I’ve been away for a little while, and despite the fact that I have a good seven or eight draft posts going at the moment, and about a million more in my head I wanted to write something about a conversation that Jose and I have recently had.
It’s the summer holidays and as my day job is related to education, that is when I take a lot of my time off. We have just come back from a week and a half in Spain and then we just spent the long weekend in Amsterdam – It was really great for Jose and I to spend that time with each other and really calibrate ourselves, and by that I mean each self and then the third ‘self’ that is us. I mean, we didn’t sit around contemplating our navels and trying to communicate telepathically or anything quite like that (although we got pretty close in Amsterdam when we tried Mushrooms, that was until Jose came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his head with our toothbrushes as horns). We were our natural, unfiltered and unaffected selves and it was nice to go back to point zero.
It’s so easy to get bogged down with ‘stuff‘ and neglect the things that really underpin our emotional satisfaction. I know that sounds vacuous and perhaps even vague and I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting a bit older, I’m generally happier or that I just don’t value material stuff as much any more.
Like most people, my life has been a succession of events, decisions and consequences and one of those consequences was my ending up HIV+. I am not a victim, I don’t buy into the whole why me? thing, my subscription is very much to the why not me? school of thought.
The results of my diagnosis meant one thing, I ended up staying in a relationship with a man for 8 years that I should not have been with – I’m not saying I didn’t love him and I’m certainly not saying that there weren’t some happy times – but they were not actually ‘my times’ they belonged to this other version of me – the one that lived in fear of the shame of the diagnosis.
See now one of my ‘brain drafts’ is waking it’s way in here – I digress slightly… my point is this, I have been in survival mode for probably 9 years, maybe even close to 10. And a lot of that time has been lost to amassing ‘stuff’ in order to demonstrate that I am strong, a survivor, a force to be reckoned with and a person that deserves respect. I was also a complete fake for most of that time, my inner-saboteur had full control of the reins. Jose has a completely different pace from me and that has always worked in our favour but whilst away we talked a lot about my ‘constantly on the go’ way of life and actually what it’s doing is taking us further away from our ‘happy place’. This conversation made me happy and sad at the same time, happy because it was lovely to hear from Jose that we even had a happy place and sad because we had a reached a point where Jose had to ‘talk’ to me.
In late 2016 we were talking about New Years Resolutions and I had said that I wanted 2017 to be all about experiences, travel, trips and ‘living life’, but actually whilst I have had some amazing experiences in 2017, I have focused so much on the destination that I have totally bypassed the journeys that get me, and us, there. I write a post recently about being a bystander and I am genuinely shocked that I have become a bystander in my own relationship. I think this is what’s scary, it can creep up on anybody and the impact is so incremental that there’s pretty much no warning – normal is what we know right, so something quite dangerous or damaging can become normalised… Whilst I was writing this I remember a story about a frog in hot water… I googled it and found this Wikipedia entry in case anyone is interested.
I have no idea about the science behind the frogs conclusion but I do accept the premise. All too often we hear or can be heard saying, “I didn’t see that coming!” or “It just came out of the blue”. The truth is that there are rarely events where there are no warning signs.
In these busy times, how can we make sure that we are not the frog?
Don’t have such a stiff upper lip
Okay so I’m British and this is pretty much how most relationships go… massive extravagant tail-shaking regime to snag partner, honeymoon period, routine relationship, occasional blow up because of frustration and circles right back to the extravagant tail-shaking regime (sometimes with the same person, very often with the next in line). Talk, ask one another how they believe things are going do they feel appreciated? Do you? It’s not hippy-ish to make sure the person that knows the most intimate version of you is ok, it’s human and it’s bloody decent!
Do live in actions
By this I mean, there’s no sense in playing a blame game – okay, great, so you’ve established that it’s his fault that there’s no milk in the fridge – now you can revel in the victory of having a boyfriend that feels belittled, annoyed and very likely a bit vengeful. There is more that one occasion I can think of right now where Jose didn’t buy milk so I didn’t just to prove a point. End result, neither one of us had milk and were both pissed off.
Also, if it’s more severe and he puts his willy in someone else (please apply whatever genitalia combination applied to your own relationship) – you apportion blame – what now? Do you just put that one on the score sheet and go back to the same old routine?
I have to say this (and I do have another post coming about this soon) here and now: ALL PEOPLE CHEAT.
Never stop dating!
I mean this, never. I don’t mean put a #datenight post on instagram of two glasses of white wine and a tealight.
Do the things that got you that person. Very often Jose is awake before me and he makes sure my coffee mug is in front of the machine with a spoon in it because he knows I’m rubbish in the mornings! Grand gestures are lovely but don’t forget that only a fool will built a castle on a sand dune…
Never ever EVER compare
So what if Chris and Nick are getting married, so what if Becky any Jay are buying their first place together so what if Nicky and Jason are going to Marbella – there is no benchmark for what a relationship is – your relationship belongs to you two. As soon as we start to compare and contrast relationship dynamics the whole things implodes!
Also, don’t keep your relationship secret, but don’t feel the need to broadcast everything either, in our modern world there’s no such thing as oversharing and that is dangerous!
This has been my biggest learning curve because I’m super competitive but, actually, if you congratulate Chris and Nick and be happy for them, you’re head space is a lot cleaner… I call it ‘The Reverse Romeo and Juliet’, me being a Bitter Betty is like me drinking poison and expecting somebody else to die.
Get rid of taboos!
Okay this is the controversial one and it ties in with my upcoming post but taboos breed infractions, get rid of them, if your significant other likes her arse, or his arms or she’s got nice legs or he looks like he’s filthy in bed…. so WHAT? This ties in with not having such a stiff upper lip but I totally appreciate that people have insecurities but where possible, having safe and open communication in our relationships can only be a good thing.
Remember, if it’s not allowed, it’s more exciting – here’s an example… I’m going to write a very simple instruction below and you have to do it and be truthful with yourself with the result:
Do NOT think about Bananas.
Now, I can’t know whether you followed the instruction or immediately did the opposite but be truthful to yourself and think about that.