Thursday, September 27, 2012

...And There's Gonna Be Trouble

Actually, I'm not anticipating any trouble, but my boyfriend's back and that song has been in my head since I went to pick him up from the airport last night. (Hey na, hey na.) Clark was out of town for a few days, spending time with his family. I, meanwhile, had a nice few days alone. Not completely alone--I went out with friends on Saturday and spent time with my kids at least a few hours each day--but alone enough for me to get the "me" time I need and to refocus on who I am apart from Clark. I enjoyed my time alone. And I was also happy to have Clark back home last night. I think this is a good thing.

Shortly before I met Clark, I read The New Codependency by Melanie Beattie. While reading the book, I had a little epiphany and realized that I have a very codependent personality. I looked back on my life up to that point and the various relationships I've had--not only romantic relationships but also with family and friends--and realized that I've spent most of my life trying to be what other people need, regardless of my own needs. I've had several relationships where I felt it was my job to fix someone else, where it was my responsibility to make the other person happy. Meanwhile, my own happiness wasn't even on my radar.

So as I started dating Clark, I was very conscious of this fact. One of the first conversations we had was about codependency and what a healthy relationship should look like. Over the past several months I've made a deliberate effort not to fall into old people-pleasing habits and to make my own needs and happiness a priority. It's been a struggle, because this means I need to express opinions, which means I need to have opinions in the first place. Which sometimes leads to conflict, which is sort of terrifying. It's difficult to find the balance between being needy and insecure on the one hand, and selfish and inconsiderate on the other. I think I've erred on both sides of that line on different occasions.

At least I haven't let him keep me in a glass bubble.

So it was really good for me to have a few days for myself, to find my bearings again. I started re-reading I Need Your Love - Is That True? by Byron Katie, which is a great book about questioning the thoughts that lead us to spend our lives trying to impress others. It's a good reminder that we are happiest and most able to form meaningful relationships when we drop pretenses and live completely honestly with ourselves and with the people we love.

Clark got in late last night and we both needed to work this morning, so we really didn't spend a lot of time together. He held my hand on the way home from the airport, and we chatted. I enjoyed hearing about the fun time he'd had with his family, and I appreciated the little signs of affection he showed. There have been times in the past when I felt like I needed him to show me how much he loves me, like no matter how much he did, it wasn't enough. Last night, by contrast, I felt happily confident in myself, and, as a result, in our relationship. So no, I don't think there will be trouble.

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