Love hard

I think I love my boyfriend too much. I have never felt like this before. I am like a teenager who has a major crush. Sometimes I just find myself just staring at him and I always want to touch him. It is sweet, but it also makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel vulnerable and it is hard to think about how much it would hurt to lose him.

When I was in college, I dated a guy for a couple of years. He treated me really well, but his family was also very supportive of me during a time when my own family was incredibly dysfunctional. When he ended our relationship, I was completely heartbroken. He made a fleeting comment that has stuck with me, even 20 years later. He said something about me putting him on too much of a pedestal and how it put so much pressure on him. He was a great boyfriend, especially considering our ages at the time, but I think I allowed myself to depend on him too much. I became needy, which is never a very attractive quality to have.

I am very independent. Before meeting my current boyfriend, I was fine being single. I have never really been someone who needed to be in a relationship. In fact, after my divorce and after my other long term relationship ended, I wanted that time to myself, to focus on myself.

I think part of the issue is that I really just think my boyfriend is amazing. He is the sweetest, kindest, hardest working, most responsible man I have ever been with. It’s a good problem to have. But…it still feels like a problem. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is like I need to pinch myself that this is real- that this is really the relationship I am in. I dealt with so much drama and pain in the past and it is still hard to believe that a relationship can be so healthy and good and easy and drama-free. We have only gotten into a couple of disagreements and neither manifested into a fights. That is very foreign to me, as my previous relationships were full of conflict and arguments.

I have written before about my lack of self-worth. Obviously, I think that plays a role in this. There is a part of me that truly feels like I do not deserve someone as good as him. It is just crazy that I look at this man and feel what I feel. It isn’t just attraction. It isn’t the “newness” of it- we have been together for almost two years. I don’t know how else to explain it besides I just feel like I love him too much.

I read an article about the “dangers” of loving someone too much and I feel like I am pretty introspective (20+ years of therapy will do that!) and am honest with myself. I tried to see myself and our relationship in the examples, but none of it fit. I have good boundaries with him, am still very independent, and have a full social life outside of our relationship. Hs is with his children several days/nights a week and I keep very busy. I can see his flaws (look, even though he is wonderful, he still makes mistakes) and I don’t think he takes me for granted (this has been a problem I encountered in other relationships). I think the only one that stood out to me was that he might end up feeling smothered. Like I am going to be like that cartoon girl who picks up the cats and hugs them too hard and they hate her. I don’t want him to feel pressure that he is responsible for my happiness and well-being because he is not. I say I can’t imagine how I would survive losing him, but the realistic part of me knows that I would because I have gotten through very difficult times and lived to tell about it.

I think it is the vulnerability that scares me the most. Loving him makes me feel weak and out of control. My anxiety does not enjoy that feeling. The LAST thing I want or need is to be in another codependent relationship. I probably need to just stop analyzing things so much and actually just allow myself to he happy and enjoy being in such a great relationship.

“Normals”

I feel a new type of insecurity in my relationship that I have never experienced before. It is not due to jealousy, rather it is because of fear. I never worried about getting my heart broken before. I knew it was a possibility, but I did not think about it much. In my last relationship, I sort of felt like I always had the upper hand because he dealt with a lot of issues, including alcoholism. That sounds REALLY terrible now that I wrote it down, but it is true, and I promised myself I would always tell the truth on my blog- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Both M. and I dealt with mental illness, but mine was much more controlled. I had my shit together and he didn’t and that gave me a false sense of security in our relationship. I knew that he loved me, but I also knew that he depended on me, too.

I recently was with two friends of mine who are a married couple. She had a lovely, happy childhood and he did not. His parents were both abusive and were very hard on him. My friends also are friendly with my current boyfriend and I was trying to explain to them how I feel about my relationship with him. I said something, more directed to my male friend, like, “he (my boyfriend) is just SO normal. He had a normal childhood and a normal life and even his divorce was really amicable and normal. I don’t mean he has never had problems or faced challenges, but his family and his life are just really functional. He must listen to the stories of my family and my previous relationships and my problems with anxiety and secretly think ‘man, she is really fucked up.’ and it makes me wonder why he wants to be with me.” My girlfriend immediately jumped in to reassure me that my boyfriend loves me and what happened to me in my childhood was not my fault. But my male friend…he got it. He said he feels the same way sometimes, which made me feel better. And listen, I know that the word “normal” is incredibly difficult to define and super subjective. In my mind, normal equates to a lack of trauma and dysfunction. Being normal might seem like an insult to some people who interpret it to be synonymous with boring and ordinary. But to me, normal has a positive connotation and means safe and secure and healthy and functional.

