From the outside.

So, last night happened. And in the wake of the fight I had with Rob, I blogged. I blogged to vent and to gain perspective and to answer questions I didn’t realize needed to be asked. I blogged to be courageous and communicative and to express ideas that needed to be expressed. And then I sent that post to a bunch of my closest friends and waited until replies came in. And when I read those replies, I realized why I wrote that post in the first place.

I’m as far-removed from my old reality as I ever could be, and in the year and a half that I’ve been living in the Philippines, all of my closest friends are busy changing. We touch minds every so often, but until I read replies from my message, I hadn’t realized just how much I’d changed. I’ve changed more than I’d like to admit, and with that realization came a lot of hard truths, like: Writing that post was one thing, but sending it out to everyone was another. I shouldn’t have done it – not to all those people, at least.

All relationships have their ups and downs – on a pragmatic level, we all know that. Once someone starts giving voice to the downs, though, people tend to focus on them and forget all about the ups. It makes sense, since in giving voice to my relationship fears and doubts, I’m in essence shining a spotlight on an area that many of us find fascinating and downright gossip-worthy; we’re all opinionated when it comes to love, and finding out about other peoples’ love lives gives us license to pass judgment and let our own experiences color their lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing the details of our days; sometimes, it’s the only thing that tethers us to sanity. A talk with a good friend, an email, a text – communication keeps things in context and helps us grow. But when you’re in a relationship and making a life with someone, all of a sudden the rules are different. Because sharing the details of your life ends up being sharing the life that the two of you have created, and you realize that some things are too sacred to share.

There were several things I noticed after letting my previous post sink in:

  1. Some of my closest friends just don’t get me anymore.
  2. The shit that used to fly in NY no longer applies.
  3. I will probably never feel really safe with Rob, and that might be okay.

*****

When someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, it’s easy to put on blinders and stick your fingers in your ears. When I read the comments that people made to the effect of “It doesn’t sound like it’s working out between the two of you. Just call it quits already”, I had to stop myself from reacting; I didn’t want to put up the blinders.

I took a step back, took a deep breath, and looked at things objectively. Then I realized that they didn’t have the whole picture; they didn’t even have all of the important parts of the picture. All they knew of my new reality was the little that I’d written in the post, and it dawned on me just how little we know about each others’ lives. That’s when the most painful truth hit me: In the past 19 months, I’ve unintentionally pared down my circle of besties.

It was inevitable, I guess, but still painful to admit. There was a time when these people knew my life backwards and forwards. There was a time when they really got me. Now, everything needs a three-hour back-up story. And even though I’m more than willing to sit down and write them a long-ass email, it still sucks that we’re not already on the same page. I miss what we used to have, and I hate to think that we’re losing track of each other.

But stewing in that post made me realize something else that’s very important: All of the question marks that used to float around me have been replaced with other question marks. I guess this means that I’ve unknowingly figured out who I am and what I want in life. I’ve spent the last 26 years learning all of that, and now that my quest for answers is over, all that’s left is the actual doing.

These days are not at all like the ones I had back in NY, and I have to start living that truth. I have to stop living in the past. I have to recognize what I have now and be grateful for all of it.

All this time, I’ve been foraging and gathering and hunting for parts of my life. I’ve been wracking my brain, experiencing a slew of different lives, going through all of that so that I can decide which belong to me. Now that I’ve made my decision, I feel like a kid opening the birthday presents I’ve been begging for. I know what I’ve got, but I don’t know what I can really do with all of it.

That analogy definitely applies to Rob. I feel like, I’ve been fighting for him, for us, and for our family for a really long time. Now that I really feel like it’s all mine, I’m just now getting used to what that means.

Maybe I don’t feel protected when I’m with Rob, but maybe I don’t need to feel protected by him. Maybe the whole point of being so careful about defining my life and picking out its parts was so that I had the confidence to pick a partner who gets me more than I get myself, and maybe my partner is right. Maybe I don’t let anyone take care of me – not in the conventional ways, at least. Maybe I let my partner take care of me in the ways that I need to be taken care of, and that’s okay even if those aren’t the ways I want to be taken care of.

All I know is, this exchange of feelings – the blogging, the messaging to friends, the talking to Rob – is what I needed to feel secure in what I’ve got. Strangely, it took focusing on the downs to get back on an upswing.

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