An Important Conversation

Chelsea (the woman I have been dating for a month) came over after work yesterday. The traffic-filled drive from her place of work to my house is absolutely godawful, so I really appreciate her making the trek.

We had a very healthy and vulnerable conversation yesterday. It concerned something along the lines of investing everything into something that might blow up in our faces. In other words, she (and I) are taking personal risks by emotionally investing in each other and the relationship we are building as humans; there is a fear there of it not working out, obviously. Then, all the risk and vulnerability would be “for nothing”.

I don’t think it would be for nothing. I don’t know how she would feel about that. I think that all of my experiences, good and bad, resulted in me becoming somehow wiser, more informed, and a little richer in life experiences. So, at the end of the day (or at the end of a relationship), I don’t think anything was “for nothing”.

Anyway, I could see how difficult some of that conversation was for her, so I’m really grateful that we were able to have it.

After I confessed that I was surprised by how quickly I started to feel attracted towards her, she confessed a similar statement. We talked about how easy it felt to talk to one another.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with her, my own insecurities and fears occasionally crept through my mind: what if I feel like this is it for me, but this is just the beginning of her experiences? I think it’s too soon to think that way, but that’s my brain. You’re welcome.

Falling in Love, Being in Love, and Loving Someone

For some people, the three things mentioned in my title are the same. For others- myself included- each one is different. The following words, sentences, and paragraphs are completely my opinions, nothing more. I’m not here to debate or fight. Feel free to discuss your own thoughts and opinions in the comments.

Falling in love, for me, is the scariest one. It’s new, it’s exciting, and it’s intimidating. Your feelings start doing things you can’t control and you start to think about things that were irrelevant 1 month prior. Again, for me, falling in love is tricky. You overanalyze EVERYTHING about this person, as well as your own behavior when you are with them. There’s a lot of second guessing involved here. Falling in love can border and mingle with infatuation and feelings of lust, so it’s sometimes hard to distinguish what’s actually happening inside your brain and heart.

So, how do you know that you’re in love with someone? The trick here is to not confuse it with the previous statement of being in lust with someone. Are you attracted to who they are or who you want them to be? Are you seeing them entirely as they are or are you filtering out the parts you don’t find desirable? Are you imagining what dating them would be like if only they didn’t do these particular things? Are you excited to introduce them to friends and family? Do you like the things that make them unique and different and quirky? Are you comfortable being yourself around them? Do you feel like you have filter what you say? Can you confide in them without fear of being judged or made fun of? Do you feel like they make you a better version of yourself? Do you get excited to talk with them? Are you just as attracted to them now as you were in the first few weeks/months of you dating?

Now, loving someone can be in a family sense, a platonic sense, or a romantic sense. Obviously, for the sake of this post, I will be focusing predominantly on the romantic sense.

Telling your partner you love them might be the most nerve wracking thing you do other than the initial asking them out ordeal, perhaps. Sometimes, I feel that there is too much weight put on those three words; however, on the other hand, there should be some weight on them. People overuse “I love you” and I think it’s important to only say it when you truly mean it. I try to refrain from saying it to friends and family when I hang up the phone or in text (unless we rarely speak anyway). I don’t always return the words if they are said to me too frequently because then it becomes a habit and loses it’s impact.

“I love you.”

So, what does that even mean? To me, loving someone means wanting joy and happiness for them. It means not always agreeing, but supporting them as people and as “family” anyway. To love someone is to respect them and appreciate the time they spend with you. It means being there for them when shit hits the fan. It means going the extra mile for them. It means that they make your life somehow richer, even if it’s in the form of a different perspective.

How do I know that I love someone? Honestly, there’s no single moment sometimes. Other times, there is. I fall in love quickly. I think I’m pretty good at detecting when I’m in love. I can’t give advice on “how you know”.

Well, these are my $0.02, what’s yours?

Therapy 8.8.19

The duality of myself was the topic of discussion this session. I updated him on my most recent panic attack and how I handled it. He said he was proud of me. We then did an exercise where he acted as the part of me that is more guarded and I acted as the part of me that wants to be more vulnerable. Those two parts of me battle it out daily, so it was nice to get it out of my head.