A good example of this just happened recently. I had to get a CT scan of my sinuses. When my ENT called to give me the results he mentioned that I have a deviated septum. When I told my boyfriend this, he asked me if I had ever had a nose injury. I know he was thinking about whether I got smacked with a basketball in high school gym class. I thought about it for a minute and was like, “no, I don’t think so….oh wait! When I was 18 my dad got arrested because he head-butted me in the face and I thought he broke my nose.” I said it so casually because honestly I don’t really think about that event much and it was over 20 years ago, but my boyfriend looked taken aback. It was sort of a funny conversation, but also incredibly sad. It almost made me feel lonely and for a second, I missed my ex-boyfriend, M., because I knew he could relate and understand to having a screwed up family and childhood.

My friend and my boyfriend- they are “normals”. I, for sure, am not. I try to have the appearance of having it all together and I am very successful in a lot of different ways, but deep down I feel broken and dysfunctional and different and less than. I know a lot of this is my own self-perception and I am working on that. My boyfriend is the most amazing man I have ever known and I pinch myself every single day that we are together. I feel so lucky to have him in my life, but the problem is that I don’t always think he is lucky to have me in his (I am certain he would beg to differ). And that is what creates insecurity for me…because if I don’t think I am good enough for him, when is he going to realize that?


A Christmas Miracle

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For most of my life, I have been envious of other people’s families during Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong…even as dysfunctional as it is, I love my family, but there always felt like there was something missing.  I think it was a combination of having an alcoholic father and an incredibly small family.  Growing up, Christmas was always just my mom and dad, my younger sister and myself.  We had no relatives who lived anywhere near us and I have a grand total of three cousins spread across the country.  Many of my friends had big families, with their aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. all living nearby.  Their holiday family gatherings seemed so lively and festive and I always wished I had that, too.

Now in my 30s, most of my friends have children.  I think for most families, many holidays really revolve around children…Easter bunny egg hunts, Trick or Treating on Halloween, Santa pictures for Christmas, etc.  Even though I was pretty sure I was not going to have kids of my own, I still felt a sadness when I would see all the fun things other families did for the holidays.  My small family of four had our traditions, but they were very low key, quiet and often stressful based on whether or not my dad would be drunk.

My sister had a baby girl this year who turned seven months old right before Christmas.  My niece is the sweetest, most adorable, happiest baby in the world (*slight bias!)  This year, the holidays were ALL about her…her first Halloween, where we all made matching costumes…her first Thanksgiving, when she had her very first bite of “real” food…and of course, her first Christmas.  It was awesome- my favorite Christmas ever!  This is the first year I didn’t look through my Facebook feed feeling that twinge of longing for what other people were doing with their families.  That actually just occurred to me for the first time as I am writing this!

 

Thankful…

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Things have been a little crazy lately.  My boyfriend and I definitely hit a rough patch and the holidays are always a little stressful.  On top of that, I am traveling to D.C. next week, which is triggering A LOT of travel anxiety.  It is so easy to get disheartened by the negative things, but I am really making an effort to look at the positive things in life.  My friend is having a baby girl, my dad is still doing pretty well, I have really nice students this year, things with my boyfriend are looking up.  I do have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Over this past weekend, I met a girl at a party.  We had talked very briefly once before, we are about the same age and I knew she was a teacher, so I figured we had some things in common.  We ended up talking in the corner for over an hour and I confided things in her that I normally would never tell a stranger- she also is divorced, so she understood things that many other people do not in my life.  She was so sweet and easy to talk to and we had a very similar history as far as the timeline of our marriages and divorces go.  This girl is now engaged (her fiancé is actually my boyfriend’s best friend’s good friend, which is how I happened to meet her).  It really surprised me how open I was with her.  I guess at this point I don’t have anything to hide and I am not ashamed by anything that I have experienced.  It was just really nice to talk to someone with a different perspective, who could still really relate to my life.  The only thing that made me kind of upset was how excited she is to get married again and how happy she kept saying she is.  I don’t know if I really feel that way…I mean, I don’t know if I would ever want to get married again and the fact that she is so eager to marry her fiancé made me question whether I would want to get married if I was with “the right person”.  I’m not saying my boyfriend isn’t that person- he is so supportive of me, but we definitely have problems and her relationship just seems…easy.  Now I have definitely learned not to take other people’s lives and relationships at face value, but she genuinely seemed so happy and in love and kept saying what a nice guy her fiancé is.  I feel like I was so traumatized by my divorce that I don’t know if I would ever risk having to go through that again.  But one thing we both said is that we both saw red flags going into our first marriages (and ignored them, obviously).  She clearly sees no red flags now with her new husband, but I feel like I see some in my relationship now that would make me a little hesitant to make that commitment again.  Meeting her just made me think about how much my life has changed in the past ten years and how I really don’t know what is going to happen and maybe I just have to be okay with that right now.  I mean, I never, ever thought my father would go this long without drinking, so it just goes to show you that life has a way of throwing curveballs.

