Boundaries are so important for a relationship.
I enjoy being a provider and having someone depend on me, I just don’t like when the take it for granted, or forget that i have needs, needs I often neglect at their expense.
Sometimes asserting those boundaries can be jarring when they’re in a pattern of getting so much from you. I suppose it’s just remembering to proactively communicate, and not waiting til things build up to put the brakes on and suddenly need to regroup, which may feel like pulling away, or even pushing away, when it’s really about taking care of yourself.
G had several full blown melt downs this week
She got her period Friday, so that explains a lot
Never the less, her passive aggressive moodiness and overall demanding self was bothering me. It was all about her schedule, what she wanted, and when I pushed back she’d throw a tantrum, so I usually just go along to avoid conflict. It built over two days, and she noticed I wasn’t feeling so open to her, so she asked what’s wrong and I pretty much told her she was being self absorbed and mean, and she did not like that. Oh no. It triggered her. She impulsively said a lot of mean things. Then she was silent for a good hour as we finished grocery shopping and drove home. I didn’t say much, just asked if she wanted to talk, and she said she was processing. When we got home I sat at the kitchen table and asked if she wanted to talk. For the next hour plus she just laid into me…. I just listened. Didn’t say a word. Very mean. How selfish I was. But she kept contradicting herself, cause her complaints were ridiculously juxtaposed by all the things she knows I do for her.
My natural reaction was to defend myself, but I decided to just listen. Not take it personally. I know I love her and care for her and do so much for her. I listened as her anger and seething and biting words eventually turned to confusion and eventually she just began sobbing. I didn’t say anything. I just listened, then hugged her, against her will initially, as she tried pushing away, but I just kept holding her. She sobbed. Just pent up emotions streaming out. I just listened and held her and told her I loved her. Didn’t react. Didn’t defend myself. Said I was sorry. Eventually the sobbing and tears slowed and stopped. And she was better again.
I could easily hold everything she said against me. It was hurtful. But I realize it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t represent what she really feels for me. These issues are mostly just some unresolved father figure projections that I must overcome with love. I know she loves me. I know we all have issues. I can be cold and insensitive and stern. Even worse, I can be inattentive. I can only listen and validate her feelings and show her love, despite how she lashes out, despite the unstable emotional outbursts or moodiness that comes my way.
I felt like it was a growing experience for me. Being stoic, but compassionate. Not getting caught up in the words, but trying to see the feelings. She needs love and acceptance, attention and validation and security. All women need that more than they need you doing trivial activities and chores for them.
So anyway. Was a wild week, but I felt like I handled it my best.
“No matter what happens, I’ll love you. You can’t push me away. I’m here.” I think that implicit message created a lot of peace for her. There is more vulnerability. More acceptance of me on her part.
I think the theme I try to convey is, even if you don’t get your way, I love you. Even if I need to take care of me, and be selfish, the big picture is i do take care of you and I do love you. But I can’t make you happy by jumping through hoops or obeying every demand. And when I don’t do those things, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means I’m human and I have my boundaries and sometimes you just aren’t going to get your way. But it doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care. And you can’t get hung up on a handful of instances where you don’t get your way, where you think I’m selfish. You gotta see the big picture here.
Anywho. She’s a handful.
She knows it. But when she’s in it, hostage to her feelings, it’s all consuming, and it’s hard to get perspective, and see the big picture.
But yeah, the conflict. It’s like, I want to be strong and loving by not making a big deal out of favors, or their tax on me. But if I don’t point out the tax they have on me, she doesn’t see how much I put into it.
Like, you know if you didn’t expect so much, you’d get much more.
One of my favorite Camus quotes:
When I was young I asked more of people than they could give: everlasting friendship, endless feeling.
Now I know to ask less of them than they can give: a straightforward companionship. And their feelings, their friendship, their generous actions seem in my eyes to be wholly miraculous: a consequence of grace alone.
Her requests require me to drop everything. Massages. Carrying things. Talking through decisions and helping her figure out endless problems or dilemmas.
And I don’t mind. I genuinely love helping. I love caring for her.
I just need appreciation… I don’t like when it’s just expected that I’m available to please or serve or act on her every whim or demand.
Suspend expectations, I tell her. And everything will see like a blessing.
It’s such a powerful reminder in all relationships… and it makes you so much more grateful and blessed. Expectations are the root of suffering.
I tell her, I don’t like when you expect your problems to be my problems.
I want to help. I love you. But when you just expect me to solve every one of your problems, it’s an endless road nowhere
I’m not responsible for your happiness. And you’re not responsible for mine.
I’m just a person.
You are responsible for your happiness. You choose your problems, or you choose not to have problems.
We have these conversations about “problems”. Cognitively she knows problems are in her head, but emotionally she can’t seem to let go of the frustrations that arise when she perceives a problem.
I tell her, if you look for problems, you will find them, and amplify them.
Life is a problem. It’s difficult. For everyone. Get over it. It comes with the territory. You can’t escape it.
So let’s move past problems. Let’s move toward solutions, solutions that you can do something about, where YOU are empowered.
You can spend your time thinking about anything. Time passes all the same. When you’re stuck, or run into an obstacle, acknowledge the problem, them focus on the solution, and never pay the problem any more thought.
I explained wherever the attention goes, the energy flows.
And how, when you’re about to get into an accident and hit something oncoming, whether by car or motorcycle, you look to the empty space where you can go, not at the thing your about to hit. If you focus on the thing your about to hit, you’ll hit it, no matter what you tell your body to do. Look toward the empty space where there are no obstacles, where you can move freely, the solution, and you will find yourself there, problem averted.
I was trying to think of something simple I could tell her that would help her overall attitude.
After some reflection, I realized I could distill so much into a simple idea:
When you focus on getting other people what they want, you’ll get what you want.
Find ways to give people what they want, and you’ll get what you want.
Never focus on what you want to get. Focus on giving others what they want.
That’s pretty much true for any personal or professional or life situation.
We can’t do it alone. The more you give, the more you get. But the focus should never be on getting. Always giving.
Then I explained the whole abundance vs scarcity mentality. You can only give what you believe you have: time, money, energy, attention, love, affection.
If you think you lack these, you won’t be able to give these freely. It’s a mindset.
You can’t give if you think you’re scarce, or have limited energy or feelings or time to give others.
The ultimate realization is, you have it all within you, infinite amounts. Spread it around generously, and it will find its way back to you. Focus on giving, and your life will improve whether it’s important to you or not.
It’s just the mentality that’s important, which allows you to serve others and go above and beyond and not worry about what it’s “costing” you.
When you bring value to others lives, you’re life will become more rewarding.
One thought on “Re-Lation-Ships-Are-Hard”
Well said and astute. Am challenged with a situation constructed with the same pattern, reading your experience reaffirmed my ability to patient and weather the storm. Was looking for the empty space when I came upon your blog.