In my younger years, I was one of those driven Type A people. I would over-commit, over-do, over-achieve and I really somehow felt like I had to prove myself to the world. Fast foward 30+ years and things have changed. I no longer feel the need to work so hard to prove anything to anyone…not even to myself. I can sleep in on the weekends. I can go home after work and not take work home, much. (I used to spend a full eight to ten hours on a weekend working.) I love a clean house, but I’m not about to slave over cleaning the grout in the shower every three days. I can let stuff go. I am the furthest thing from driven imaginable. What happened? When did it happen and why the change from then to now?
The first thing that happened was my first marriage. I am, by nature, not exactly the most efficient person in the world. I am a creative sort, and when I work I like to have all my tools at my work space. Crafty things can take up a lot of space. I’m very particular about cleaning things up, however. In the early days, I was also a bit of a hoarder. I couldn’t have one set of brilliant markers or stamps or scrap-booking papers. I had to have the newest, latest, bestest ones. This kind of crap can really clutter a home and fill a garage. To make matters worse, I was married to a man who was the epitome of slob. He’d walk in the door and drop stuff right there. He would do this all over the house. To make matters even more difficult to manage, we started having children, one, then two then three. Each child had their own junk. Before I knew it, my desire for a tidy home was at war with the clutter and crap all over the place.
I learned that clutter creates stress. I didn’t need any more stress in life than I already had with three young children and a very unhappy marriage. I sought to remove the stress and the clutter from my life.
The next thing that happened occurred on the professional front. I learned the very important lesson early on: don’t place all your eggs in the career basket. No matter how great you are, how irreplaceable you are, how amazing your work, the day’s going to come when you are ultimately disposable and unnecessary…for whatever reason. What then? All your time and energy has gone for what?
The final thing that happened, which took most of the last 30 years, some really good marriage counseling, and a slew of self-help books, was the realization that I really didn’t have anything to prove and I didn’t really care to spend the energy any more trying to prove whatever it was I was trying to prove in the first place. I didn’t need to be rich, or at the top of the company ladder, or the first, best and fastest at anything. I was not my achievement. Sure, the achievement gave me some bragging rights…for a little while. Who cares?
What really, really mattered, I discovered, was how I felt about myself and my life. It really didn’t matter what others thought of me. In the end, I’m the one that wakes up with myself every day forever. Once I learned to be okay with me, everything else in life fell in line. I was able to figure out my own interests instead of spinning my wheels doing whatever everyone and anyone else thought was important for me to be and do. Of course, this knowledge all came with the price of two failed marriages. I wish I would have figured it all out much, much earlier.
These days, instead of being driven to perform and achieve, instead of worrying about what everyone thinks of me and how I look, and so on, I am able to relax and experience life. I wasted a lot of years worrying too much about whether or not I was successful. I spent way too much energy concerning myself with how I looked or what others thought of me. I simply no longer care…at least…not like I used to.
These days, while the money is very tight and things are not perfect by any means, I am much happier. I would still appreciate having a lot more money, but the problem is that I am no longer motivated to work myself to death to get more money. I’m not willing to endure undue amounts of stress, tension, time away from my family and home to get more money. Because, when I’m gone, my money might help, but it won’t provide the comfort my presence does. So…we make do.
I’m okay with that.
Have you ever had that conversation in a relationship where it dawns on you that you shouldn’t be having this conversation? It suddenly breaks into your awareness that the fact that this particular conversation is occurring is the huge red flag signaling that something is way not right?
Guys are pretty easy to figure out, if women would only shut up and listen. When we do they not only say what they think, they do it. Or, as in my situation, they don’t do anything relationally significant except clutter the landscape.
The other day, the guy I’m living with, said…regarding us and marriage, “I’m just hesitant…”. Of course he then lists reasons why he is hesitant to move our relationship forward. To me, the reasons are irrelevant. He told me all I need to know. He is hesitant. Okay. That’s fine.
But it isn’t fine.
We’ve been together well over a year. He’s had time to see things as they really are. He’s living with me. But he’s hesitant.
Tonight I told him, he’s taking up space in my life. I told him he needs to move out. I told him that if he’s hesitant then he has no business living in my house, eating my food, taking advantage of me and cluttering the landscape. He needs to get out and quit taking up space in my life.
I just really do not have time for this and I hate clutter. That, unfortunately, is what he has become.