Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Unpacking my head

One of the things I've loved the most about Geneen Roth's books is that she has highlighted the importance of being familiar with and accepting of your feelings.  The thing is, sometimes I feel like that doesn't apply to me.  I'm an engineer by trade and schooling.  I think logically.  I don't NEED to figure out my feelings.  I can think my way through them.

Know where that got me?  280 pounds.  So obviously, I wasn't doing something (many things?) right.

So I'm willing to give this whole "Feeling your feelings" thing a shot.  The best way I know how to do that is to get it all out in the open.

But growing up, my mom was always quick to point out that things could always be worse.  And she's right.  They can.

So, before I start going on my soap box of whining, I'd like to clarify a few things:
I understand people are dying of hunger all over the world.  I understand that I'm lucky to live in a country where there are basic rights that are respected.  I'm blessed to have a sexual orientation that is widely accepted and promoted.  I'm lucky to have been born in a family where we always had enough to eat and where education was encouraged.  I am healthy. My family and friends are healthy.  I'm blessed to be in a relationship that is healthy, nurturing, and really a great team - many people don't have that.  I am lucky.  PLEASE don't comment that things could always be worse.  I get it.  Really, I do.

BUT...I'm dissatisfied. 

Let me back up. 

In February, I decided that I might want to put my house up on the market - it wasn't a good fit.  Things didn't feel right in that house, despite me trying to make it work for three years.  I deep cleaned and de-cluttered my house, putting about half of my stuff in storage at my boyfriend's (Joe) storage unit.  Most of the stuff were things that I knew I wouldn't need soon.  I could unpack it all when I got in my new place!

Less than a month later, it was up on the market.  Five days and 2 showings later, it was under contract.  We closed in April.   For the first few weeks after my house was under contract, I looked very hard for a new place to move into.  And I couldn't find anything that I liked.  So Joe offered the chance to live at his place until I found something.

I rented a storage unit of my own - this time putting 99% of my remaining stuff in boxes and meticulously labeling everything so that I could find it when I moved out of his place.  I really believed that being at Joe's was a pausing spot until I found the place where I was supposed to be.

Only after I was living there, it occurred to me that the place I was supposed to be was with him.  I realized that I didn't want to move away from him - even if it was only a few minutes away.  I loved him.  The bond that I felt was too powerful to ignore.

In May we talked and agreed that we would officially live together.  We agreed that we both wanted to see where this went - neither one of us had ever lived with someone else before - so that was a big step.  We wanted to take it easy, but we both agreed that I should stop looking for houses.

Since then, we've certainly had some disagreements - all normal.  99% of the time, we're really happy.  We really gel.  We are a great team.  In my opinion, we just fit.

Yesterday I had to go to the storage units (both in the same facility) to look for a few things.  And I couldn't find a bathing suit for a water aerobics class I'm taking with Katy.  So I started digging around in the unit.  And I got reacquainted with my stuff.

And HOO BOY there is a lot of it.  And you know what?  Sometimes I miss it.  I miss the furniture pieces that I picked out after I graduated.  I miss having a wall of pictures (all mismatched frames) of people that I love dearly.  I miss being able to step on my grandparent's rug that they bought when they lived in India.  I love the margarita glasses that I picked out on a whim in Mexico.  And I wish that I could use the couch that is way more comfy than Joe's.

The stuff in Joe's unit are almost all in black garbage bags (only a few have labels slapped on them).  I thought that it would only be in storage for a month or so - until I could sell my house.  I have no idea where stuff is.  Going through that unit makes me cranky.

MY unit (with meticulously labeled boxes) is much better set up.  BUT since the season is changing soon, I'm going to need to find all of my winter stuff.  I'm going to need more space.

AND this gets to the heart of my whine.

I like where we live.  I like the convenience of living downtown.  I LOVE living with Joe.

But I want more.  I want to have some more of my stuff AND live with Joe.

(deep breath)

Truthfully, I want a ring.  I want to be his wife.  I want to be a mom.  I want to start that portion of my life.

I want to be able to invest the proceeds of my house sale in something other than an online bank account (because if we break up, I'll need access to it right away, right?). 

I want to merge our lives together.

I don't want the storage units.

He knows this.  We've had direct and indirect conversations about it.  He loves me.  I know that he does; he says it and he shows it on a daily basis.  A little over a month ago, I told him plainly that I wanted to be his wife.  He understands.  But he's freaked out about the idea of marriage.  And yes, he has business cards for therapists (he initiated it)...he just hasn't made the appointment yet.  It's been over a month.

When people ask (and yes, they ask often) "When are you all going to get married?" and "Aren't you worried that he's never going to propose?  What would you do then?"  I put up a brave front.  I say that I'm happy.  Happier than I have been in forever.  I say that I never thought that I could have something like this...and I'm thrilled with how happy we are.

And I am.

Only when I'm not. 

