Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nitty Gritty

This is the nitty gritty: relationships are hard work.

All relationships. They are so complicated and yet so easy all at the same time. And what makes them even more complicated is how much you care about the other person and how much you care about the status of keeping your relationship healthy and happy. What makes them complicated is how much you care about your own well-being but also the well-being of the other person and how that will affect the dynamics between yourselves.

If you care about your relationships, it means you care enough to say and listen to the hard things, the things you wouldn't normally vocalize toward, say, an acquaintance. These conversations are never easy. They are never not emotional. They are intense.

What makes these difficult conversations worth it is the love you have towards the other person, how much you care about them and how much you want your relationship to succeed.

I've found for some people maintaining relationships is easy because their relationship is never faced by tough stuff. And other relationships I admire their strength for all the storms they have weathered and yet the relationship is stronger than ever. This can be a family relationship, a friendship or a romantic relationship.

It applies to all three.

One thing I've learned about myself: I care. Therefore my relationships can be intense. I care that my relationships stay strong.

And I've also found that when I combine that with my passionate personality, my caretaker personality, and my bull-headed independent side, relationships can require a lot of energy on my part. Especially when I really love the other person.

There are a lot of relationships that I have let go by the wayside, obviously most of these friendships. A couple have been romantic for obvious reasons, and a couple are familial relationships because, well, there's a good portion of my family that just hasn't cared enough to try and stay together. Rather, they'd like to all look at each other as strangers and trying to be the one to constantly keep everyone together just gets too damn tiring.

But here's the truth: there's not a single relationship with any of the people that I'm close to in my life right now that I look at it and regret or resent the amount of energy and emotion I've put into it. Everyone in my life right now is someone worth me fighting even my own internal battles to keep around. Which I do more than anyone else ever realizes.

I've learned in life that sometimes you have to fake it til you make it. And this means most times, even when I feel as though my world is sinking in, as though my heart is going to just tear right down the seams, as though my insides are going to bust out of themselves from the anxiety attack taking hold, as though I can't breathe because every thought and feeling is physically restricting my breathing.....well even during these times everyone around me doesn't notice anything different as my smile is plastered on my face, I'm laughing and joking, and I keep pressing on.

I thought surely the other day that one of my co-workers might pull me aside and tell me to pick up the wreck that I was....however, instead I was told I was one of the most chipper people they knew and that I was always so pleasant and happy! So apparently I can fake it til I make it like a pro. (*note: I also attribute that to the fact that I get to work with amazing little kids who are so innocent and show you that life is all about enjoying the little things....and their incredible personalities just bring heart smiles....)

Life has been tough for me I've blogged about before, for so many reasons. I have so much transition and unknown in my life....and on top of that I have the pressure to be strong for everyone around me all over the place. My parents have dumped all their burdens and problems on me, leaving me to bear a lot of their stress. A lot of people seem to be dying around me so I'm having to be emotionally strong for family members, co-workers and the man I'm in love with. At work I am wonder woman, helping out in every area possible and doing as much as possible to make sure my kids succeed to the best that I can help them and to also alleviate the stress of all my co-workers. I'm losing a brother and gaining a sister-in-law which leaves me with a lose-gain thing going on. And then there's the man of who I am so desperately in love with. I'm trying my hardest to be strong for him in so many ways. Trying to help him get things on track, to encourage him in all the ways I possible can, to love him through it all, to express that love, learning to navigate this new relationship, and now to be a rock for which he can lean on as his family faces a huge loss.

Emotionally I have been zapped.

I have felt like I'm being taken advantage of. I'm fully aware that most people around me don't realize they are taking advantage of me. I'm caretaker and I'm compassionate, which means I always take care of the needs of others, I rarely say no to anything that anyone asks of me, and people come to just expect it. It takes a lot out of me emotionally and most times these people don't do much to give back to me and I never ask them to. Therefore they wind up taking advantage of me without knowing it, but still do it. And I leave being emotionally drained without anyone really giving back to me. Granted most people don't understand just how much I do worry and care about everyone all the time so they don't understand how emotionally taxing everything they ask me to do is.

And I keep giving and doing. It's just how I am.

And then I emotionally have to be strong for others. I've always been the go-to person in others lives. The one that others bring their problems to, that I help solve. I'm the one that provides support and encouragement...and right now I feel like EVERYONE in my life is needing that. Which means when I need it, there's no one I feel I can turn to when I'm having to be strong for them.

