Waiting

Our anniversary is coming up and I was thinking of gifts to commemorate our time together. I thought about getting him a gift that would let him know that I would wait for him to be ready. Ready for what? For everything that social norms has been suggesting we do: settle down, get married, have kids, etc. Social norms (in a heteronormative world) also imply that women are much more likely to be “ready” for these next steps than men and more often than not, we women are “waiting” around for the men to “get their act together” to move into these next steps with us.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I hated the idea of waiting. It’s not that I don’t want to wait and think I should find someone who won’t make me wait – it’s that I hate the connotation that “waiting” implies. That somehow I have the upper hand in the relationship, that there is a timeline to be met and someone is not meeting that timeline. In other contexts, sure – waiting is appropriate. In a relationship? There shouldn’t be a “waiting” in the sense that you want someone to “catch up” to you.

People ask us the very common, “When are you getting married?” At first, I would joke: “Well, that’s up to him. *nudge nudge*” After a few of those, I hated it because that meant I would put him on the spot, that I was placing pressure on him to do something he may or may not be ready to do. That didn’t sit well with me and I shouldn’t be throwing him under the bus when those questions arise. If anybody is doing any kind of “waiting” around, it should be the both of us, together. Both of us need to be ready, together, to move into whatever steps we want to move into. It shouldn’t be that one of us gets there first – we aren’t hiking. He isn’t 20 steps ahead while I huff and puff my way up the incline. That isn’t a relationship. That’s playing a game of “Who will get there first with me that I can tolerate?”

So I’m back to square one for gifts. Maybe we don’t need gifts. I know I don’t need one. Just like all the times I make comments about coworkers getting flowers delivered to them at the office. Sure, it would be nice to have, but in no way, shape or form, does his sending flowers to me make, break, or change our relationship. It’s nice to have, but I don’t need it. I need him and I would trade a million roses in the world if that meant I could get him next to me instead. But gifts are another topic for another day.

 

Support

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in the past few years is how to be of support to someone I love, to someone I care about. We have automatic tendencies to give advice, to say something of use to another person, but sometimes, that’s just not what the person wants or needs to hear.

I remember hearing of a poem and since then, I have kept it in my mind ever since. It is hard for me, for us, to just listen. To be able to sit in the other person’s pain and not want to remedy or alleviate. But it’s important to sit, to share in, to feel what that person is going through.

This was evident during the summer and following up to last night. Partner was struggling, consumed with anxiety and fear and it was so hard for me to resist comfort. While I failed here and there, I had to learn how to say different things. Instead of trying to reassure and tell him that he would do fine, I had to say that I would be there for him despite whatever outcomes may have arisen. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all, maybe I should have.

A few weeks ago, a friend shared difficulties with her partner, about what he was going through and how difficult it was for her to be witness to that. I remember suggesting to her that she check in with the therapist he was going to see, to ask the therapist how she could be of support to him. I have remembered that since because it reminded me of how I should react and also what I need to suggest to my clients. Granted, in that latter position, I actually get to provide the suggestions, but it’s a reminder to the kids and the families I work with that yes, while the kid is the one coming to therapy, in reality, it’s all of them. All key players are a part of that child’s life and how can we all be a team and learn to support what that kid’s needs are?

It’s hard. It’s hard to just listen, to do nothing more than listen. I am still struggling with it. It’s a fine line to cross – at which point is someone asking for advice and at which point is someone not? Is the question implied? Or is a disclaimer needed? What I do know is that I need to be more mindful of when that occurs and truly strive to be as supportive as I can.

Partners

Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes people last, what makes people compatible with one another. What is the secret ingredient to long-lasting love and a half-century of happiness together?

My parents split up a few years ago, yet they carry on as if nothing really changed. Daddy comes home for dinner and they both sit on the couch to watch Vietnamese dramas. Next week, they’re going on a cruise together. While I have gotten over the shock of their split, I wonder why they did it in the first place if they are still doing things together, still seeing each other, still acting like companions with one another. Their relationship confuses me; divorce should mean that while they can still be friendly and civil with one another, in a sense, they should be apart. They should spend less time with each other and considering I’m the only child left in the house and I already know about the split, it’s not as if they need to keep up the pretense.

