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Want To Know What I Like About James?

I like that he could throw me around. But doesn’t.

[Context: he likes to lift me up and carry me around the house. Like we’re lying on the bed and he’ll sit up and carry me over to the light switch to shut the light off. I said this to him once and he laughed really hard, saying I need to put this on my blog. Well there you go, James, it’s up here now.]

What’s The Opposite of a Silver Lining?

I’ve recently experienced a rather depressing phenomenon. Even when good things happen to me, I often become sad and detached right after. Like when I got the job I wanted teaching pole dancing (which I love in ways I can’t even describe). The more good things happen to me, the more I commit to being here. Maybe forever. I signed a two-year contract, and even though I wanted this job more than anything, it means I won’t be going home for a long, long time. And even though I love being an adult, working, doing things I love, being with James here, part of me just wants to curl up in my bed back at home and just forget the world exists. The worst part is that no one understands. The ones I do try to talk to about this, like my parents, just shrug and say it was my choice to come here so if I’m unhappy it’s my own fault. Not surprisingly, being blamed for this doesn’t make me feel any better. I desperately want James to understand because he’s there for me when I get depressed. He doesn’t really get it though. He’s never been more than a couple hours’ drive from his parents. He sees them all the time. Even when he was away for school he always knew he could go home if he wanted to. I don’t have that option. I guess it took something big like a two-year work commitment to make me really see that this isn’t temporary. And most of the time I’m completely fine with that. Except for when my dark mood strikes and I realize that despite everything, I still feel isolated and I don’t know what to do about it.

To My Parents

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know we don’t communicate very often, and the occasional Skype call doesn’t make up for only seeing you every 8 months. I know, it was my choice to move away, but if you’ll let me just talk for a moment there’s a few things I want you to know.

I struggle, and I struggle often. Worrying about whether I’ll run out of money is the worst part. That being said, even if I did run out of money, I wouldn’t be able to ask you for some. I’m far too proud. I know it’s childish, but if it did get that bad I would probably lie before I tell you about what’s really going on. Or perhaps I’d just avoid talking about it, which is how I am with a lot of things. I know that by coming here I will never be able to truly come home. I hope you understand why.

A year ago I was diagnosed with anxiety. It makes sense, given the move and all the changes, and how I knew no one. I felt cut off from the world and was scared I wouldn’t like it here. I was worried I’d have to admit that it was stupid for me to come here on my own, and that I’d have to come crawling back. I still have anxiety problems. I can manage it much better, and my life is way better now that I feel like I belong here. But you should know, this is home for me now. And I have no plans to ever come back to the city you raised me in. That city depresses me in ways I don’t understand, and I’ll never be able to live there. People still ask me if I’m going to go back once my degree is done. I tell them I’m not sure, but I already know the answer with certainty.

Falling in love with James was a big part of my decision to come here. And yes, I know how stupid, naive, and risky that was. Luckily things are working out well between us. He treats me well. He calms me when I’m anxious. And he has loved me through the worst of my anxiety and stood by my side. We are moving in together in September. I haven’t told you yet because I know you’ll tell me it’s a bad idea. I already moved across the country to be with him, this can’t be more risky than that. I love him. I can see us getting married one day. It means a lot to me that you liked him when you met him. His parents are wonderful to me, too, and I can always come to them for help. They’re like a second set of parents to me here, and sometimes I need that.

Finally, I’m sorry if my decision to leave hurt you. You handled it very well, and let me go when I needed to. You gave me everything, but what I really needed was one thing you could never give me: independence. I still need you in my life at times. Sometimes I feel so homesick that I want to throw everything away and come home. And then I realize that things will look better in the morning when I’m not scared and alone, and they do. I’m doing well on my own as an adult, and I’m finally believing that this was a good choice to come here. I’m building a life for myself here. I’m happy.

I know it was hard for you to let me, your youngest child, go. I hope you can understand why I needed to do it. And I hope you can forgive me for running far away.

I love you,

Janine

Reflecting Now On How Things Could Have Been…

…it was worth it in the end.

Say Something I’m Giving Up On You

“Communication”

We all know how important communication is in a relationship. Hundreds of advice columns could tell you exactly that. Why do we fight? Why doesn’t he tell me when something’s wrong, so I end up blaming myself for everything? Why doesn’t he support the things I love? Communication.

Still, even for the wisest of relationship experts, I would argue that this is easier said than done. Now, I’m no relationship expert (I mean, I like to think I know everything, but I also can accept that as a 21 year old girl, I know NOTHING.) but I also know when the communication thing isn’t happening. You might think you’re communicating, but there’s a good chance you’re not. Especially if you’re young like me and have grown up spending more time on social media and texting than talking to people face-to-face. Is social media bad? Well… maybe…

When it comes to communication, the following things don’t count.

