Sunday, November 13, 2011

Real maturity shows up in relationships.

...I feel very immature.

I finished up reading Lisa Wingate's A Month of Summer after four days spent with my boyfriend's friends.  The occasion was his best friend's wedding in Baltimore - an amazing trip that included touring D.C., eating at Georgetown Cupcakes and Ben's Chili Bowl, and of course, the rehearsal dinner and wedding festivities.  It was the type of trip where you forget your worries and stress and just enjoy the moment amongst friends and family...but not for me.

I was feeling very insecure among Mr. P's friends - the bride and groom both have these amazing jobs and just purchased a half-million dollar home, his friends we flew with and shared a rental car with, also two of his very close friends, married last year, have purchased a nice home, and both have jobs that utilize their college degrees, and then there was me - broken, still searching for my dream job, thirty pounds overweight, and very far from marriage and my own home.  I felt very out of place.

The first night in Baltimore we stayed with the bride and groom to be.  Everyone knew each other from college and were having a great time joking around, sharing stories, and just enjoying each other's company.  I freaked.  I isolated myself from the group by saying I was tired and wanted to shower before bed.  Mr. P came into the bathroom to talk to me, and I broke down.  I started crying and telling him I wish I hadn't of come and that these are his best friends and I don't fit in... I was in a house full of people but I felt so alone.  I showered, cried some more, then went to bed not wanting morning to come.

The next few days were a fluctuation of moods - I was feeling okay, enjoying myself, and the next second someone said or did something and I started feeling out of place again.  Then I felt guilty for not having a good time and began worrying that Mr. P was upset with me because I was being moody and not just enjoying the trip.  My inner critic would not shut up the entire trip - my mind was a constant rambling of "I'm not good enough", "Why would these people like me anyways?", "I just need to be alone until I get my shit together"... really negative thoughts that brought me down even more.  Yes, I had moments of awe and enjoyment, but I mostly felt alone, angry and frustrated, jealous, and like a burden to those on the trip.

For the rehearsal dinner, I made a conscious effort to open up and befriend everyone, but again, I had an inner dialogue playing - "It's too late", "They already have their opinions about me", "I am meant to be single and alone"...  I also had lots of wine.  After about my third glass, Mr. P asked why I was drinking so much and so fast, so I slowed down, focused on the seafood and dessert, but in my head I was really wanting another glass of wine.  The rest of the night and the day of the wedding was okay, but I wasn't feeling excited about the wedding - I was very anxious about the whole thing.

When I got to the wedding, I was taking everything in - the friends and family who came from across the U.S. to attend this wedding, the decorations and seating arrangements that were so carefully thought out.  The pastor spoke about two lives merging as one, and how everyone in the room serves as support and encouragement for the couple's marriage...notions of love and family and community.  I started thinking, "This is what life is about.  It's not about being alone for fear of not measuring up, it's about celebrating with others."  These were wonderful thoughts, but they didn't last long.  Toward the end of the night, after too much alcohol and watching two busty women in slinky dresses give my boyfriend a shot of liquor, my insecurities and fears began screaming through and any progress or positive realizations I had flew out the window.  The night ended with me in tears back at the hotel room - feeling I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, or normal enough for my boyfriend and his group of friends. 

On the drive from the airport back to the apartment, we talked about the trip and the emotional rollercoaster I had been on and was still on, and I was able to rationally put into words why I acted the way I did.  My boyfriend and I talked about what sets me off and why, and how a lot of the times I'm already in "that place" before I realize it.  He offered up solutions to help me pull myself out of the anxiety and fear and anger that I begin experiencing and projecting after an insignificant statement or action is made.  This isn't the first time we've had a talk similar to this, and this isn't the first time my boyfriend has extended his hand to help me overcome the many issues I am working through.  Even though the trip, for me, was a whirlwind of emotion ending with guilt and regret, I was able to process through what I had been feeling and thinking and came up with a couple of ways to prevent myself from experiencing a full-out freak out moment in the future. 

Real maturity shows up in relationships - a quote from The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren.  I was reminded of this fact yesterday and today as the words played over and over in my mind alongside remembrances of my negative thoughts and actions, not just while on the trip, but throughout the years as well.  I cannot heal alone.  It is when I am amongst others that I can see inside of my soul, see the empty places that need love and community and support.

As I finished the last chapter in A Month of Summer while laying in bed last night, I felt a sense of clarity as I came across the following passages that so perfectly fit what I was experiencing, thinking, and feeling.

I shot back, even though the arguments about Macey had played out between us a dozen times before.  It was easier to stay in familiar territory instead of opening up something new.  (pg. 350)

"This has nothing to do with my mother," I countered, but deep inside, I knew it did.  There was a part of me that always heard her voice, that was always defensive, careful to maintain my independence.  (pg. 353)

Haven't we been working up to this point for years?  Our whole lives have been a holding pattern, waiting for history to repeat itself.  (pg. 353)

Trust.  Such a simple word.  Such a hard thing to accomplish after a lifetime of self-defense.  Was Kyle right?  Had I spent our years casting him in my father's role and myself in my mother's?  
(pg. 354) 

Were her choices acts of misguided love, or of selfishness?  I would never know for sure.  There was no one to ask.  There was nothing to do but go on from here, to stop listening to her voice and listen to my own.  (pg. 354-355)

How had they come back together, all those years ago?  Who had been the first to believe, to bridge the gap between them, to open up and become vulnerable?  How many years would they have missed if they hadn't mustered the courage to turn away from the past and step into the present?  (pg. 355)

I will begin Wingate's The Summer Kitchen later this afternoon, opening myself up to a new reading journey filled with inspiration, reflection, and clarity.  I am inspired to open myself up to another journey, to a new search to find others with whom I can share these reflections and clarity.  After all, real maturity shows up in relationships, and it's time I mature.

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