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Sunday, October 05, 2003

Whee...! 

Today was.. interesting. Well, to me, I'm sure anyone reading this would disagree, but that's just too bad.

Last night, I came to what I consider a pretty monumental decision. Despite the fact that Steve and I are engaged, until now I've been dodging the idea of a lifetime commitment. When this sort of thing comes up, I've been saying "I'll never leave you, unless... (insert ridiculously unlikely scenario here)." Somehow it's a lot easier than making it an absolute.

But last night I thought about this some more, along with the fact that it seems half the time we argue our relationship somehow winds up on the line. One of us (usually me) will make some kind of comment that could easily be interpreted as, "If we don't get this resolved, we're going to break up."

It's not a good thing to have happen. So I decided to get rid of my out on this one, and just flat out promise I wasn't going to leave Steve for any reason, ever. I had to think about this for a while, because it's a scary thought -- what if he screws around on me, gets some other woman pregnant, gives me gonorrhea, refuses to stop being unfaithful, etc etc?

I thought about it for a while, and the truth is, I'm absolutely certain he would never do anything so bad that I would truly want to give up on us. I'm as sure of that as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. Which means I'm sure enough to make that promise.

I was all excited about this, once the decision had been made, and I called him from work to tell him that I had something to say but it'd have to wait until I got home, as I wanted to do it in person. Realizing that sounded really scary, I added that it wasn't anything bad.

So then I went home and told him this, and it was amazing. It was like he didn't notice. He didn't comment, and started talking about some promotion at work or something. I was not happy. I'd spent hours thinking about this, and it'd been a damned hard decision to make, but one I felt was right and would make him happy. At the least, I expected it to make some kind of impact on him. But noooo...

Some ten minutes later Steve noticed I didn't seem to be in a very good mood. He asked why. I responded that I had hoped that what I'd said would have at least a little impact. "What did you say?" he asked.

"I just promised you, like ten minutes ago, that I wasn't going to dump you no matter what," I answered.

"Oh, I already knew that," he said.

Now I was really blown away. Uh, needless to say, the rest of the morning didn't go so well. He mentioned something about how his real fear was a mutual breakup due to some kind of incompatibility. I just sat there thinking, "What the hell?!"

Then he had to go to work. This was 6:30am -- normally, I'd go to bed right away, but I was pretty shaken up and couldn't sleep. So I paced for a while, chain-smoked, and got pissed off. "What the fuck is his problem, anyway?" was one of the nicer things to go through my mind.

But I'm not allowed to get angry anymore, so I stopped to consider what I was really feeling underneath it all. I was hurt because he'd dismissed what I considered a major declaration of commitment. And I realized pretty quickly that this was way out of character for him -- which means Steve probably had completely misread what I was saying.

So, I wrote him the following email:

I suspect that you're not really aware of what happened this morning, so I'm going to do my best to clarify here. That's the problem with making certain statements in person -- it's much more difficult for me to be clear. I felt, however, that it was important to do this in person rather than via email. Despite how you apparently interpreted it, this was actually a very major decision on my part. So doing it via email would have been about as inappropriate as if you'd asked me to marry you in IRC.

I spent several hours last night at work thinking about this, and weighing whether it was really what I wanted to do, as well as if I could do it. Once I'd decided that I could, I thought it best to tell you as soon as I called you, so that I wouldn't have the opportunity to back out (due to fear). I had hoped that the fact I chose to wait and tell you in person would make it clear that this was a BFD.

I promised to you, this morning, that I would not leave you under any circumstances. Not under any reasonable circumstances, under ANY circumstances. This is an absolute. It means I'm no longer hiding behind, "Well, what if he ... (insert outrageous scenario here)"

Another, perhaps more clear, way to say this would be that I will not, under any circumstances, willingly exit this relationship. You would literally have to force me out. And when I say "force me out", I don't mean behave in such a way that I felt as if I had no other choice but to leave. I mean that you would have to break up with me... you'd flat out have to say, "I do not want to be in this relationship with you anymore, and nothing you can say or do will change that."

It was not an easy promise to make, but I wanted very much to do it, and I *will* keep it. Period. Again, this is an absolute.

The last thing I expected was for you to dismiss it, as though I was telling you something you already knew. Which is, in fact, what you said. You're wrong. Maybe you assumed it was true, but this decision is one I made this very night, and you couldn't have possibly already known it, because it was not true until 5:00am this morning.