The whole exercise and conversation was prompted by me explaining how I felt that my feelings towards the new woman I’m seeing were moving too fast for my comfort level; however, maybe it’s not “bad”, just unknown territory for me.

A little backstory: due to how I grew up, how I was raised, and the very long string of bad luck regarding my romantic relationships, my default is to put a very tall and thick wall between myself and potential romantic partners. I thought it was interesting to note that I can’t say the same for platonic friendships.

Anyway when I returned from my federal volunteer program, my anxiety hit me harder than I had experienced it in years and my therapist’s theory is that my suppression tactics were starting to wear off. Since then (May) I have cried more than I have in years, I have been more open with my family and friends, and I have started to not only take down the wall I put up between myself and love, but also the wall between those two parts of me I referenced above.

I understand that I create these boundaries and deadlines in my head to protect myself, my heart, and my emotions; however, I feel like I’m missing out on the love I could be experiencing, and, to be quite frank, it is VERY exhausting to always have that front. I’d much rather just be me.

So, here I am. I am rediscovering who I am and who I want to be. I now know that I am naturally a very loving person. I care about people. I care about my family and my friends. I am loyal to a fault. I will move mountains for those I hold dearest to me. I will run myself down to nothing if it means that the people I love will be okay. I know that this isn’t completely healthy, and luckily it doesn’t happen often because #selfcare. Seriously, though, I think that being more expressive about my love for people should include myself and that means setting new kinds of boundaries.

Instead of setting up boundaries to protect from inevitable pain from situations that haven’t even happened yet, I need to start setting boundaries for the sake of not wearing myself out. I want to continue to be there for people as much as I can, but I can’t be there fully if I’m only half aware/present.

Thanks for reading my rambles. I hope you all are having a lovely day! What are some boundaries that you have to set in order to keep yourself in a healthy mindset?

Overwhelming Thoughts

I don’t know if this post is going to come out making sense. I will do my best, but this could be a doozy.

Some people only fall in love with, date, and marry one person. Other people go through the same process with 20 different people. I haven’t met anyone who’s been married 20 times, but I’ve heard of 5-7 times, so that’s still a jump.

Many married people I know today (both old and young) got married in their mid to late 20s. I am approaching my mid 20s. This post is not about me feeling pressure to get married- that pressure isn’t there for me. What I am getting at is the thought that maybe I’ve met a person who I could be happy with for a long time.

I’ve been on a few dates that never went further than that first meeting. I’ve dated someone short term. I’ve dated several people long term (for me, this range is 8 months to 2 years). I’ve dated someone who was not very kind to me. I’ve dated people and imagined married life with them. There was one person who I considered to be someone I would have children with if we got there. My point is that I have experience. I have experienced enough variety of personality. I know what I want at this point. I also know what I don’t want.

The person I just started seeing 3 weeks ago is many of the things I want in a person. Obviously, there are no perfect people and she is not perfect, but there are so many seemingly great things about her, my body and mind are on edge because “what’s the catch?”

So, like I mentioned before, there are so many people who are married or at least dating the person they’re going to marry by the time they are my age or by the time they’ve experienced what I have. I’ve dated enough for my liking. I would like to just not anymore. The thought in my mind is “could this be it?”

Don’t panic, now, because marriage is something I don’t want for another 8ish years. I just wonder if she could be someone I want to travel with, someone to introduce to my family and friends, someone I want to come home to after work, etc.

Contemplate these things with me. Let’s overanalyze together. Let’s think about all the confusing things in life. I hope you all got through this one alright.

Slowing Down

I know that oxytocin is a big part of my feelings and thoughts right now, but I can’t ignore them regardless. I have to keep repeating the fact that I have only known her for 3 weeks because it feels like so much longer. The way I act around her is SO different from the way I acted around previous partners, but it’s almost exactly how I act when no one else is there. There’s no “act”. It’s a little overwhelming.

I had a little bit of a “freak out” yesterday after she left. It concerned my life’s purpose, family relationships, and just general anxiety about work and school. However, it also involved my current [very strong] feelings and emotions towards this new human in my life. My friend suggested I hold off on introducing her to more friends or family so that their opinions and thoughts (even if they’re positive) wouldn’t interfere with my own “getting to know her” time. I think that’s a good idea.

