Yesterday evening, just finishing a post-run dinner, I noticed an urgent call for O- blood. I hadn’t donated blood in nearly 17 years. Seven years ago I tried to, but the nurse who was about to take my blood noticed my self-harm scars and was concerned that donating might trigger a depressive incident. So I went away. I actually asked my GP about it and she cleared me to donate, but then tattoos and children and colds and life got in the way, and so here I was.
The initial interview took nearly an hour between all the various things I have going on that could have been contraindications for donation, and trying to remove the flag on my file. But anyway, before too long my blood was flowing out into a bag.
In my late teens and 20s I barely noticed the effects of giving blood. Last night and this morning I am super feeling it. I guess that’s the upshot of growing older. I still felt good about doing it.
My husband was sad when I got home though. I had this feeling for a moment that I’m going about the place living my own life, getting runs in and zipping out to decant my blood and then crashing out, and meanwhile he’s trapped with the side-effects of my decisions: putting children to bed, making kiddie lunches and struggling with a struggle some part of his work, which has been eating a small pinpoint hole in his soul over the past couple of months.
Sometimes things have been another way around, where he’s been the one who’s seemed to have slightly more of “a life”, and sometimes I think it’s important that we’re both strong in defence of what we need for ourselves to function in life. Like, no waiting for the other to magically “see” what we need. If things aren’t matching our expectations, we’ve a duty to ourselves and to our marriage to flag that.
But all the same, there’s a human duty and responsibility to keep some awareness that what you’re choosing may be negatively impacting someone else. I’m feeling that a little at the moment. I’m just about managing to keep on top of my school work, getting in under the wire with Not Funny Just True updates (new one today!), and my running schedule too. I’m not asking, I’m just prioritising these things and I guess I’m feeling a bit wary that that’s not so okay.
All the same, giving things up and feeling resentful when you’re not praised for the sacrifices you’re making is not the answer either. I guess I need to have a bit of a discussion with G. about this, and not just with this blank page, even though I know he reads it. That is not a grown-up way to communicate.
I’ve also got a friend’s marriage in mind. Her husband travels for work, trains for marathons and sets his schedule and expects her to fall in line with it. His choices mean she ends up having to deprioritise her career because their kids and household need care-taking. But I don’t think he even realises that that’s going on. He’s seeing that he’s making reasonable decisions about his career and physical (and maybe even mental) wellbeing, but then (to my eyes) it’s like there’s no room left for her to make similar choices for herself. And because he’s not recognising the fact that she’s facilitating his life, he’s not recognising or appreciating her and just seeing her as someone stuck and negative.
Okay, I’m outside of the situation, so I’m sure I’m missing a million nuanced things that are going on inside that marriage, but it makes me feel sad for my friend. And her husband isn’t a bad guy, I think he’s just an unaware guy. It feels like it’s ultimately down to some assumed communication that’s missing. Maybe they’re starting from pretty mismatched expectations to begin with too.
Parenting and adulting and trying to fulfil your own human needs whilst managing some kind of career, household and (in our cases) creative fulfilment is really hard. As in time and energy consumingly hard, and I don’t think any of us are really brought up to understand how hard it’s going to be. So when we make decisions that inadvertently lean on our partners, I think we don’t always notice it, because we didn’t grasp how big this whole “Life” project was in the first place, especially a “Life With Children” project. Then when we go about the basic tasks of living and minding ourselves, that can feel like enough work on its own, before we even consider the impact on someone else.
Anyway, for a discussion outside these words, I think. Luckily we’ve a long car journey ahead of us today.