“Well, I very nearly dumped him and told him to go travelling on his own this morning.”
… Is what I tell my literary agent over lunch when she asks how stuff’s going with my boyfriend Joe.
It’s the week before we leave for our 6-month around the world trip, and I’m fraught with anxiety, overwhelm and borderline regret about committing to travelling to foreign shores with him for so long.
Not because I don’t love him, but because I have no idea how this experience is going to challenge or affect us as a couple (not to mention my work life).
Just to top things off, I’ve also contracted some horrible lurgy, and have a really important work commitment the other side of London that requires every last ounce of my strength and energy.
All of these factors together have made me short-tempered, abrasive and “pretty difficult to be around” for those closest to me, as my mum tells me one morning.
It seems to be a fundamental truth universally acknowledged that, in life, challenges don’t turn up one at a time, but all at once:
Our parent gets worryingly sick at the same time as we’re made redundant and find out our partner’s been doing the dirty on us.
We fuck up a work opportunity the day before we’re burgled and are booked to have our wisdom teeth out.
I see this over and over again in my work – women having to deal with a heap of struggles all at the same time, usually when they’re already feeling particularly delicate and vulnerable.
It’s exhausting, and it inevitably leads us to lash out at the people we love the most.
Because, in some (not very nice) way, it allows us to release a bit of the tension we’re feeling.
Which is why I nearly dump my boyfriend Joe – days before we’re due to take the next very big step in our relationship.
Sabotaging the good things in my life has always been a natural tendency of mine – partly because I don’t think I really deserve them, and partly because I fear they’ll somehow be taken from me.
So I try to micro-manage my future pain and disappointment by getting in there first.
When it comes to my relationship with Joe, now that I’m healthy enough not to cheat on him in order to achieve this aim, what usually gets me in trouble nowadays is my tongue.
I say things I know will hurt him and push him away.
Hence why this meeting with my literary agent could not have come at a better time.
“Never say the first thing you want to say,”
… Is what she tells me when I share all of this with her.
“It’s almost always going to have negative consequences.”
What she’s talking about is learning the art of self-restraint when in tense or trying situations.
Do not allow yourself to say a thing to the people you’re close to while you’re emotionally charged.
Wait until you’ve had enough space and distance to really think through how your words could affect them and the dynamic of your relationship.
Because once the words are out, they’re out; you can’t take them back.
And however much you might apologise later on, the damage – unfortunately - may already be done.
As I write this, it’s 7am and I’m sat on a large houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala.
Joe, his cousin Sam and our friend Becky stayed aboard last night, having been recommended this excursion by everyone we know who’s been to this part of the world.
I’ve woken up to the most stunning view of the sun rising up over the still water, as fisherman cast their nets out from their little wooden boats.
All of that anxiety I was feeling in the weeks leading up to our departure melted away as soon as I arrived at Heathrow.
Because, despite how I’d felt (and behaved) in that time, I also think I subconsciously knew that I was ready to take this next step in my life – and our relationship.
It was time.
And so my new intention for this adventure is to practice honouring what we have together by not letting my impulse to lash out get the better of me on the occasions he (inevitably) gets on my tits.
In other words, shut the fuck up…
…Until I’m calm and clear enough to express my emotions maturely and respectfully, rather than using them as weapons against the person I love the most (and have to share a mosquito net with).
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Do you ever struggle to restrain yourself from lashing out at the people you’re closest to?
Which of the insights I shared in today’s post resonated with you the most and why?
Look forward to connecting in the comments :)