Tougher Than Diamonds, Stronger Than Steel

A friend wrote a post on facebook about people who are waiting for the “perfect” mate and the comments were interesting. So many people had the most ridiculous ideas of deal breakers. Let me tell you, perfect does not mean that he agrees with everything you say and do. Interests are superficial; they wax and wane. What you like one day is what you hate the next. It’s the core of your partner that’s important.

I’m really starting to dislike the term “deal breaker.” I like to think of them as starting points. There are only four true deal breakers, and they are abuse, addiction/untreated mental illness,  unfaithfulness, and inability to change. Anything else is negotiable. Look for the person who makes you laugh, goes out of their way to make you feel loved, who is kind, caring, supportive, and empathetic.

Give a warning shot across the bow before deciding that someone isn’t the one. When I met Ron, he was a terrible tipper. Now he grudgingly tips 20%, but he does it because he knows it’s important to me.

I was freakin’ crazy when we started dating, arguing all the time, playing come here go away. He flat out said “Choose which is more important, the drama or me.” I chose him over drama. What could have been a dealbreaker for him was instead a chance for me to make a positive change.

Look for the person who respects you enough to love you and help you grow, but is patient enough to stay while you do it. Someone who may not do the things you do, but who is secure enough to let you find others with whom to do those things.

Oh, but what about when he hums through his nose while he’s breathing, or she has to have all her food on separate plates? Um, guaranteed that if it’s not those things, there will be other things that you will learn to hate. But love means making the effort to look past those things.

Neuroses are not deal breakers. I insist that dishes be washed under running water. Ron thought it was weird, but went along with it. A year or so later, we read an article on germs and dishes; turns out the best and cleanest way to wash dishes is under running water. I’ll say it again. Neuroses are NOT deal breakers.

You love animals and he doesn’t? That’s when you ask him to make a change. You’ll find a way to make it work. If not, that’s inability to change, which can be a deal breaker if you love animals more than you love him. Same goes for if she wants kids and you don’t. If he wants to send the kids to private school but you only want public, that is NOT a deal breaker. It’s a point of compromise.

What about sex? What if it feels more like a vaginal exam than foreplay? What if he doesn’t like the way she twists and pulls? FREAKIN’ TALK ABOUT IT! If you’re not comfortable enough with each other to discuss what you do and don’t like about sex, you shouldn’t be having it.

Love is all about making compromises. I used to tell my second husband that compromise was when one person got their way and the other one didn’t. Now I know that’s not true at all. Compromise is when you work together to find a solution that is acceptable to both people. It’s work. It’s GIVING. That’s LOVE.

Although I’m not the first person to say it, and I’ve said it many times, love is not something you decide on one day and never revisit. Love is a decision, every single day. Love is deciding to find it funny that he can’t go to the grocery store alone without calling you from every aisle. Love is deciding to put on headphones when she watches Supernatural for the hundred millionth time.

I think the reason so many people think it’s impossible to find love is that they don’t want to have to change their own behavior. They want to focus on someone else’s quirks and never adjust the insane things they do. I think it’s hilarious when someone says, “Oh, if he were to do (x), I would walk away.” But if you ask them about when they do (y), they say, “Well, if he loves me, he’ll just have to accept it.” Wait, so he has to accept you and the crap you pull, but if he does anything wrong, you’re out of there? Yeah, good luck with that.

Love requires change, and if you’re not willing to change, you’re never going to find it. Change is hard, I know. But when you decide to love someone, change has a purpose. You’re becoming a better person for the one that you love.

Some days, love is easy. Some days it’s hard as fuck. No matter how irritated we get though, we both know that tomorrow is another day, another decision, another chance for it to be us against the world.

 

Advertisements

An Infinite Thing

Yesterday was a tremendous day of a hundred different sparks, like a freakin’ firework. From my own therapeutic perspective to my daughter’s growth as an adult, for me it has been one long day of explosive joy.

It started out with news that Aubrey’s yarn was one of the first sales of yarn crawl at our local yarn store. Like, the yarn hadn’t even been checked into inventory yet when someone scooped it up and bought it. Considering how hard she’s worked on skeining, caking, and winding after working her real job all day, it was gratifying to see her efforts rewarded.

I finally figured out what my therapist was trying to make me see when she said that the company a person chooses to keep says a lot about that person. I didn’t take their choice to mean that I’m “less than.” I realized that just like people who are in love with being in love, infatuated with someone new while keeping someone old around just in case, there are those who engage in the friendship version of that. That has no bearing on my value as a person. I can be their friend anyway. I’ve certainly been guilty of that behavior myself and no one is perfect.  Do I still respect them as much? No, but that’s okay too. Strike one for the unfillable void.

