The One in Which I Deal With Expectations vs Reality. Or: One Woman’s Journey Into a Year of Self-created Stress

Having an imagination is a wonderful thing. It got me through a somewhat lonely childhood, turned me into an avid reader, and a passably good writer. (The latter is still up for debate.) Having an imagination is also a very terrible thing. Having an imagination that has had years of unrealistic portrayals of romance in books, music, movies, and yes, even commercials, is an even worse thing.

That is my imagination.

My imagination has had years, and years, and YEARS of romance saturated influences digging their way in. These influences planted seeds of, often unattainable, portrayals of love in my head that my imagination then watered and cared for diligently, allowing them to grow into visions of how I wanted courtship and declarations of love and proposals and marriage to be. My imagination created beautiful, romantic, eloquent proposals. My imagination created chic, rustic weddings with everyone I know celebrating love into the late hours. My imagination is amalgamation of every “Our big day!” wedding Pinterest board, saccharine rom-com, and tradition we’ve been taught goes along with love and marriage. My imagination is probably not the only one filled with dreams of perfect ivory lace dresses, but that doesn’t make my last year of crazy any less… crazy.

Mr. T and I are going to get married. We’ve known this for quite some time. Our discussions of ‘forever’ came fairly early on and throughout the last year, as our relationship has been tested and strengthened, have only become more of a foregone certainty. One night, about a month in (I told y’all, we hit the together forever stage early), we were at a bar – where ALL important discussions should occur, natch – and we both put it out there. “You’re the one for me.” This is not a direct quote. Remember, we are at a bar, exact wording is a bit fuzzy. But, what wasn’t fuzzy was the agreement that we didn’t need to date forever to figure this out. We were both adults and had been in enough relationships to know yep, this is the one I’m ready to dive into the deep end with. Y’all, I was ELATED. I’m 32 at this point and in a point in my life where I am one million and ten percent ready to have this commitment in my life. I was ready for the wedding, the white picket fence, and the happily ever after. Being in love with someone who was so many of the things I’ve always wanted, and on top of that, ready to move at the same speed as me was enough to set my ‘should we honeymoon in a beach location or in England?’ imagination in motion. I wasn’t quite a woman possessed, but I wasn’t exactly sane either. I was a woman filled with expectations.

My first toe dip into the pool of insanity was Valentine’s weekend. Ewww, gross, who proposes on Valentine’s? So cliché. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Valentine’s proposals may not exactly be unique, but Mr. T and I were going to be visiting a friend in Sacramento. We had plans to go to vineyards on Valentine’s. Omg. Vineyards. Valentine’s. I’M GETTING ENGAGED! I started making checklists in my head. ‘So if we get engaged in February that’s totally enough time to have the end of September Fall wedding I’ve always dreamed of. We can do engagement photos in the Spring and Fall in London would be perfect!’ This will be the perfect romantic getaway. How could it not happen?!

Well, easily. That’s how it could not happen.

As we were flying back home, sans ring, I told myself it’s fine. And it was. Maybe I had some expectation of a romantic proposal, but we hadn’t really been actively talking about timing of getting married, and, as the non-crazy part of my brain reminded me, we had only been dating for seven months. Sure, we practically lived together and I’d been sporadically dropping hints that I wanted to be Mrs. T, but we’ve got plenty of time, I told myself. Maybe the Fall wedding won’t be in the cards, but maybe that was for the best… because now that means we can have a Spring wedding!

It was probably early April when I further dipped a whole leg into the pool of insanity. We were all settled in our new home and life was really, really good. One day I declared, ‘I think 5/6/17 will be a perfect wedding date.’ Mr. T agreed. Kind of. But also kind of didn’t seem to be paying full attention to me. But I didn’t pay much attention to his not paying attention. No sir. Because I was too busy plotting our new wedding. Swap out Spring engagement pictures for Fall ones, deep purple flowers for a lighter lilac color, and the honeymoon to Paris (because what is better than Springtime in Paris?) and everything can still happen just how I’ve always imagined it. Everything can go exactly how I’ve always planned. If Mr. T would just hurry up and propose already…

We planned a housewarming party for the end of April. Most of my family and a lot of our friends would be there. There would be food and drinks and games. I would find the perfect outfit and be the perfect hostess because surely this was going to be the day he was going to ask me. By now he knows I’ve always thought it was romantic to have friends or family around to share in that moment with you, for them to hear how much you are loved and wanted in someone’s life forever and at the party we’d have a whole house full of them. How could it not happen?!