I’m not quick to refer to people as my romantic partner or share that with everyone in my life, but I do disclose when I’m seeing/getting to know someone new rather quickly. I don’t do this because I want to, but it either comes up in conversation or I start putting my time towards the new person and away from my previous “plans” or “normal schedule” and then people start asking questions.

This just feels different for me. We’ll see.

Finding Balance

As someone who is newly seeing someone, I am struggling to balance my obsession with wanting to be around this human 24/7 and still taking time for the things I was doing before I met them.

I can’t help it, my oxytocin is going crazy and I want nothing more than to spend all of my time getting to know this new woman. I also know that I need to spend time with myself and make time to do normal things like grocery shopping and laundry. Yesterday was me trying to do that. I had time to spend with her, but I chose to watch The Notebook, bake brownies, and “re-start” a puzzle. I went to bed, slept really well, and here I am at work the next day.

I have a schedule for each week. I am a planner and I own many a calendar to record my events for each month. Weekly, I work Monday through Friday, roughly 7am to 1pm, give or take. Thursdays I spend with my grandma, 3pm to 7pm. Friday and Saturday I am normally in my mom’s town after work. Occasionally I would stay through Sunday, but I think that was too much. So, currently, my available days to see this new human are Monday-Wednesday after work and Saturday and Sunday (given I am back in Atlanta at a decent time [on Saturday]).

So, where is the time I schedule for myself? I don’t know. That is the answer. I guess it might fall on Thursday nights and maybe one afternoon M-W? I’m not sure yet. I also don’t know if I can keep to a schedule concerning that need. Also, isn’t allowing myself to see and get to know this new person partially self-care? I’m not drained by being around her. Now, that’s how you know they’re a potential keeper.

Long story short, I’m figuring this out. If I figure out a system, great. If not, great. I’ve been winging it all these years anyway, so why stop now?

Holding Grudges

I don’t like that I hold on to things as long as I do, but I do and I don’t know how to not. I am just as strict with broken trust; once my trust has been broken, there is nothing anyone can say or do to make it up to me and that relationship is done. That’s just how it is.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about grudges. I suppose broken trust could be a reason to hold a grudge, but I’m talking more about people disappointing me and then me holding on to that feeling of disappointment and using it to silently and internally hold a grudge against that person.

I don’t let people known that I hold something against them. I don’t often express my disappointment either. The reason I felt the urge to write this morning is because I have not been able to shake something since it happened.

I had a partner. She was wonderful. She did have her own struggles, but she was getting help for them and I like to think it didn’t interfere too terribly with the way our relationship worked and the way I felt about her. Our time together was coming to an end because we lived in different parts of the country and long distance was just simply not an option.

We had 2 nights left together and we decided to spend the first of the 2 final nights at a party with our friends. Of course, there would be alcohol. I decided not to partake, but my partner did. And that was fine, I don’t care if my partner drinks.

The entire week leading up to our final days, she made it seem she wanted to spend as much time with her friends as she could, but also with me. She mentioned setting up a sort of date night for us, on her. I got all of my tasks done so that I would have all the time to spend with her. I feel like I tried harder to make sure that I could dedicate as much time to her as possible.

So, anyway, the party. She drank, I did not. She came into our reserved room in the early morning hours and we slept until about 7am. When she got up, the hangover hit her hard and she immediately became sick. Long story short, that entire day- our entire LAST day- was spent in the ER and her room because she did not handle the previous night well.

I was more than happy to take care of her. I did not mind being there for her. What I was upset about- and frankly, quite angry at- was the fact that the amount of alcohol she consumed was in her control and it seemed like she didn’t care to think about how it might affect our final day together.

I don’t like to be angry or irritated about this because she was the most amazing person to know. I have nothing but nice things to say about her and I will forever wish for her happiness. But. I was angry with the way she went about our last days. And sometimes I think about it and I still get angry.

If she reads this, she’ll know how I feel, but I’m not going out of my way to let her know. Our time came and went and it was beautiful. It wouldn’t accomplish much to inform her about these thoughts.

A Little Dark Cloud

As I was driving home from a very nice evening with Chelsea last night, a slightly terrifying thought crept into my mind. With it also came a familiar feeling from 2014. The things that were attracting me to her were very similar to the things that attracted me to my emotional abusive and manipulative ex.

