived. Tilly said she'd feed him to sleep before they left. But by now the drinking had begun, part of the plan to save when out, and she forgot and left without this being done. It took me a fair while to get the Boy to sleep but I managed and then started pootling. Tilly was due to return around 11pm and I, assuming she would be later and having fun, sent off a supportive text and then went to bed around 10.30.
Imagine my surprise, my genuine surprise, when I was woken by some odd noises around 11.15pm. I think you can guess where this is going, but I could not. I opened the door and Tilly practically fell, swearing, through it and then proceeded to run through the hall and onto the sofa. Her friends followed, apologetically explaining that Tilly was rather inebriated and about to be sick. I gathered the washing up bowl, a little late actually, and then watched as Tilly's friends tried to make Tilly comfortable. I gathered towels and a sheet to prevent sick from soaking the sofa cover. I helped arrange a taxi for Tilly's friends and then attempted to get Tilly sorted. Her friends left, amid many apologies, and Tilly vaccillated between imploring forgiveness whilst sobbing and yelling and swearing loudly at me and hurling abuse. This was all done at high volume, so that I was concerned that she would wake the children.
Somehow I managed to strip her down, wash up the sick, dry her hair and get her comfortable in something approaching the recovery position.
There are a couple of cultural points I should make here. Despite what news stories say alcohol drinking does not usually lead to this sort of behaviour - scientific studies have shown that the effects are almost 99% in the mind, apart from physical effects. Furthermore, the UK is not so much a hotbed of drinking to excess as you might think. There is a thriving and perfectly healthy pub culture here that, meedled with less, would become more continental in its effects on drinking. Clubbing is not usually a gateway to vomiting and yelling.
Thing is, despite my annoyance, I actually found the whole thing rather a turn on. I know, I know, I'm strange. However, it reminded me very much how Tilly was when we first met. There was a vulnerability about her that I missed. I stayed with her, checking on the children now and again, until about 1.30am before turning in myself. She came up at 5.30am to see the Boy and that's when it started to get negative. He ws crying for milk and Tilly was still very very drunk - I was uncertain about letting the Boy loose on whatever it was Tilly had had the night before - she'd clearly had a lot and I wasn't totally convinced that someone hadn't slipped her something, her behaviour was not normal for her when drunk - much more aggressive and random. I told her to get back to sleep and she did so, but under duress. I then dealt with the fact that her stumbling had woken both the children and got them dressed and ready, and myself. We were able to get out of the house and off to church very early. Tilly relocated to the bedroom.
The children and I got to the village that has our church in it a little early, like 9am for a 10am service early, and so walked off to the local playpark. They had some fun, as did I realising that the days when I could keep effective tabs on the pair of them at a park were long over. We reverted back to how I used to go to church - I stay in the service, speak little to one or two people, have a biscuit at the end and then leave. We came back and I looked after them over lunch while Tilly zoned in and out of sleep. Then she insisted on coming with us when we went out in the afternoon, thus restricting the distance we could travel (the car was making her sick), the places we could go (nothing involving walking or that would be too hot) and the time we could spend there. I know that Tilly was trying to be helpful, but she wasn't, she was actually bloody annoying.
We went to another playpark and, as sure as she was hungover, I ended up on primary caregiver duty. Then the bitching began in the evening, but only at a low ebb. In the morning things kicked into high gear. I cannot recall what the main issues were, but that wasn't really the point. We were sniping at each other, being terse, and I was feeling hard done to, something that really pushes Tilly's buttons. Basically, if I ever feel a little down and annoyed but too polite to say why then Tilly starts to verbally beat me because she hates that about me. It's not a great part of our relationship. In an attempt to break the cycle I removed the items of my feminine wardrobe in the drawer that she knows about. It had zero impact on the day, obviously, and the arguments continued throughout most of the day. Tilly did not want to hear of anything she had done on the Saturday and closed down any comment by me about it - getting progressively angry and annoyed by my even mentioning it.
We ended up watching Ashes to Ashes, which we've done every evening since pretty much, and ignoring what had happened as much as possible.
Which brings me back to the question that started this post in the e-mail I keep re-reading - what do I get from all of this?
Tilly doesn't like the fact that if she leaves me in the house I might end up cross-dressing. I asked why, she explained that it would be like if I was checking pornography that she'd specifically asked me not to. I queried the analogy, she wouldn't budge. It was the same to her. The thought that I might be doing it filled her with dread and made her feel betrayed. I confess to remaining confused on this issue but that's her explanation.
To sum up:
- I can't cross-dress when she's here nor when she's not, I cannot indulge;
- I am now primary care giver to the Boy for the foreseeable;
- I am still the main care giver to the chinchilla, she won't clean or feed him;
- Talking about issues that I want to talk about is still off-limits;
- Breastfeeding prevents libido (except when it doesn't);
- I can give compliments but am poor at receiving them, so they generally don't get given;
- Physically speaking I have not received a compliment from Tilly since before August 2007;
- When there is company I am in charge of both children;
- Now that I'm on holiday I'm on duty.
That last point can be briefly explained: Tilly is learning to drive for two hours every day, apart from weekends and Mondays. I haven't managed to get into work yet as a consequence and Tilly needs the rest of the afternoon to calm down from the stress. I can relate. This means I pretty much have to be house-husband. It's not a role I can actually see myself doing for any length of time.
What do I get from all of this?
I don't know.