Well, easily. That’s how it could not happen.

Still, I didn’t let it get to me. The dream wedding I had planned in my head wasn’t for another year, so there was still time for things to go as planned.

The next week we set out to NYC for my 33rd birthday and I belly flopped straight into the pool of insanity. We were going to Jimmy Fallon and seeing a Broadway show and a game at Yankees Stadium. We were going to check out some trendy bars and restaurants and had walks on the High Line and Central Park and across the Brooklyn Bridge planned. It was going to be perfect trip. And by now it wasn’t just me who was thinking I’d come back an engaged women. Friends and family all felt certain of this as well. A vacation and my birthday? How could it not happen?!

Well, easily. That’s how it could not happen.

Except, this time I did let it get to me. We were in a bar (again, because obviously this is where all important discussions should occur) and I made some comment about packing a ring. Mr. T very blatantly told me there was no ring. He was slightly intoxicated at the time, so it didn’t come out in the nicest way. And I was slightly emotional at the time, so I didn’t take it in the best way. I held off for as long as I could, trying and trying to not let everything I’d been expecting since that first discussion of forever nearly nine months ago overwhelm me and send me into a ridiculously unreasonable tantrum. I did pretty well… until we got back to the studio we were staying in. I broke down. I cried and cried and he got frustrated, both of our go to reactions for situations like this, and we finally just went to bed. The rest of the trip was really amazing, but, of course, this was still in the back of my head. But, I didn’t bring it up because how could I tell him what I was upset about? How could I tell him I was upset he wasn’t doing things as I expected he would? That him not doing things as I had imagined made me scared we weren’t on the same page. That the picture in my head I had spent years fostering wasn’t happening how I wanted it to. I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell him those things without him thinking I was absolutely crazy.

Because I was absolutely crazy.

I have a huge problem with things not happening as I’ve imagined and planned for them to. (Refer to my previous post in which I freak out that we’re moving in together but not married or engaged because, once again, that’s not how I’ve always imagined the progression of a relationship happening.) I’m sure I’m not the only person who suffers from this. I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing myself and I know much of this building scenarios in my head and being unreasonably disappointed when those don’t come to fruition is because of my need for control in my life. Planning how events in my life would happen over the years was my way of controlling a life that often felt out of control when I was younger. Imaging how things would be perfect in the future was an easy way to escape periods of my life that were very far from perfect. And it’s hard to break away from those ideas of perfection. Those expectations. It can be difficult to let go and not be in control of how things happen. It’s difficult to not let the expectations make you feel unsatisfied when you compare your life to how you imagined your it would look years ago.

Now, since Mr. T read my posts, I should take the time to, once again, say that I was never disappointed in him not doing things “quickly enough.” We did eventually talk through all of this (although I’m not sure he knew just how crazy and extensive my imaginations were… If I haven’t scared him away yet, I’m pretty sure he can handle it though.) and I tried to give him insight into the deep, dark cave that is my brain. To let him know my mini meltdown wasn’t from disappointment, it was from being faced with the fact that there are things I just can’t control (a lesson I actually learned long ago, but keep relearning over and over again). It was the process of letting go of the ideas my imagination had spent years and years creating. Ideas that were never actually realistic because they never included the most important part – him. Things I planned years ago didn’t factor in how my life would change over the years. How some things that were pinned to my Pinterest board imagination would become less important as the relationship with the person I was ready to spend my life with became more important.

So, it is now August. One year from when we first discussed ‘forever’. We still are not engaged…. Except, we kind of are. There hasn’t been a proposal, there’s no ring, we aren’t “Facebook official”, and things are definitely not going in the order I always expected they would go, but we have a date set. I have a dress. We have a honeymoon. We have a countdown. And most importantly, we have a lot of excitement for our future. And, no, this non-traditional reality is never how I pictured it when those seeds were first planted in my imagination. It’s better. Because it’s now it’s not about making sure things meet those expectations I created years ago. It’s just about me and him and forever.

