Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A peaceful present

So, it's been a while... I'm sorry about the absence. Between a promotion at work (Go me!), holidays, Toyfriend, family, volunteer stuff - time just got away. Before I knew it, we were turning the page on 2015. Happy New Year!

When we last chatted, I was dealing with some anxiety. I'd actually gotten a pretty good handle on it by the end of the year. I started journaling again, and spent a lot of time working on dealing with the present, rather than worrying about what might happen in the future. I also started coloring - I highly recommend that as a stress-reducing hobby that has the benefit of being fun and portable.

But that's the trouble with anxiety - it's irrational, unpredictable, and comes and goes as it pleases. This was a huge problem for me before I knew what anxiety was, how it behaves, and its effect on me. Part of learning to manage my worries is learning their causes, how to identify if they are really as bad as they seem or if they are being exaggerated by my anxiety, and most importantly, what calms them down.

Recently, I've noticed a little worry creeping back in. At first I couldn't figure out what my problem was. It started as an innocent conversation about something going on with someone in Toyfriend's family. It had nothing to do with me, him, or us. Zero. But somehow, it morphed into a conversation about our relationship, where it's headed (Spoiler Alert: Nowhere fast.), and what we both want.

Let me be clear: Toyfriend and I are on the same page. We're both happy with the way things are and in no rush to change anything. It's super-important for me to say that because I was losing site of it fast, and I need the reminder.

While we were talking, Toyfriend said he has "no interest" in taking the next step. Given that we are together 5-6 nights a week and most of the weekend, have keys to each other's homes, keep toiletries and clothes at each, have met family and friends, and are planning a big vacation, we agreed the "next step" would be living together.

The truth is, I'm not interested in moving in together any time soon, either... but I would like to know that the option might be available in the future. Toyfriend's "no interest" sounded like a formal declaration that he will never want more than what we have right now. Even though I'm happy in this moment, thinking the door had just been slammed on anything more scared the hell out of me.

Is this a dead end? Does he want an exit strategy? Does he love me as much as I love him? Am I settling? Am I giving up too much? These thoughts started swirling through my head fast and furious - and it was overwhelming.

When I came up for air, we talked a little more. Toyfriend isn't slamming the door - but he is also not ready to open it just yet. He can't say for sure if he ever will be. He did say he "can't see us being in this place forever."

When I thought about it, I remembered that I need to focus on the present. We're both happy, on the same page, and able to talk things through. Toyfriend doesn't shut me out, nor does he shut me down. He listens to my worries, no matter how irrational they may seem. He never judges me or minimizes my feelings.

I also remembered that this is what it means to focus on the present and not the future. Neither of us can predict what will happen, nor should we rush into something before the time is right for us both.

I can't guarantee that I will never feel like I need that next step... and I can't guarantee that I will. Toyfriend is the same boat. He may never want to take the next step - or maybe he will.

I can't force it or try to change him. I can't rush into something just to "lock him in." It would be foolish to judge the relationship based on something that may or may not happen, when it's something neither of us even wants right now.

All I can do is check in with myself, focus on what I want in the present, and make sure my needs are met. I can check in with him and make sure we're on the same page. Mostly, I can enjoy the happy, healthy, honest relationship I'm in - and be grateful for every day I get to be this happy.

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