An Apology To My Family

Last night my adoring wife posted a blog about our new coffee table. A very lovely addition to our house, which was positioned slap bang in the middle of the living room, patiently awaiting my return from work last night. As the kids returned from school, it was the first thing they noticed and the centre of conversation. The family waited with bated return for my entrance. And, whether or not, I would notice.

My family delight in such cruel taunting of dumb creatures such as I. New photographs are strategically placed around the house. Curtain drapes change colour overnight, furniture is repositioned at a whim. And the first thing I’m asked is ‘Do you notice anything new?’ At these dreaded words, I break into a clammy sweat and descend into panic, desperately attempting to detect the offending article.

I’m no good at this. I live in a bubble. It’s no excuse, but my OCD means I am often wrestling with unwanted thoughts and urges which, while nowhere near as bad as they used to be, still lurk at the edges of my consciousness, threatening to consume me. Last night it was food related, as I fretted and worried over calorific intake, my weight and current lack of exercise due to a head cold aka ‘manflu.’

After dinner I plonked myself on our sofa, within inches of the coffee table. I sensed something different in the room but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The fact I had, minutes before, taken the cardboard packaging the table arrived in to our outside recycling bin failed to register with me. I attempted to strike up conversation with Fionnuala but she simply looked at me, a knowing smirk on her face.

Hannah then swept into the room, enquiring ‘Has he noticed yet?’ It was then I realised there was something afoot. By day, I’m a supposedly highly trained investigator who shifts through masses of material in forensic detail so as to progress complex enquiries. When I leave the office, however, I’m an idiot. Were Godzilla to lumber through Belfast city centre, I doubt if it would evoke a flicker of recognition.

After several tortuous moments and frantic scanning of the room, I finally noticed the gleaming table, a foot in front of my nose. This sparked scenes of great hilarity amongst the other members of the Black household. Once more, I was the clown of the piece, and the butt of their jokes. Yes, I am your idiotic, non observant husband and father. Guilty as charged. Sent to amuse and entertain you as I stumble through life as awkwardly as possible.

I do my best, I truly do. But there are times I feel I’m not cut out for this whole husband and father carry on. I feel I’m continually letting the side down, neglecting my duties, struggling in a role I’m entirely unsuited to perform. I’m selfish and needy, wrapped up in my own mental maze. I blow the tiniest disagreement out of all proportion. I should be the rock of the family whereas I’m usually drowning in quicksand.

I guess we all feel like that at times. Utterly inadequate. We do the right thing 99% of the time but that one failing can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down. Life. It’s a baffling puzzle we will never master. Until then, all we can do is our very best. I’ll soldier on. Fighting my demons, internal and external. Peering ahead for the next coffee table on the horizon. I can do better. I must do better.

Are you oblivious to much of what goes around you? Do you live in a bubble of your own making?

Or are you eagle eyed? On time for every appointment? On top of every aspect of your life?

56 thoughts on “An Apology To My Family

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  1. Nothing to apologize over. It’s just being human, maybe even a necessary decompression from work.

    My other half and I are lucky in that we don’t do this kind of thing to each other. A new table or curtains would be something discussed and then picked out together. See, I can take your side too, LOL.

    Me personally, I have a great (but not perfect) eye for details. I pick up on subtle clues in books and shows that give away the endings, notice things out of place at home, etc… It hasn’t made me any more efficient at tasks though. Quite the opposite at times as I seem to drown in details and what ifs. That’s why I said tuning things out may be a decompression mechanism when you get home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my teens, my boyfriend grew a moustache. I hated it. I was always on at him to shave it off. One evening he and his friends picked me up from youth club and I almost noticed an air of expectancy (although I might have picked that up in retrospect. It was only when we reached our destination and they all burst out laughing that I finally realised the dreaded moustache was gone.
    that was when I was young and relatively alert. I’m worse now.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m sorry Stephen, for you having to deal with all this. It doesn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things, whether you notice a coffee table, or an eleohant in the room, or not. Although the elephant might be a bit of a problem! You sound a very loving, caring person, and that is what matters. This OCD is a damned shitty thing to deal with. You must get exhausted at times. My husband is like you. In so many ways. I once boght a coffee table too, that he never notuced. A beautiful Indian carved one. It didn’t bother me that he never noticed. It isn’t important really. I feel for you here Stephen. And seriously, I hope your manflu gets better soon.. your Blog is great, and I always read it even if I don’t always Like or Comment, because I find that a bit hard. Hope you have a better day today. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, at least you’re apologizing. Most of the men in my life would never apologize or their apologies were BS.

    When we were kids, my father wouldn’t notice anything … or he would but he would be busy with this or that more important thing & whatever it was he had noticed would be shuffled to the back of his mind … so maybe we thought he hadn’t noticed. This would be a mistake, if we were trying to get away with something & thought that we had succeeded, we would be wrong. Because sooner or later, he’d so very off-handedly mentioned what we thought he hadn’t noticed. He was brilliant at that.

    Gee, I miss him.

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  5. The whole relationship part of life is a work in progress for most of us. The instructions are incomplete, the rules change, some just give up. But it is worth it to press on. Acknowledge our shortcomings or differences, work on our weaknesses and keep trying. Being a spouse and a parent is not for the weak. You’re strong. Persevere. Run the race. The prize is worth the effort.

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  6. I will admit that i was looking forward to the other side of the story, just when you would catch on. I knew that hilarity would ensue. But really, as long as there were something there to hold my glass, even I might not have noticed. It’s things not being where they are meant to be that sends me into a tizzy, and it is my husband who tends to move the furniture, not quite liking my positioning. We spent probably t he first year in our house, rearranging the front room, until I finally decided that he was too good a husband to lose over something so trivial as the position of a chair i never used. We will move one last time soon, and I nearly dread the furniture placement aspect, deciding to let him have it. Just keep things in the same place for a modicum of time. but thanks for a little hilarity as I struggle with illness.