1. Anything said by text. Texting is for short messages that have little importance. That’s why you can’t break up by text. You don’t get to decide the tone or the meaning someone will take from your message.

2. Email. If you’re emailing love letters… wow, nice try but no cigar. Points for trying, but it doesn’t count.

3. Any conversation (whether in person, by phone call, email, etc.) where you don’t actually say what you mean. Ladies, I’m mostly looking at you on this one. We’re the ones who say things like “okay” when we mean NO, “yeah, I don’t care” when we DO, and “whatever” when we mean THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME AND I REALLY NEED YOU TO SEE MY SIDE OF THIS.

So why can’t we all just communicate properly and lead happy lives with positive, productive relationships? Because communication is hard. We are too distracted constantly by our phones and work and the internet. In fact, we are disturbingly used to it so we don’t even notice anymore.

Is this happening in your life? And if so, what should you do about it?

Hope isn’t lost. Fighting doesn’t mean you need to end it. But you are going to need to be more vocal about what you need, what you want, and what you expect from the other person. Here’s my challenge to you: unplug for a while and get started on making things better instead of just hoping they were. This was my secret plan, and it worked perfectly. See, I noticed that James and I haven’t been talking about some things that are going on, and ignoring them was stressing me out. I decided to start the conversation. Here’s how I did it:

I dimmed the lights, lit a few candles, and got James to lie down on my bed. I got out the massage oil and treated him to a back massage. And then after he was nice and relaxed, I started asking him questions to get him to open up. Why? Several reasons. First, there weren’t any distractions. Second, with the lights dimmed and him lying on his stomach, the situation was less intimidating and less of a “you’re doing things wrong” or “you never tell me anything”. It seemed like less of an attack, and more of an “I care about you and want you to be happy”. And in our relaxed, soothing state, it’s easier to open up.

I know I’m not an expert on this, but I would urge  anyone who isn’t happy with their relationship to try it. Things don’t need to be going badly or stressing you out. So maybe we should all take the advice of advice columns everywhere and really try to communicate for once. Your relationship will be better because of it.

The Moment You Realize…

…that loving someone means wanting what’s best for them, even when it’s not what’s best for yourself.

Getting Through It

Well, it’s been a nice week off, but it’s time to head home to Hamilton. James and I have enjoyed our stay… well, most of it. Let’s be real here, any time with family will have it’s bumps. Still, he got through it nicely, and with an impressive amount of gentlemanly charm. My sister quite enjoyed the way he kept saying “nifty”, and other rather British terms. When we pulled up to the airport, my parents got out to say goodbye to James and I. I’ll admit I felt a twinge of happiness when he shook hands with my dad, and hugged my mom, who told him she would see him again next time. I knew my parents would have a hard time with seeing me, their youngest daughter, bring the man she loves back to Winnipeg. Besides my oldest brother, who pretty much announced his marriage and then eloped, none of my siblings have ever brought home someone they were in a serious relationship with. And being the youngest, as well as a girl, I knew it would be difficult for them. Bringing him here and having him stay in the house for a week, I think they started to see both of us in a new light. They’re starting to see me as an adult, but not taking this to mean that I feel I don’t need my parents anymore. They know they have an important role in my life, but it’s now better for me if they fulfill that role from a different province. They are also now accepting James as an important man in my life who treats me with respect and truly cares about me, not just as the guy who stole their daughter away. I’m sad this trip is ending, and I do wish I could stay for a bit longer. I’ve really missed my friends, and I wish I could have spent more time with them. I also just wanted more time to relax and not feel obligated to keep James and my sister entertained all the time. Still, that’s life, isn’t it? Never enough time for the things we want to do. Life is moving on, and my military contract starts Monday. I can’t keep spending time wishing I could relax for a while longer. Being home has been good for my sanity, and I’m feeling a lot less anxious in general about the upcoming contract. I’m now going to try to keep optimistic and present, and not let my anxiety get the best of me. Like I said, I’m excited for what’s coming up in my life, and I’m feeling a lot more ready for it now that I’ve had some time off. And just in case I need them, I’ve got a bunch of anxiety books that have been helping me along this far, and I’ll use them as a reminder that even though things aren’t always easy, I can get through it. And I know that James will be there for me when I need him. He’s put up with me this far, and I’m glad being around my family hasn’t made him change his mind. We will get through the summer contract together, even though there will be a lot of traveling and other things that make me anxious. Still, I’m fighting. And I’m going to keep fighting every day until my anxiety is gone for good. As for right now, I’m managing to get by, and learning all the time. Life is about self-discovery, and relationships teach you more about yourself than you could have ever expected. No matter what life throws at you, just remember, you’ve made it this far, and you can get through this.