Monday, November 27, 2006

No bother

I've been thinking about taking a break from blogging. Not for any particular reason but just to see how it feels. To give myself a break, not that I'm particularly busy. But, when I've said I'd take a day or two off, I never did. I don't know.

Anyway, I'm not taking a break yet, so I can tell you about my weekend with Owen. It's all about the boyfriend these days. Boring!

Owen, Barry and I planned to see the Bond movie Friday evening. Yes, I'd already seen it, but I knew Owen would like it and it seemed like a fun thing to do--I actually suggested that we go. I found that I was really looking forward to seeing the opening foot chase. It lived up to my expectations and the film was quite watchable a second time. Who knew?

When we talked on Friday, I told Owen that I had to sleep at my house that night. He said ok--an ok that meant he'd stay at my place, which is, indeed, what happened. In line for the movie I said, "Are you coming over? Is that all you have?" He just had the clothes on his back.

He said, "I don't need anything. I'll go home in the morning and change and then we can do something later on Saturday."

"We can?"

"Do you want to do something on Saturday?"

"Maybe..." I used a gentle, teasing tone, but I was thrilled that he was suggesting it and that it was assumed that we'd spend the whole weekend together, with reasonable breaks. This is where I want to be--not worrying, planning in an easy way and being comfortable spending a lot of time together.

"Well, if you don't want to, I can call Bonnie. Maybe she wants to come to DC on Saturday."

All I could say was, "Nice one." Bonnie is a friend of his from work who I think has a small crush on Owen. I told him so last weekend. When I played coy, he pulled her out of his hat. Nice? Rude? Funny? (I thought it was funny.) Mostly, a reminder: there is no need to play coy.

After the movie, on the way back to my place, Frank (remember him?) called and asked Owen to meet him at a bar. Owen declined but suggested they do something on Saturday night. I checked to see if I were included in that plan since I didn't hear Owen mention me to Frank. Owen said, "But we already talked about this! Of course you can come."

"Ok then. Just checking."

When we got back to my place, something was a little off. He made a joke I don't care for (a joke he's made several times, which I've asked him to stop making) and instead of laughing, I got serious and asked him to knock it off. He, in turn, got pissed and said, "So many things bother you! I can't keep track."


"A lot of things bother you, don't you agree?"

"I think a normal amount of things bother me."

Owen said, "I think you have an idea of who I am, but it's not quite me. When I do something that doesn't fit your idea, it bothers you."

What he told me knocked me on my heels. I took a breath and put my head down. I said, "I could say the same thing about you. It's not surprising--we can't know each other that well after such a short acquaintance. I still want to get to know you better."

"That's your first mistake."

I was stunned. We'd spent an easy time together over Thanksgiving and I didn't think there was anything wrong. I did feel some tension when we got home on Friday, but I didn't know what the root was. What Owen said hit me hard. The idea that you have to watch what you say around me is a common trope of complaint amongst my boyfriends. I'm demanding, hard to please, difficult...but I feel as though I've been exceptionally relaxed with Owen, letting many little things go that, in the past, would have bothered me. It was shocking to hear that the two or three times I've asked him to lay off a certain joke had multiplied into a pattern of behavior. Or was I doing it more than I realized? I didn't know.

I said, "If I made you feel that way, I'm sorry. It was not my intention."

Most of his humor amuses me. He cracks me up with his silly ways and childlike approach to the world. I said, "I like your humor and your silliness. Your immaturity. It's why I like you."

He said, "Say it again with more feeling."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You don't sound like you mean it."

"Of course I mean it. I wouldn't say so otherwise."

And then, Owen "left." No, he didn't leave the house, but emotionally, he withdrew. He started to fall asleep on the couch while I was talking to him. I told him to go in to the bedroom and he tucked himself in. I joined him a few minutes later and it was clear that we were not going to continue our conversation. I asked if we could talk again in the morning and he said yes. I said, "Do you think this is worthwhile or too much trouble?"


"You know, us."

He said, "Yes."

"Yes? Yes to what?"

In a sleepy voice, he said, "It was a yes or no question, so I said yes."

I laughed a little. "Are you saying 'yes, it's worthwhile'?"

"Yes! Yes, of course."

"Ok, you go to sleep now. Goodnight."


