Steve wasn't feeling well the other day so he went to bed early and quarantined himself in our guest bedroom. I thought it would be sweet if I kissed him goodnight, so before I went to bed, I opened the door to the guest bedroom (which was dimly lit) and entered. He was sleeping so I put my hand on his shoulder to lean over to kiss him. Steve woke up and sort of gasped. I expected him to go "Oh, hey," all sleepy and cute, but instead he looked me full in the face and went "AAAUUUGHHHHH!!!!!" For several seconds.
That was not the reaction I was expecting nor lookingfor. I started to beat it, embarrassed that I apparently look like a monster and also now know what Steve's last moments would possibly look like if I were a murderer, and that they are not heroic.
"I didn't know who you were!" he protested.
"Who else would it be?" I asked.
I knew it wasn't his fault, since he just woke up and was pumped full of Nyquil, but this is not the first time Steve has seemed terrified by my presence. Sometimes we'll be hanging out, next to each other, for hours and I'll touch him and he'll jump. Sometimes this happens in the car, as if there is someone other than myself sitting in the seat.
I know there are many wives out there who prefer it when their husbands fear them. It gives them control in the relationship: If you don't take this trash out right now I'll give you something to cry about! I would like to have it both ways, sort of like the mean lady in Annie: He could clean the floors and then go "I love you, Ms. Zulkey."
But in reality, it's just sort of a bummer that Steve always seems shocked and slightly frightened by my presence. I would like to think that at the very least, he's learned to trust the security system in our house enough to believe that there is no one but me around to touch him in his sleep (as my friend Julie referred to it, "The gentle intruder.") But, at least we have something to work towards. We've been together for just under ten years. Maybe in another ten he won't be as scared of me. Or maybe I will figure out the reason why he is so scared of me and use it to my advantage.