Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mmm, Spaghetti.

Image found here
I am always the good girl. To the point of missing out on lots of opportunities for fun over the last 29 years, I am the responsible girl. I’ve always chosen safety and morality over freedom and chance. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I see you. I know what you’re thinking. It has never been about me trying to judge other people, it’s about how I perceive myself. (Perhaps it’s in my blood? My parents are both pretty “good” too.) I have always been afraid of how everything looks to other people. To this end, I stress and stress about making every decision—weighing pros and cons, making sure I do what’s right and rarely doing anything that could be misinterpreted, because I’ve already over-analyzed and picked apart every idea before anybody else could. Even my one rebellion in life—piercing my nose at 24—was so carefully planned and considered, it wasn’t a very brazen act. It’s not that I try to be a stick-in-the-mud, but it’s just in me to be good. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s in me to be spontaneous, or appear understanding.

The problem is that other people do not work like this. The older I get, the more I become aware of my, um, dissimilarity from other people. Not in some cheerful, Mr. Rogers-y you are special putting on your sweater and tennies sunshiney rainbow way, but like I’m a weirdo. An overly-emotional and overly-cautious weirdo badeirdo. And as such, I often find myself face to face with people who don’t put their every thought on a microscope slide and examine it as a specimen. Hmmph.

I really struggle with this. How do you raise questions to someone else without completely raining all over their parade? How do you let those you love know that you are concerned for them without belittling their joie de vivre? How do you give food for thought, without looking like you just put someone else’s beautiful little idea in the garbage disposal? I bite my tongue, but then I feel like I should have said something. I think I will raise a carefully-composed question, and then I end up hurting someone’s feelings. It gives me angst.

Case in point: as E and I try to work through what our life will look like if/when we come back together, we are both making some weighty decisions about what we each want. We know we want each other, and because of all the recent relationship work and structure we’ve gotten from Retrouvaille, I trust this. However, going about melding our individual wishes is difficult. Complex. Mind-boggling. (Facepalming? Neh. ) It would be challenging to be two almost-thirty year old people with two kids facing opportunity and choices after law school if we had been married happily (or maybe easily is a better term) for the last ten years. In our current situation of separated-but-want-to-figure-out-how-to-get-back-togetherness, it feels like trying to drive a car to the store as you simultaneously change out the carburetor and redo the exhaust. How do you move forward when you’re still trying to reassemble?

So surprises me not that last night when E came over all excited about a new jobbortunity, it gave me pause. Ginormous pause. He’s a get excited and do kind of guy. I’m a plan carefully, reconsider, self-edit, plan again, pray about it, recheck everything and then maybe do girl—and that’s only if at the end of the whole process I feel confident enough to move forward and I think that doing so won’t result in a major guilt attack. So he came over full of excitement and enthusiasm and in my typically un-fun manner, I had questions. I had fears. I had things to consider. I had cons to his pros. Do you see where this is going? He felt shot down. He felt trampled by my negativity. It wasn’t my intention, but it just, well, happened.

I am writing about this not because I want you to see my dirty laundry (HELLO!), but because I just don’t know how to handle it. I guess that knowing this is a part of my makeup is good, (the more you know…*ding ding ding ding ding*) but it’s something I’m going to struggle with for a long time. It’s a source of conflict that lurks not too deeply beneath the surface of my interaction with E. Really, in my interaction with friends or students too. I just might not blow up at them (see above paragraph about being the good girl. Our motto is thou shalt avoid conflict at all costs.) I want the best for people, and that can often mean letting them make their own choices, or lovingly biting my tongue.

In this same vein, I really connected with this recent article from IAMHUSBAND.COM. Here’s an excerpt:
“In our first post we talked about how men live their lives in one box at a time, much like the squares of a waffle. Life is compartmentalized. There is a box for TV watching. There is a box for playing with the kids. There is a box for working in the garage… Women process life much like a plate of spaghetti. Every thought and feeling and is connected to every other thought and feeling in life… If you're married, you are well aware of how these differences can cause friction in your relationship. A husband can get very frustrated with his wife for "jumping boxes" too quickly and leaving him feeling lost. He can also feel tricked into an argument because his wife may have accidentally read too much into a straying comment he made earlier in the day.”
Complete article can be found here.

I am definitely one big plate of messy, tangled spaghetti. Everything is related to everything. You can see how this could make me a little crazy sometimes. Or maybe what I mean to say is make everyone around me a little crazy sometimes. Mmm, spaghetti.

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