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It’s the little things

We all have those small memories of odd things along the way in our relationships, the bells no matter how small, that should have alerted us to the idea that he or she is not “the one” but we chose to ignore them. I’m not talking about the regular, run of the mill, glaring red flag. No, these are those little, seemingly innocuous, incidents or habits that we skimmed over so as not to make a big deal about it.

Nobody wants to be that “high maintenance” demanding partner, do they?

Skimming over my memories of our first days, even years, together to see if there were any bells that I should have stopped and thought about recently. Any? How about any more than ten? Or one hundred?

It’s the little things.

Really, in the end, that’s all that makes the real difference in determining whether or not you will whether the storm as a couple for the long term. Those little things that show thoughtfulness, care, kindness.

Does he know your favorite flavor of ice cream, your favorite flower, how you take your coffee? Or if you even drink coffee?

Does she fold your laundry the way your mom used to, because you took the time to show her once, and she knows you like your underwear and t-shirts folded into thirds even if she is an “in-half” folder?

If he forgets to get the taco sauce for your favorite tacos while on a food run does he go back to the fast food restaurant to get it without argument, knowing that his food will get cold, just because he knows the tacos won’t taste the same to you without it?

Does she bake your favorite childhood cake on your birthday every year, from scratch, complete with whipped cream frosting? And make your favorite dinner for the occasion?

Does she make sure that your favorite beer/pop/ice cream/chips are always stocked in the house – and guarded/hidden from your children?

Does he make sure that all of the doors in the house are closed, including the bathrooms and closets, because you need it that way to sleep peacefully? (yes, it’s a bit OCD, but it’s still a thing)

These, my friend, are the “little things”. On the surface they seem somewhat unimportant, almost high maintenance, things to expect of someone. But don’t they make you feel good?

Aren’t these the things that make you feel special, heard, seen? Make you feel loved?

These are the things that start to go missing, some of them almost from the beginning, in our relationships. Little things that we sometimes dismiss as not important as time ticks by, but they are so important. They are the things that don’t involve or need much time, just a little thought and care, but they can make the biggest difference in a relationship over time. They keep you connected.

These are the “little things” that didn’t happen, that added up over time, that chip away at trust and love.

They may seem small on the surface, but they add up to a very big thing in the end that make you feel special…make you feel seen, heard.

Loved.

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Nobody died.

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I have realized that I am in the midst of a new trend in my life. The “firsts”.

My first Valentine’s Day, my first Mother’s Day, soon to be my first prom weekend (but then again, it was that way last year in reality) and further down the road my first Thanksgiving and my first Christmas. It’s like living after losing a loved one, as if someone has died. Which, I suppose, is true in a sense.

It occurred to me what people/professionals mean when they compare a divorce to a death on the scale of experience and stress. It is very similar in so many ways, I agree. And yet, I wonder if it isn’t just a bit more complicated. There are supposedly “five stages of grief”, but maybe there are more for divorce. Maybe certain stages need to be repeated, almost endlessly like a scratched record, before you get to the good stuff.

I want it to be that simple, linear experience.

I feel bad today, I will feel worse tomorrow, and maybe even worse than worse the day after, but about a week (or month, or year) from now it I will miraculously feel better because I’ve accomplished my list of “to do’s when you get divorced”. A checklist of sorts that will make a person feel accomplished and lighter when all of the items have been checked off. Is there a checklist somewhere that I just don’t know about?

I need to know what “the plan” is, you know?

That’s how I do things, I plan. I make lists. I like to check off items on my lists, too. I assess, react and plan, for the most part. Of course, I also follow my gut and my heart along the way, but tempered with “common sense”. I’m not a complete freak, for goodness sakes!

But this whole divorce road is dark and foggy. There are some days that I feel ready to move on and tackle my new life, the sun comes out and I jump out of bed, with new focus and positivity. Then other days I could just as easily stay in my pajamas, not shower and eat cookies and chips while I watch TV all day. Sometimes I can string a few of each day together, so by the end of the week it looks as if I’ve been away on vacation and home sick, all at the same time.

I realize that “every divorce is different” so there is no real paved road to follow. But are we all going through the same emotional rollercoaster, or is it just me? I feel as if there are some people that just deal with it and barely miss a step in their normal lives during this tedium of details and highs and lows – my soon to be ex, for example. But I’m sure that other people are more like me, going about their business thinking that they have cleared the “bad stage” and are on their merry way to the “good stuff” only to be blindsided by anxiety while they replay that entire last argument in their head at 2am.

Grief has many stages, and plays out differently for everyone, I get it. But let’s not compare it to dealing with a death anymore, okay? That other person who ripped your heart out? Yeah, they’re still alive, inserting themselves into your life at different intervals of time and for a plethora of reasons, especially if you share children.

They are out, and living the life that they wanted to…just not with you.