I hate this nauseous feeling. It's not my usual food aversion (and it terrifies me to say that I would PREFER that right now over this sensation), but a sense of intense betrayal.
About six, seven months ago Roni got a pleasant surprise in the form of a disbursement from those assholes at Newfield (you know, the ones that stole about 9K in SEP funds from Roni) in terms of another payout. We used this unexpected windfall to correct a mistake she made in the form of running up her credit cards.
Without telling me.
It was about 7K in credit. I had been pretty upset when I discovered that she had been using the cards rather than talk to me about money -- a VERY dangerous marital habit.
But I held it together, we got through it, and then this windfall came along. Yay!
So, we were getting some food after a house warming at Alan's, when Roni turns to me and asks; "What do you think about cashing out one of your old 401K's to pay off Ellie [the Leaf] early?"
Red alert! Red Alert!!
It was so out of left field I had a strange feeling that I had missed something important. After the last blow-up over the mystery credit balances I had been unaware of, I had made it abundantly clear that I expected her to TELL ME when she needed money. NOT telling me meant I might inadvertently spend money that was already spent, for lack of a better way of looking at it.
I begged her, in fact. Literally on my knees, begging her to not put me in that position of complete financial panic (something I fight against constantly as it is).
Even as I asked for answers as to why she asked that question in the car, she didn't tell me everything. As we "discussed" (I was trying as hard as a man can to not yell and react badly at the news) everything in line at Wendy's to order food that I would, for the most part, turn out not to eat, I thought we had at least gotten through the worst of it.
It wasn't until I got home that I even thought to ask her about the cards. The ones I told her not to use anymore, at least not without chatting with me first so I could plan accordingly. That thing that I had begged her, within the last year, just shy of HALF that year, to not do.
"So the credit cards are still empty at least, right?"
Many a married soul will understand what I mean about the non-answer answer, even if you haven't taken a single communications workshop. That sort of jumbled, non-committal reply that is intended to be read in the positive, without conveying any information. It's a technique employed, with varying degrees of success, at pretty much any political press conference.
I stopped her and asked her straight out: "How much."
She balked. Great, another red freaking flag waving in this bull's face. "HOW MUCH?!" I have to admit I barked it somewhat, but I was getting that sick, my stomach decided to get onto that express elevator to hell feeling that you get when the conclusion is already reached.
Right. Back. Where. We. STARTED.
Once again the Red Queen laughs at me. She laughs at all the critical care on-calls, every opportunity I took to barter something for whatever stuff or capabilities I have. All because I wanted to keep her on a path I think that will work out for us both, but first and foremost would make her happy.
To say I reacted... you know, it's hard even for ME to judge it "badly" when someone clearly crosses a line like that.
It's hard not to think of it in the context of my own failings in the past, sometimes big failings. 2011 was *only* three years ago, and I know all too well how the best laid plans can lead you straight to hell.
But damn, that visceral reaction is hard to beat down once it's been lifted into the light. The pointlessness of it. The fact that I could think, within about 20 minutes, of about 2 thousand dollars I spent in the prior 6 months that I wouldn't have spent if I knew she needed more money. That, despite the last time, I didn't "take her cards" away, or review all of her incoming mail for bills, or do any of the things I thought would make things worse or just plain struck me as douchey.
I felt betrayed.
No, it doesn't matter how justified it is; it's still hard to admit. As if that feeling was, in itself, a form of betrayal, hypocrisy, or worse.
I realized later as we fought (there's no other word for it, regardless of how level I kept my voice) that she must have been counting on that possible mid-year profit sharing that didn't materialize. However, whereas I spent with the idea that I might have to eat it until December, she was just spending. And what then? What if I had gotten the money? Would THAT have been the time to tell me? "Oh hon, I know you had set aside some of that money for other things, but..."
I don't like to bring up her therapy sessions about those things, because she thinks my assertion that this is CLEARLY something that she needs to deal with is "unfair". But damn, I had to ask, "If you're so scared talking to me about this, why AREN'T you working through it with Karen?!" [her therapist.]
She asserted she was. But paranoia strikes deep, and I checked, "when did you start?".
This week. And the result was her sideways approach regarding the 401K.
Well, look at that, we're just about at a thousand words as of this very paragraph. If every one of those words was a dollar, I would have enough for 1 seventh of that money.
Part of this issue is that I have no clue what the "right" reaction is. I have this ancient (as in 17 years old) 401K that has been accumulating money at the rate of a few hundred a year, so if I cash it in I can pay off those credit card bills, stash a few thousand in savings for much needed padding, and move forward. But then, I ask myself, what about "next time"? How do I keep that from happening? Is paying this out the right thing to do? Do I make Roni defer her dreams right when they're starting to bear fruit? Can I be "strong" enough to make her get more help?
Shit, I asked her for the cards, and nothing made me feel less like a husband and a man of any standing then having her hand them to me without an argument. It was going against every principle I've tried to build my life on, to demand that kind of control. I'm going to have to ask her to show me every expense, the things I trusted her to handle on her own, even after the last time.
In the middle of all of this, Kim and Michele show up. Kim was supposed to hang with me as Roni went to a housewarming for Elyse, and had been spending the afternoon with Michele. Bless her, Michele gave me a hug and a pep talk in the driveway, reminding me that Roni had some credit card issues in the past, though I always thought of those as relatively minor.
Ironically, she noted that I always asked her about helping Roni out before I gave her any money. In my mind Roni paid that back in spades when I was out of work between 2000 and 2003. But here I was, confronting a very real problemin my marriage that somehow I wasn't at the root of.
And in all honesty I think I know how to deal with not being the fuck-up the least.