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The Girl Who Cried “Change” July 25, 2009

Posted by Sparkel in annoyances, meee, realizations.
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I have always wholeheartedly believed that if a person is defensive when insulted, a nerve has been struck.  If someone were to call me say, stupid, I wouldn’t pay any attention because I know I’m not stupid, and clearly the person saying it doesn’t know me very well.

But one word that has ALWAYS struck a nerve?  Hypocrite.

I’m annoyed by people who say one thing and do another.  People who rant at length about their problems and come to solutions they declare will become their new way of life and yet you and everyone else listening knows things will never change.

It wasn’t until this past week that I realized I am, 100%, one of those people.

I believe that actions speak louder than words.  Yet I constantly find myself trying to talk my way out of problems and situations I am unhappy with.  My father has always said I should be a lawyer because I can argue, rationalize and talk my way out of anything.  I can justify any action I take, just give me a few hours and a couple nods.

Example:  I got excited about remodeling things in our house, like the bathrooms and kitchen.  So excited that I looked for a cabinet refacing company online, and found one in my area that does free home estimates.  I sent them M’s email and phone number, (because I think men deal with men much more easily) and when they called, M scheduled an appointment but he was upset with me over it.  Shocked by his reaction, I asked what the problem was, and he said that this is a company with workers who are trying to make money and run a business, and I was wasting their time because we don’t have the money right now and likely won’t be able to start on the kitchen until next summer.  I stubbornly protested that they offer free estimates, they can’t expect every house they visit to immediately sign, and I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

A guy came over to do the estimate, and when I told him we were just beginning to check around and see what prices are like, he was angry.  He didn’t yell or say anthing, but it was pretty obvious.  And M had that “told you so” look on his face after the guy left.  And I truly felt guilty, had a knot in my stomach and wanted to rush after the guy and apologize for wasting his time.  So what did I do?  I spent a good ten minutes justifying it, giving M and his sister the reasons I listed above.  M’s sister agreed with me, which is actually what gave me pause.  I think she is extraordinarily selfish, so for her to think I did the right thing was stomach churning.

Another example?  Relates to yesterday’s post.  I told my sister everything about M’s confession and planned proposal and she immediately yelled at me for ruining what could have been a wonderful surprise for me and a special moment for him because I had to push.  She said I’m like our mother, that I nag and I’m selfish and always have to get my way, no matter what anyone else’s side is.  And then she told our father that I’m pressuring M into marriage and he is going to end up resenting me.  My dad asked me about is this morning, and warned me that men don’t like to be pushed and I should have waited for him to ask.

I feel a larger, more intricate knot over this predicament.  But overall, I think they’re right.  My problem is not that I NEEDED to know when M is going to propose, or that I NEEDED to know the price to remodel our kitchen.  My problem is that my execution for every whim I have is sloppy and the dismount is usually appallingly awful because I have no patience and find it difficult to have faith in others intentions.  I push because I want other people to want the same things I do.  And if they don’t, I try to convince them to see things my way.  And if they come over to my side out of sheer OH MY EFFING LORD, ANYTHING TO SHUT THIS WOMAN UP, I justify why I was right all along.  I love to plan, but I never manage to follow through on anything really.  And I just end up looking like an insincere, immature moron who has no idea what she wants.

I’m coming to the realization that if you are right about something, you won’t have to justify it.  Not to yourself, and not to anyone else.  And it’s better to change quietly and have your actions speak for you, than to rant at length and then have your actions come up short.

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Spoiler Alert July 24, 2009

Posted by Sparkel in M.
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It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I have been eager to get engaged pretty consistently for the past year.  I’m not sure exactly why it hit, but I peruse wedding photo blogs and think of my wedding vows in bits and pieces and may have even picked out a dress and potential location.

When I have brought up marriage to M, he has stated, in no uncertain terms, that he is not ready.  And won’t be for a while.  When pressed for a timeline of some sort, he’s sort of shrugged, looked uncomfortable and said he doesn’t really have one.  At first I was just quietly disappointed.  Then a friend got married.  Then M’s brother got engaged.  Then M’s sister got married.  And suddenly I was thinking about it more than ever, wondering why M wasn’t thinking about it, and feeling generally hurt.

Now, granted this is all a big fat case of putting the horse before the cart because we do still live with his mother and sister, and the housing market is still staying stubbornly low so we cannot sell our house and have no idea when we can, so we’re pretty much stuck for the time being.  I’m also not finished with school, and just got an entry-leved job in the career I think I want to go into.  M is done with school, but is looking for another job and would like to make more money.  Realistically?  We’re not ready.