My brave voice says out loud to people, "I'm happy now.  And when I stop being happy, I'll do something about it.  If being married ever gets to be more important than being with him, I'll know it's time to leave."

In the security of his arms at night or in the morning, I realize that I might not have that kind of strength.  This is the best relationship I've ever been in.  It's healthy, nurturing, loving, and kind.  It is almost everything I've ever hoped for.  As we snuggled last night, I felt so loved - my soul felt warm and cherished.  Why would I throw that away for a RING and a name change?

I am happy.  Most times, blissfully so.

But if he won't make the appointment for the therapist to discover his issues with marriage, how long will I really wait?  Is it even healthy to do so? 

This is the best thing I've had - ever.  It's rare.  I believe that.  Why can't he see it?  I recognize that he's thinking: if this is so great, why can't she just be happy?  Why does she have to push for the next step?

My real fears: What if I'm not good enough to be with for forever - what if that's what he really believes?  What if that's what I really believe?  What if by waiting for him, I turn out to be a fool?  What if this ends and then I can't ever be a mom because I'll be too old (I'm 33) to be one anyway?  He's 43 and has never been married or engaged - what if he is just one of those guys that won't commit?  What is so wrong with wanting to be with someone who wants to claim you as his own?  What is so bad about wanting someone to make a life long pledge?  Why won't he receive the gift that I want to give him (my pledge, my commitment)?

Like I've said: we've talked about it.  We're just in different places.  When I bring it up, he withdraws and gets sad.  He feels bad that he doesn't know what he wants.  He feels bad that I feel sad.  I feel bad that he's feeling pressured to make a decision.

And yet, the feelings don't get resolved.

I just don't know if what I'm doing is right.  I don't know if what I'm doing is healthy.  Am I being too selfish? Am I being too needy?  Or is he being stupid?

Most of the time, I'm FINE with it.  But when I go to the storage unit, I realize the truth: my life is on hold for him. 

It feels so risky - this waiting game; the stakes are as high as they've ever been. 

I don't want to leave because I AM so happy most of the time.  I believe that this is real, genuine, and healthy.  But I don't want to give myself the message that I'm not worth a ring, a promise, or a partner either.

Hey Geneen, how's that for feelings?  Sitting with them isn't DOING anything.  Eating them isn't helping.  Talking about it doesn't change anything. 

I have no idea what else to do.


Allan said...

I think the food tastes delicious. Oh, wrong blog, about the boy...lucky bastard...

Vb said...

Oh, wow. Great post. I definitely don't think you are alone with those "girl thoughts" (as my boyfriend would call them). I can't even begin to put into comment form my understanding of your predicament...besides saying "I get it."

One thing I have learned, is that boys never do anything they don't want to do. So women tend to give up themselves to 'compromise.'

You're strong, you're beautiful, and life always has a way of working itself out.

Jams said...

I'm not completely sure what to say. I applaud you for putting your feelings out there. I'm sure it's very difficult to be in that situation, where you feel like you need to express yourself, yet you don't want to force his hand. It's a tight line to walk...

Is marriage a deal breaker for you? Would you have a kid or kids without being married? Buy a house without being married?

I realize he doesn't know if he wants to get married... does he want kids? If not, is that a deal breaker?

Anyway you look at it, I hope getting your feelings out there, expressing them helps to deal with them. Whatever the outcome might be.

Until then, keep fighting the good fight!

Katy said...

The reality is that you’re really happy 99% of the time. Just try really feeling happy and lucky and beautiful without that inner tyrant chiming in and saying “what’s next?” The “what’s next” in our lives, I’m convinced plays a major role of much of our dissatisfaction and unhappiness. A ring and a wedding would surely give you a quick boost of happiness, but after the newness of the sparkly shiny thing on your hand wears off and after the honeymoon, you’re still left with your relationship…which remember is still REALLY F’ing good! My best friend is going through such a similar situation 5 yrs in the making...I'm here to talk it out with you sister!

turleybenson said...

Ann, I'm so proud of you for being so brave! I love really honest posts.

And then I'm gonna be all butt-insky and say you should NEVER be ashamed of wanting it all. There is absolutely nothing wrong (and in my opinion, it's totally right) to want the whole shebang.

It's a tricky spot, and I feel for you. And yes, you do deserve it.

Karen said...

I so wish I had just the perfect words to comfort you and give you an aha moment. But I don't. I can tell you that I applaud you for examining your feelings. And for being honest with yourself. And for talking with Joe about your feelings even if that didn't resolve things. I am also a very logical thinker. Somethings just don't fit a nice logical though process:( Hugs.

Dr. J said...

Focusing on what we don't have rather than what we do is a road to ruin!

No one promised that it would be easy, but then, no one said it would be hard either (not counting that idiot in the locker room that one day :-)

Good luck on your voyage. Except for the Titanic, and a few others, they all made it OK.

Laura said...

You are NOT alone! Oh my gosh! When I read your "real fears" I was like "how did this girl get in my head?!?!"

