Archives for the month of: July, 2014

laundry“Relationships are hard” they say.

“I’m determined to do it right this time” I say.

A few years ago I was in a relationship that absolutely depleted me. I could say it was because he took and took. But more importantly, I gave and gave. “I can buy you groceries.” “I can come to YOUR house.” “I can wait for you to be free because I know how hard it is for you to plan.” I thought if I gave extraordinarily, I could force it to succeed. But that’s crazy. And it ended. And I swore I would never give so much again.

Then I dated a man who gave and gave. And gave some more. “I can fix your brakes.” “I can rub your back.” “I can carry you and place you on the raft so you don’t have to get wet or cold in the lake.” Sounds ideal, right? To be treasured? Put on a pedestal? To be on the receiving side? But it was awful. It wasn’t healthy and felt like I had an adolescent girl fan club. And in return for all he gave, he was needy. Time. Acknowledgement. Affection. Acceptance. He needed what he couldn’t give himself or get in any other way. He was so deeply caring but I felt incredibly trapped.

Well played, universe. I could now see the same error in both relationships by sitting on opposing sides. Both the “over-givers” used giving to mask their insecurities. Both the “recipients” wound up feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Neither extreme was ideal.

“I’m going to do it right from now on”, I exclaim. “I’m not going to give. I’m not going to take. I’m going to be damn near impossible. Good luck to the next guy.”

I just finished folding laundry. HIS laundry.

Is this just a familiar act of desperation? Will I never learn? Am I hard-wired for GIVE?

I found with the right person, there’s a delicate and amazing balance. Nothing orchestrated. Nothing complicated. Just a little give from both sides. Some mornings I take the dog out and make breakfast. Some nights he makes dinner and empties the dishwasher. But everyday, we take care of ourselves first. Because we can’t be anything for each other if we can’t be what we need on our own. That’s the difference. This time, I’m not a moron because I choose to match his socks and fold his manties. And he’s not losing my heart for repairing loose boards on the deck (he’s winning it actually). It’s not done with desperation and despair but rather with vulnerability and love.

I think I’m finally doing it right this time.

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It’s taken a couple weeks but I’ve gotten through more than 50% of my storage space. While the first cuts were fairly easy, they got progressively harder. To move the process along, I asked myself one question:

If the basement went up in flames, what would I be upset to lose?

I couldn’t thing of anything except for one drawing from art school. I realized I keep a lot of things because I feel like I should, not because I want to. I should chuck it all right now! But release is a process and I’m tackling one Christmas colored storage bin at a time. Here’s what else I’ve learned:

1. Fast-forward through Craigslist: I had a light table I loved but haven’t used for more than ten years. I ran through the possible back and forth scenario with potential Craigslist buyers and realized, I’d rather not waste my breath haggling. This table will keep its dignity if I donate it. I carried it to the Brown Elephant and it was welcomed with open arms.

2. Use it or lose it:crystal It’s a stepped process- 1. Take object from plastic tub and bring upstairs. 2. Find a place or a use for it. 3. If it doesn’t have one, donate it.

3. Stare it cold:
stare it cold I have packed and repacked a glass jars and bottles, some with rocks and shells. One has a great story. The others are just decorative. They are now on display, staring, demanding a decision. It’s judgment day. Some will get repacked. Some will be asked to leave.

4. It’s just a thing
cosmetic trayWhen my parents died, I held on to every tiny thing as if it were a piece of them. But life happens and things go missing. Or worse, they break- like my mom’s glass cosmetic tray. It’s still intact, it’s just missing a glass bar from the front. I was sad when this happened in a move six years ago but I reminded myself, it’s not her. It’s just a thing. Letting go of the stuff is ok.

5. Space is freedom
I now have three huge empty plastic bins (need any?) and a spacious storage room. I have new momentum and an unexpected joy in the open space. It’s not over yet but I already feel lighter, less burdened and a little more in control.