Steve has always been protective of me, even before we started DD. Stepping into the HoH role strengthened that protectiveness, but he balanced the need to protect with my need for independence and it worked well for us. When I got pregnant, he got a little more protective. I have to admit at times that I would get annoyed, but knowing that it would ease up once the baby arrived made it easier to take.
Then we lost our baby and I nearly died. Steve's protective instinct went into overdrive. At first, that was a good thing. I was such a mess that I wasn't taking care of myself and needed someone looking out for me. Someone to make sure I took my medicine, remind me to eat, make me rest and keep me from overdoing it.
It took me a while to realize that he was protecting me from himself as well. No matter what I said or did, he let it go. I got mad and yelled at him one day. He apologized for upsetting me. I forgot to turn a burner off before leaving the house. He didn't say a word, just started checking behind me whenever I was using the stove. He'd ask me to take care of something and it wouldn't get done because I forgot. He would just remind me the next day or do it himself. Finally I asked him why. He said I had been through so much that he didn't want to hurt me.
It started to bother me. All I want is to feel normal again and you can't feel
normal when everyone is treating you like you're breakable. It probably sounds crazy that I wanted Steve to get upset with me, but I
needed him to. If he reacted like he did back when everything was normal, then I could feel normal again.
I'm stubborn, though, so I didn't give up. I stepped up to a bigger button, his major pet peeve. I didn't just push that button. I danced all over it, sticking out my tongue and practically daring him to say something. I could tell it was bugging him, but he didn't say a word.
It was my counselor that pointed out the cycle we were stuck in. I'm getting frustrated because I want to feel normal and can't because Steve is treating me like something fragile. He sees my frustration and backs off thinking he doesn't want to make it worse. That just gets me even more frustrated, which makes him back off even more.
A little while after my appointment, Steve called so I took the opportunity to talk to him about it and tell him what the counselor said. He just repeated what he'd said before about not wanting to hurt me, which had me ready to pull my hair out in frustration. I didn't get much chance to say anything else because another call came in so he had to go. It was probably a good thing because it gave me a chance to calm down before trying again.
After he got in from work, I brought the subject up again. At first, it didn't seem like we were getting anywhere. Then it occurred to me to point out that feeling normal was important to my emotional health. We ended up reaching a compromise. He promised to start treating me like normal again, although with a little grace on my bad days, as long as I promise to tell him right away if anything is making me feel worse.
I guess he was pretty irked about me stomping all over his pet peeve because he took me at my word and I got a reaction later that evening. He took it easy and just used his hand because it has been over a year, but I definitely felt his displeasure. Much later after the stinging had eased and we had made love, I curled up against him and fell asleep right away, something that I haven't been able to achieve for months without reaching the point of exhaustion or taking medication.