I was trying to think about the type of relationship that you need to have with your partner in order to make it work. How vulnerable can you be? Should this other person be someone with whom you can be your most vulnerable and still feel supported? Can there really be a “no secrets” relationship? Can this person still love me despite the darkest moments of my life? Is this person willing to do the same? To share their inner darknesses with me, to be vulnerable with me, to allow me to nurture their pain?

Is it bigger than vulnerability? Is it trust? Love? Compatibility? Companionship? All of the above and more? Does the relationship work because you make each other happy? Or because you are two individuals who have found another outlet of support and really enjoy each other’s support? Is it a “needs” relationship – I need you; you need me? Or is it – I don’t need you to function and survive in life, but I really, really, really, really like that you are in my life?

What do I want? What am I looking for? What are the qualities of a relationship that I am willing and not willing to negotiate? What is important to me? And are my needs compatible with his?

Sadness

I am currently feeling a profound sense of sadness. I don’t know exactly why – it might be a culmination of everything within the week.

School – I hate research. I hate it with a passion. Well, more importantly, I hate writing the paper that goes with the research.

Work – Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – I just want more time without compromising my time! Or… somehow be more efficient with the time I do have. Somehow. Paperwork! Eek!

Partner – I hate that he’s been gone for the week. I barely get to talk to him, converse, chat. I’d feel guilty otherwise since he’s off having fun. I noticed this last time too when he went away to China. I felt like something was not right in my day and that was a lot less communication.

Life – It’s so busy. Granted, I made it this way, but I wish I had a patio where I could just sit, watch people, and drink wine. Maybe pet my cats once in a while.

Daddy – While I was folding laundry, I came across a letter written over a decade ago. I won’t go into its details, but essentially, my dad had expected to retire at 55 (he’s 60+) and he was unhappy with mother at that time. I’ve been thinking about him for the last couple of days – is he happy? Is my daddy happy? Is the man who provided so much for his family finally able to feel a sense of joy? Peace? Free of worry? Is he working out of necessity? Is he happy with work? Would he be happier in retirement? How can I help him get there when I am not financially independent yet? In a nutshell, how can I finally support him when he’s done so much for me?

The strangest thing is that what set it off was that I broke a french press that I had just bought off craigslist. I was really excited to finally try and taste the awesomeness that is coffee in a french press, but I broke it and will have to wait until I go to IKEA to buy one. These are all little things, but maybe when put together in the same space, they mean something.

Always Amazed

The whole weekend I was thinking about my Wednesday dinner and how after all that time, I was still upset about it. I was able to get over the birthday thing, but the dinner was really eating at me, so much so that I actually ignored my dinner partner almost all weekend, even though there were times I wanted to tell him funny stuff.

I decided that because I was still upset, I’d tell him about it and we’d talk about it, together. When I realized I’d be having some free time today, I asked if he wanted to hang out and sure enough, he did. I made it a point to talk to him when we were in private and weren’t in a rush. While I was still shy about it, I told him my concerns and how I was feeling.

At first, I was sad – in a way, blaming myself for having pushed him for a mid-week meal despite knowing how busy he was with work. I also forgot to factor in that on the same day, he had a terrible morning and had missed a bit of work, so it wasn’t exactly the most easy going of days for him (not that any day is easy going, but this was even less so). Even without having remembered that, I realized that if we were to really enjoy our time together, then we needed to find a balance in which we’d put aside some of the things that worried us so that we could have a good time. There will be times when that’s not an option and it’s up to us to decide how we want to involve the other person in our worries because if we can’t ask for another person’s support, then how do we grow with them in our moments of vulnerability?

The more I thought about our dinner, the less sad I became and the angrier I was. Our dinner was our time. It wasn’t a time to worry about work, about school, about the things that pertain to our day-to-day life. While yes, we could converse about it, make small talk or rant, but at the end of the day, our quality time is for us. I refuse to sit in a meal, or with anyone who’s not in the right frame of mind to enjoy my company and if my dinner partner isn’t willing to figure out a good work-life balance, then he’s going to have to find a way to if I’m to stick around.

I was really surprised that after I told him how I felt, he admitted to having known how his behavior wasn’t appropriate during dinner and apologized. I was taken aback by his response as he usually isn’t great at picking up the small things that I worry about and in that moment, I felt more connected and more in love with this man that I didn’t think I could be. I could define this moment as a moment of growth for the both of us and to know that we are willing to do this together, to admit to our wrongdoings and to be vulnerable with one another – I couldn’t have asked for a better person to do this with.

