I don't really know how it happened and that's part of the problem. It's been like boiling a frog; the changes have been so slow it was hard to see the change happening. I'm writing this via stream-of-consciousness so it's not going to flow well.
Dayna and I have been friends since 2000, and partners since 2002. I'll skip the love story and get to the plot. I've been abusive, neglectful, unsupportive, unsympathetic, and deceptive to her.
I'm compelled to clarify abusive: I've never been directly physically abusive toward her. I've never struck her or anything like that. It would have easily been the last thing I ever did, plus it's just not my way. My sister and I were disciplined with spanking as children up until the point where my father left a bruise on my sister. He never spanked us again and after that he was able to bluff his way through spanking situations. That's how I remember it, anyway. I've never felt physically abused and actually respect my parents' approach to spanking.
I've been an angry, anxious, depressed person for a long time. I took a lot of that out on Dayna. The rest I habitually keep inside until it boils over to take out on Dayna. It's taken me years to recognize the smallest part of this and I know I still don't see all of it. It's hard to know where to start as this has been ongoing for over a decade as part of everyday life.
The first thing to know is that I have a grossly overdeveloped sense of responsibility. I cannot overstate this enough. If I can take care of something I will probably take responsibility for it. I can't possibly do everything so I fail to deliver on most things. Luckily for me this failure is silent. Few if any people know I've taken responsibility for this or that so I can feel inwardly guilty and unconfident but look capable and hard-working and dependable on the outside. I exist in a continuous state of being overwhelmed by my (notional) responsibilities and undermined by my (notional) failures. Saying out it out loud hasn't done much to reign this in.
When Dayna and I really started getting to know each other she told me about a number of mental disorders she suffered from. Growing up I saw my mother as constantly under great stress from her work and my father doing everything he could to make things easier for her. Being a kid I could have been way off but I internalized what I thought I saw. So I took responsibility for making her life better. Had this been something I said out loud I'm sure Dayna would have said this was ludicrous. One person can't fix another, they can just be accepting and supportive. I was pretty accepting and supportive in the beginning but eventually this was overridden by my own shortcomings and misguided ideas how on people help each other.
Things have gotten particularly bad between us over the last few months. Long-standing injuries to Dayna's spine have been getting worse, putting her consistently in a great deal of pain. The pain has made her irritable and my inability to really help her has been triggering my need to fix things. I haven't been fixing her so my mind has been bouncing between "I'm failing" and "There's nothing I can do". I've been physically supportive by way of getting her things, trying to make her comfortable, etc, but I've been almost completely emotionally detached and unwilling to accept that it's not for me to fix. This detachment made me completely emotionally unsupportive. My lack of sympathy and support causes her stress and anxiety which increases her pain and irritability which in turn causes me to be stressed, anxious, angry, and unsupportive. I've been there for her in ways that are completely superficial and rarely in ways that were genuinely meaningful.
To be continued...