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The One in Which I Worry About How Things Are Supposed To Go

If there’s one thing that can be universally agreed upon it’s that moving is THE. WORST. Literally, I cannot think of one person that enjoys doing it. Even if you have all the money in the world and can buy a bevy of movers, it’s still a miserable chore. But, it’s one of life’s necessities. Moving can get you to new places. Bigger and better places. My next move is exactly that, to bigger and better. A full house (no more upstairs neighbors, FINALLY) with all the porches and pantry space I have dreamed of. And while the act of moving itself does sound miserable, there is something more that is giving me the slightest of anxieties about this upcoming change.

For the very first time I will be living with a significant other.

It feels weird to say, because, in truth, Mr. T and I have been essentially been shacked up at my place for the last six months. But it was still “my place” and he still had his place as well. Now it’s Our Place. The bills are ours, the upkeep is ours, the porches and the pantries… all of it is Ours. Since signing the lease almost three weeks ago I’ve been trying to peg down what about this has been scaring me. It’s not the physical act of living together. If we can share 750 sq feet peacefully and happily, we can certainly live well in double that. It’s not the finances, that part was easily agreed upon even before we found our new home. And it’s not the seriousness of “taking the next step” in our relationship either. We’ve both known for months, about six to be exact, that this is what we wanted. The sharing of space and everyday life. No, the reason behind my jitters is much, much sillier than all of these legitimate concerns.

The reason I’ve never lived with a boyfriend is because in the past, all I’ve had is “boyfriends.” I’ve never been engaged or married and, to me, when putting together a list of how I’d like my life to go when I was younger, I didn’t want to live with someone until there was that commitment, or promise of commitment, of more. Rationally, I know this is really, really dumb. You truly cannot plan for how things will happen in life. I let go of the ‘I’ll be married by 25, kids by 28, etc, etc’ thoughts long ago, because those things happen when they are meant to happen. (And, if I would have gotten married at 25, which, now thinking back, actually was an option to me then, I wouldn’t have been living in Kansas City and at some random dive bar two months after turning 32 to meet Mr. T. So hallelujah, praise yeezus I didn’t follow my “life’s plan.”) So why haven’t I been able to let go of this feeling of ‘this is how a relationship is supposed to go’ mindset?

Largely, it’s fear. It’s fear of officially living with someone, no more ‘well, if we get sick of each other he can just stay at his place for a few nights’ escape plans available to either of us. Not that we ever used that option, but it was always there. Now if he gets sick of me, he’s stuck with me. And if he’s stuck with me when he’s sick of me, he may start to regret living together. See where this anxiety spiral is going? Yep. If we do this, maybe he’ll get sick of us and want out.

But Thalia, if this is truly going to happen, wouldn’t you rather find this out before more of a commitment is made?

No.

Yes, I know, it does sound rational. Test the waters out by living together to see if you really are ready for a more long term commitment of marriage. But my completely irrational brain just doesn’t see it that way. My thinking for when I set up my ‘this is how a relationship is supposed to go’ mindset was that commitment of marriage, or promise of one through engagement, is necessary to living together. That means that you both are already on the same page about spending your lives together. That there is no more ‘wanting out.’ You’re already fully invested in this person and ready to go.

But Thalia, you can still ‘want out’ of an engagement or marriage.

I KNOW, GUYS! As stated more than once previously, my mind IS NOT RATIONAL. It’s just one of those things. Something I’ve spent years envisioning. How do you change a past thought so deeply engrained in yourself when you know it doesn’t serve you well in the present though? I know Mr. T is in it to win it, so to speak. I know he and I are on the same page about our future. At least… most of the time I know that. And that’s where I can’t let go of my ‘this is how a relationship is supposed to go’ thinking. What if he’s not? What if we’re on different pages? What if he never gets to my page? What if just living together is enough of a commitment for him? The what if’s keep me from moving beyond those past believes of how things are supposed to go. They are keeping me from fully being immersed in the excitement of finding a great home to share with a great, great man, and I know I desperately need to let these what if’s and fears go to be able to appreciate this time.