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  7. I can think of worse things to be than oblivious. You are a devoted family man, a talented writer, an overcomer, a marathoner, and an inspiration to a world of people. Sending good vibes your way!

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  8. I am oblivious to the little details of my surroundings. They’re just not important to me. I do notice people, not new haircuts outfits etc, but how people are feeling, what kind of mood they’re in, how they’re interacting with other people. My family laughs at my oblivousness, but they know I love them and that’s really all that’s important. I’ve just learned to laugh at myself when I completely miss the elephant sitting in front of me. I enjoy hearing about you all..have a nice day!

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  9. Although I am ALWAYS early for appointments, I’m terribly good at procrastination. I blame most of my lack of recognition in the decorating on my colorblindness. I do think I would notice a new coffee table and plunk my feet right on top of it. My bubble is often more about relationships. I tend to often be oblivious to the needs of others and have to be intentional in fighting against that tendency.

    Thanks for the great post!

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  10. I am the bubble of my marriage. My hubby is the eagle eye and the elephant who remembers everything. I can discern emotional changes- but otherwise, he knows all and sees all. It’s irritating and comforting at the same time! Hang in there- marriage is a wonderful blessing and a wonderful mystery 😉

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  11. We all feel “not enough” sometimes. The reality is that it’s coffee table not a metaphor for how you’re the worst at…….whatever. Sometimes when we feel safe and secure we turn off those highly sensitive sympathetic nervous system instincts. And that’s ok. Marriage is all about balancing each other out. We have lived in the same home for about 13 years and my husband still asks me where the towels are. The towels that have not moved in 13 years. I used to take those things very personally but now I realize that’s just not his “thing”. He has lots of amazing “things” but he’s not the most observant. I cannot take it personally, because it’s not. Your family seems to accept and love you for you. Maybe you should let them and try it out for yourself. From one “not enough” to another- be easy.

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  12. I often times feel like the old joke about the absent minded guy who fell down the stairs, got up, and asked what that noise was. I don’t always notice new things. Threats in what’s around me yes. A new haircut on my wife, probably not. I think it’s just a guy thing.

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  13. It was just a very funny moment. And, it’s so obvious how much your family loves you or they wouldn’t do this prank. Your value to them gave them the freedom to do this. You’re their hero.

    FYI, when I met my husband, he had a beard. About ten years later, he shaved most of it off. I never noticed. I still marvel at that! It happens to all of us😏

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m glad you didn’t discover the table with your shin or knee. 😀 I tend to be a big picture, landscape person, not detail oriented unless I am looking for something. Even then, I ‘see’ things in my brain, not so much with my eyes.

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  15. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just have a laugh (if you can). Though my husband hates when I say “notice anything different?” Auntie (98 years old) and I play the game… well she does. 🤣😂🤔

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  16. In my home it’s the opposite. My husband is very observant of the world about him. Me – not so much. We will go somewhere and he will ask me if that noticed someone’s new hairdo or that someone has grown a beard or that there is a dent in the back fence. Me? not a clue!

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  17. To this perceived set of circumstances, all too familiar (inadequacy) I remind myself. God put you here for a purpose. He has a plan therefore you are able to accomplish it. Sounds simple but IT being the Truth sheds light on the darkness of unworthiness, ineptness, and other negative emotions with which I derail myself. Blessings and Hope.

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  18. I understand exactly where you are coming from, on this subject! I do similar things myself, because my mind has to jump through hoops during the average day, and it takes time to come back down to earth. Not everyone’s mind works in the same way, and you will solve problems others can’t, and pay attention to things that mean nothing to them, but a huge amount to you. I myself am much more interested in the meaning of this or that, or what lies behind this or that situation, or what makes that person tick, than the in colour of curtains, or rearranged ornaments; I appreciate them, when pointed out to me, but generally speaking, they don’t tend to be on my radar. I don’t believe that not being immediately aware of a change that has been made makes you selfish. Certain lines of work take a massive amount of mental and emotional energy, which is rarely fully understood or appreciated by those who are not involved in that business. You could maybe turn the situation around and make some secret changes yourself, and see who notices… and how long it takes them!

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  19. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. You are far from alone in your lack of observation regarding things, as evidenced from all the prior posts. I will share a little story: I went to visit my sister several years ago. As we sat in her kitchen chatting I suddenly noticed the lovely wallpaper and complimented her on it. “Carol,” she said shocked, “That wallpaper has been on the wall since we bought the house FOUR years ago!”

    I am not observant, at least not when it comes to things. However, I WILL notice when someone seems sad, pick up on the atmosphere in a room, and often can tell from a person’s eyes what emotion they may be experiencing. Now, I’ve been wrong here and there, but mostly I am right on target when it comes to people.

    We all have gifts of observation, perhaps yours is not attuned to things but to people, or animals, or nature in general? My husband is very observant and is often bemused as to how I did not notice this or that thing. That’s okay, I am more emotionally aware than he is. It’s all good. We balance one another.

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  20. Seriously; written from your perspective, I now feel like a mean wife.

    I’m home all day around everyone and everything there. My husband comes home, to a place he basically only sleeps at some weeks, and I’m mad that he doesn’t know what’s what.

    …I’m going to go move some furniture around.

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  21. To the amusement of my husband and mother, I’ve been referred to as a “cat”. I have the ability to immediately know if an insect or spider is nearby. It is a sense I do not wish to have but at the same time a blessing that I can immediately destroy the target who dare come into my lair.

    My husband does not tend to notice new things either. No worries!

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