Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Hard Stuff: Vulnerability in Relationships

A few weeks ago, a mutual friend of mine and Gentleman Jack's sent me a text message. Her husband and GJ used to hit the town together when they were both single. They've both settled down - he into a beautiful marriage with the sweetest girl ever and GJ, obviously, with me. They'd gone to lunch together, the 3 of them, and were texting me pictures so it'd feel like I was there too.

After the lunch, she sent me this message:

"You have a great man. Missed you today." 

And then...

"That man adores you, by the way. In my eyes, he feels for you what (my husband) feels for me. And that's rare."

It's not the first time I've had a mutual friend say that to me. I often wonder if he pays them! LOL! Because apparently, when I'm not around, all he does is talk about me. Actually, I've heard him doing it when I'm around too. Adored. He... adores me.

I struggle with this. I struggle with it because of too many failed relationships. I struggle with it because of the long distance relationship exhaustion. I struggle with it because of his recurring depression, self-worth and self-defeat issues. I already discussed how "judgy" I feel sometimes with him in the previous post.

But a huge part of me wonders if the root struggle is that I'm not sure I've ever felt adored. I'm not sure I'm worth being adored. And if I am, I certainly don't want to take it for granted.

Again.

(Note: Funny how I "chose to be adored" in the months prior to finding GJ when dating was wearing me out. Be careful what you ask for. You may or may not be ready for it.)

***

I'm currently reading BrenĂ© Brown's Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. 

Brene is probably best known for her TEDx talk on shame and vulnerability from June 2010. The book evolved from that talk and covers these topics as well. It's been a really tough read for me, honestly. I find myself avoiding it sometimes because of the deep fear that it will crack me completely open.

I think I do that in my relationship too.

The deeper I delve into this book, the more I see the fearlessness in Gentleman Jack... and the more I see the fear in myself.

"What we hate in others is what we're ashamed of in ourselves."

I read that in this article on sex education (of all things) this week. I know it's true. I've read it in all of my studies on human psychology and spirituality. I know I wouldn't be triggered by GJ's "stuff" if I wasn't trying to be better than my own "stuff" as well. I hide it, though. I put on an air of "I have my shit together! Why don't you?" And I guess from the outside, it may appear that I do in many ways.

But do I? Or is he just brave enough to share his weakness and I'm just too proud?

Don't get me wrong! I have my own courage and weakness that I share against his pride as well. Maybe we have a lot still to learn from each other.

***

So I'm sure the question everyone is asking is...

"He adores you. But do you adore him?"

All that I know is I breathe better when he's around. I relax, even melting a little. I smile more. I feel comfortable, happy and calm. I feel butterflies. My heart is whole.

I've become very aware of the temptation to fight this thing. To push it away. To resign to complete single motherhood so that I don't have to worry or care about someone else. I don't want to deal with someone else's shit. I'm tired and I have my own to deal with.... completely admitting that apparently I don't have my shit together after all. Sometimes I even resent him for not having his shit together because he doesn't have the strength to take care of mine too.

Sometimes I wonder if I know how to be in a relationship at all. I feel like I resented my ex-husband - who adored me too, in his own way - for all of these same reasons. I can't seem to decide if I'm independent and I like it that way or if I want someone to take care of me. Neither of those sound good at all.

I'm too scared to dive in all the way. I'm resistant. I don't want to be cracked wide open and vulnerable again. I think he is too, in many ways.

I'm still figuring all this out. Does that mean I should be so judgmental when he's doing the same thing? Aren't I only pushing him further away from vulnerability, trust and intimacy when I do that?

This is hard, y'all.

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