Friday, March 25, 2011

The Defense Rests

A few nights ago my boyfriend and I found ourselves in a familiar conversation. Back between a rock and a hard place. 

To say it very mildly, I am a planner (for synonyms please see: control freak, neurotic, compulsive). I like to need to know what the future holds, even when some things, like my boyfriend's release date, are simply not known. This familiar conversation we find ourselves in usually consists of me asking, "Well when do you think you'll be done...", "If you had to guess, what would the date be...", "What does it realistically look like..", "Do you think you'll be here for the summer?"  And on, and on and on. But despite how patiently and calmly he forecasts his best guesses, I always get frustrated. Because as much as he tries to give me some sort of ballpark, its never right. Its unknown. It could be tomorrow, it could be December.

While we were talking about possible scenarios for the upcoming summer, I found myself trying with every muscle in my body to not have this same conversation again. I knew the answer. The answer was no answer. But, I had to. As we talked more and more about what lies ahead (eventually), we both couldn't believe that life has been this way for nearly a year and a half. Although its been aggravating at times, this has always been our life. Our normal.

As I have shared with all of you (numerous times), our predicament is very challenging at times. But as our relationship inches closer and closer to looking completely different, I think about how much has changed. How much I have changed. How much this relationship has changed me.

When I entered this relationship, given the circumstances, I felt very self conscious. I knew people were going to think our relationship was odd, talk about it, not believe we could make it. We'd spent a very short period of time together before heading separate ways and essentially kept our fingers crossed and hoped for the the best. I began to expect the looks, you know the ones I'm talking about. The looks you get when you tell someone your boyfriend of X months lives 3,000 miles away. The "do I have two heads or something?" look. 

To be fair, our relationship didn't fit my perception of "normal" (I cringe even writing that). I'd been surrounded by girls as early as high school in long term relationships. Years of experience in the trials and tribulations of being boyfriend and girlfriend. They were my examples of what normal couples looked like. And why not? They were happy. You saw your boyfriend this many times a week, you solved problems this way, you interacted this way, and the product was a "normal" relationship. Being less experienced in the relationship department, I believed this to be true. So when my new relationship didn't fit the mold, I grew nervous. I was unconsciously always defending my relationship.

"Yes he lives far away but we Skype all the time..."
"Yes its a weird way to start a relationship, but we're just working backwards.."
"Its a learning experience..."
"Sure we only see each other every two months, but when I'm there we're together all the time.."

Wait a minute, who was I convincing? Them or me?

Now I know so much better. One of the most intangible benefits of being in this relationship is the sense of confidence and empowerment its given me. I've created my own rules, boundaries and guidelines that are unique to my relationship. I've learned that relationships are not one size fits all. I'm doing something that someone else may never be able to do. There is no "normal." Man I hate that word... normal. I've learned that normal is just a setting on a dishwasher.  

I am now so confident in my relationship, in my partner, that I'm done defending it. To be honest, I'm too busy enjoying it. It is what it is, and while not ideal, it just works. It feels good to say. 

So finally, the defense rests.

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