I didn’t get pissed off at my mother’s comment on facebook. While I would normally rant against her fictionalization of our relationship as one where she’s supportive, I have zero expectations therefore zero disappointments.

Spent the day catching up with my friend Cyndi whom I haven’t seen in ages. She gave me perspective, validation, and the reminder that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.

I waded into the friendship waters and decided they weren’t worth swimming in. Someone new failed my litmus test; how people treat waitstaff isn’t just useful for deciding who is worth dating. It works for friendship, too. My caution flags were raised when we met though I couldn’t put my finger on why. Being rude doesn’t make you cool but leaving a small (or non-existent) tip because of things beyond the server’s control makes you decidedly uncool. Done and done.

For whatever reason, when Aubrey got home from work, she was feeling chatty. Not just “this is what happened at work today” kind of chatty, either. More like “this is who I am, what I believe, what I dream about, who I love” kind of chatty. We talked for hours, about people, life, but mainly about Isaac.

Turns out she’s secretly been texting with him for over a year, off and on. They even went to a movie back in the spring. To the surprise of absolutely no one, he is still the love of her life, and she readily admits that he always will be. He stopped texting after the movie and she finally confronted him about it five months later. To the surprise of absolutely no one, he is still broken. She told him she’ll always be here for him and that she considers him family. That was the last time they talked.

In tumblrspeak, I believe the Universe shipped them. They are the fucking Titanic of ships, but they are eternally shipped. That being said, as much as I love him like my own child, I’m glad he walked away. The moment she saw him, she knew she was still in love with him and would take him back in a heartbeat. But until he gets to the other side enough to know that he deserves her, they would just be a time-bomb of disaster, and this time, I don’t think she’d recover. It breaks my heart that he’s still broken, and it especially breaks my heart that he may always be, but it would kill me to watch her implode again after he was gone. And no doubt about it, with where he is in his own life, he would eventually leave and she would never, ever get over it. The last time literally almost killed me. I don’t think *I* would ever get over it.

He’s still angry with me, almost five years later. I told her that it’s okay that he’s angry at me. I’m a big girl and I can take it. No matter how he feels, I do still love him like my own. One of our favorite Supernatural quotes is, “Family don’t end in blood, boy.” It could be another twenty years and if he showed up on my doorstep needing to hide a body, I’d give him crap but I’d get a shovel. I’m also adult enough to know that people don’t feel anger at those they don’t care about; they feel nothing. I stand by my belief that I’m the one it’s safe for him to be angry with, because I do love him no matter what. And if that’s what he needs me to be, that’s what I’ll be.

Life, the Universe, and everything, all in one night’s conversation. Things change and nothing changes. My daughter is amazing and I could not possibly be any more proud of her. She’s going to be just fine. I’m going to be just fine. I hope with all of my heart that Isaac will be just fine.

We. Are all. Enough.

 

The Dark Side Of The Moon

I had two major breakthroughs in therapy today. I did my assignment of making a list of my characteristics; when I presented it, I joked that I did it as a list of pros and cons. She had me read it out loud, then asked me to pretend that all those characteristics belong to someone sitting in the chair next to me. What would I think of that person?

I looked at my list, and admitted that if they were smart, funny, creative, and sarcastic, I would likely want to be their friend. I examined the cons and thought that none of those things were something that would make me dislike someone, things like disorganized, self-doubting, bitchy. She asked what I would tell that person who had self-doubts. Since one of my pros is that I’m encouraging and empathetic, I would tell them that they are capable of doing anything they want.

She then asked what I thought of that person overall. As I looked at that list, a list that I struggled over and thought about endlessly for the last five days, I realized I’m actually a pretty cool person. I’m far from perfect (selfish, authoritative, demanding), but in general, I try to be “good” (kind, caring, giving, generous, fair, ethical). My pros did outweigh my cons, even when weighting various bad characteristics more heavily than others.

That was breakthrough number one. Number two was the big “aha” moment, though… As we talked about my deep-seated parental void that I’m constantly trying to fill, she said that I would NEVER be able to fill that void, that it would always be there. At first I thought that was kind of a negative thing for a therapist to say, but then it hit me.

When I met Ron, I believed with all my heart that he was my missing piece. That if he loved me unconditionally, I would never want for anything or anyone ever again. In a lot of ways, he is my missing piece, and the Universe knows that this man loves me unconditionally and has done so through good times and bad. Even so, I still have that longing, needy, existential void that I keep trying to fill with one person or another, particularly mother figures.

But no one, no matter how wonderful they are, can ever make that nothingness go away. No one can go back in time and re-parent the neglected and abused child to keep that vastness from springing into existence. All I can do now is try to talk myself down off the ledge of low self-esteem by reminding myself that I am worth sacrificing for, I am worth encouraging, I am worth loving, I am worth protecting. And the fact that I wasn’t encouraged, loved, or protected as a child ISN’T MY FAULT. It’s my mother’s.

