What does self-care in a relationship mean? Probably different things for different people, but for me, it means taking the time to
1) assess my needs and 2) take action on that assessment.
When embroiled in the daily tasks of living and being in a relationship, taking the time to figure out my needs is difficult. It usually becomes apparent as a feeling of discontent. Something just doesn’t feel right. I may get moody, quiet, anxious, or distracted.
This ennui is what tells me that I am out of sorts and something needs to be done. But what? If I was living by myself this would not be such a problem. I could be as grouchy as I want with no consequences. But I don’t live alone and my mood does affect my partner.
This goes back to Descartes and his “I think, therefore I am.” He did not say, “I feel, therefore I am.”
This is, I suppose, the first place to start — dealing with my wife. Actually, it’s the second place, highlighting how she can affect me and what I need to do to recover from that.
Sometimes it’ll be a question of changing my mood or feeling bad. Examples would be, “Am I tired? Should I get some sleep?” or, “How do I make someone feel close to me?”
The second place to start is usually where I mess up. I’ll list some of the typical places where this will happen:
· I become quiet, empty, and dull.
· I become irritable, which can manifest as yelling, blaming, or even becoming “suicidally irritable” (as a matter of fact, any emotion that can be triggered by nothing).
· I feel anxious, particularly when I haven’t slept well and may actually be sick. My anxiety might be triggered by a mere prospect of going to sleep without a sleeping mask, which I often fail to do. (I suppose the thought of tucking a face and getting about through the night is so disgusting that I should just take the mask away.)
· I feel like I’m on edge, like a shark waiting for an unsuspecting fish to stumble upon him. (This is related to the first place, just focused on my spouse.)
· I listen for details that remind me of her, like she’s mentioned her morning coffee and her husband’s satisfaction at being home on time.
· I look for her voice, her tone of voice, the ways she said things in her daily correspondence and even her website before she passed away. (This is where I find myself swiping on the memorial cover.)
· I become nostalgic for her. (What a lovely woman.)
· I try to imagine what it was like to be stranded on an unknown island with her.
· I check my local county, city, and state for registered sex offenders. (I couldn’t find hers.)
· I get creative and find old posts on social media from her — things like, “Wanna see what everyone is saying about me?”
(I literally have eyes everywhere.)
I then move on to remembering the people who helped make me who I am today. It’s a form of self-love, self-preservation, and self-preservation. It works on both sides of the cycle.
In the beginning, when the sex tape was rolling, when everything was new and exciting, the sex tape was what drew me in. It was the thing that confirmed my belief that this is who I am. It was the thing that told me that this is what I’m worth and what other people are rightfully worth.
As I grew, the things I was sacrificing to make the relationship work were starting to get harder to sacrifice. The intimacy was lacking, and although I tried to keep up, I just couldn’t keep up, to the point where I was getting a little upset about it. The same was true for my wife.
The compromise was just too much.
Finally, we had put a quarter of the season behind us and were coming up for a four-week visit to Florida to have a break and then try again. We decided to go to the same place we’d lived before and get away for a few days. We were going to break up again.
At that point, I did try to break up with her. I tried hard. I had her phone number, and I called it every day. I sent her frequent, long-sentence emails (anyone who has done that knows it’s easy to feel like you’re going insane but you’re not) and I asked her to try to spend time with the people who had parted ways with her.
I knew it was all wrong, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to do what I felt like doing.