Extreme irritation seems to be the only indication or symptom I can identify over the past two weeks. I seem to have lost my girlish laughter and enthusiasm. Just about everything irritates me, the most irritating thing being me; Johnny and my mother next.
29th Sep 1980
Got over my irritation after talking to Johnny about it. Then this terrible evening where I was remorseful and then angry at Johnny. Must sort it out. Johnny says I must use my loaf, my excellent mind. I shocked myself at my angry response over a reasonable comment. I’m not working at the relationship. I’m self-absorbed, irrational and indulging in petty behaviour. Nor am I applying the same rules to myself as I apply to others. Johnny is afraid to say anything because of my unpredictable response and wants me to consider what it’s like to be Johnny having to live with Gita. He has to wait for the sun to shine again. What’s wrong between Johnny and Gita?
Let me list some of my recent petty behaviour:
I refused to use the stylus because Johnny had it when I needed it for my assignment. I was in the middle of writing, said he wouldn’t be long and then left it on his desk after using it to chat with one of the kids. I was furious but should have quietly pointed out what happened and carried on with the pen;
I was upset last night at Johnny shouting at Barbara over setting an extra place at the table;
I was angry and slightly bewildered at Johnny being nervous over my borrowing books on programming on his account. I gave him the book even though I needed it for my work. Then I made a mental note not to borrow books through Johnny. I will get my own ID on Monday so that I can borrow books on my own account.
Rather dangerous resolutions are taken thus, almost without thinking, which could cause further alienation: Not wanting to talk to Johnny about certain things because we seem to end up arguing or I clam up. Why do I clam up? Either because of a refusal to explore oneself, the topic is not important enough to bother arguing about or I don’t feel like standing up to Johnny; Not wanting to ask Johnny anything on study if I can help it. He is Head of Department and I am a mere student (a rather awkward position really) and also I don’t study very hard (then why don’t you pull your finger out) and might embarrass Johnny.
Surely it can’t be all my fault. I’ve listed most of what Johnny says about me, what can I say about Johnny that could contribute to bad relations between us? I couldn’t think of anything. He is good in most ways and also lets me know when I am triggering him. What about Johnny? Having taken the best years of his life and all of his money, what does he have? What about growing old together. Isn’t this another version of “I don’t want it anyway, keep the bloody thing?”
And having paid such a high price and involving so many people, can I just say, “Things are not working well, let’s call it off.” Especially as I’ve been told it’s mainly my fault. What can be done to make the relationship work all of the time?
When I try to explain, I’m told it is not time, I only think about myself or get a rude reply which means “Precious isn’t it?”
I said last night that I had a nasty habit of reacting badly when criticised. Johnny’s comment on being shocked at my selfishness over the book really threw me into despair.
I am such a shit, I feel a shit and occasionally I want to act like a shit. I feel so sorry for myself that I feel sick, yet if Johnny says I’m full of self-pity, I get angry at him. Go on, really roll in the tears and snot…
To get back to our conversation, there I was confessing a nasty habit I had become aware of and Johnny mocks me with it the next morning! He repeated some of what I had said in a slightly mocking tone, saying I sounded almost proud that there was nothing I could do about it. He’s probably right. How was he to know it was an exposed nerve he was jumping on? Then he says, “Dramatic Gita, very dramatic. You said it, so why look surprised if it’s referred to again? You didn’t say it was a deadly secret, never before confessed to anyone, not even yourself and that it was not to be referred to again.”
All this is very well but we are far from a solution. As I see it there are three options:
- Give up the relationship
- Live together but live separate lives
- Make the relationship work excellently
I had thought of points 1 and 2 before July 1979, but not in detail. It was difficult to live with Johnny being critical of my behaviour. I find myself difficult to live with.
I thought of point 3 after Johnny rescued me from myself. Now it seems we’re back pre-July 1979. Johnny is critical of me so I don’t want to live with him. Terribly noble of me, no?
It would seem as though I’m doing the opposite of building a good relationship; trying to destroy it. But why? Is it classical psychology textbook behaviour? Having damaged the relationship, I am looking for ways to justify its destruction? Johnny, I’ve done this for you, can’t you behave better? Why must I always use my head for us, why can’t you?
Johnny appears to have given up all topics of conversation except what I want to talk about. It is quite ridiculous because I don’t have much to talk about. This complete dependence on me to keep the talk going, simply because I know very little and it is easier for Johnny to talk about what interests me, is not fruitful.
I don’t know what to do. I love him, I want him, I need him. I think he needs me. Then why do I think I don’t love him? Because if I did, I would look after him better than I do.
29th Sep 1980
Why do I feel so glad to see him when he returned early from the island yesterday afternoon? He had caught the hydrofoil back. We had coffee together and then I cut his hair. He cooked the evening meal, a simple meal of mashed potatoes with chives, a lettuce salad and veal marsala. He looked good with his face sunburnt and his hair short.
Later, after discussion, we reached the conclusion it was not a question of whether I loved him or not, but rather whether I was in a loving mood or not!
Quotes to remember:
“Mother, nothing can mask the taste of liver,” says Karen in reply to something I had said.
“Mr Fraser has finally made it to the family noticeboard,” says Gareth. Part of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s picture was on the back of the latest tide tables.
3rd Oct 1980
Last night the family had a discussion over dinner on whether we ought to give up Christmas presents to buy lino for the kitchen floor. Everyone decided against it.
15th Oct 1980
Solved the floor problem by removing the lino, scrubbing and oiling the floorboards. Looks very nice…
Notes and Links
- This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series and based on the journals of my mother.
- These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page and scroll through to the bottom.