And then you said you were more afraid of a mutual breakup due to incompatibility. This tells me two things:

1> Your level of commitment to this relationship is what I would expect of someone who was casually dating, not someone who is engaged. Engagement is a promise to make a lifelong commitment to a person. There's no "... if it works out" in there.

2> You didn't understand what I was promising you, or else you're refusing to accept it. There is no chance of a mutual breakup. It's impossible. The only way this relationship will end is if YOU end it. Alone.

For the record, although I'm not sure if this really matters much, the only reason I managed to explain why I was upset was because I absolutely did not want you to think that I was unhappy because you hadn't reciprocated. On the contrary, I don't expect reciprocation here. This was intended as a gift to you -- not only because you mentioned a desire for stability, but also because I wanted to do it. I just wasn't expecting you to reject it.

I guess now I know firsthand how you felt when I was unable to take marriage vows with you a couple of months ago. I'm sorry. :\


Then I went to sleep. When Steve got home, he read the email, and amazingly the huge dramafest that seemed inevitable never occurred. Instead, he agreed he'd misunderstood, apologized, and (this came as a total surprise to me) reciprocated the promise I had made.

So now we have security, I think. Security is good. I don't like spending a lot of time wondering if I'm going to get dumped. Now I know I won't. (Which may sound terribly naive, but Steve is definitely not the promise-breaking type.)

We took a nap after he got home from work, and woke up around 6:00 pm. After a little while, we took a quick shower together and ordered pizza. It got a little weird at that point.

Steve couldn't find his money. He'd put it somewhere in the kitchen, but couldn't find it anywhere, so he was bitching about it until I finally found it. I suggested that maybe he should put his money in his wallet, as he always carries that with him.

He didn't like this idea, for reasons I find utterly bizarre. If he puts his money into his wallet, it'll be folded into thirds. He doesn't like money to be folded into thirds, it has to be folded in HALF. What the hell this is, I don't know... me, I just wad up money and stuff it in my pockets. It spends just the same, whether it's folded in half neatly, wadded into an ugly little ball, or formed into an intricate origami penis.

But hey, if he wants to fold his money in half and lose it somewhere in the kitchen, that's his problem. I'm not going to find it for him when he does that anymore, though.

In other news, I might have gotten knocked up tonight. We were lying around on the floor talking when I became rather pleasantly aware of the fact my sex drive was back. "We're going to Wal-Mart tomorrow," I announced.

See, we're doing the whole NFP thing now, and the plan is to use condoms on potentially fertile days. Today was the first of these days for this cycle, but we haven't bought any yet.

So I groped on Steve for a while, momentarily forgetting the fact that eighteen year old males don't have much self-control, especially when they haven't gotten off in several days and have a horny woman crawling all over them.

It was almost 9:30 pm, which is the absolute latest I should wait to get ready for work (I have a twelve-piece uniform and I have to be at work at 10:00 pm sharp). He dragged me into bed anyhow, and announced he was about to do something foolish. So there you have it -- unprotected quickie on a potentially fertile day. I made it to work with two minutes to spare.

I am not much worried, though. Ideally I'd like to wait a while before we start reproducing, but neither of us would really mind if I came up pregnant, I think. I did, however, tell Steve he has 72 hours to hit the panic button -- if he freaks out about the idea I might have gotten preggo by then, I'll take the morning after pill.

Dr. Phil got neglected today, but I'm not working tomorow night, so hopefully I'll be able to make it up to him then. Or, in truth, make it up to myself.

Oh, yeah, and for any male readers -- if you have any advice relating to which brands/types of condoms are most comfortable, leave a comment please! Steve and I are clueless on this count, and going rubber shopping tomorrow.


Dr. Phil is my higher power 

About a week and a half ago, we went to the library. I immediately headed for the non-fiction section, looking for relationship books. I've been obsessed with relationships since around the time I first became involved with Steve. I'm sure it drives him nuts sometimes, but I believe that overall, it's a good thing. I suspect if I wasn't, our own relationship would be in a lot more trouble than it is, if we were even still together.

I dislike being immodest, but for once I'm going to do it anyway. I am the glue that holds this relationship together. Which is not to say that I contribute any more than Steve does -- on the contrary, I tend to think he contributes as much or more. I don't say it nearly often enough, but he really is everything to me -- lover, best friend, support network, sounding board, and partner in crime. The only reason I can see that he's not yet my husband is because of technical difficulties (now THAT is a long story.)

I was reading ISCA for a while yesterday. They've added a temporary forum called Recovery>, which is for the discussion of addictions, twelve-step programs, etc. There was a lengthy debate there over the "higher power" aspect of the twelve-step programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous).

