Meeting Number 4

Today I will be going to my date’s apartment. I’ve been there once before, this past Monday. I feel that I will be writing about this development quite a bit so let’s call her Chelsea so we have a name.

We started talking via Bumble on July 16th. We met for the first time in person on July 23rd. Since then, we’ve seen each other twice, so today will be the fourth meeting.

She’s funny and kind and considerate. She’s very attentive when I tell stories. I made her take the love language test because I suspected that she would have similar results to me and I was right. We both score 10 points or more towards Quality Time and both of our second category was Acts of Service. Her Myers Briggs type is also INTJ, so that was also interesting to discover.

I think there are many people who struggle with long term dating because they’re addicted to the feeling they get during the first few meetings. I, too, find the first few weeks, maybe first 2-3 months, the most exciting, but I also greatly look forward to being fully comfortable with someone. Nerves are fun and tingly, but they also create a lot of anxiety for me.

I feel that this is the first time in a long time that I have been fully myself with someone from the beginning. In previous partnerships, I often had a wall. A large wall. A large concrete wall with spikes. It wasn’t great and it was draining to keep up, but I was doing it to protect my feelings and heart. I don’t feel that I have a wall with Chelsea. She makes me feel very comfortable and I feel free to be however I want to be in the moment.

Without giving away too much of her personal information, she hasn’t had as much experience with women as I have, and that made me nervous at first. I think she has a fear or concern of not living up to my past experiences, but she should know that I have a fear of fucking it up as well. It goes both ways and I think that’s a healthy discussion to have.

Right now, there is a definite safe space to have any conversation and I hope we are able to maintain that. I really like her and I’m excited to see where this goes. I’m allowing myself to feel giddy and I’m embracing it.

Relationships Take Work

I hear many people talk about their ideal relationship and it always involves minimal conflict, disagreement, and never going to bed angry. While that would be lovely, I don’t think that’s actually possible and I believe that the strongest relationships actually do need disagreement in order to learn and grow and exercise compromise.

I had partners who always tried to avoid conflict by compromising their own interests instead of telling me they would rather do something else. I also had partners who would twist any sort of argument to be my fault and that lead me to believe that it was me that was the problematic partner in the relationship. Both of these scenarios are common and wrong.

My most successful relationship was my last one. It was short, about 6 months with less contact than I would have liked given the program we were in, but we made it work. We were very different, but I think we were very smitten with each other regardless of our differences.

I want to interject the fact that I hate conflict. I don’t like confrontation or arguments; HOWEVER, I won’t back down if I feel like a conversation needs to be had. I understand that while it makes me uncomfortable, the relationship will be more uncomfortable if I don’t speak up.

So, this 6 month relationship with this beautiful woman was a dream in terms of communication and respect. I never felt disrespected or taken advantage of. I always felt safe and open to voice any concerns or thoughts. This hasn’t always been the case.

When there were things that arose as potential problems, we were quick to talk about it and “clear the air”. That was hard work for me. It was easy in terms of it was easy for me to open my mouth and speak words; however, it was difficult for me to get over the fear of confrontation ending in the termination of the relationship.

Oftentimes, conflict seems like the end of something, but it’s just a bump. It’s an opportunity for growth, for learning, and for better understanding your partner and your relationship.

This previous girlfriend taught me that and I love her for that. I am now far more comfortable having conversations sparked by a possible issue in my relationships (both platonic and romantic). I understand that disagreements don’t have to be explosions, and they don’t have to cause the relationship to implode, so it’s okay to have them.

Feelings Scare Me

Our emotions and feelings are something we are rarely in control of. You can occasionally control how you react outwardly to experiencing feelings and emotions, but those true feelings and true reactions still live inside of your body and your mind.

In terms of romance, my feelings have always been strong. I fall for people quickly and hard. I don’t tell them, of course, but I am very aware of how my mind, body, and heart feel. Usually, my mind is in some sort of disagreement with itself about how I should be navigating the relationship, my body is very willing to comply with everything and anything, and my heart has already partially attached itself to whoever I’m talking to.

