1

Feeling like a burden (Spoonie Life Complication #3)

A few months ago I got stressed out which led to a horrible back spasm. I tried to fall asleep, but was kept awake by the pain. It was so bad I actually had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t find any position in which I was comfortable. I hemmed and hawed about whether to wake up Mr. Lyndsy. I posted about it on social media – asking whether it was okay to wake him up.

Overwhelmingly the answer was “Yes! Wake him up!”

But I still didn’t do it until a time when he might have been up anyway. (Obviously he wasn’t awake since I had to wake him up, but it was after 7am when he’s usually up.)

Once up he put some ointment on my back to try to soothe the spasm, but it didn’t help much. A little while later we headed to the doctor to get some drugs that would actually help.

Mr. Lyndsy was upset I hadn’t woken him sooner. People online were surprised I didn’t wake him sooner.

Here’s the thing, I constantly feel like a burden already. I didn’t want to be EXTRA burdensome by disturbing his sleep.

Spoonies, even those with the most supportive partners, often feel like burdens because we can’t do all the things we think we should be able to. Some of us can’t work full-time like we used to. Others can’t help keep the house clean or cook. These things make us crazy. We try to do what we can, even to the point of hurting ourselves, but we rarely feel like it’s enough. (Occasionally this is made worse by outsiders who add their commentary about how bad they feel for our partners, having to pick up the slack.)

We try to be as un-needy as possible all the time. We minimize pain we’re having or hide it altogether. We just don’t want to burden those we love.

So when something happens that we believe is going to be an additional pain in the ass, we’re indecisive about what to do. Can we manage on our own? How much should we try before we go to our partners? What’s the pain point that we really just can’t take it anymore?

That’s where it has to get before we’ll reach out. Especially if our partner is doing something they really enjoy, like sleeping or playing video games or out with friends.

It all comes back to the fear that one day we’ll be too much for someone. One day our partner will hit their breaking point and that will be it. So rather than push it to that point, we do everything we can to be as self-sufficient as possible. Because we believe we’re already a weight on our partners’ backs every day.

Why didn’t you ask me? A post about marriage

*This post is inspired by this comic. Probably should read it first.*

I love Mr. Lyndsy. I appreciate everything he does for our marriage. He works full-time and I work part-time. When I can’t cover my bills with what I make (student loans, credit cards), there’s a transfer so I can. (We have separate bank accounts because of where we earn money.)

When it comes to things about the house and our life together, however, we look at things very differently. Mr. Lyndsy is like a lot of men, in that he’s a problem solver. If there is an immediate need, he will address it and try to “fix” the situation. Trash needs to be taken out? He takes it out.

When I look at the trash though, I see that it needs to be taken out AND that a new bag needs to go into the bin so we can throw out more trash. That does not seem to ever occur to Mr. Lyndsy, because pretty much every time I go into the kitchen after he takes out the trash, there isn’t a bag in the bin.

Neither of us likes doing dishes. I sometimes think Mr. Lyndsy calls and schedules cleaning people JUST so the dishes get done. He doesn’t expect me to do things that he doesn’t want to do, which I appreciate. However, there are some things in life we just need to do and get on with it.

For a while I was the only one who did the dishes. I sort of felt obligated since I work from home and he was gone so many hours during the day. Then my body crapped out on me and I didn’t think it was worth the back pain to deal with a sink full of dirty dishes.

Around the same time, I left Mr. Lyndsy by himself at the apartment for a month. He’d decided that he wanted to eat healthier, which meant more cooking. When I got back from my trip, I noticed that he was washing dishes! Right after he finished cooking something, he transferred it to the bowls and washed the pan! The next day, he’d wash his bowl!

But that was it. There could be dishes in the sink from me or other things he’d eaten (like oatmeal – totally caked on), and he wouldn’t touch those. At least until he needed one. But then he’d only wash the one.

To me, there is no point in only washing one dish as I need it. If you’ve got soap on the sponge, make it work for you. Wash what’s in the sink. That way you don’t have to put the food you desire on hold. But that’s not the way his mind works, apparently.

I love efficiency and effectiveness. Given the pain I’m in on a daily basis, I’m going to make my actions work for me. If I’m going from the bedroom to the kitchen to get water, I’m taking everything with me on the way that needs to go to the kitchen too. If there’s a cup on the dining room table, I grab it on the way. I do the same thing on the way back. The bathroom is next to the bedroom, so if something needs to go there, it comes with me on the return.

My mind automatically seeks out the next step in pretty much any process. Because there’s almost always a next step. And that next step will affect the one after that. I’m able to identify potential problems before they actually become a real problem. We won’t be scrambling at the last minute trying to deal with something because I thought ahead.

What it does mean though is that the load falls to me to be responsible for the whole picture. I occasionally wonder if he just thinks magic makes things as easy as they often end up being because I do look out for the whole picture. I don’t know whether he has a true appreciation for the pressure it puts on me.

I know it’s not his fault that I’m built the way I am – to look at the whole picture – but he did marry me that way. He, and everyone in the same position he’s in, should appreciate the value that I bring to the marriage because I do operate that way. He should understand why I get frustrated when plans are sprung on me.