Meeting someone I love deeply, and loves me equally in return, and building a life with them is something my romantic little heart dreamed of for nearly as long as I can remember and I need to remind myself that if the reward of having all of this weren’t so great, there probably would be no what if’s and fears. But this reward is great. It is worth shifting my believes of how I wanted things to happen in the past to have the future I’ve always wanted.

The One in Which I Get My Perfect Sunday… After Many Bad Days

Two years ago I wrote about my perfect Sunday. It consisted of brunch and football and naps and reading (you can read about it here, if you need a little refresher ). So why am I bringing this up now, you ask? Well, because last weekend I finally experienced my perfect Sunday. It wasn’t to the T- my guy didn’t whip up breakfast sammies (I made lox and bagels, breakfast potatoes, fruit, and pineapple mimosas. High five, me.), our team didn’t win, and I ended the day with a wicked migraine and leftovers instead of Port Fonda, but regardless, it was perfect. It was football, chilly but not too chilly weather, midday naps, cuddling on the couch perfect.

And that’s what life has been like for the last three months… pretty damn perfect.

My absence from the blog hasn’t been all sunshine and roses and too busy to write because of love. It’s been due to work and adventures and heartbreak and terrible situations, but for the last three months, yes, it’s because I’ve been too damn busy being happy.

Since the breakup with Long Distance Ex, and thus my less frequent posting, I found myself without much desire to write. I spent so much time keeping myself busy with friends and outings and I did that for a specific reason- I didn’t want time to think. I didn’t want time to feel the disappointment of heartbreak, of feeling like I’d been a fool to think I could have made that relationship work, of feeling like I was never again going to let myself be that open with someone. I wanted to think about one day at a time. At what I was going to do on the weekend, who I would hang out with, where we would go out to, what shows we would see. The only future I wanted to focus on was adventures with friends like New Orleans and Mexico and Denver (yes, it’s been a great year for adventures). And so that’s what I did. Sitting down to write anything of substance here meant sitting down with thoughts and feelings I wasn’t ready to have. So did dating, so that was something I didn’t do as well… until suddenly I did.

Of course the never opening up to anyone again thing didn’t last forever. I met someone who was going through a rough breakup as well; a separation. But turns out he realized he wasn’t ready for that separation to turn into a divorce, so once again I had struck out in the love department. Shortly after that I found myself in a situation I never thought I’d be in; the other woman. It wasn’t as cut and dry as that (not something I’m saying to defend myself, I know there were things I did that weren’t the greatest) and (yes, this part is in my defense) I didn’t know that I was the other woman. I was told that there was no relationship between the guy I was spending time with and his “friend.” But, as things go, there was. Things took a turn quickly in all three of our relationships, and have remained different to the day. It was messy and hurtful and upsetting. It ruined friendships and trust and, what hurt me the most in the end, was it ruined the way I felt about myself. I spent a lot of time feeling ashamed and thinking of how stupid I was to end up in a place I said I’d never be. Of how I’d never be able to trust another guy again, and even worse, uncertain if I’d be able to trust myself. I went back to keeping myself too busy to think about much. I went on more adventures- Coachella and camping trips and Bonnaroo- went to shows, hung out with friends, worked late, and basically did whatever I could to keep my mind quiet. Then, one night at a smelly, humid, dive bar, I met someone that has since kept me busy and quieted my mind from all the doubts and past pains.