I felt like writing about how my feelings scare me because they are currently scaring me. I have only known this woman for 10 days and I have met her once; however, it feels like I’ve known her for years. I don’t know if she feels the same, so I speak only for myself.

She answers my questions without hesitation. She is interested in what I do and where I come from. She’s open to adventure and travel. She’s very blunt and straightforward, not unlike myself. I appreciate talking to someone who “speaks my language”. Oftentimes, I have to preface things I say with, “I don’t mean to be rude” or “I don’t want to offend you”, but I don’t have to do that with her and she is just as forward towards me. I love it.

There is also one thing she did when we met for the first time that I can’t stop thinking about: When I was telling an elaborate story, she leaned forward, elbows on knees, and looked me in my eyes while I talked. She was so attentive.

In the past, I had an emotionally abusive partner who told me more than once, “I don’t hear you when you talk.” With this in mind, her leaning forward and being so obviously interested in the words coming out of my mouth meant the world to me and it made her that much more attractive. She’s super cute, by the way. But she just got cuter.

So, anyway, I like this woman. I like her a lot for only having known her for 10 days. part of me is like, “get a fucking grip”, but the other part of me is saying to just fall into it, don’t resist, don’t overthink, just be. I’m going to try very hard to “just be”.

An Unfamiliar Feeling…

The girl I have been talking to just asked me if I have anxiety. For the first time EVER, I was hesitant to say yes.

I have always been very open about my mental health struggles with my friends and close family. Even if strangers ask, I am also very open because it’s nice to tell your story and bond with other people about similar issues. I’ve collected many preventative and coping skills this way.

So, when she asked me if I had anxiety, I was surprised at the feeling I got. I felt a little bit of embarrassment. I felt a little bit of shame. I felt a little bit exposed. However, I responded with a calm “yes” because I wasn’t going to hide something that is such a big part of my life. Eventually, it would have come up anyway.

I also explained to her that it doesn’t keep me from living my life. It makes living life more difficult, but it doesn’t keep me inside [anymore]. When I was much younger, I refused to leave the house for any reason other than to go to school. Now, I feel the same hesitancy, but I push through and do it anyway.

I think I felt a certain type of way about her asking because I have been going to therapy for over 2 months now. To me, therapy feels like taking medication that hides the symptoms, but it doesn’t cure the actual problem- it just helps you understand and deal with it. I guess I felt that because I was dealing with the problem (and its very visible symptoms), she didn’t need to be aware of its actual existence.

I think it’ll be fine. She did respond with a positive message after I said yes, so I don’t think I have anything to worry about.

Do any of you guys feel embarrassed or hesitant about informing possible romantic partners about your mental health struggles?

Today In Therapy…

I came to therapy today with nothing in particular that I felt I needed to share. I did tell my therapist about a friend coming over yesterday evening and discussing commitment issues with said friend. Naturally, that quickly turned into today’s topic in my therapy session.

My therapist began by asking me if it was okay to visit the past, but not live in it- in terms of where we’re getting most of our information from. I’m fine with whatever, so I said yes.

He then asked me to retell what I told my friend last night, so I went over all of my relationships, one by one, and told him about all the moments I decided (and then internally celebrated) in each of them to end the relationship.

Then, he asked me to describe what it was like growing up with my now divorced parents. So, I recalled that I didn’t remember mom and dad ever being affectionate; I remember one hug in the middle of the living room, and I must have been quite young. I remembered dad sitting on the couch every night eating popcorn and drinking beer while mom was in the kitchen or reading. I recollected that for a few years, mom would come sleep on my top bunk every night instead of sleeping with dad. I knew dad snored, but looking back, I feel like that was a good excuse to cover up the true reason she didn’t want to be in the same bed as him.

Long story short, I grew up in a household that stayed together “for the kids”. There was a sense of loyalty they felt to our family unit and to us children, but the romance and intimate love was no longer present- and hadn’t been present at all in a decade.