I’m not asking him to do things the way I do. Yes, it would be great if he spent more time in front of the sink, hands covered in dish soap. I’d like it if he folded my laundry when taking it off the rack like I often do his. But at the end of the day, I’d be happy with him expressing that he SEES what I do and VALUES it.

Expectation isn’t your friend

Expectation is the root of most disappointment. I expected to be married right out of college. It didn’t happen and for years I was crushed by that. I spent hours and hours trying to figure out what was wrong with me that I wasn’t married yet. And then I met Mr. Lyndsy. Right out of college I wasn’t ready for what I have now. I wasn’t the person I needed to be to get married. I never expected my life to be what it is now, but I cannot express in words how grateful I am that I found Mr. Lyndsy and that our relationship is what it is.

It breaks my heart to see so many people I care about suffer because of expectation. They worry about the progression of their relationships because things aren’t happening as expected. The “right” Christmas gift isn’t gotten. It’s been two, three, or four years and there’s no engagement ring.

We get so focused on what we expect that we forget to look at what we have. All we see is what we don’t have. That perception of lack drives unhappiness and distorts our behavior. The people we care about may not have done anything to hurt us, but we lash out at them anyway.

We’ve created a situation of unhappiness for ourselves. Generally speaking it’s because we aren’t communicating well. So rather than getting an answer to the real problem, we’re stewing in our own shit. We assume the worst because we don’t give the people in our lives a chance to give us answers.

For more than a few people I know, engagement proposals didn’t come soon enough. It seemed like everyone around them was getting engaged, married, or having kids, and they were just chilling with a boyfriend who didn’t seem like he was ever going to do anything to take that next step.

My beautiful friends thought their boyfriends didn’t love them because they hadn’t gotten a ring yet. That was clearly not the case, or their boyfriends wouldn’t have been with them in the first place. All of those boyfriends had every intention of spending the rest of their lives with my friends. The men were just waiting for the right time to propose, some trying to meet their girlfriends’ dream proposals.

Panic set in for some, and their behavior told their boyfriends got a little dramatic. Instead of openly communicating with their boyfriends about their concerns about the future, they kept it bottled up. They were stressed for months for no reason.

If, instead of letting the pressure build, they had just had open conversations, their fears would have been alleviated so much more quickly and they would have been able to enjoy their relationships!*

Expectation is one of the reasons I didn’t love New Year’s Eve or the focus on the change of the year. I used to get so excited for NYE, expecting that the next year was going to bring me so many more wonderful things. Inevitably when the next year came around not much in my life had changed.

I suppose I should have realized that the flip of the calendar page isn’t what brings new and better things into my life. I should have known that it’s only me changing my mindset and working to achieve something different that will bring about the life I want to lead. It took me a long while to learn that the only behavior I can control is my own. I can decide whether I want someone else’s behavior to affect me, but I can’t affect a chance in how they treat me.

Expecting someone to behave a certain way or do a certain thing is a waste of time and energy. It’s not going to change who the person is. It’s not going to change how they behave. All expectation really does is show us what we think we want or what we think society wants for us.

We aren’t in relationships with expectations, we’re in them with people. I don’t want anyone else dropping their expectations on me. The only thing I want people to expect from me is that I will act authentically. That I will be who I am. I believe that’s why Mr. Lyndsy and I work so well. That’s really all he wants from me. It’s all I want from him.

The pressure of other people’s expectations can be overwhelming. I’m pretty sure my mom expected me to do something with my life other than what I’ve always done. For a long time I felt pressured to do and be what she expected. Until I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I was suffocating. I finally just had to be myself. As a result, I became a much happier person. I also got to experience things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve lived in places I never thought I would. Met people who have touched my life and made me a better person.

I try not to expect things from people or situations anymore. They are what they are. If I don’t like what’s going on, I leave. I can’t change them or the situation. I can just take myself out of the equation.

When I find myself having expectations, I work to get to the root of the situation. Usually the real root of the problem is fear. I’m afraid someone doesn’t care about me like I want them to, I’m afraid I won’t get something I feel I need or something I want. Once I realize that fear is the culprit, I can work to address that, rather than getting all bent out of shape at someone who hasn’t actually done anything wrong. My stress level goes down and harmony is restored.

How would losing expectations help you in your life?

*This all made me insane since I was single for so much of this time. I wondered how my friends could be so upset when they had a partner who clearly loved them, and I was sitting in my apartment, talking to my guinea pig!

 

Quit Playin’ Games with My Heart

I’m about a week out from being married for a year. Given that my longest relationship prior to Mr. Lyndsy was 6 months, I’m a little impressed with myself. Of course, Mr. Lyndsy has made this ridiculously easy for me. But that’s almost always been how things went between us. The one hiccup we had was mostly on my end, and I got over it quickly.

I hear stories from friends now about their dating adventures and I’m just horrified. Before I met Mr. Lyndsy I’d gone through a pretty dry dating period. I had a few first dates but no second dates for a long time so I didn’t  need to worry about all the games that get played during the dating game.