He fell asleep quickly, but I tossed and turned. Was he right? Was I being too hard on him? Even if he was wrong, it hardly mattered if he felt put upon by me. If either of us is walking on eggshells, watching what we say, trying not to offend, it's a disaster. The only way out of that is to drop all worries and move on, attempting to be kind and respectful--and not to watch what you say. I was particularly frustrated because Owen seemed to think I was annoyed with him all the time. Annoyance is a major issue for me whenever approaching new relationships--sometimes I get annoyed and I can't stop being annoyed--and that's the end. I have been annoyed with Owen a few times, but, amazingly, the feeling passed and I was happy and "un-annoyed" the next time I saw him. This proved to be true yet again, because the next day was a fresh start with no hurt feelings and very little anguish over the fight of the previous evening.

In the morning, I tried to explain why I didn't like the joke he made. He was understanding. He gave me credit for being self-aware--sometimes when I freak out I'll say, "It's nothing, just ignore me" and he will, and then we're fine. I said, "See--you say that, but then you threw all that back in my face last night! I can't be perfectly aware all the time."

"Ok, I understand that."

"And, if I'm doing something--or saying something--that bothers you, you have to tell me. You can't store it up and spring it on me later. You have to meet me halfway."

"You're right, I was thinking about that. I have to do a better job of telling you if there is something that bothers me."

"Good, tell me, because otherwise I won't know. But not in front of other people, ok? No embarrassing me."

"You got it, babe."

I tell him when the teasing goes too far, when the silly jokes are too much--but he's just swallowing everything. That won't do. We give each other a joking hard time and, if anything, he's harder on me than I am on him. Mostly, I can take it, but I tell him when I can't. Maybe there are times when he can't take it, but he won't tell me to back off. He needs to tell me since I can't read his mind.

I wonder how bad it sounds. It was bad in the moment and he pushed my buttons, but I didn't get angry, I didn't overreact. I tried to listen. I told him how I thought we generally communicate well and it's one of the strengths of our relationship. That I've learned a lot from talking to him and it's a big step for me. That I'm hoping we can get through these bumps and that I think it's worthwhile.

I had to ask myself, how bad was our fight? Because, while we've had some minor arguments before, this was the first time we both showed temper. But we weren't angry in the morning, we resolved the issues at hand and we quickly got back to smiling and laughing as usual. And teasing.

Before he went home on Saturday, we planned to meet later to see a movie with some friends of mine. I had some trepidation before meeting him, but when I saw him, we were fine. It occurred to me that what our fight was really about was a bad mood, a little annoyance and some relationship growing pains. We had to stretch a little and we did. We're actually better for it.

Saturday night, after the movie, was an amusing tipsy-fest with Frank. It started as just the three of us but the group grew to eight people by the end of the night. Owen got drunk, but he wasn't crazy, over-the-top drunk like some of the other times we've gone out. On our way home he said, "You know, I've been out with Frank a lot times and it's more fun with you than without you."

I said, "Really, why is that?"

"Well, before, there would always be a moment when I'd look around and have nothing to say and no one to talk to. Now, you're there. And you're not like some other chicks, where I have to take care of you all night. You can talk to other people, then we can compare notes. It's fun."

I smiled. "It is fun. I don't think I've ever been part of a 'good' couple before. It's cool." I added that a lot of guys are needy too (I've dated many!) and can't be left alone for a minute. When I'm out with Owen, we don't have to monitor each other every second, but we know that the other person is there if needed. It's a good feeling.

The weekend ended on a positive note and I'm grateful for that. We've had a number of bumps in this relationship and I don't know what that means. Will the road stay bumpy or will things get better? Easier? My gut says yes. My gut says we're smoothing the path by learning to communicate. I know that I've worked hard to base my expectations on what he can do, not on what he "should" do. I get to choose to be in this relationship, I don't get to choose how Owen behaves. If I don't like it, I can tell him, and maybe we can work things out. But in the end, I have to decide if being with him makes me happy. So far, it does.

It's funny how a relationship turns so much on chance--the chance that you meet in the first place, the chance that you were at a particular party--and Owen sees things like this. But it's not true. Sure, we met at random--and if it weren't for Frank, we never would have gotten together. But I made a choice--an active choice--to be with Owen. I picked him for all the right reasons. I'm finally ready to see something through for the right reasons. I'm not sacrificing myself, I'm not tormenting myself, I'm not secretly hoping he'll change. I'm letting go of a lot and it seemed hard at first but it's getting easier and easier. I'm walking slowly forward with Owen. Most of all, though, I'm having fun.

Grateful for: having fun.

Drop me a line.

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