I felt a thick ball of disgust in the back of my throat.
It was Christmas morning, and the kids were playing at our feet.
My eyes fell back to the lingerie and formal dress sitting in an opened package on my lap.
Seriously? THIS is what he got me?
And then I looked up.
To see my husband.
Beaming with joy.
He was so proud of the gift he’d chosen for me.
And then, I felt guilty. I felt stupid. I felt deflated.
And most of all, I felt totally not understood.
“Oh wow, thank you! I’ll have to think of somewhere to wear this now!” I said robotically as I told myself to smile.
But inside, I felt angry and sick.
What a waste of money! I thought to myself. We never go to fancy dinners anymore. When will I ever wear this dress? Is he saying he wants our old life back? I’m tired. I’m always giving. And this gift, a nice dress and lingerie, is all about him. For once, can’t a gift be about me?
And even though I didn’t say a word about it for hours, the pity party had already begun. And my negative thoughts ended up hijacking our whole day.
I went dark.
I got quiet.
I shut off, as the martyr complex replayed itself, over and over, in my head.
I was mad at the gift, and I was also mad at myself for being mad about the gift.
I wanted to turn it off, but I couldn’t.
And he knew.
He was so hurt.
When we eventually talked about it, I told him how the gift had made me feel. That I was feeling hurt, too. That, as I opened that pretty box and shiny wrapping paper, I felt like my needs were totally overlooked. I know it seems silly that such a nice gift could hurt my feelings, but it did. It felt like nothing in that box was about me. In my mind, the dress and lingerie were about what he wanted me to do, and who he wanted me to be.
And then he told me that that wasn’t it at all.
He said that he’d bought me the dress and lingerie because he wanted me to know that he finds me sexy and beautiful. That I can still rock it, even after 3 kids and in my still-losing-the-baby-weight body.
He got me the gift because he loves me very much, and wanted me to feel special and cherished and alive.
Intention is everything.
I’ll be honest. It took us a while to get over that morning.
The truth is, I totally ruined last Christmas for my husband and I. (And it’s taken me several months to even write those words.)
I wish so bad I could go back. And erase my hurt and sadness over the gift my husband wanted so bad for me to love.