As some of you know I've been in a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few months. Many people here recognized the relationship struggles that I/we were going through and were kind to offer advice or were just happy to read along and know they were not alone. So today I'm going to share with you the insights from our first real counseling session.
In truth the story started on sunday, when we were visiting an affordable art fair. At some point I mentioned being very interested in seeing how nude women and men were portrayed in the art here. Since historically it's usually all men painting/photographing all women, in an objectified way. There was 1 (male) artist who painted all men and the other artists seemed to be a 50/50 mix (as far as I could tell). He responded annoyedly "do we have to talk about this now, maybe you shouldn't bring feminism into everything" I told him it was relevant because we were at an art fair and it wasn't just about feminism (or the objectification of women) but about art history too. I dropped it. The end of the day we got into a discussion that started with me saying how interesting it was how boys grew up learning to be comfortable with being rambunctious, loud but also confident, while girls didn't learn this quite as much. He said I was wrong and this had more to do with the hormonal balance of the child. I stated this wasn't a nature v.s. nurture thing but a nature as well as nurture thing, he told me studies had clearly shown all this 'culture forms a child' as bullshit. It got worse from there and ended with me saying he was being difficult and him saying these types of issues were like a red flag for a bull (I'm the bull). We let and I went to get a massage.
At night before going to bed when he asked how I thought the weekend was I thought twice before being open and said it was just fine. After taking a bit of time he came back and carefully coaxed me into talking to him. We ended up having an actual open and kind conversation about how awkward the weekend had been, about how feelings are hard right now, how he didn't handle the conversation very well, how I hadn't, how I didn't know if I was moving out yet or if I could have romantic feelings for him again. All in all, a type of conversation I don't remember having with him before, not for a long time. And it was mostly his doing.
We talked a lot about things that had bothered me from early on. There were many ways in which I didn't feel like I was treated with respect, things that frustrated me, but things that I never actually spoke up about. From small things to big things. Not until I'd gotten so fed up I'd explode, which would only lead to him getting mad because of how I was acting, and ending up with me just apologizing again. Without ever feeling better or heard. Because I hadn't been heard. So I'd feel lesser than again and the cycle would continue, because I was afraid of bringing something up that could jeopardize the fun air between us, the peace. I realise now that this is what I actually learned growing up. My mom was always trying to keep the peace while my dad was hanging around the house wasted, stone-drunk.
He said now that he never realised those things bothered me, he just thought I was that mild-mannered (I am about a lot of things). I'm usually not shy about voicing my opinions so he'd expected I'd do the same in a relationship setting. I didn't. Even when I did, I never let him experience any consequences when he went over the line. I simply accepted it. She told me that if I didn't even respect myself, how could I expect him to respect me. A good point.
We talked about how he needed to learn to validate me, validate what I said, thought and felt. That he needed to learn to do that. There was a huge chunk of validation missing. From apologizing after a fight and admitting that how he was acting was unacceptable, that he'd hurt me. To acknowledging my opinion and validating it.
It was very interesting to speak about situations that happened in our past with a third pair of eyes and ears present. I said many things that I'd never felt comfortable saying within the limits of our space. Because it never felt like a safe space.
I have a lot to think about. Next monday is the next session. Next monday I also have to let future roomy know what my plans are. If I'll be moving or if she needs to look for someone else. I'm not yet sure what I want. On the one hand, we are learning things now that we never knew before. We are already communicating better (casually and seriously) and that feels good. On the other hand I keep being afraid that this is a temporary thing. That I'll get hurt again. Or that, even if we learn to communicate perfectly, that I still won't feel the way about him like I feel like I want to about a partner. Someone that I want and love and cherish. As something more than a friend of brother.
I know I have every right to quit whenever I want to. That it's okay not to want to go further. But I'm stil interested. Curious. What if's are very strong in my mind at this point. And I have no idea about how I'll feel about any of those what-ifs.
"what if this works out BC, will that make you happy?" - I don't know
"what if you move out BC, will you be happier you think?" - I don't know
"what if you fix things but don't fall back in love, will that be enough?" - I don't know
"what if you quit this now, will you be able to let it go?" - I don't know
"what if you go, will you miss him more or your life?" - I don't know
TLDR: He needs to work on validating skills, I need to think of me first and foremost, set my boundaries and stick to them. Still scared of the future and unsure of what I want. This is probably the reason that I finish every single book I pick up, I can't stand not knowing.
How are your relationships going right now GT people?