I carry the blame, but it's not all my fault
Confused, worried, exhausted. Patience running thin. What made it this way? Why so severe? How do we fix it?
It started with a very incorrect, but seemingly harmless, confrontation I made to my boyfriend (2 years, we live together-- I moved to a different country to be with him). Appalled, defensive, and feeling patronized, I sent him into a “cave mode” to last all day. And I mean all day… 12 hours of silent treatment while he watched an entire series on Netflix. Awkward passings in the hallways and common spaces while I search for the simple, soft, but meaningful words to break the ice. I tried to talk about it multiple times, unsuccessfully. Finally, the series ended, and then speech was flowing for a whopping 10 minutes. Trying to address the issue and dancing around triggers, I still wanted to make myself heard, while apologizing for having hurt him so badly (apparently). I was at the verge of tears, but let none fall, thank god, and the conversation ended with a, “That’s it, I just wanted you to know...” Blank stares were broken by a sigh and a retreat to 9-Gag. After having spent the entire day in the house, I decided I needed to get out of the 60 square meters of awkwardness which lingered with stale guilt and shame. He declined my few invitations and attempts to smooth things out. I rode around, intending to go into a café or restaurant to read my book, escape in my mind a bit. But the thought of entering a lively, bright place on Second Christmas solo did not enthuse me. So, I goose-necked the scenes of lightness from outside. In the cold. Riding by on my bike. Asking myself if this can really be my life. I’m here, in this country, with only one person who I’m comfortable with, and in this moment, am not so. I had nowhere to go, and it really dawned on me. I am alone.
When I arrived home (only about 45 minutes had gone by. The lights were off. House still. He was in bed. I disrobed and joined him, hoping to clear the air (no one should ever go to bed angry). I was freezing, so I refrained from touching him, an unpleasant shock I know he hates. Laying next to him, I tousled his hair. He opens his eyes to tell me he sent me an email (reminding me to pay the landlord; a dry and very impersonal email, I might add). I prompted once more if we could/ should talk about it, and I was met with the same response: that he had nothing to say about it. I childishly asked if he was “mad at me”. Which he annoyedly told me, “No, I’ve already told you three times.” And that was it. Night over, and here I am purging out the timeline of this wasted day. Hoping to find some solace in these words, the inner-workings of my mind.
In my eyes, the “punishment” did not fit the “crime”. I do not feel that I deserve this. It is way overboard, but it is the only way he knows. The confrontation and little back-and-forth arguing is so minuscule to the reaction and the waste of a day we went through today. That’s what it was, a waste of what could have been a perfectly good day together (they are so few and far between), light, cuddly, happy… ruined by a few words I muttered over 12 hours ago. Fuck me.
This is not fair. I’m blaming myself, but in reality, I need not carry the weight for all of this. I absolutely feel bad for what I did, confronting him in a juvenile, sloppy way. And while what I confronted him about does bother me, I can learn to live with it. It’s just these reactions. These brute, distant, black-hole positions he puts me in that I am at a loss for words, and a loss for knowing what to do. And the most frustrating part, the damned stubbornness. The pride that doesn’t allow him to see or accept my side until maybe well-after the situation has been chewed up, spat out, re-eaten, digested, and expelled.
While apologizing maybe comes too easily for me, it is excruciatingly too difficult for him. How do I move forward? How do I help him? How do I help myself, besides walking on eggshells?
You don't say what the "incident" was to throw him into this cocoon, but his reaction is somewhat extreme, at the surface.
At some point, you two are going to need to talk about it - about the incident itself, and BOTH or your reactions. A counselor could help you get it out into the open in a safe place.
In the meantime, don't ask this guy if he's angry at you after exhibiting THAT kind of behavior. Of course he was. He was also brooding and pouting and shutting down. He's not talking to you about it, but he really needs to speak to someone about it so he can talk to you about it.
Silent treatment is emotional abuse and it's about manipulation and control. Get yourself to a therapist or counselor who will advise you how to deal with it. If your BF values your relationship together, he will go with you, but don't count it because his type of behavior usually goes right back to childhood.
In the meantime, he's managed to belittle you and get you to shoulder the blame for his lack of maturity. You don't need to carry any blame for his actions, rather you need to step away from your relationship and ask yourself if this type of behavior and disrespect of you is what you need in a 2 year relationship.