Love is the answer. Today, I was going to reflect about my coming to terms with Grandma’s passing. The wooden heart I gave to her so that she...
Because of my mom, I grew up:
- Never, ever doubting that I wanted to work and have a career
- Not knowing that it wasn’t normal to have a female breadwinner in an American two-parent household
- Knowing it’s possible to have a loving relationship with family and friends from 3,000 miles away (making the move to school 1000% less scary)
- Brainwashed into the priorities and work ethic I’d never have on my own
- With the best fucking female role model I could ever ask for.
Yes, yes, yes.
After hearing an incredibly insightful comment a few days ago on how “hey guys” as an address for mixed-gender groups subtly reinforces maleness as the norm, I’m making a personal commitment to try to reduce my usage of “hey guys.”
So from now on, it’ll be:
“Hey guys and gals” (that’s a little kitschy, though)
Why, you ask? Because J is unhappy.
I don’t have the time to be unhappy and worried right now. I’m drowning in schoolwork and other commitments; and this pushes me to the verge of tears on a too-regular basis.
J is upset. We fought on Friday, and I said some pretty awful things — things that really shouldn’t be said, if I’m to be brutally honest with myself — in the heat of the moment, when I felt backed into a corner by what I perceived as his irrational jealousy and insecurity.
He keeps telling me about how much this upsets him. And I want to know — I really, really do. It’s important to me that we keep the lines of communication as open as possible; I truly believe that the death of any relationship, be it a friendship or something more, is when the people in it stop communicating.
With that said, it’s incredibly upsetting to me to see and hear how upset he is. And I express that to him for two reasons: first, because I just can’t help it, and second, because I think that if I want him to tell me how he feels, then I should do the same (i.e., tell him how I feel about things).
When I told him just now that I was upset (actually, I said something along the lines of “I’m just going to pieces in my study room”) that he’s upset, he said, “Look, stop putting that on me. I can’t help how I feel. This is just making me not want to tell you.”
That isn’t the point. I just think that if he can tell me that he’s upset, then I should be able to do the same. That isn’t so unreasonable, is it?
It isn’t that I think it’s unreasonable or wrong of him to be upset about Friday; I’m upset about it, too. What I said was really bad, and I feel awful about it. But at the same time, I just wish that he saw sharing our emotions as a two-way street.
I have a problem with emotional attachment; by which I mean that once I get involved with someone, I always — always, always, always — end up much deeper in than I originally planned to get. I think this emotional intensity is for two reasons: one, my parents always loved me incredibly unconditionally and therefore I expect and seek something similar for myself in interpersonal relationships, and two, I honestly think that if I care about someone, then I want to put everything I can into them.
But that emotional intensity is terrifying to some people. Which is completely understandable; everyone lives and loves differently. It just sucks that the people I end up caring the most about are also always the ones who don’t share my craving for emotional fulfilling relationships.
So there’s J, who I’ve been involved with since last spring, and who is a genuinely amazing guy; but who, for reasons of his own and because I have a spotty track record, is also terrified of the type of emotional attachment that I have (had? we had a blowout fight last night that started over the stupidest thing, but that escalated into tears, threats and him hanging up on me multiple times when I was trying to explain it to him… so maybe — probably? — had?) to him.
And I understand his hangups about the emotional attachment piece, at least on an intellectual level. He’s never been in a meaningful relationship (I hesitate to use this word, because it isn’t like we ever framed it in those terms, but for lack of a better word, I’ll go with “relationship”) before, and it’s scary the first time around. It never stops being scary, of course, but the first time around is incredibly confusing because you just don’t know what you’re doing, and whether or not what you’re going through is “normal” or not. And I was a genuinely awful person last spring. To be fair, I was dealing with a lot of personal problems, but in any case, I honestly was a terrible person to deal with in the spring.
So J has reason to mistrust me on the level of emotional attachment. But knowing that intellectually still doesn’t make being the one who loves, cares and gives more of myself on an emotional level any easier. And it sucks to feel less loved than you love.
The difference in emotional levels between myself and J became increasingly apparent over the past week, and I consequently spent the entire week — which was also the last week of classes and a week where I had a major paper worth a huge chunk of my grade in a class I’m already doing poorly in — going on the longest, most exhausting crying jags at the most random times because I just can’t hold it in. By late Wednesday, I was emotionally drained to the point where my eyes would just start welling up with tears of their own accord; like my body was just trying to push all the liquid it could out of my body in a feeble attempt to dehydrate me to the point of being physically unable to cry anymore.
There’s an old piece of wisdom that Chinese mothers tell their daughters, and that mine reiterated to me yesterday when I called her during a crying jag over J: never marry (or fall too deep in with) a man who loves you less than you love him. It’s a cold and seemingly calculating piece of advice, but one that probably does help women be happier; at least a man who loves you more than you love him is a man who fulfills your emotional needs. Too bad, then, that I’ve always found myself on the wrong side of that advice.
Today marks fifty years since Sylvia Plath took her own life at the age of thirty. No witty remark here; treasure those close to you and always be mindful of their mental health.