But emotionally I am, and want to talk about it.  To have some idea of when it will happen.  And, most importantly, to know he is looking forward to it just as much as I am.

We’ve been on the exact same page for the entirety of our relationship, starting from just wanting to have fun, nothing serious, to realizing “oops, I accidentally fell head over heels in love with you”, to being committed 100% to each other and deciding to move in together.  It’s been mutual every step of the way, up until the topic of marriage came up.

Or so I thought.

Now, M made it seem like he wouldn’t be ready until we are maybe 30.  (Well, when he is 30 and I am 29.)  Which means we will have been “dating” for twelve years before getting married.  Which maybe shouldn’t matter, but I find it RIDICULOUS and nauseating.  Why the hold up??  We love each other, we live together, we know it will happen eventually, so what gives?

I’ve grown increasingly frustrated and a few months ago reached a point where I thought ‘okay, if it’s going to be SIX YEARS until we get married, I’m gonna cross some things off my little bucket list in the meantime.’  I told him over dinner one night that I think we should take a step back from being so serious and we should both pursue other interests and dreams before we settle into marriage.  He wants to move to El Salvador to work after we sell the house.  I would love to live in New York or see if I can live in Europe for a year or two.  I told him that maybe this only means we are better suited for each other than we thought because we can pursue these dreams while having a long-distance relationship and come together in the end feeling happy, fulfilled and ready to be married.

Oddly, he kind of panicked and rejected this concept.  He said that he wanted us to stay together, long-distance was a bad idea, open relationships (also brought up to ponder) is an even worse idea, and we might end up just selling the house and moving to an apartment anyway so lets not talk about this future stuff yet.

We got into a fight last weekend, and somehow the topic of him not looking forward to marrying me came up (how womanly of me :D).  I was near tears as I told him that I never thought I would get married, that it was a tradition for masochistic suckers and fools.  That getting past my parents horrible example to the point where I actually LOOKED FORWARD to marrying someone was a flat out miracle, and that the only bump in the road to happiness being that the person I want to marry is DREADING marrying me?  Just a tad hurtful.

And he took a deep breath and said “look.  I wanted this to be a surprise, and you’re ruining it for yourself…”

And proceeded to tell me his plan to propose.  When and where.  And the plan?  Is perfect.  It’s what I hoped but never hinted at because I knew if he paid any attention at all he would know it is how I want it to be.

I probably should have stopped him from saying the details because I would have loved the surprise factor of it.  But I’m actually quite fine without a total surprise.  I don’t mind spoilers for TV shows or books, and while this is my actual life, just knowing there is a plan at all?  And he’s been “thinking about it for a while”?  I’ve been over the moon since he told me.

Iit won’t happen for a while, as our present is still exactly the same.  But I’m suddenly so excited about the future that, up until a couple weeks ago, seemed uncertain and kind of bleary.

My morning so far: July 21, 2009

Posted by Sparkel in Uncategorized.
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Bad: I did something seriously painful to my leg this morning and am now limping.

Good: FREE PASTRY DAY AT STARBUCKS, WOO HOO!!

Bad: I’m not supposed to be having pastries of any kind.

Good: But now I don’t have to buy lunch 😀

Good: I was early enough for work to have time to stop by Safeway and get yogurt.

Bad: I got lost on the way out and ended up late for work. (Damn you DC and your one way streets!) Good: I don’t think anyone noticed.

Bad: I dropped a permanent marker on my favorite scarf and it now has an ugly mark that I seriously doubt will come out.

All by 8:30 AM. I need a nap.

Just like I would never actually CALL my mother Voldemort… July 20, 2009

Posted by Sparkel in M, realizations.
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I’ve often found it remarkable that there are people in our lives who we encounter briefly or who we dislike, but things they have said or qualities they possess pop into our minds more often than those we care deeply for or see every day.  Some of the most random, seemingly insignificant things can be the most haunting.  Why is this?

I believe I’ve written here before about my relationship with my mother, or lack thereof.  Clearly a mother, in most cases, is not a person with an impact one could consider brief.  I see the effect my mother’s behavior has had on my siblings, how it has molded their tempers and behavior in relationships.  They both speak to her much more frequently than I do and are less tolerant of her outbursts.  I feel that I have internalized harsh words and the marriage between my parents as more of a case study.