My boyfriend and I (he's 29, I'm 23) have pretty much known that we'd work long term since we first started dating... and he told me that he wants to marry me (not identical to your problem) but just now "yet".... WTF does that mean? How can you want to marry someone, just not now? ha! boys!

I get pretty bad snowball thoughts sometimes... usually starting with something small like "he always leaves his dirty clothes on the floor"... which becomes "he doesnt appreciate me"... which becomes "I'm not worth appreciating"... "just like I'm not worth marrying..."..."hes never going to marry me" ... "what if I waste another 2 years waiting for something that never happens..."

But that is just silly... I know he loves me... but it is important for me to rock the boat every once in a while to make sure that we're both on the same path...

I wish you luck sweetie! Please don't eat your feelings... you deserve better than that~!

<3 Laura @SeeLauraRun

Lanie Painie said...

I've oftened wondered this about Geneen's writings myself: How do we know when what we think we want is the Voice (the way we are programmed) and when it is our own true hunger for more? Obviously with physical hunger, it's a little easier than emotional. Is the authetic you the one who wants to keep things the way they are, or the one who wants to move on? Let me know if you figure it out!

Are there other commitments he would consider such as buying a home together, or having a child together? Maybe you could go to counselling yourself and each time you go invite him along. Going alone can be scary. Especially the first time.

Mandy said...

What Lanie said!

Janell said...

I agree with Lanie and Mandy about Geneen. But is Joe non-committal? and how long are people supposed to wait? Do you wait for 7 years and then he leaves?
I have to go back and reread the post.

Leigh said...

How did you get in my head? You jedi mind tricked me and got in my head and put all my feelings on your blog. I am in your position. He's 36, I'm 26.

It kinda just happened to us too... I was spending the night with him every night and finally we were just like it doesn't make sense to not live together. I recently had to rush to clean out my walk in closet at my parent's house because my niece was moving in and my closet is in black garbage bags in his second bedroom floor because we didn't have enough closet space before all that happened. *ANYWAY*

I'm also 95% of the time happy and content. I tell myself that nothing will REALLY change when we get married because we already live together but.... well you know....

I have absolutely NO advice for you.... None. I could say, "Get your own place and live your life, he will realize what he's missing" but I would never because I could never live without my M. I could say "Suck it up and when it's right it will happen" but it's hard. We've been doing it right?

i just wanted to say that you have made me feel better just knowing that I am not alone and I couldn't have said what you said better. I'm linking your blog in a post I'm working on.

I'm so proud for you for getting it all out!

Misspudding said...


I don't know what the answer is, either. Kudos to you for putting it out there.

Maybe you need an internal time line? Like, give it a year?

I'm so bad with ultimatums, though, so I don't suggest you do it. But...gah. I don't know.

Mandy said...

I have an award for you over at my blog!

lafngirl (Alissa) said...

Being in similar situations before....My non expert advice is to first move toward feeling like you have a "home." Find a bigger place if possible .. if not...see where you can move some of your stuff into "your home." It sucks to feel like you a visitor in your own place. IKEA will be opening soon in Denver- utilize it!! (I'm so jealous)

No one but you can know when you are ready to dig in or give up. I will say...its only been a year. I'm unmarried and 35 so I completely understand the time issue...but if it were me- I'd give it more time :) Good Luck!! Thanks for being so open and honest...helps us ask ourselves our own questions about our situation.

TinaM said...

Like some of the others, I really wish I had some good advise for you!!!

All I can say is, whatever his reason for not wanting to get married is NOT you. If he's 43 and never lived with a woman, you HAVE TO KNOW IT'S NOT YOU. It's just the way he is...

When you talk to him, be sure to tell him that you really want children and let him know it's not 'just a ring' you're after, but the family that you're afraid you might not have if you wait much longer.... counseling is a good idea. Maybe see what he really thinks about it all...

Good luck, you really deserve to be happy. Not just now, but forever!

Lala said...

I think it's really important to realize that it's not about YOU. People who fear marriage and commitment usually have had some bad experience (either on their own or vicariously watching unhappily married parents) that cause them real fear. And I think it would help if he could sort that part out. I would think couple's counseling could really help because you obviously love each other and want to find a place where you are both comfortable. I think having someone who isn't deeply involved in the issues could really help you sort through this. And as to the snowball thoughts, I 100% understand. But, when I get there, I try to think about what I would say to one of my BFFs in a similar situation. It really helps me to get perspective. Sending you a big hug! I know you will work this out!!!

Lala said...

I'm sorry. I forgot that you said he had business cards for therapists. I would say that is something worth putting a little pressure on. Therapy is in some ways terrifying. We are all scared to look into that gray matter and find the sadness and fears that lurk within. I myself put it off for years during a time when I really needed it. I think offering to do couple's counseling might really help. Then he doesn't have to do it alone. He has a partner to help him :-)