If a rom com needed a meet cute, the writers could steal ours. Nearly a year ago Mr. T and I met online. He had just moved back to KC and I had just started to think maybe I could date again. We had a ton in common and I remember him being one of the few guys I actually messaged with more than once or twice before rolling my eyes at and feeling exasperated by. But, I quickly found myself certain that I really wasn’t ready to date at all and ditched the site and all prospects altogether. Of course I met the above mentioned fellas over the next few months and attempted romance with them, and (now I know) luckily for me, none of them stuck. Then, come Spring a friend mentioned setting up another friend of mine with a guy. He was great, she said. They had been out once, but weren’t a match, but really thought our friend may like him. So, of course, being the Nosy Parker I am, I peeped one of his social media profiles to check him out. Hey, I thought to myself, why isn’t she setting me up with this guy?! He’s pretty cute and seems rather funny… (Yes, at this point I didn’t put two and two together that it was the same guy I had been talking to about six months prior. Different photo, bad memory, common name, etc, etc.) Well, again, luckily for me, the set up never came to fruition. But, I kept following Mr. T, and he began to follow me as well. Slowly we started interacting with each other. But, this was also while I was fully separating myself from the terrible situation mentioned earlier, so I wasn’t too quick to put my amazing flirting powers to use. And as it turns out, my amazing flirting powers aren’t so amazing after all, because even when I did start dropping hints here and there that I was interested, they weren’t exactly met with reciprocation. To make matters worse, we frequently were at the same shows or events, but still never met. I was beginning to lose hope in the whole endeavor when we were at yet another concert together, but not together, when I finally just laid it out there. I told him what bar I’d be at after the show and that he should come. There. I did it. If he comes, he’s interested. If he doesn’t, well then, that’s strike three in the love game this year and I’ll just throw in the towel and forfeit!

Luckily, he showed up.

I was hot and sweaty and frizzy haired from dancing all night and nervous enough that I let my friend (the same one who was supposed to have been set up with him a few months back, naturally) do most of the talking. Great, I thought to myself, they’re sitting here talking about soccer and I have nothing to add because I have zero interest in it and now I’ve blown it and this whole experiment in being brave enough to invite him out has been all for naught! Later, the three of us walked out of the bar and to his truck, which happened to be on the way to my house, and said our goodbyes. I tried to convince myself that, if anything, I’ve got a new friend who clearly likes going to shows and that’d be good enough. But, when he messaged me half an hour later, I knew just being friends wouldn’t be good enough for either of us.

We’ve been inseparable ever since. (Seriously, Hollywood, feel free to give me a call. The sheer amount of times we were at tiny concerts over the course of eight months and never ran into each other is rom com gold.)

I fear writing about Mr. T because, as we’ve all seen in the past, as soon as I write about someone things usually end up taking a turn for the worst. I’m crazy superstitious and worry discussing a guy with anyone, much less on a blog, means we will be doomed to fail. But, the last few months have shown me that our relationship trumps superstition. It finally feels good to sit down and think again. It feels good to be in the present, but also finally feels good to start thinking about the future. I don’t find myself doing whatever I can to avoid certain thoughts and feelings. And I don’t find myself regretting and beating myself up for past mistakes. The last few months have shown me that all those doubts and negative thoughts I was having about myself after the terrible situation were unfounded. Sure, I made some mistakes and made some selfish decisions, but everyone is guilty of that at some point. That situation didn’t change who I was at the core. It didn’t make me a slut or mean or uncaring or unworthy of respect and love. Being with Mr. T and caring for him has shown me all the good in me is still there, alive and kickin’, and punishing myself wasn’t necessary. I also didn’t need to keep punishing others for past lies and heartbreaks. If the eight months of near misses with Mr. T taught me anything it’s that everything truly happens for a reason. Those past heartbreaks have made me stronger, made me certain of things I will never put up with again, but also softer and more appreciative of all the great parts of Mr. T. Looking back, I know having been in relationships with withholding men now make me love his giving heart more than I ever would have had I not known the pain of being denied love by people you care for. I’m not saying meeting Mr. T has been a cure all. My neediness and insecurities and self-doubt still creep out. Just last night I laid in bed crying, sure that he didn’t really love me because maybe there really was nothing to love about me. The difference though is he was right there next to me, holding me and letting me cry. Understanding that sometimes it’s just too hard for me to be as strong as I want to be. That those past heartbreaks and mistakes will creep their way in from time to time. But, every time he stays beside me, supporting me and caring for my slightly damaged heart, the past fades a little more and my desire to look towards the future grows.

Getting Back to Good

The last month has been… shitty. Some days are okay. Some days I get relatively close to feeling normal. Some days are even pretty close to great. But there’s still those times, sometimes entire days, where I still feel completely out of sorts. A lot of it has to do with the (ex)boyfriend. After a break up, even after you begin moving on, there’s still those times when the sadness/loss/anger/confusion creeps back in and keeps you from feeling completely whole again. And those times, while lessening, are just… shitty.