I had a friend tell me recently that you can’t respond too quickly to a guy or he’ll lose interest because she’s too eager. Huh? Isn’t the point to express interest?

Another friend had a guy tell her she was too closed off and then he just disappeared for like a week. He popped back up like nothing weird had gone on. He almost couldn’t understand what her problem was. She stood her ground and made him realize his behavior was inappropriate.

Someone else told me that her girlfriend is making up shit to get attention, but has trouble admitting that she wants the attention.

It may have been the crazy distance between me and Mr. Lyndsy or it may just have been the type of people we are, but Mr. Lyndsy and I just let it all go. We were honest with each other about who we are, that we were unwilling to compromise on what we really want in life, and most importantly, we were honest about how we felt about each other. When we started talking about him coming to visit, I told him it would be nice to show my friends an actual human being and not just having to say, “I met this guy who likes me.” He corrected me and said, “A guy who really really likes you.” There was never ANY pretense.

People don’t like being vulnerable. We like feeling like we have the upper hand. We hold back and keep parts of ourselves hidden. What we don’t realize is that doing so won’t stop the pain. People get sick of that type of withholding behavior and they leave. Guessing how someone feels gets old. Trying to make someone happy when the person has no idea what will make them happy is exhausting.

The only real way to live is just to let go and give everything to someone else. Otherwise we’re headed for pain. If we hold back, then our partner never really knows us. That alone is a loss. BUT, if it goes further and we slip up and start letting ourselves leak in, our partner is likely to wonder what the fuck just happened and that will damage the relationship.

Also, if we’re holding back and believing that’s normal, why would our partner/interest do anything different? Somehow when it’s someone else doing it, it’s not okay.

To get love you have to give love. If we want someone to accept us and love us for who we are, we have to be willing to do the same. Sometimes that means that we have to make the first step. If someone responds like an asshole then let them go. They have thus proved themselves undeserving.

Yes, the risk can be great. But with great risk comes great reward. Isn’t finding the love of your life worth that?

 

1

State of the Marital Union

Mr. Lyndsy and I have now been married for six months. SIX MONTHS. That may not sound like a lot to most of you, but I’m pretty sure that’s longer than my longest relationship (pre-Mr. Lyndsy). Unsurprisingly, all is still well in the union.

I don’t think I had any idea what to expect when I got married. We didn’t live together before getting married, and as you all know, we hadn’t even spent more than 10 days together at one time. But, living with Mr. Lyndsy is a lot like living with a male version of me. His dirty clothes end up wherever they end up. He thinks he’s lost clothes until we go exploring and find them in the bathroom, extra bedroom, and our bedroom. Sometimes they’re hiding in a backpack. The dishes pile up because both hate doing them. In fairness, they’re mostly mine since I’m home all day… eating.

On a more important level, I had no idea what to expect being around Mr. Lyndsy ALL. THE. TIME. Would I get bored? Would he drive me crazy? What would we do? The only other time I lived with someone it was so dysfunctional I can’t use it as a basis for anything. Besides, everyone is different.

To answer the above questions: I am not bored. At all. I have no idea what it is about Mr. Lyndsy that keeps me constantly intrigued, but I love it. He and I will spend the rest of our lives getting to know each other. He is so passionate about his job that it rubs off on me. I love hearing about his day, the struggles he encountered, and the successes.

He does not drive me crazy. Well, occasionally. But I know that I make him a little nuts too. It’s not anything ragey. Just the, “Well, if I’d known you didn’t want to have dinner with me I WOULD HAVE EATEN ALREADY FOR I AM VERY HUNGRY.” Then it’s just the HANGRY talking. Or when the dishes pile up and he will wash only the cup he needs to us. (However, see above re: dishes being mostly my creation.) I eat something or just do the damn dishes and all is right with the world again. And, if I ask, he will do the dishes. I just hate to ask since I made the mess, not even cooking for US. Just for me.

As for what we do, it’s pretty simple. We watch TV shows together. We’re currently watching Season 4 of The Mentalist. He’s seen them all, but is watching them with me since I haven’t. We’ve watched NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Hawaii Five-O (the new one), and Arrow. We go to the mall. We go to the movies. We go out to eat together and with friends. More than anything, we’re just BEING. Together.

We moved to a new apartment in a city south of Doha. The old apartment was not great. The toilets regularly didn’t work and the only bathtub had a crack in at the front so you couldn’t stand anywhere near it. Made it challenging to shower. And then there was the mold we discovered when we were moving out. It still gives me the heebee-jeebies to think about it. It ruined the back paneling on the wardrobe and on a bookcase. New apartment is mold-free, in a place where I can go walking, and right next to a small park. I love it.

However, the downside is that Mr. Lyndsy doesn’t come home for lunch anymore and I miss him terribly. I think he’s still amused by how excited I get when he finally gets home at night. (It’s like 7:15pm, y’all. SO LONG.) But I am truly and genuinely excited to see him. Every day.

And I hope it stays like that forever.