The conclusion my therapist and I came up with today is that I have a fear of real, earth-shattering, ground-moving love. It is something that I feel doesn’t exist. At the same token, I do go searching for it every now and again and I give my everything to that individual for the time we are together. I am very open, honest, and loyal with my partners. I am even so concerned with loyalty and faithfulness that I will stay in a relationship even when I am no longer in love and then I search for a convenient outside factor or other reason to end things with people. For most of my relationships, I have done this.

Something I also have to be aware of and keep in mind is that even though I have clear commitment issues, my previous relationships were not built for long-term. There were major issues (or reasons we just weren’t a good match) in each one, no doubt. I think that even without these “let’s kill the relationship ASAP” issues, I believe that each of these relationships was not going to last.

With all that being said, I feel that it is difficult for me to be truly convinced of the extremity of my commitment issues, but I am fully aware that there is something there and I am working on piecing it all together.

My homework assignment to bring to the next session is for me to connect the things we discussed today with the flowchart that I made last week. Basically, my flow chart outlined my mental and physical process when having “what if” questions, when feeling anxious, and also when I’m having an actual panic attack.

As I connect these two sessions, I will write about my findings.

Update on My Date

My first date with this woman was this past Tuesday. We met at California Pizza Kitchen. We split the bill if anyone is curious about those things, although she did offer to pay.

Long story short is the date went well and we are seeing each other again.

We had so many things to talk about, so my worst fear was definitely avoided. I hate when you’re unable to bounce off of each other in conversation because at that point I’ve lost interest and am looking for an out. So, again, that was not the case; the conversation flowed and I had many questions that she answered without hesitation.

Our next “date” is going to be cooking a meal at her apartment. I say meal, but I actually just wanted to show her how amazing homemade banana pudding was. She lives about 30 minutes away from me without traffic, so it could be worse.

A peek inside my mind: I have commitment issues and I am well aware of them. In previous relationships, I always looked for an out or a convenient excuse for the relationship to end because I figured the relationship was going to end sooner or later anyway, so I might as well end it now. I’m trying to change that mindset a little bit and it will be something I discuss with my therapist in the near future. For now, I am trying to enjoy getting to know this woman and not worry so much about sabotaging something that doesn’t even exist.

Sound Proofing My Room

I live in Atlanta- it is loud as fuck at 2am. I am right next to the highway and a train station. I hear cars, train horns, sirens, people yelling, and yes, sometimes the occasional gunshots. It’s fine. However, when you take all of that and add a roommate who comes in at 12am with her friend, the noise is no longer just coming from the outside.

This is how I began soundproofing my room so that I could get a better night’s sleep:

  • I added weatherstripping to my door because there were very large gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, as well as on the sides.
  • I hung up 2 tapestries and am in the middle of figuring out how to hang a heavy 4×6 carpet on the wall that is opposite to the living room/TV.
  • I have carpets on my floor for sound insulation from music or talking on the inside of my room.
  • I bought blackout/sound blocking curtains to lessen the noise I hear from the outside world and to block the porch light that comes on every time my roommate’s friend visits at 12am.
  • In addition to all of this, I also wear earplugs AND use a white noise machine that I can hear through my earplugs.

I wanted to buy foam boards to put on my wall, but it’s quite expensive, so I’m working with what I’ve got. We’ll see if this does anything. Last night was actually the first night that I didn’t wake up more than 3-4 times. I’m hoping that hanging that carpet will do the final trick.

Mapping Out My Mental Process: Anxiety

My last therapy session was a great one. I made a small change that will have big impacts in my life, I think.

When I walk into therapy, my therapist always has a plan, but he asks me if there is anything I would like to talk about or discuss first. Normally, I give him a quick rundown of my week and if anything out of the ordinary happened, I let him know.

This particular day he told me he had a plan, but if there was anything I wanted to bring forward first, I could do so. I said that I did have something to say: “We talked about my “what if” questions serving no purpose last session and since then I have decided to remove them from my brain.”

Obviously, it’s not an overnight thing, but it was a step towards something. My therapist stops me, though, and says that that’s a big step to just completely remove them. My brain, moving very quickly, comes up with something brilliant: “Well, then how about we don’t remove them, we only modify them.”

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.

