What I see now is that my idea of a relationship is different than it was when I was 18. At 18 I had my first long-term relationship (on and off for 5 years). Looking back over all the years, relationships, and heartbreak I’ve learned a few things about what I thought a relationship should be. How I thought a relationship should function and how “down” I thought I was supposed to be.
Let me take a step back,My parents have been married 40+ years. I’ve never seen them argue (though I’m sure they have) they’ve never yelled, cursed, or disrespected each other in front of my brother nor I. I mean EVER! They’ve always had a united front regardless what may have happened when my brother and I weren’t around or behind closed doors. They’ve always talked, laughed, gossiped, and been affectionate. No matter what they were ALWAYS there for each other. On holiday’s, even small ones my dad makes sure he gets my mom something. A card, flowers, some token to let her know he was thinking about her. He does this and continues to do this even though for anyone who knows my mom, she is not the flowers and candy type.
Seeing this I guess it made me a relationship person without even knowing it. I was not a serial dater. But when I liked someone, I liked them and no one else mattered. My sights were set and my blinders were on. I knew I wanted my parents level of happiness and unity at a young age. However what I didn’t realize is not everyone deserves that level of commitment, love, attentiveness. My 18-year-old self thought when you found someone you liked you dove in head first. You were there no matter what! I let stereotypical rhetoric of what it meant to be “down” for someone, guide certain behaviors and what I tolerated. Thinking I was somehow proving my “downess“. And in proving how there I was would in some way prompt the other person to change for me. WRONG!
I also see that a lot of people I came across on my journey’s definition of “down” was skewed or at least in my view it was (and still is). When I used to have this conversation and ask multiple people in different time frames of my life what it meant to be “down” I was given these surface superficial answers. Taking care of home, waiting for someone if they went to jail, staying fit, being a “dime piece” “Riding with your man”. I mean seriously. What does any of this really mean? What about having someone to go to doctor’s appointments with you when you’re nervous. Someone to make sure you are healthy and eating right? Someone doing research with you to help you realize your dream of owning your own business? I guess maybe at 18-25 most people aren’t thinking that deep but I was. And granted it could be b/c of my parents, I don’t know. But that is what I was looking for. Which lead me to jump into situations head first. Giving 200% when I should have only been giving 50%. Staying around an extra year when I knew the year prior, things weren’t going to work out long-term.
As an adult, in a happy, healthy relationship with someone I will spend the rest of my life with, I finally understand. I see now. I see now that my focus and how I approached relationships was all wrong. I should not have been wasting time trying to prove my amazingness to anyone who could not see the value in it. I see now that relationships are hard work don’t get me wrong but with the right person its hard work by BOTH people. It’s not a push, push, push by one side. I see now that communication is 90% of the battle. With open, honest, respectful dialog you can make it through almost anything. I see that with the right person you can accomplish things you may have never seen or imagined for yourself. They push you in ways you can’t push yourself and vice versa. I see that through highs and lows, peaks and troughs, you are there for EACH OTHER, no question. You could be fresh off an argument, but let you stub your toe one good time, get a migraine, feel nauseous, etc. I bet that significant other will take care of you mad and all. I see now that I have the rock I’ve always wanted. The rock that I always searched for. I have the beginning stages of what my parents have and God willing in 40+ years my child/children will feel about me and our marriage the way I feel about my parents union and unity.
Let’s take a step away from romantic relationships for a minute…
What I see now is how to distinguish healthy relationships from toxic ones. Regardless if its colleagues, acquaintances, new friends, or a long time friend that you realize you 2 have grown to a point where you are on different paths but you don’t want to let go of the relationship.
Fighting and trying to hold on to the old days. The old ways your relationship used to be can be tiring and grueling. At some point you have to stop and ask yourself is this “~ship” worth the fight. Yes, I’ve known this person for 10 years but what does our ~ship look like in it’s current state? Has it grown or devolved? Is it nourishing or toxic? When I’m done talking or interacting with this person am I happy? full of energy? Or am I drained? Irritated? Being able to see and determine the category of all of your relationships is life altering and stress relieving.
Around 27/28~ish something happened to my thought process. I was overwhelmed and stressed about everything. Will I get my dream job? Why don’t I talk to this friend like I used to? Why don’t me and this person hang like we used to? bla bla bla. Overtime I decided to say “F it!” *insert full expletive*. Why am I stressing and causing myself all of this anguish? Why am I worrying to the point where I am now manifesting my worry physically? Headaches, stomach aches, tiredness, anxiety, etc. WHY? All things happen and don’t happen for a reason. Things unfold the way they are meant to unfold. No matter how hard you fight to hold on some things have passed their expiration date. The point in which they are relevant to your life. The point at which you are learning and growing from the interaction with whomever. And you know what……Its okay. It’s okay to say to yourself I am going to gracefully bow out of this ~ship right now. It’s doing me more harm than good. It’s taking up too much time. Time I could devote to strengthening a new friendship, cultivating a new talent, or delving deeper into a recent hobby/interest.
The older I get the more I realize, I have limited free time and the free time I do have I don’t want to waste. I want to give it thoughtfully, purposely to people and things I thoroughly enjoy. Not things I have to force myself to go do. Not people who drain me of my energy and happiness. If that means I only have 5 close people I talk to then that is what it means. At this point what I see is that I’d rather enjoy, genuinely enjoy, moments and experiences versus the alternative.