He asked me today, “Do you think I look better than this guy?” I said, “Always.”

Dinner at The Sea
Our post-shopping dinner – possibly to make up for the not-so-great one before?

 

What to publish, what not to publish

I’ve been thinking about this idea of a public blog for a while and considering that I’m doing this post to Facebook thing, it really gets me thinking about the content that I’m posting. What if I’m posting my thoughts on an issue in which other people are involved? What if my comments on said issue can affect someone, either how they feel about themselves or about me? Should I care? Should I be able to say what I freely want to say without fear of repercussions?  But if I’m discussing things that bother me, wouldn’t it be better for me to discuss it with the people involved?

But ultimately, I’m guess I’m deciding that this is my space and by posting this onto FB, I’m allowing people to visit me in my space and how they choose to comment or discuss with me is their choice and I will respect them of their choice. Should I discuss an issue I have with other people, then that should be on me to decide on whether or not I should discuss it with them and if we should work it out, or as the boyfriend says, “if it bugs me enough, I’ll tell you.” While I hate that comment, I can understand the desire to avoid confrontation, especially if it’s not on a particularly large or pressing issue.

Continue reading What to publish, what not to publish

Starting Fresh

The funny thing is now that Xanga has gone away with free blogging, I was looking for a new outlet and I couldn’t find a suitable that I would have enjoyed. So while this blog is not necessarily free, I do feel a sense of freedom in being able to post here, process my thoughts, etc.

One of the things on my mind lately is the idea that when you look for a partner, you are looking for someone who represents a parent. In a heterosexual relationship, I, as a daughter, would look for someone with qualities like my father. Though interestingly, the argument can also be made against it to say that people would want to look for someone opposite their parent, someone unlike my father.

I’ve been trying to decide if either one matters. While there is a part of me who would want someone needy, someone who attaches to me, someone who affectionately and romantically dotes on me with his every waking breath, I’m also accustomed to someone who, while may still love me a great deal, doesn’t do any of those things – just like my father.

See, Daddy was not the overly affectionate man, at least not after I turned 8. There were few “I love you”s, few hugs, few words of affection and encouragement. While that may have brought a lot of resentment throughout my teenage years, it was during college and still now that I am learning all the ways in which my daddy shows me that he cares. It really helps me build my intuitive skills of being able to see the signs in different ways.

For example, Daddy never says no to anything that I ask that would be considered as a need. Car registration due? Yes, he can pay for it. I moved into the master bedroom that was supposed to house two cats, a cat tree, and a queen sized bed? Let’s get you a twin-bunk work station so you have more room. Sprained my ankle and had to hobble around the house? I’ll drive you to and wait with you at the doctor’s office. At no point in my life did he stop loving or caring for me; at no point did he ever do anything to hurt me or create a deficit in any way.

However, all those years left me yearning for an affection that would never come, not in the form that I was looking for it anyway. While I am still working on those “kinks” to my personality, my needs and wants, I wonder if that kind of “affection” is something that I am still yearning for in a partner, something that I still need. That in order to feel validated as a person of worth and as a person deserving of love, I need to find a partner who can constantly affirm me.

Which brings me back to my current partner. While he is not a replica of Daddy, there are features to him that remind me of Daddy – he is amazingly independent, driven, ambitious, and definitely not a person to dote “affectionately” on another in the sense that we in this Western, American society considers as “affectionate” actions. But the other amazing part is that this man, this person who has chosen to be my partner, loves me and loves me in ways that only I would know and see as signs of love, like when he would wake up on Saturday mornings just to drive me to practices and pick me up later. Or drive to Fremont during traffic hours to pick me up from the BART station. Or set aside his studies for the weekend because I was there to visit him. Those are the things that tell me otherwise and this man, just like my daddy, has never given me any reason to doubt him otherwise.

So, in regards to the original question of am I looking for someone like my daddy or not? I would say that I am not looking for either. I am looking for a partner who will love me for me, despite the fact that I still have so much growth to do. But the thing is, everybody needs to grow and I guess what I’m really looking for is someone who not only loves me, but is willing to grow with me, even if we are doing it separately yet together.