When I am having a panic attack or just anxious thoughts, my mind goes through a very long list of highly unlikely “what if” questions/situations that I must earlier prepare for with coping or preventative skills. However, when the actual panic attack is happening, I toss everything I’ve ever practiced out the window because I am in survival mode.

Many times, it’s not the original source of my anxiety that causes me to fall into a panic- it’s the “what if” questions. The hypothetical scenarios that I create in my head are so much worse than what is actually happening. If I could find it within myself to start modifying those to less extreme “what ifs”, then I might not always go off the deep end.

Anyway, that is what I discovered last session. What are some eye-opening revelations you all have had in therapy or while talking with friends/family?

Roommate Troubles

So I got in a little tussle with my roommate and her friend last night. Or, this morning, rather. I don’t normally post things on any social media concerning people I live with because if they were to find those posts, it could be awkward, but in this case, I think it’s fine.

The story goes like this: When I first moved into my house, I slept fine. Yes, Atlanta is loud and people love drag racing at 3am, but my earplugs covered that for the most part. However, the longer I stayed in the house, the more often my roommate would bring her friend over at late hours, predominantly after work.

My roommate works the late shift, so she doesn’t get off of work until 10pm-2am, it depends on the night. I would think that after working a shift like that the only thing you want is your bed, but this is not the case for her. More nights than not, her friend comes over at this time too and they talk, sometimes watch movies, and eat/smoke together.

Over the course of the past 2 months, I have physically come out of my room about 5 times to tell them to please turn it down or crack a window. A few nights ago, at 2:30am, she and her friend were being loud in the living room. “Loud” at 2:30am is not “loud” at 3 in the afternoon, I recognize that, but my room is right next to basically everything in the house, so everything sounds “loud” at 2:30am. Also, that same night, as her friend made her entrance to our house, she slammed the door. That’s just inconsiderate and not being mindful of the other people [who have day jobs] sleeping in the house.

So, I didn’t say anything that night, but I did say something last night. They weren’t being that loud, but loud enough that I could hear them through my earplugs, so I had to say something. It was also almost 1am, so past the time people should be “hanging out” in my opinion.

I came outside and requested they be more quiet and more mindful of the other people sleeping in the house. Her friend, who doesn’t pay rent here, gets a little defensive and says, “What, so you want us to whisper?”

Internally, I got a little mad because she doesn’t pay rent or live in this house, so it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t want her to do. I told her, “No, you don’t have to whisper, but you do have to be more mindful and considerate of the other people in this house. For example, when you came over last Thursday at 2:30am, you slammed the front door.” She didn’t have anything to say to that and so I said goodnight to them both and went back to sleep.

There is definitely some tension in my house now, but I don’t think they understand what insomnia is or what not being able to ever sleep through the night feels like. The placement of my bedroom is also dumb because my walls are the opposite sides of the living room, kitchen, hallway, and bathroom. I. Hear. Everything.

Getting to Know People is So Awkward

I think the commonality of getting to know other people is that we all put on these polished, filtered versions of ourselves as to not frighten the other person away. You might not voice your opinions and if you do, you mute the passion behind them. You might also tell them you’re super clean and organized because you happened to clean your apartment yesterday, but in reality you can destroy the zen of a room in 2 seconds after walking through the door by throwing shoes on the floor, a jacket on the couch, and your purse and keys on the table. It’s okay, you’re not alone, Karen.

You know, watching other people getting to know each other is even more awkward, though. You can tell when two people like each other and they’re just figuring out who the other person is. They’re smiling way too much and they’re finding reasons to laugh their nerves out of their bodies. They’re telling each other impressive things that sound so stupid to anyone listening, but if you’re on the receiving end, you’re talking to superman himself. It’s just so cringe-worthy. But we all act like that and we’ve all seen people act like that.

The first 3 months of a relationship is also a prime time to get to know how the other person truly is. You start to see their flaws they’ve been hiding, their quirks that are just too weird to share at the dinner table. You know their general sense of style. You might have a routine that starts to happen when you two see each other or when you go out on dates. It’s interesting.

Do you have any awkward “getting to know people” stories? Share them with me!