It probably doesn’t help much that every day I drive to work I have to pass the place we first met (literally two blocks from my office. Cool.) and be reminded of that excitement and possibility I felt that night. That? Yeah, that probably doesn’t help me in getting back to my old self either. That’s just… shitty.

But, you know what’s not shitty? Keeping myself busier this month than I have in a long time. Spending more time with friends. Trying new things. Forcing myself back into working out. Taking cooking classes. Going to shows solo and meeting new people. And…

GETTING A NEW JOB! Not only do I not have to pass that place that now makes me feel a whole lotta sad feels daily, I also have something really exciting to focus on. It’s been no secret that I’ve been less than thrilled with my current job and really ready for a new challenge, and now finally I have it.

While none of these things truly speed up the broken heart healing process, they do help to keep me feeling positive and happy, and even excited. They make it easier to keep going until the day comes along when I’m finally back to the old me…tumblr_mifxnwn4f41qkn03yo1_400

I Wish I Could…

…cook myself healthy, well-balanced meals at least four nights a week.

…fashion my hair into a messy bun or down in loose waves in less than one hour.

…say no to pizza.

…find a career path that excites me.

…stop hate-watching Scandal.

…miss that one person less.

…empty the whole dishwasher instead of being lazy and just taking out what I need.

…forget how good Talenti Argentine Caramel Gelato tastes.

…replicate cute outfits on Pinterest.

…make a home manicure last longer than two days.

…find a workout routine that doesn’t bore me.

…walk in high heels.

…watch one episode of anything on Netflix without needing to watch the whole series.

…parallel park in less than four attempts.

…spell the word maintenance without the help of autocorrect.

…be more open with my feelings.

…stop abusing the 1-click buy on Amazon.

…get super zen and start doing yoga and meditating on the regular.

…hear the song With or Without You without getting teary.

…forget all the shit on this list that doesn’t really matter and start focusing on the things that do.

Home

Today marks five months since my move to Kansas City. Those months have absolutely flown by, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve been here forever.

About a month ago I went back to Denver for the first time. I couldn’t believe how many people, in KC and Denver, told me I would probably get there, realize how much I missed it, and not want to come back to KC. And, I will admit, I had been victim to that same thought briefly. What if I got to Denver and realized I made a huge mistake? Honestly, I was a more than a little stressed on the flight back to my old stomping grounds.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about. As much as I miss people there (AND I DO!) and as much fun as I had there, by the time my plane touched down in KC on Sunday night all I felt was happy to be back home.

I know, I know. How could I be excited to be living in KC after spending seven years in Denver? PLENTY of people I’ve met here have asked me that. In fact, I’m so sick of people asking me that I’ve taken to telling people I moved here from Arizona (no offense, Arizona, I’m sure you’re wonderful). But, as much as I hate the question, I do my best to answer it. Of course, my first answer is being close to family, because that is huge. But, here are a few more reasons…

Relaxing in the backyard after work… 1005564_10101031980809173_255501310_n

Sundays spent in the River Market…1185322_10101159805597273_1203213399_n1236590_10101159802718043_517193990_nOr Sundays spent here…1231514_10101184119167683_19158324_n66770_10101249484020993_1374367575_nOr Friday nights spent here…photo-7With these ladies…1238723_10101192263281813_436500303_nBecause on Friday nights they have these…164263_10101090302127783_1497430801_nAlso on Friday nights? Food trucks…944738_10101113076118523_736335578_nAnd speaking of food…1237003_10101157750685333_578817616_nOf course, to work it all off, I have to go to the gym in the mornings, which always has a great view of this…1004913_10101121113596353_199272508_nOther great views near me?Country_Club_Plaza_2_Kansas_City_MOEven on a rainy day it looks pretty damn good…photo 2And you know I have to love a place with a library like this…Kansas-City-Public-Library-Missouri_2And music like this just blocks from where I live…photo-6

And gorgeous art a few blocks the other way…??????????And where I live? No words for walking down my block yesterday and seeing this…photo-9So yeah, me and Kansas City are doing alright. I can’t wait for the next five months…and many more to come after that.1230082_10101171375366363_56740885_n