It is amazing to me how “little things” can mean so much – then I wonder, how little are they, really? Who gets to decide? If it means a lot to me, based on my experiences and expectations, then it’s big, right?
Tonight, I had plans to meet a friend for coffee. K had a really busy day at work taking care of some big stuff that happened over the last couple of days and the weekend, and catching up on stuff that got pushed out, so we weren’t in touch for the majority of the afternoon. I hadn’t brought up my coffee plans, not because I was hiding them (see the need to defend? that’s gonna come up in a minute), but because there just hadn’t been an opportunity with all the mess of the past several days. So, I met my friend Jill for coffee right after work, and kept my phone out in case Joshua called (which he did – to request cheeseburgers for dinner, which I knew he would). But then K called. And I turned off the ringer and returned to my conversation.
This was a hard thing for me to do, y’all. Especially coming on the heels of a therapy session during which I revisited a relationship in which I felt controlled by my partner even in her absence. I re-felt those things. The anxiety. The fear – no, the knowledge – that, if I wasn’t by the phone when she called, I would suffer.
This time, I was by the phone. And I felt confident enough in K, and in us, to choose not to answer it. Yes, there was a moment of reflexive “Oh shit.” But, that was quickly replaced by the knowledge that, if she had bad feelings about me spending time with a friend, or not knowing exactly where I was or what I was doing or with whom, I would see that as a red flag and be able to DO something about it, where I hadn’t felt able to in past experiences. Even in my last relationship, which I hedge against calling abusive – there was intense jealousy around anyone my ex perceived as a threat, even though she neglected me and our relationship. K was actually the unwitting target of this jealousy at one point, funnily enough.
But what really gave me the power to turn off the ringer tonight – what made the decision to do so a fairly quick thing and not something I struggled with until the “missed call” icon popped up – was the fact that K has historically supported my friendships and the time I take to nurture them. She recognizes the need for time with friends, time with family, time to ourselves, as being equal to time with each other – and even Sunday night when she and I had dinner plans and I had a dinner invite from a friend who is dealing with some hard stuff right now, when I told K, she told me, quite sincerely, that I could have postponed our dinner to be there for my friend. And sure enough, when I called her after coffee tonight and told her why I hadn’t answered, she was not only okay with it, but happy for me. There wasn’t a second’s hesitation in her voice (and actually it was adorable – she was all, “Oh, that’s so cuuuuute!” And yes, she really does say that shit. I love it. Sorry if you’re vomming in your mouth a tiny bit.)
The fact is, I am spending more energy wondering if my past will come back to haunt/cyberstalk me for posting about the abuse I experienced (to the point where I’m being way more vague than I want to be) than I am deciding how to navigate balancing friends, family, self, and K without upsetting her. Part of that is my own growth away from codependent behaviors, but that is reinforced by her voluntary and uninhibited support of my need for that balance.
So, maybe not such a little thing after all.
Oh! I almost forgot gratitude! Maybe cuz this whole post feels like a great big gratitude post. But that does not excuse me.
- The little things. Duh.
- Joshua. He cracks me up. Tonight, he came through the kitchen from my room to the living room, passing by his dinner plate. Me: Dude, are you forgetting something? Like your food? Him: One thing at a time, bro, one thing at a time. Me: How many times do I have to tell you – I am not your bro. Him: Okay… Broski. Me: *sigh*
- New community.
- One-on-one time with friends. I always forget how much I enjoy some people’s company in between times with them, and I really need to make a point to make those friendships a priority, even when I feel hibernate-y.
- Doing things differently. It feels good to make choices based on what I want and need. I’m gonna do that more often. :)
What are you grateful for today?