Sunday, 5 August 2012

What's with the crying??

I’m not talking about the Olympic blubbing, of which there has been much, mine included. I’m talking about women crying. When we do it, how often we do it, when it’s appropriate to do it? I cried when one of my friends got engaged, when my nephews were born, when someone at work behaved like a total dick, when my brother was ill, when Ross and Rachel got together, when Andy Murray lost Wimbledon, when I missed out on the 70% off Mulberry bag in the Net A Porter Sale in 2006. I’m kidding. I got that one.

In my latter years, I’ve liked to think that I’m reasonably self-aware, that during my twenties I’d worked out a little better who I was, what I wanted, and where I could improve – professionally and personally. For example, I’ve worked out that I need deadlines – I can put things off wonderfully, so I enter competitions, I work with other people, I join courses – all these things help me to stay on track. But I’ve felt that I've got to know my insecurities, my weaknesses and strengths.

And then the man came along. It’s one thing knowing your fears when you’re single. Quite another when you’re attached. Because they’re not at all the same thing. When you’re on your own, you are self-sufficient. Sometimes it’s lonely, and sometimes you just want someone to scoop you up and look after you, but often, you quite enjoy being able to spend a hungover Sunday in deeply unflattering jogging pants, with pickled onion Monster Munch and some Minstrels all to yourself, feeling happy you didn’t take the inappropriate 20 something home, or happy that you did, and that he’s now gone.... You work out how to exist on your tod. It takes strength, and that strength manifests itself in walls. Barriers. A protective layer. Built up slowly, carefully, with love and comfort. And it feels really safe. Not satisfying long term. But safe and secure. Homely.
So you think you know yourself pretty well. But being in a relationship is teaching me that there’s loads I don’t know. Because I’m not used to the vulnerability that it brings. Once you let someone in, you are no longer self-sufficient. The benefits of a relationship far exceed any downsides, certainly if they’re the right one for you, and that’s why you forge ahead into unchartered territory. But then what happens, at least in my case, is that you find yourself having conversations you’re not used to having, being in situations you’re not used to working with. And then the tears come.

I’m not talking floodgates. But when we have a conversation about something important, I find myself welling up. Often not because of the subject matter, but just because I find actually having the conversation hard. I’m not used to them. I’m not used to expressing my needs, my fears, my insecurities, to someone I love. I’m used to chatting about them with my friends. But that’s an entirely different ball game isn’t it? To be fair, I can count the important conversations on one hand – we’re nearly 18months in, we’ve lived together for nearly 5months. We’re still in the honeymoon phase. Ish. But bless him, the ones we have had have resulted in me being teary at best, snotty and red eyed at worst.
Amusingly, he is calm and collected. And we often end up laughing at my inability to stop the tear ducts. But he raises the point, that there is surely something else going on. And having initially laughed it off as hormonal, or because it’s a full moon (actually, I think both of those things can impact hugely, but I’ll save my lunar thoughts for another day), or putting it down to past baggage, I had to accept that yes, clearly there was something else going on. I’d say some of it is down to not expressing things immediately as they come up, which hysterically, is something I thought I’d got really good at doing in my single days. But no. So that’s a part of it. I think being in a relationship leaves you completely open to joy and to hurt, and I think the awareness of that vulnerability, makes you more emotional generally. This is just a theory – I’d be interested to hear what people think on that. I guess for those that have always been in relationships, they might think I’m mental, but for the stalwart singles who have recently converted J I’d be fascinated to know if they experience something similar, or if it’s just me.

And those that know me, might be surprised to read this. Primarily because I’m usually laughing, and I’m fairly jolly 95% of the time. Even more so since the arrival of the man and giving up the day job. All in all, life is pretty good. So, perhaps I should be embracing the tears, and hoping that in time, talking about the tricky stuff gets easier. Perhaps in time, my view of what is tricky will change?  I think it will. And I figured, maybe it’s important to share the vulnerability – to talk about it. Maybe we all find this stuff hard and we don’t talk about it enough.... ?

In the interim, it turns out that mascara down the face, isn’t entirely off putting (I think there are porn connotations but I’ve not delved.......), so it’s not all bad ;-)

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