So, I am going focus on being thankful this Thanksgiving.  Instead of being too scared to travel, I am going to try to remember how lucky I am to be able to go to D.C. with my boyfriend (who I know will help me get through my anxiety to get there) and his family, who has embraced me in so many ways.

“Moms are better than dads”

Let me preface this blog by saying that this clearly does not apply to all dads (or all moms, for that matter). I have been fortunate to know many good fathers- my friend has a pretty great dad, my boyfriend’s dad is amazing and my own grandfather was a wonderful father to my mother and my aunt. It is just that in my case, the title of this blog is true (which is why I have a tshirt that also says it lol… which I only break out on Mother’s Day because who will argue with me then?)

My mom is amazing and even though I do not agree with all of her life choices, she has been nothing but caring and supportive of her two daughters. She is generous with money, time, advice and love. She asks for nothing in return and I know, unequivocally, that she lives for my sister and me. What makes her happy is us being happy, which is a characteristic very common in good moms. Because of this, my sister and I try to show her how special she is, especially on Mother’s Day and her birthday. It is not about lavish, expensive gifts- my mother has very simple taste and treats a Vera Bradley bag she receives as if it was Gucci. My sister and I put a lot of thought into the gifts we get my mother and that is obvious.

I have to admit, though, that I do feel a little guilty that the scales are so tipped when it comes to celebrating my mother versus my father. Many would argue (and do) that he is not deserving of anything. If you read my last blog, you will remember that he actually returns almost everything we give him. He also criticizes gifts- my favorite Father’s Day story of all time was when I bought him two polo shirts from Macys and they accidentally charged my credit card for $.50 instead of $50. I was excited about the “perfect crime” at first, but then my father started sending emails that my sister and I wouldn’t even spend $5.00 on a gift for him. Ahhh…the irony!

I know my dad does not deserve the same treatment we give my mother because he does not treat us the way my mother does. But I do feel that little twinge of discomfort when he clearly sees the things we do for her. I just have to remind myself that no matter what we did for him, he would find something to complain about. See, my mother is the “Oh my! A macaroni necklace! You MADE this all by yourself? It’s BEAUTIFUL!” type and my dad is the “I am going to say thank you when I open the gift, return it asap and then send several days worth of emails complaining about my do nothing taker daughters” type.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there 🙂

Hey, Jealousy

I’ve been having a really rough week. My boyfriend is away on a tropical island with his parents scuba diving (I am excited for him to do this). I was invited to go, but because of my fear of flying, I passed on the opportunity (I know my disappointment in myself over this decision is causing a lot of my depression).

So, I have always had a hard time with my boyfriend talking to other girls on Facebook. I do trust him, he really is a good guy, but I have developed this weird insecurity. When I was previously married, I was never insecure or jealous. But I think I had some experiences after my divorce that caused me to have some trust issues. I also am not very self-confident in myself.

While on this tropical island, my boyfriend met a beautiful blonde photographer on their dive boat and then became friends with her on Facebook (he is still there now). I kind of freaked out for two reasons: one being my insecurity and feeling so vulnerable with him gone and two being that I really do think that it is inappropriate to do something like that when you are in a committed relationship. He knows that I was sad about him being away and he knows I get upset when he does things like that on Facebook, so it felt like a betrayal.

I talked to my sister for a long time about it last night. She said I need to be more realistic (because of course in my mind I am picturing this girl in a bikini running in slow motion towards my boyfriend…my imagination is getting the best of me, obviously). But we also talked a lot about my problems with self-confidence. I do think a lot of my problems stem from that. I wrote an earlier post about my difficulty making decisions and I think a big part of that relates to this: I am simply not confident in myself to make a decision and stick to it. Also, when in an argument (for example the one that arose once I told my boyfriend I was upset about the island girl), I tend to back down instead of standing up for what I really believe. I know that part of this is habit from when I was married and my husband was not a fair fighter- he had a remarkable gift of turning everything around on me.

So, I am torn. I am still really upset about this issue (he then “liked” a photo of her in a bikini…awesome) but I also don’t want to drive my boyfriend away with my insecurity. The thing is, I don’t really have self-esteem issues: I know I am pretty, I am successful, I own my own home, I have great friends, etc, etc…I just don’t know how to become more self-confident and not let things bother me so much. I have been a weepy, insecure mess for the past couple of months and I know that is not an attractive quality in a girlfriend. I need to find a way to stand up for what I believe if I think he is wrong, while also not coming across like a psychopath (there must be some kind of fine line between the two).

So, anyone ever struggle with this? I have already read “Why Men Love Bitches” (a gift from one of my former students after my divorce lol). I feel crazy and it is making me really depressed.