My involvement in this leadership program is making a big difference, in that I don't feel "alone" in the world. As most of you know, my family lives in Oregon and we're not all that close, anyway. Friendships for me seem to grow at a snail's pace, so I have a few friends but still no "best" or super close friends. I am part of a few communities that provide opportunity for group activism, socializing, or creative expression, but these haven't grown into a network I could turn to when I need deeper support. My support system has basically been my brother and my housemate, and occasionally a couple friends I see through the community stuff. I get support from blogging, which feels great, but I wish you guys could come over to the house! :)
Anyway, knowing that this group of people are there and we are all moving through this journey and process together is surprisingly helpful. I have some tangible connection in between the monthly gatherings, too: today, I talked to my assigned support "buddy" and in about a week my regional "pod" (6 other people) are coming to my house for a potluck and check-in. The facilitators talk about all of us forming a "village" that will support our goals and about how important this is - how we used to have closer extended families and neighborhoods but that's not common now. So true, in my case. My nuclear family was very isolationist.
So, I'm doing okay I guess. Waves of sadness come over me and I have cried a few times, which is totally normal, of course. Our minds want to remember things in a nostalgic way, like "wasn't that so great how we used to do this or that?" But I keep pulling myself back into the reality that much of S and I's time together was rocky, stressful and often full of pain. Maybe not for certain periods, but for a long time now, and increasingly moreso the last few months. To help me in my perspective and my heart separation from S, I would like to share a few things that were indicators of dysfunction:
- I think about Tahoe and how we couldn't even walk the dog or make a frickin' salad without bickering or getting tense, and how he got so pissed off at me for not responding to him at one point. How the mornings and evenings in this beautiful place often involved fighting and stress. That was a low point for sure and fueled additionally by progesterone. But almost every trip with family involved a lot of tension and fighting - that just isn't a good sign. I recognize my part in that I am often more stressed and less grounded around my family (though happy sometimes, too, and especially happy with the kids). I have less to give a partner at these times and can seem more distant. But S knew this about me and we had talked in depth about "why" this was, yet he didn't cut me slack or talk to me from that perspective of knowing how hard it could be for me. He continued to get resentful and take things personally and generally make things emotionally harder.
- The relationship didn't provide the support and synergy I would like to have with my partner. When I talked about my work passions or ideas and goals, he would sometimes take a skeptical stance or just not provide much enthusiasm or positive encouragement. In one case, I asked him several times if we could do a brainstorm session for creative goals I had, and he was lackluster and avoidant. When I was seeing a life coach for help with getting career counseling clients, I couldn't talk to him about it because he would express doubt and fear or withhold support, which was painful. Later, he admitted it brought up fear about his own goals, but this was a general pattern. He also struggled to go to a place of mutual excitement or synergistic exchange of ideas, which I so love doing. This relates to my vision of a relationship including collaboration and partnership on creative or community projects. We didn't work well together in this way.... except with participating in activism and personal growth "events" - these were on the good side of the chart. But I want to have this goodness when we are alone together, outside of events.
- The last one I'll share for now, because I'm making myself depressed, is one that will not surprise you: chemistry. Since early on in our relationship, I have questioned whether that area was "good enough." He's significantly older than me (9.5 years) and looks his age. Also, the chemistry/smell thing was a little off - sometimes pretty good and sometimes not great (the supplements I'm on may have affected this at times). I know it's not the most important thing and that it fades over time, but I believe it can also provide the "juice" or excitement to help you get through the tough times. It can provide fun and intimacy and actually has been shown to jack up chemicals in our brain like oxytocin that help our immune response and make us feel happy and relaxed. It was hard to be clear in this area with him because sometimes we had a good dynamic and fun times - definitely more at certain times of my cycle and more when he was more "in shape" and taking better care of himself. But overall, I would rate this area a 6, and I don't think that's good enough. On reflection, I also think that his anger and our fighting made things worse in this area. Anger is not sexy.
Thanks for listening and for your supportive comments on my last post.
A couple last pieces of news: I'm postponing my fibroid surgery until January so I don't miss my training weekend. Also, so that I have more time to line up care and transportation, since S will obviously not be helping now. We were going to go to his dad's for Thanksgiving, so now I am left without a place to go. Trying not to feel sorry for myself on this one. I guess I'm going to put out feelers and see what a couple of my friends are doing, but I hate doing that.