The conclusions I reached were obvious and simple; name-calling and the use of nothing but “I” and “you” when trying to sort out differences of opinion are bad.  Violence escalates.  Yelling makes everything seem worse than it probably is.  Bringing up old fights in new fights is not only counter-productive, but annoying and frustrating for both parties.

You can never “unsay” anything.  Even if you apologize, the damage is done.

Once you learn something, you can never “unlearn” or “unknow” it.  And some things are better left unsaid, no matter how true they may be.  That the truth doesn’t set you free because words can hurt, especially toward and from those we claim to love the most.

For the most part, my relationship with M has been…not fight-free or angst-free or frustration-free.  We argue and bicker and fight like any normal couple.  But he comes from parents who fought in silence.  If one got mad, they would ignore each other (sometimes for months) until the feelings passed.  My parents were, clearly, the opposite.  No insult was left unsaid.  Their only regrets were the really amazing comebacks and names that were thought of after the fact.

M fights like his parents.  The surest way I can tell he is angry is if he doesn’t respond when I speak to him and leaves the room when I enter it.  It’s a bit annoying, sure.  Okay, that’s not true.  It’s HELLA frustrating and I’ve often reached the point of getting in his face and asking him if he’s seven.  But he has never called me a name.  Never yelled at me.  Never hit or pushed.  Never said anything that wasn’t true, just out of spite or anger.

I on the other hand…  I try my best.  I really, really do.  I know myself well enough to tell when the mean words and biting insults are brewing and popping up on the tip of my tongue.  We got into an argument on Saturday over something domestic and stupid; he cleaned the bathroom for the second time in a row, which I thought was the plan after I cleaned the kitchen during the week while he napped on the couch.

The thing about M not explicitly stating why he’s angry has actually been something of a bonding experience.  Because he won’t tell me when I ask him, I’m forced to guess.  He’s very Dumbledore-esque about wanting me to figure things out for myself so fights can also be learning experiences.  And because I’m forced to use subtle hints and re-trace my steps, I’ve gotten to know him almost telepathically.  I need to argue, need to talk it out in order to move past fights.  He would rather ignore me until he’s just not mad anymore.  So, I end up basically arguing with myself right in front of him.  I state his side, waiting for almost imperceptible nods or head-shakes, and then begin my defense.

We went out for dinner as planned after I realized he was angry about having to clean the bathroom and I was PISSED.  Didn’t I clean the whole kitchen, which wasn’t even my mess!, while he SLEPT???  Did I get angry? Did I say a word? NO!  And wasn’t is agreed that he would clean the bathroom anyway??  HOW DARE HE!  I am NOT his goddamn MAID!

The point of this extremely tedious post (my sincere apologies and thanks if you’ve made it this far!) is that I had *ahem* other…thoughts…too.

The mean, nasty thoughts that would feel SO! GOOD! to say at the time. You’ve convinced that they’re true, they’re warranted, they’re deserved.  The pain you would cause with these words is going to be the sweetest justice you dole out this week.

I told M one of them.  One of the nicer ones, mind you, but a very nasty thought.  I regretted it immediately, eyes-welled with tears, reached across the table to grab his hand and apologize profusely.  This was about more than hurting my best friend and love of my life in a moment of anger.  This was my mother’s lessons coming to the forefront of my mind and me being weak enough to resort to a quick fix for ME and MY frustration, instead of what is best for US, as partners who would very much like to spend every day together, til death do us part, without needing to forget careless words in order to do so.

With Harry Potter fresh in my mind, I’m reminded of a quote from Dumbledore to Harry; “it isn’t how you are alike.  It’s how you are not.”

I realize I’m comparing my mother to VOLDEMORT, which seems…well, oddly appropriate at times.  But that quote encapsulates perhaps the most important lesson of my young life.

And I say “young life” because I don’t imagine I will spend the rest of my life trying not to be my mother, trying not to have a relationship as destructive and loveless as the one my parents have.  The fact that I knew, through my anger and pride, that my mean, horrible thoughts were not necessary, means I have already distinguished myself from her.  No matter how right or justified or true these thoughts probably were at the time, saying them out loud would not help either one of us.  We both have flaws and constructive criticism can help anyone, if applied correctly.

The difference between my mother and I is that I understand that the best love is unselfish and compromises.  And that difference makes, well…all the difference.  Not in the end, but in every day.