The Beginning Stage:
Things seemed great at first. We were introduced to one another through a mutual friend, sparks flew (sort of), and we began what was a beautifully tumultuous three year relationship. We thanked each other in the end, but boy was the ride bumpy.
We started out long distance. I drove from Pasadena, CA to Phoenix, AZ where she lived, a drive that was usually around 5 1/2-6 hours in length. I didn’t mind the drive. As a matter of fact, I looked forward to the drive most of the time. The stretch from Pasadena out through the Coachella Valley in the San Jacinto Mountain Range was beautiful. I’m very introverted, so being to myself on the road with some music playing is therapy to me. I did this drive for about eight months before finally caving and transferring to Arizona State University to be closer to her. During the long distance era of our relationship, however, was ironically when the best times between the two of us occurred.
I’d usually leave my apartment in Pasadena at around 6-7 pm Thursday night after school/gym and arrive at her apartment in Phoenix at around 11-midnight. She would open the door, with open arms at the same time, kiss and hug one another, then get a little wild in the sack before going back to bed at around 2 am. She would then wake up for work at 6 am, head out the door at 7:30, and I had the house to myself. My weekends started Friday mornings. I was going to school off of the G.I. Bill and the housing allowance alone allowed me to coast without a job my first two years in school. All I did was wake up, go to class, go to the gym, sleep, and go see my girlfriend every other weekend. This was the life for me. I had my “me” time for a good 10-11 days, then got to spend time with the woman whom I loved and cared about. What was there to complain about?
Of the two nights we had together, either Friday or Saturday night, one of those nights was usually spent inside with us cuddled up watching one of our shows. These were my kind of nights. The combination of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy began at 6 pm, and we would interact with both each other and the game show as we enjoyed each other’s company on the couch. The other night usually involved her family. They were either over, or we were invited to one of there events. She was Mexican, and very traditional, and she took pride in her family. She also had a fairly big family. Both direct and extended. They were closely knit due to their childhood experiences, and oftentimes ordinary days and events that are normally spent alone or with a select few, they would almost always celebrate together. It was usually fun spending time with the in-laws (before the problems began of course), as they were pretty lively, and emphasized drinking. The ex and I usually got along the most when we were with them too. This was an early revelation for me.
When we weren’t having hitting the sheets heavy, the nights we had together were often spent arguing. A lot. Prior to this relationship, I’d never really been with someone I had passionate arguments with, so the arguments were very new to me, and I accepted them as part of us growing together. But it was a combination of what we were arguing about mixed with the fact that I am a naturally non-confrontational person that really raised the red flags for me. We would argue about not turning down the TV because I didn’t hear her the first time, leaving clothes in the bathroom, what way I should be driving, getting on Facebook in general, how the kitchen was done, or even political views we for the most part agreed on. We argued about everything. We would try and tell ourselves that we would grow to get used to it. It never got any better.
Trouble In Paradise: The Warning Signs it’s Time to Re-Evaluate your Relationship
The arguments were non-stop. It would be about the same things. It would be about new things. We just could not, for the love of all things right, agree with one another. It didn’t help that both of us are very stubborn and like to get the last word. The real warning signs, however, came with our daily interactions. When we finally moved in together a few months shy of our one year anniversary, things started to go downhill in my life in almost every aspect and area of it. Her and I of course continued our arguments, the majority of them becoming fierce shouting matches. My focus in my classes after my transfer to Arizona State slipped, and my grades suffered as a result. Although my G.I. Bill more than covered the rent for our apartment as well as my bills, she was not satisfied with me not working, and suggested I start working. I of course did, and although this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I needed civilian experience after getting out of the Air Force, it definitely contributed to my poor showing in my classes, and added an unnecessary stressor. The more time I spent time with her, the less I felt like myself. I wasn’t cracking the jokes I used to crack. I was more hesitant in speech, mostly in fear that I would offend her and start an argument. I wasn’t seeing the same friends I was used to seeing. I couldn’t play video games. I couldn’t get the body physique I desired because it wasn’t ok for me to spend too much time in the gym. If I had my phone out while we were together, to her it meant I wasn’t spending time with her. I was limited on Facebook and Instagram coincidentally, also mixed with the fact that she didn’t agree with being on social media too much either. This lead to past friendships growing more distant, and I lost tabs with a few close friends. I wasn’t listening to music the way I used to listen to music. This was big for me. Music is a huge part of my soul and who I am as a person. It speaks to me. And yet this relationship robbed me of it. She would never be entertained by a night in together, with her watching one of her shows while I listen to my music. We had to do almost everything together. This was one of the primary young couple mistakes that we made, and as a result, I’d lost a lot of who I was. The most confusing part of it all was that this was my first true real relationship, so I thought this was a normal process. Losing yourself is by no means a normal process. I felt like a captive of both myself and the relationship.
