One of my cats has a terribly annoying habit. She will sit down just out of reach and wait for me or Spouse to move and pet her. Then she will walk away a few steps, flop down, and stare at us until we get up and go pet her again. This continues until (1) we stop following her, (2) we become frustrated by her manipulation and carry her back to wherever we want to be, or (3) she suddenly stops the game to tear around the apartment for no damn reason. Cats do that sometimes.
My theory is that she’s measuring our love for her in how far we’ll follow when she goes away.
Z is acting distant. Saying bitter things that suggest I only spend time with her in order to get to the Techie. Moving away from casual contact–if I touch her she suddenly needs to wash dishes or go outside to smoke. Last night she asked if she needed to leave the room so he and I could fuck, and left before we could answer. (She’s been in too much pain to join in, but still.)
She’s pushing me away, maybe him too. She’s said not to follow, that she’s insulted when it seems like we are babysitting her emotions. I respect that. But it seems a lot like cat logic. If we don’t follow, it means we don’t care. If we do, she keeps moving away. Dragging her back whether she wants it or not is not an option (for obvious reasons).
I’m handling this poorly. It’s hard for me to show compassion when I feel insulted. I spend time with her alone often, invite her to my place, suggest we go to shows. Z and I hang out, talk, cook, etc. without the Techie. The Techie and I only see each other around her. If he and I are alone together, it’s because she briefly left the room.
I do not spend my time on people I do not care about. I’ve told her this, and she’s seen it, but the idea remains that I’m just using her to be with him. It’s hard to handle because I do care. I’m not willing to just roll my eyes and walk away rather than try to resolve this. And I empathize: I’ve pushed people away and shut down because anxiety said it would hurt less than waiting for them to leave. It’s unspeakably difficult not to shut down now, because I don’t know how to handle this. I can’t help but think Z and the Techie would be more secure, happier, if I walked out the door right now and disappeared from their lives. It’s hard to believe either of them when they say that isn’t what they want.
So far I keep following. Keep talking. Will continue to invite her out and ask for her time because she’s important to me. I worry it isn’t enough, that she’s going to keep moving further, keep looking for the spot that’s just too far. I texted earlier:
this is an issue and it’s looking like a lot of that is on me. I’d like to talk it through if/when you’re up for it. Meantime if there’s anything you need, just say the word.
She hasn’t answered. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Folks, I’m really fucking bad at this. In case you hadn’t noticed.
[Update: conversation has cleared up issues. We had been using the same words to mean different things without realizing it. The Techie had separate conversations with each of us and didn’t relay what was said, we each assumed the content of those conversations had been relayed and were frustrated that the other wasn’t acting on information we didn’t have. And then it asploded. So…oops. Lesson #1: The Techie does not communicate. No assuming things. Double oops.]