A Dabble of Health and Happiness
As someone who has anxiety, depression often takes over due to the inability to make one’s own decisions sometimes - this is a common lifestyle for many people nowadays and for me, just like others, I have been looking for what is my balance between healthy and happy. For me, this means having a supportive partner (and dogs).
I have been in the healthiest partnership for over a year now and I am finally adjusting well to it; I came from a verbally/emotionally abusive partner just a year prior to me meeting Christopher and yes, it’s true, recovery and repair take a long time. Not only is it incredibly hard to break an abusive cycle, it is even harder to really rediscover yourself and what you’re capable of. Finally, I have come to the point that I believe I have some valuable takeaways that serve as a reminder for myself, but also the light at the end of the tunnel when all you can see is black but you’re moving forward.
The Ability to Recognize an Emotional Reaction
I have a tendency to overreact; I was raised by a very reactive, passionate mother who taught me to breathe fire, especially in the face of surprise and hurt (mother: I say this with admiration and respect); I have been told many of times that my reactions are the reason why some people withhold information from me and after dating a narcissist/hot head, it only got worse and worse. Screaming, crying, completely shutting down, I was always on the defense and I had an incredibly hard time recognizing that my reactions were emotionally based and most often, irrational. I was trying to put out fire with more fire. Nowadays, I have gained a whole lot of control back over my reactions simply because my partner is non-confrontational and extremely calm in his reactions. My desire to not embarrass myself over and over again with reactions that I ended up just apologizing for (or sometimes never acknowledging) grew and grew the longer Christopher and I dated. Around our eight month mark, my ability to recognize if I was reacting emotionally or thoughtfully became more concise. Now? I’ve never thought MORE about my reaction before expressing it.
Being Able to Have A Tough Conversation
You know that gut-twisting feeling you get when you know you need to get something off your chest to your partner but you a) don’t want to hurt them or b) don’t even know how to formulate your emotions into thoughts? Whether it’s about your sex life, a dirty home, responsibilities, expectations or overall behavior, it can be really, really hard to sit down and have a mature, adult conversation with the goal of coming out better than going into it. What has helped me the most is personally taking the time to write down what it is that is bothering me - writing all of it down, literally everything - and then going back through the list and distinguishing what is emotionally based and what is rationally based (there are, of course, emotionally rational problems too but you get the point). Once I have weeded through my list, I really contemplate if the issue at hand is something that has bothered me for a long time and if it will continue to bother me if it doesn’t get fixed or at least acknowledged. This 100% always gives space for me to have a calm conversation with the people or about the things that make my blood boil.
Sleep On It
I have never been a fan of going to bed angry, in fact (like most people) I loathe it; you don’t sleep well, your dreams are torturous, you wake up unhappy and removed, it’s all just not good for anyone. I will admit, Christopher and I have gone to bed upset, sometimes it’s followed by an entire day of quiet disagreement. As much as it does not feel good, it does provide some perspective and it gives you time to process what you mean, what you don’t mean, what you expect, and what you can work on.
Listen With Intent, Act with Respect
If you’ve ever heard of the 5 Love Languages, chances are that you’ve taken the test to figure out what yours are (highly recommended if you haven’t, just google it). I cannot stress how important this acknowledgement is to a partnership. If you cannot love your partner in the ways that they feel love, it will not last, and vice versa. Do I love saying “thank you” after each time that Chris vacuums or cleans without being prompted? No, for me, it’s an expectation, one that blew up like a gasoline fire one night for us because of a major miscommunication between us. I was raised in a home where every Sunday I had to clean the bathrooms, I couldn’t leave for an outing before my room was cleaned, and each sibling had a dinner chore: setting the table, clearing the table, and washing the dishes. While my parents were not insanely strict on these chores, they were definitely ingrained into our lives and were often fully resented by us, the kids. Little did I know how much it would affect me in my adult years, in which I pretty much cannot leave the house if it’s dirty. Anyways, after a blow up argument, Christopher and I came to understand that our love languages were not being spoken to; he needs affirmation and encouragement on the little things, I need self-less acts and the occasional PDA. Once we figured that out, it became a new chapter of learning how to implement acts that would appeal to the love that we needed from each other and doing so in a natural, genuine way. Having the ability to have open conversations about our relationship has created a much smoother road to travel on.
Share your favorite learning lessons below and go take that Love Language test!!