Make the Right Call. Your Happiness and Well-Being Depend On It.
As time went by, she seemed to become more demanding, and I seemed to become more submissive. I eventually stepped out of my comfort zone, began standing my ground on some decisions, and even began incorporating a little bit of the “old me” into the relationship. I realized that a part of the reason I lost myself is not because of her, but because I chose to stop being myself. I stopped filtering myself and started saying what came to mind, and I bought some weights to have at home in order to avoid too much time at L.A. Fitness. Things were ok for a little bit. She seemed to laugh a little more, although our sense of humors, both culturally and in general, were quite different. Nothing, however, could seem to mask the night and day differences between her and I. She had more of an extroverted personality along with her brother. She could dish jokes and facts, but she did not take them as easily, especially if she deemed them offensive to her family or culture. She grew up in a non-nurturing environment. Her and her brothers and sisters turned to each other and themselves for survival when their parents failed. She had a very quick-paced, survival-mode way of living. She expected something to get done the quickest and most cost efficient way. She believed a man had to shoulder those loads, and he had to realize that fast and cost efficient is the only way. She needed a man with all the answers. She didn’t want a man who expressed too much emotion. She didn’t view life with a learn-as-you-go mentality. She viewed it with a survival-mode mentality.
I am the polar opposite. I come from a nurturing single mother with one other sibling. My mother was also in the Army for twenty-two years, so I grew up as a military brat, uprooting and traveling all over the place. I never had to be in survival mode. I got the time to relax and develop the easy-going personality I have today. I am very slow in my nature. I walk slowly. I like to think about actions before I do them. I believe in leisure time and activity. I enjoy being at home all day either with NFL Network on, ESPN, Friends, or Everybody Loves Raymond on in the background, with a stout Crown N’ Coke in hand or some music on in the background. I enjoy finding new shows and documentaries to binge watch on Netflix. I enjoy the many interactions I have on all of my social media sites. I enjoy the funny memes, videos and articles I find on there and sharing them. I enjoy the fact that I’m not a finished product, and that I look forward to having someone by my side on my journey to becoming the best version of me there is.
We’re two amazing people, who grew up differently, in different environments, with different values, and have a different outlook on life. We learned that we were the polar opposite of what we want and need in a partner. It was time to move on. For the sake of our own individual growth. We mutually reached this peaceful conclusion together after finally deciding, after three years, to sit down and talk about what we individually viewed as the “perfect life.” We both agreed that we wouldn’t take those three years back for the world. I know I wouldn’t. Without each and every day in that three year and four month span that I was with her, I wouldn’t know half the things I know about myself now, and what I truly want and need from my ideal partner in life. In those three years, I found out the things that really matter to me, and the things that aren’t really a big deal to me. I found out that the most important thing I can do is be the best version of me that I can be, embrace my passions and hobbies, and to keep my close family and friends even closer. I am now with someone else, and although fairly new, she allows me to be me in every aspect of my life, and she loves me for it. Without those three years, I’d have never fully understood the importance of remaining true to myself. Remaining true to yourself invites the right souls into your life.
© 2017 Anthony J. Richard All Rights Reserved