January was a bear to get through because of the fallout from the holidays, followed immediately by Further Confusion. February was just about as tough -- we made the decision to move from our current apartment, were lucky enough to find a new one, packed and moved all of our stuff in just about a month. That, combined with a weird commute situation, made the first two months of the year kind of insane. Not in a bad way, mind you, just a way that made it difficult to add anything new to my plate.
Now, heading into the third month of the year, things are beginning to settle down. toob
and I have unpacked most of our stuff, and we’re slowly but surely whipping the new apartment into shape. It’s a really nice apartment too -- with two bedrooms (we’ve converted one to a home office/computer room) and two bathrooms, we have a lot more space to stretch out in. I think toob
would agree that it’s the nicest place we’ve ever lived. Er, besides his childhood home, which is awesome.
Anyway, now that things look to be settling somewhat before we head into what should be a busy summer, I’m ready to take a look at a few things and determine where I am. I just hit thirty years old, and I feel like I’m growing into myself nicely. I know who I am, what I value, and what kind of things I want to do with the rest of my life. That idea may change in ten years, of course, and I’m totally fine with that. Looking back on my teens and twenties, it’s strange to me how much pressure there was to figure out what I wanted to do and go after it. I think I needed to throttle back so far from my overachieving days that I am actually comfortable with myself just like this. Obviously, there are things I would like to change, but I don’t see myself as a terrible person any more.
This is a huge thing. I think that for people with a poor self-image or trapped in a depressive state, every failure points to the same over-riding belief. You will never be good enough, and you will always fail at everything you try. That belief leads you to be defeatist about everything you do, and when the inevitable disappointment happens it just roots that idea a little deeper. Eventually you’re too afraid to try anything, just because you “know” that it will lead to failure, which will just point you right back to how terrible you are. I think it’s why people never try to get out of bad situations. You don’t want to be where you are, but you don’t dare hope for anything better. Being successfully miserable is way better than trying to be happy and failing.
I’m not sure what finally broke me out of that idea, that I was a terrible person. I’m willing to lay the credit solely at toob
’s feet, who loves me so doggedly and easily that it’s kind of impossible to think of myself that way anymore. If someone like him loves someone like me, can I be that bad? And even if I am, I don’t really have the luxury of wallowing in my awfulness any more. His love makes me want to live up to what he sees in me. In other words, he encourages me to be myself, no matter what I might think about that.
This is, more or less, completely unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve encouraged myself to sublimate my thoughts and opinions for quite a long time, so the idea of openly communicating is...weird to me. Even now, I’m not really sure what I’m doing. ;) But it’s something I’m committed to, and it’s something I’m still learning my way around.
And now that I’m committed to speaking, it’s become very important to me to balance speaking with listening. When speaking, it’s essential
that I speak mindfully. Even when I argue with people (and that’s happened once or twice over the past couple of months), I’ve taken care to consider what I’m saying, who I’m saying it to, and how they’re likely to take it. It doesn’t always work, and I’m still learning the proper time and place for certain conversations, but the work is paying off. It’s still incredibly frustrating to put so much work into what I’m saying and still get misinterpreted, but honestly that might be a failing on my part. The only thing I can do is be as clear as I can, right? I can’t really control the reactions of the people I’m speaking with, no matter how much I’m angling for a particular response.
The trouble is knowing when to just accept that someone isn’t really going to ‘get you’. How much work is too much work to be understood? When do you give up on ever trying to connect with another human being? Before, that limit was very, very low. And now I’m worrying about whether my inclinations to disengage comes from that similar knee-jerk, mindless response, or if I’m pushing to be understood with someone far more than I should be.
There really isn’t one answer for all people on this. Hell, there’s not even one correct answer for one person. That’s what makes being mindful and carrying as little baggage with you as possible so difficult. You’re changing all the time, and so is everyone else. Something that is true about your relationship now might not necessarily be true even an hour from now. Nothing is permanent. It is impossible to make anything “the way it was before.” The idea of constant shifting, of never being at rest, is disconcerting, and it’s even moreso when you face the prospect of trying to connect with a similarly malleable individual. When you think about yourself and everyone else as eternally mutable beings, never the same form moment to moment, it’s a wonder that we ever get to know anyone.
Er...rabbit trailing, sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, communication.
It’s difficult, the rules are always changing from person to person and from moment to moment. Before now, depression and a poor self-image were my excuses to not even try navigating the insanely tricky proposition of just talking to someone else. Now that those aren’t in play, more or less, I’m just now becoming aware of how daunting it is just to hold a conversation with someone else. Forget actually saying what’s on your mind. Still, despite the challenge, I’m more than willing to give it a try. I have to say something, and I have something to say.
Can anyone recommend something that helps me say it? :)