This is where I know I make mistakes. But I can't ask others to be strong for me when they are coming to me for that exact reason.

But I'm learning how to navigate this predicament. For the past year I have learned to ask things of's still rare and usually very small things. I don't usually ask for emotional support at all...but at least I've started asking for help. And recently I've started trying to learn to say no. It's really hard for me to do but I'm trying to learn how to say no to others when I know I'm about out of emotional charge. I've also started to give myself mental health days and times. Times when I can recharge myself, when I can take care of myself. This was a very recent development but so far I've implemented it a few times.

Lately where I've really struggled has been with trying to navigate a new romantic relationship.

This time it's been different. For starters I am in love with Britton. That's a huge thing for me. That in itself has determined how much I care about everything, how much I care about him, how deep everything touches me, how I approach all situations, how much I dwell on issues, how vulnerable I make myself, etc.

On top of that, I'm not lying when I say I'm independent. I'm not used to actively inviting someone else into my daily routine, my hobbies and interests, my thoughts, my feelings, and relying on each other. I struggle with this. I'm so used to being by myself and doing for myself that today in talking with him, I realized how much I DON'T text Britton letting him know I want to hang out. I love being with him. So much so that I just wait until HE has time and then jump at the opportunity. But I am not used to asking people to do things with me or spend time with me that though I think I want to be with him, I never actually express it out loud to him. I don't express my desire. In that way I'm not vocal. I've also realized in general I'm not vocal. For instance, I'm SO incredibly attracted to Britton. I adore his smile, he is ridiculously handsome when he dresses to the nines, he looks hot as hell in anything he puts on, I think he's sexy in his jeans, I adore his smile, and love the way his lights almost always crinkle and light up when he's looking at me. I think he's a very handsome and attractive man....everyone agrees. And I adore looking at him. Both in a sexual and non-sexual way. There are times that I look at him and just drink in how good he looks. And then there are the times that I am visually undressing him with my eyes because there is something about the way he looks in that moment that is just so physically irresistable to me. I know I think all this. But he doesn't. I don't hardly express how good I think he looks....and yet he tells me all the time that I look cute in what I'm wearing. I need to work on this. I understand that. And I have realized that I love him. Deeply and passionately. Yet he's usually the one telling me he loves me first. My problem is in transferring my emotions from thoughts into words. I can transfer thoughts into words....and do so all the time. My mouth gets me into more than enough trouble. But transferring my emotions into words is harder for me, I just don't do it all that often. Therefore I need to work on that. But that comes with being independent. I'm used to just thinking and doing on my own. Not always including someone else into all of that. Which means I need to be aware of that and make more of an effort for that.

And lastly, Britton and I are a lot alike but we are so different. And it's not so much difference as it is periods in our life. I'm trying to learn to be with someone who is at a different part in his life. He has had quite a few girlfriends. He has learned all these things in a relationship that I'm learning. He's gone through all of this. Not to mention I haven't been myself all the way recently. I haven't been as easy-going and happy and crazy as usual. Hard to do when you have to be all responsible for your job around kids and none of your comrades live within a 30-mile radius. I used to be going all the time and now I'm a homebody stuck on a tight budget in a town that neither has anything to do, anywhere to go, nor bike lanes for relaxful transportation. So Britton doesn't know the full side of me that exists.

And I have come into his life at a very stressful time. With his sister-in-law dying, his brother who is one of his rocks in life is falling apart. As is the rest of the family. On top of that let's add in other complications in his life in other facets and, well, new relationships tend to be pushed by the wayside sometimes in light of other things needing to be taken care of. Not to mention his stress and emotional level has been through the roof. And when you're getting to know each other and crazy emotions are involved that's not necessarily a good or easy thing.

Hence the roundabout to hard conversations and complications.

Britton and I have been hitting rough edges around each other lately. Learning how to love each other and knowing that neither one of us is being our normal self due to all the stresses and emotions and complications in life.

But they need to be had. Because that's what keeps us learning and moving forward and ultimately leads to us being happy and successful in our relationship (please keep in mind the definition of happy and successful varies from person to person but I'm not going to explain what that means to me right now).

But the nitty gritty is also this when it comes to Britton: I love him. He is my future. And while these conversations are hard, they are only the first of a thousands of steps that we will take together for the rest of our time together.

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