Saturday, May 27, 2017

Healthy Relationships - rewiring my brain one situation at a time.

I am in a new relationship with a wonderful man.  J is kind and understanding, protective without being possessive.  He says there is beauty in my brokenness.  He is impressed by everything I have come through and how I have lived to tell the tale and continue to work on myself so I can be a little better than I was the day before.  He feels like home to me.

I don't know that I've ever been in a healthy relationship.  When I compare the relationships I have been in to the relationship of the couple I know with what I believe to be the healthiest relationship I've ever witnessed (and I spent over two years watching how they did things in their marriage and dynamic and how they actively worked at it to make sure things stayed good), I can say that I never had anything that even got close to looking like that.  J has had his share of unhealthy relationships as well.  We both know we are coming from behind in that arena and are determined to not repeat mistakes of the past.  Luckily for us, we seem to be excellent communicators with each other.  In fact, that's what drew J to me - my writing.  He was drawn to my words and how my mind works.  He is a rare breed.

We rely on our communication skills to keep us out of relationship sandtraps.  A man I once held great respect for taught me that it is better to shine a bright light into the shadows than to let the darkness grow and potentially ruin a good thing.  Therefore, we talk about things as they come up.   Even if they are uncomfortable.  ESPECIALLY if they are uncomfortable.  That way the whispers in our (my) heads are kept to a minimum and no one is second guessing anything.

Enter a scene from last night... (but I'm keeping it vague out of respect for him)

There was something that had been on my mind for a day or two.  Since it was still on my mind, I brought it up.  I said, "I really would like you to consider doing "A" for me if you are ok with it..  It would make me feel even better about our relationship; like it was more concrete.  So when we're apart I might not have as many of those 'This is too good to be true.  When is the other shoe going to drop?' moments.  Will you please think it over and let me know what you think?"  I was nervous, but I sent off the message.  When I sent it, I knew full well that there was a good chance that he was not going to be willing to do "A", but I didn't know what his reasoning would be.  I tried to prepare myself mentally for what I would do if when I woke up in the morning I opened a message with an answer that I didn't want to hear.

In my black-n-white way of thinking, if one of us is right, the other has to be wrong. I didn't want to be on opposing sides over this, because it wasn't THAT big of a deal. Then I tried to reframe it and wonder if it could not be so black and white. Maybe it's NOT "someone is right and someone is wrong". Maybe we could just have 2 very different views/feelings about something. 

As I suspected, the next day J sent a message explaining why he wasn't comfortable doing "A". To his credit, instead of simply saying NO, he explained why in more detail than most people would have taken the time for.  I think he knew on some level that a without a clear explanation, my mind would have turned it into a sign that something was wrong with me and that's why he didn't want to and it would have turned into A THING between us.  Even though it's early on, he seems to understand how my mind works pretty well. 

I thanked him for explaining it, and went on to tell thim that the problem is, I don't understand what to do with that; how to reconcile that now. It seems pretty important to the both of us, and unfortunately, what we both want doesn't line up. I don't know what people in healthy relationships do about that. I don't think he's supposed to give in to what I need and then feel anxious about it (basically giving in would activate an old trigger), but I also don't think I'm supposed to ingore that this is something that would make me feel more secure.  I don't know where the happy-medium is supposed to lie.

 Then he did something completely unexpected.  HE OFFERED A COMPROMISE.  He said, "I can't do "A", but what about "B" and laid out what "B" would look like.  I never would have thought of "B".  "B" is in the grey area and we black-n-white thinkers tend to miss a lot of that.  "B" could work.  Is "B" a perfect solution?  No. In my head, "A" is still what I would prefer.  In my head, it is still the answer that makes me feel the most comfortable and secure, but you know what?  It's not all about me anymore.  Getting "A" isn't important enough to inflict any anguish onto J.  He has been so gentle with me and so good about being cognizant of all of my "quirks", the absolute least I can do is realize it's ok to have differing opinions - even ones about things that matter to you, be open to compromise, and remember that we are in this together and as long as we keep communicating openly and honestly, we'll find our way through it.