Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Turbulence

A few months ago, I had reached a very zen place in my life.  I was finally able to put my job in its proper place and limit my efforts to eight hours a day.  I was relieved of the burden of carrying all the company's problems on my shoulders and I withdrew from all of the politics and drama at the office.

After spending the better part of a year being sick, I was grateful for every day.  I was living life at its most basic level.  My time was devoted to helping my parents and hanging out with my sister and her kids.  I had found my purpose, or at least what I knew to be my purpose in that moment.  

I was open to whatever the universe had in store for me and eventually, it brought my new guy.  It seemed like he offered everything I was looking for.  He was relaxed, supportive and expressive.  We both realized we found something that could last a lifetime and we were so appreciative.

Now it seems there is this underlying tension in our relationship.  We have started to recognize little imperfections in each other, and I think we are both questioning whether we are prepared to tolerate these little quirks for the rest of our lives.

I keep thinking how much I miss what my guy was like when we just started dating.  But I am starting to realize that what I am really missing is myself at that time.  

It seems that over the last few months, all of the pressures of life have started flooding in and washing away my sense of inner peace.  My job has become more demanding and my boss keeps trying to get me to take on more responsibility.  My new relationship is taking away time from my family and I can clearly see the strain that is caused by my absence.

All I really want is to go back to my simple life, but I am not sure how to get there.  

Last week after a horrible day at work, my guy and I decided to go to my favorite park and take a walk. There is one spot in the park where I always go when I need to unwind.  It is a waterfall that runs over a rocky ledge.  Sometimes I like to just sit there and listen to the water flow.  

When we got to the park, it was late in the evening and the sun had already set.  We walked over to the waterfall and stood on the stone ledge overlooking the water.  The water was crashing over the rocks at a much faster pace than usual due to the run off from the rainstorm.  

"That's just great," I thought to myself.  "I came here to find my inner peace and even my peaceful waterfall is more turbulent than usual."

Then I noticed a wispy green plant had sprouted up from the corner of the waterfall.  It was almost as tall as the rock we were standing on.  As I looked over the ledge to check out the plant, my guy shined his flashlight so I could see.

I must have visited my waterfall at least 20 times, but that night I saw something I never noticed before. While most of the water flows rapidly over the rocks, there is a spot in the corner where the water trickles off from the rocky path and gathers in a small pool.  Then it flows slowly along the side of the rocks and merges back into the river below.

Even in the most turbulent environment, there is a quiet path if you seek it out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making Room

After two months of being in a relationship, there are a few things I have noticed.  The refrigerator at my house is always full of food.  Dishes and laundry seem to multiply exponentially.  And I find myself refilling the toilet paper and hand soap at an alarming rate.

Aside from these little changes around my house, there are big changes too.  The most notable is the almost constant presence of my guy.  Before we started dating, I already had a full life.  Now I find myself struggling to figure out how this new person fits.

I remember writing a blog a few years ago called the 80 Percent Rule.  My theory at the time was that in any relationship you only get about 80 percent of what you want.  If you break up with a person in search of the missing 20 percent, you will inevitably find someone else who has that 20 percent but is lacking something else.  Ultimately, you just end up swapping for a different 80 percent.

If I look back on my relationship with the Boy and compare it to my new guy, I have definitely solved a lot of the issues that plagued that relationship.  My new guy is intelligent, stable, mature and financially secure. Those are not words I would have ever used to describe the Boy.

When I was dating the Boy, we never kept anything at each other's houses.  With my new guy, there are traces of him everywhere.  Shoes by the side door, a coffee mug on my kitchen counter, a toothbrush and deodorant in the bathroom.  There is a pile of his clothes in my bedroom and I have already laid claim to a favorite t-shirt and sweatshirt.

Most importantly, I never felt like I could see a future with the Boy.  With my new guy, I spend a lot of time contemplating our future.  Sometimes I think it is easier to picture a future with him than it is to be in a relationship with him in the present.

The one thing I struggle with right now is time.  When I was dating the Boy it was pretty easy to limit our interaction to a few nights a week.  I never found myself wanting more and he rarely complained about it.  With my new guy, it seems like time is always the issue.  He is looking for a relationship where two people do everything together.  I think he would be perfectly content with seven nights a week if I was prepared to offer them.

And its not that I want him to leave, I just have other things I would like to do.  Whether it is spending time with my nieces and nephews, going shopping with my sister or having dinner with my parents.  Or sometimes just hanging out by myself.  Being in this relationship takes away the flexibility to do what I want whenever I want.

While I realize that all relationships require compromise, it seems like the person I am dating always wants just a little more than I am able to give.

Each of us has preconceived notions of what a relationship should be like. Whether it is my standard rule of three nights a week or my guy's desire for constant contact.  And it is easy to get frustrated when the person you are dating does not fit within your perfect relationship model.

Unfortunately, you don't fall in love with a person on paper, you fall in love with the person sitting beside you on the couch.

I guess when you meet someone you really care about, you have to make a decision. You can continue to cling to your relationship ideal and hold out for that elusive 100%, or you can attempt to have a real relationship in the real world.

I am hoping that my guy can learn to give me some space.  And I can learn to make some room.