Friday, December 31, 2010

On Love and the Past

"Honey, you know that stores do sell toothpaste with the flip-up caps, right?"

"Well, yeah," I answered, astonished how easy that solution was.  Patrick and I were just having a conversation about relationships.  I am a huge chicken when it comes to this topic.  My entire life, I've had nothing but dysfunctional relationships.  Growing up in a home infected with domestic violence, I never knew what a healthy relationship looked like.  And I made some bad choices, choosing very unhealthy partners.  So when Patrick and I talked about relationships, I told him that I didn't think I could ever live with a man again.

I went on to tell him that I didn't think I could deal with the stress of having someone complain about the house not being clean enough, the food not cooked on time, the kids not quiet, etc.  "I even leave the cap off the toothpaste," I insisted.  And that's when he stumped me with that remark.

And after that answer, I went on, "Well, my home is really busy!  It's never perfectly clean.  There's always toys on the floor, laundry never ends and after the kids go to bed there are more chores to be done."

"Babe," he replied, "I wouldn't just stand around and watch you manage the house and kids by yourself.  I'd help, you know."

One thing that never ceases to surprise me about our relationship is that he constantly reminds me that I'm no longer in one of those past relationships.  Whenever I visit with him, I'm never left to cook by myself.  He helps.  He washes dishes.  He doesn't just go off and play on his computer.  He spends time with me, even if it's just to join me in playing fetch with his dog. 

And another thing-- there's no pressure!  For anything!  We don't text each other every hour of the day.  We're both busy people.  He has his own business, his own kids.  He doesn't question why I don't text or call him as often as I'd like.  There's this really cool, calming sense of understanding between us.  He doesn't expect me to drop what I'm doing for him, even though I'd jump at an opportunity to chat with him.  He's secure enough in our relationship that he doesn't feel it necessary to nag me for attention. 

Lots of the bad things in my past come back to haunt me in this relationship.  But I combat them with this relationship's facts, the person I'm with now and the person I am now.  I'm stronger, able to see clearly and am quicker to identify unhealthy behaviors.  And Patrick consistently shows up in the "healthy" department.

I told my therapist once, "Even if he and I don't work out for some reason, I'm confident that at least this relationship has shown me what a healthy one looks like."  Of course, I'd rather we work out instead!  But the point is, I'm glad I have such a good opportunity to experience having a good relationship and to know what one feels like.


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