I'm an atheist. In fact, I'm a rather hardcore one -- I have a very strong and abiding faith that there is no God and no afterlife. Religion pisses me off, unless practiced far, far away from me. I get extremely annoyed when I sneeze and someone says, "God bless you."

Still, reading that debate over the whole "higher power" aspect of twelve-step programs made me think. I have, over the last week and a half, developed something very close to a God-follower relationship with Dr. Phil.

It all started with this book I checked out -- it's called Relationship Rescue. I let Steve see it, feeling somewhat embarassed, and he asked if the author was Dr. Phil. "Uh, I don't think so," I answered. "Wait, who is Dr. Phil?"

After reading through the dust cover, I realized he was, indeed, the author of the book. I'd never even heard of the guy before. But after spending a few minutes reading what he had to say, I was hooked.

I'd tried and tried for months to get Steve to be more proactive in our relationship. In fact, the biggest source of frustration to me was that he seemed to have little interest in doing the necessary work to get things going more smoothly.

By the time I checked out Dr. Phil's book, I had given up on it, and resigned myself to the idea that I would always be the one who had to figure things out. That all changed in a shocking turn of events.

As I sat on our bed, reading the book, jotting down notes & answering questions Dr. Phil posed, Steve suddenly showed an interest in what I was doing. In fact, he said he wanted to answer the questions, too. It was amazing -- he actually wanted to be a part of what I was doing.

Since then, we've been going through the book together, taking turns reading aloud to each other. We stop now and then to talk about what it says, and it's led to some of the best discussions we've ever had, IMO. It's just incredible to see Steve actually opening up and talking about the issues covered by that book. If it's not already obvious, his participation in this makes me very, very happy.

Meanwhile, I'm worshipping Dr. Phil. I'm not sure that's really the right way to put it -- I have yet to pray to the man, and I don't believe for an instant that he's omnipotent. However, I have developed a very strong belief that if we can get through this book together, and actually follow the given advice, our relationship will improve tremendously.

I've been trying to implement some of the things Dr. Phil says, but it's kind of hard. I'm definitely making an effort though. I'll probably go back through that book once we've finished and take a lot of notes so I don't forget everything I'm supposed to do. Old habits are a bitch to break.

As an example, I have this awful tendency to clam up when I'm feeling something and don't believe I have "the right" to feel that way. The little sex issue today was a good example of that. I did not want to admit that I felt rejected, because I felt like I was putting Steve in a really shitty position. So I went silent on him.

He encouraged me to tell him how I felt, no matter what that was, and I managed to force myself to spit it out. The world did not end. Maybe that wasn't handled in the best possible way by the two of us, but most importantly, it was handled. I didn't dismiss myself, I didn't hide behind anger, and I think I feel a lot better now than I would if I hadn't opened up.

Later on, I went silent again for different reasons. This time it was because I was in an emotional tangle and was having a hard time sorting things out. Again, Steve encouraged me to talk to him, but this time I wasn't able to have a rational discussion at all. I was too confused. Instead, I let him know that I needed some time to sort out my thoughts. Yeah, I actually asserted myself. Now that's a rare occurance.

His reaction was not what I expected. I thought we were in for an escalation of drama because of it, but I was wrong... he was very understanding about the whole thing. We spent some time cuddling quietly in bed in a darkened room, then took a nap before I had to go to work. I got the time I needed to sort out what was going on in my head, and it was amazingly easy to do.

The good experiences I've had from following Dr. Phil's advice make me much more willing to try other things. I'm having to approach each little bit as an "experiment". After all, as the good doctor says, what do I have to lose? If I don't do what I need to do, I'm going to be unhappy. If I do, and it goes badly, I'll also be unhappy, but at least I'll have had a chance to not be. Going on as I have been is unacceptable, so I really have to find other ways to handle situations. It's trial and error, but it's well worth it.

Next up: Dr. Phil's version of anger management. I read this as advice given to a woman with a similar problem to mine, on his website. I believe very much that he's right when he says anger directed at a loved one is really just a mask you hide behind to avoid vulnerability. From here on out, when I feel angry, I'm going to try to deal with it in a completely different way. I'll stop, let Steve know I need a few minutes to sort out my thoughts, then see if I can figure out what I'm REALLY feeling underneath the anger.

We'll see how it goes. It's going to be damned hard to do, but it's worth a shot. Just about anything would be preferable to ripping my poor fiance's head off every time he turns around.


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