One of the things I listed is that I am a good mother. I know I’m a good mother because I have awesome relationships with my awesome kids. Matt calls me at least once a week if not more, just to catch up and touch base. I see Aubrey every single day and she hugs me every night before she goes home. In spite of my lack of a maternal example, I still managed to love and protect and encourage my children. I was far from perfect. Trust me, there are plenty of moments where I know I was the worst mother ever. But overall, Matt and Aubrey know they are loved unconditionally. My worst mother moments were my failing, not theirs.

In a hilarious caricature of my entire relationship with my mother, I recently posted a meme about depression not always having a reason. My mother in all of her narcissistic glory, posted, “Now you know how I feel.” OMFG. Are you freakin’ kidding me? While a million and one smart ass comments ran through my head, I settled on replying, “It’s what I aspire to.” Really, I wanted to say, “Way to make it all about you.”

I don’t care who a person is, and especially not if it was my child, if someone I know were to post that meme, I would respond with, “I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time.” Or, ” Is there anything I can do to help?” Or even, “I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but I’m here for you if you need anything.”

We all had a good laugh about it because it is seriously typical. However, while I know it’s a dark humor thing, I also know that it hurts in a way that only maternal rejection can hurt. But after today, I also know that her response is her problem, not mine. It really, truly, absolutely is NOT about me.

That is huge. Groundbreaking. Tremendous. So after a week of making a list, checking it twice, and interviewing my friends and family, I know exactly who I am.

I am enough.

The Road So Far

I am still committed to the low-carb journey, although I have gone up to 45 carbs a day should I want them. At the behest of a couple of friends, one of whom is a GP, I did check in with my doctor. It was time for a full physical anyway. I gave up five tubes of blood and got a tetanus booster that has my arm swollen, knotted, and itchy. Other than my continuing diagnoses of major depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and insomnia, I’m relatively healthy, although I am still waiting on all the blood results.

Of course my doctor recommended I have 30 grams of carbs per meal. I’m not sure I even know how to do that anymore, unless I eat a potato or something. Should my liver panel show any abnormalities I will obviously have to increase my carbs, but in the meantime I’m at half that. We did agree that I would go back on the slivers of Nuvigil (I can only handle 37.5 mg a day) and that I would see my therapist for this depressive episode.

Depression pisses me off. First off, I fucking hate the word, because it doesn’t really describe the feeling. I think “inundation” is a much better word. I feel inundated with emotion, so overwhelmed that I can’t function because I can’t figure out what the next step should be. Besides, it literally comes in waves. I can feel okay one minute, and then burst into tears the next, then five minutes later be fine again.

It’s been a couple of years since I saw my therapist, but I had to laugh when I saw my folder. It’s almost two inches thick. I’ve been seeing her since 2004, which means I’ve shown her more commitment than my first two marriages put together. She was very happily surprised that Ron and I are still married, as we had essentially decided to divorce the last time I saw her.

We spent a few minutes catching up, (Ron’s great, Aub’s going to college in the spring, Matt’s in California, Aub has an apartment, etc…) and then delved into the cause of this current episode. It all boiled down to my major abandonment issues, my anger at my chronic illness, and my relentless yet hopeless search for a parent.

are you my

This baby bird is my soul sibling.

Most importantly, she gave me permission to grieve my losses. It’s okay to be sad, angry, and disappointed. It’s okay to cry and rant and whine. For a while. But she also had me count out all my positives. Leigh, who offers me the most amazing unconditional love and is a constant source of recovery and healing, even though we only see each other once or twice a year and rarely talk otherwise. My husband, who makes me feel worthy and goes above and beyond every single day. My son, who makes me laugh with his antics in spite of being so far away. My daughter who is truly my best friend and staunchest defender. My friend Rob, who has gently reminded me every day that she is here, even when I push her away. I thought I was past the stage of testing people’s loyalty, but apparently, that nasty habit lingers. Today, I decide to stop pushing and start accepting.

Of course, the not so easy thing is the homework. While I obviously have some residual childhood trauma to deal with (again), this time I have to work at an even deeper level. This week’s assignment is to write out who I am. Not what I can do or have done, but who I am. I really don’t know who I am. In a lot of ways, I know who I want to be, and I know who I’ve been but who I am now? That I’m not so sure about.

I asked my friends and got a few interesting answers: caring, strong, survivor, afraid, quirky, fearless, unapologetic… Ugh, I wish I were fearless. I know there have been times when I have been, but that time is not now.

After much introspection and lots of conversations, I think the only thing that today I know for sure is that I am loved. And for today, that’s enough.