Since kicking off this newsletter, I aim to share not just my services, but my personal stories. Episodes and events that pepper my life in lesson-learning ways that I hope will offer some kind of relevancy to my readers, through humor or connection in some way.
I recently moved in with my Viking boyfriend. Oh, the love! The rush of newness! The joy of having coffee made for you in the morning, followed by tasty smoothies!
And also, side-saddled with the excitement of taking this new turn in life came the subtle panic over private space I now have to share. I did the math, and it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve moved in with a partner. Committing to a relationship at the level we now share spaces is a BIG. DEAL.
At least from where I peer out.
Him? He’s like – easy peasy, what do you want for dinner? As he leaves his drill on my jewelry table, his architecture tools on my desk, and moves throughout his day doing his thing.
He doesn’t seem to miss a beat in this life transition in the same way I do. That’s okay. I honestly don’t mind the changes and extra things laying around at all. I just notice them.
I also have noticed the way my thoughts race down one rabbit hole after another as the passing of each day reveals new habits we each have that hadn’t been a big deal before. To be clear, it’s my thoughts that cause me concern, not his things in the house.
And my thoughts seem to scale walls and bound away, running amok beyond all reason.
For example, one such new noticeable thing is that he’s here when I do my at-home workout. And even though I often post shots of these workouts on IG, they are admittedly selected shots, some even filtered in black and white. I feel comfortable with sharing and showing them. Even proud, hashtagging what I want others to notice.
But the in-real-life, non-attractive, sweaty, out of sync, sometimes swearing at the effort of my work out – this is not something I’m comfortable with others noticing, and now this is visible to him. My ugly mismatching workout clothes. He sees it ALL.
Will this be okay? I think so.
But I wonder . . . How can you work for a relationship and constantly try to respect and care for the other person and work on yourself if they are always in the same space with you? Doesn’t this shared space create complacency? Will I become like some women who spend their sacred time with their girlfriends bitching about their men? I don’t want that for us.
Or . . . will sharing the same dwelling mean that I stop trying too?
The other day, on an evening I would normally spend working or writing, we sat together on the couch and watched Netflix. On a causal, non-eventful Wednesday, we made dinner and Netflixed. I might have lit a candle but it’s possible I didn’t bother.
These are the thoughts that swirl in my head. I will always want romance, surprises, attention, privacy. Girlfriend time. But also, it’s kinda nice to have my coffee made for me by a loving partner. To have hugs on demand. I haven’t had hugs on demand in years.
There has been one fight. One that I’ll admit was unexpected, but rather than sit maturely and talk about the misunderstanding the instant it occurred, I reacted with emotion and doused the fire with oil. I doused, and he doused back, and so I doused even more with all my fears, anger, some frustrations . . . but mostly fear until the fight went to heights it shouldn’t have and we were both mad and sitting on the floor tired and pissed off.
I thought to myself – is this a fight that couples have, that comes as a consequence of adjusting without clear communication? That comes as a consequence of a crazy busy week for me, jetlag for him, plus hormones, plus Mercury in retrograde, plus the stress of moving house – all within the same week?
Or, with discouragement, I thought, is this the kind of fighting I have invited into my peaceful home? Have I unwittingly stepped into old patterns of defensiveness and control that I have exhibited with past serious relationships?
Haven’t I grown at all in these last 10 years of living on my own, making calmer decisions in how I react, or did I step back into a familiar, damaging cycle?
And, I thought, did I choose a man who will help me carefully shift how I communicate, or is this a revived pattern of a relationship that will trigger the worst parts of me?
This is the downward and outward spiral of thoughts I let consume me that entire afternoon following the argument.
I don’t have the answers to them.
But, to offer some kind of happy ending, our argument wasn’t only resolved within an hour, it was later debriefed. It took me all day to think, cry, and then, after failing to shake these thoughts on my own, or lift my mood, I just decided to share these thoughts with him.
Six or seven hours after our argument, we found ourselves on a balcony, overlooking a beautiful body of the bluest water. Pink flowering plants surrounded us, tropical birds dived and tweeted in the air above us, and a bottle of Malbec had been opened between us.
We sat next to each other, and I decided that if I truly was going to try and be a better version of myself than I was in my 30’s, and choose my responses differently, I would have to be braver. I would have to follow my own damn advice to my clients and my followers and lean less into fear, and more into trust whenever I faced crossroads.
So, risking appearing insane, and overly emotional, I walked the Viking down each of these rabbit holes in my mind.
I explained calmly how the argument was not just about things in the house we do differently or the fact that we had disagreed with each other so forcefully, but that the argument itself had resurrected so many long-buried fears. I confessed I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough or clear enough to battle or diffuse these fears on my own.
And I admitted that I wasn’t sure if now I was in a place where welcoming another soul to share my life with me was the next step of growth, of trust, and of connection I was ready for, or if I’d slipped into the same ditch I had found myself in with past partners.
I shared all of this self-doubt with him and my hopes and expectations. Crying and messy, but honest. Fearful, and a little ashamed, but I earnestly want to not create a pattern of communication where we don’t talk about the power behind our words – the words that strike the flame.
And he listened. He held my hand and he listened and we talked through it all.
I would love to promise there will be no more arguments, but it’s realistic to expect more fires will need to be put out. What I can do is aim to take each one as a lesson and opportunity to improve myself.
To be sure, I probably won’t remember this intention in the heat of the moment. I’ll probably be more insistent on my point being heard.
But I can remember to focus on an honest recovery, one where we both strive to do better.
This unfortunate event taught me a few things but also was my reminder to take preventative measures that I need so I don’t slip so easily into being fearful, frustrated, or angry in the first place.
Being more mindful that when I feel tired or depleted, I can indulge in all the little things I need that lead to a calmer, kinder, version of myself. This way I don’t become the under-nurtured self that sets the room ablaze without care. (And yes, this goes for him too, but this is my blog). 🙂
This next stage in life promises adventure, joy, and ample room for my own personal growth. One where I can better balance my own pursuits while learning to nurture the shared space I’m making for a loving, honest relationship with the Viking.
We shall see.
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