My ex was very “guilt trippy” and manipulative. Chelsea is nothing like that, but neither was my ex in the first 4-6 months. I see in Chelsea many of the good parts of my ex. They are fundamentally very different people and their personalities are also quite different. Their approach to life, emotions, and conflict is very similar though. It’s also very similar to mine.

To be honest, though, the way I deal with my emotions and anxiety has changed profoundly since I started therapy. I’m much more prone to crying and just letting those sad feelings take over me for however long my body needs it. So, I see parts of my old self in Chelsea, too. I suppose every person is different and maybe what she’s doing works for her. She doesn’t seem to have any huge issues and she seems pretty self aware, so I guess I shouldn’t be concerned.

All in all, I’m not worried. If I see red flags, I leave. If I don’t, I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Meeting Number 4

Today I will be going to my date’s apartment. I’ve been there once before, this past Monday. I feel that I will be writing about this development quite a bit so let’s call her Chelsea so we have a name.

We started talking via Bumble on July 16th. We met for the first time in person on July 23rd. Since then, we’ve seen each other twice, so today will be the fourth meeting.

She’s funny and kind and considerate. She’s very attentive when I tell stories. I made her take the love language test because I suspected that she would have similar results to me and I was right. We both score 10 points or more towards Quality Time and both of our second category was Acts of Service. Her Myers Briggs type is also INTJ, so that was also interesting to discover.

I think there are many people who struggle with long term dating because they’re addicted to the feeling they get during the first few meetings. I, too, find the first few weeks, maybe first 2-3 months, the most exciting, but I also greatly look forward to being fully comfortable with someone. Nerves are fun and tingly, but they also create a lot of anxiety for me.

I feel that this is the first time in a long time that I have been fully myself with someone from the beginning. In previous partnerships, I often had a wall. A large wall. A large concrete wall with spikes. It wasn’t great and it was draining to keep up, but I was doing it to protect my feelings and heart. I don’t feel that I have a wall with Chelsea. She makes me feel very comfortable and I feel free to be however I want to be in the moment.

Without giving away too much of her personal information, she hasn’t had as much experience with women as I have, and that made me nervous at first. I think she has a fear or concern of not living up to my past experiences, but she should know that I have a fear of fucking it up as well. It goes both ways and I think that’s a healthy discussion to have.

Right now, there is a definite safe space to have any conversation and I hope we are able to maintain that. I really like her and I’m excited to see where this goes. I’m allowing myself to feel giddy and I’m embracing it.

Feelings Scare Me

Our emotions and feelings are something we are rarely in control of. You can occasionally control how you react outwardly to experiencing feelings and emotions, but those true feelings and true reactions still live inside of your body and your mind.

In terms of romance, my feelings have always been strong. I fall for people quickly and hard. I don’t tell them, of course, but I am very aware of how my mind, body, and heart feel. Usually, my mind is in some sort of disagreement with itself about how I should be navigating the relationship, my body is very willing to comply with everything and anything, and my heart has already partially attached itself to whoever I’m talking to.

I felt like writing about how my feelings scare me because they are currently scaring me. I have only known this woman for 10 days and I have met her once; however, it feels like I’ve known her for years. I don’t know if she feels the same, so I speak only for myself.

She answers my questions without hesitation. She is interested in what I do and where I come from. She’s open to adventure and travel. She’s very blunt and straightforward, not unlike myself. I appreciate talking to someone who “speaks my language”. Oftentimes, I have to preface things I say with, “I don’t mean to be rude” or “I don’t want to offend you”, but I don’t have to do that with her and she is just as forward towards me. I love it.

There is also one thing she did when we met for the first time that I can’t stop thinking about: When I was telling an elaborate story, she leaned forward, elbows on knees, and looked me in my eyes while I talked. She was so attentive.

In the past, I had an emotionally abusive partner who told me more than once, “I don’t hear you when you talk.” With this in mind, her leaning forward and being so obviously interested in the words coming out of my mouth meant the world to me and it made her that much more attractive. She’s super cute, by the way. But she just got cuter.

So, anyway, I like this woman. I like her a lot for only having known her for 10 days. part of me is like, “get a fucking grip”, but the other part of me is saying to just fall into it, don’t resist, don’t overthink, just be. I’m going to try very hard to “just be”.