Last week, I wrote this post about learning that I've been using relationships as an excuse to avoid other things in my life. That's not the only thing I've learned.
I avoid confrontation. This isn't totally new - but it is new as far as romance. I'm usually a peace-keeper with friends, family, at work, etc. I don't like to argue, and I don't like making people angry. It's not that I'm shy, or afraid to speak my mind. I just pick my battles and...well...it takes a lot to make me angry - or to make me care enough to say anything.
When I was married, there was a running joke that I was "in charge." I wasn't; but I was definitely not afraid to speak my mind. If I was unhappy, or didn't like something, or wanted something specific - he knew.
When I was with Big, I tried to change. I genuinely don't want to be "that woman." I have no desire to be in charge of anyone's life (other than my own, natch). I don't want to be perceived as someone with a lot of requirements - go there, do this, say that, etc. (plus, to be honest, I'm more laid-back now than I was when I was married)
But - it became something more. I was afraid of a confrontation; I was afraid he'd use it as an excuse to end things. So, when he did or said something I didn't like - I held my tongue. If I was unsure of something, I'd try to figure it out myself, rather than just ask. It left me in tears more than once; and it left my closest friends asking me, "Why?"
I have no doubt that Big sent me some confusing signals. But for my part, I had no business relying on them. If I wanted a "grown-up" relationship, well then I needed to deal with things like a grown-up. If I had a question, I should have asked. If I didn't like something, I should have said so - yes, in a nice, polite way...but still.
I didn't fully realize what I'd been doing until I had a conversation with a good friend (my ex). I told him that I tried to curtail my "mouthiness." His observation? My habit of being straight-forward and...well...blunt about my feelings is part of my personality. If I wanted to be nicer about it, fine - but keeping my mouth shut altogether isn't me. According to someone who knows me pretty well - if I didn't feel like I could say what I was thinking to Big, something was definitely wrong.
I think I'm learning that I can't hold my tongue. I can tame it a bit; but the right person for me is someone with whom I'm never afraid to be myself. Mouthiness and all.