As successful lady bosses, we are so good at planning...everything. We take control of stressful situations in our business lives with the grace of Duchess Kate and the ferocity of a honey badger ( I actually just had a funny vision of a honey badger with a tiara..funny and adorable...anyway...). And our lives tend to be full of activities and events and eating and meeting because that is how we plan them to be. By 10 am Tuesday, I am already confirming my weekend plans and looking at my calendar for next week to see if I can squeeze in a trim on the old bangs at the salon. (I can't. Shocking!)
Like many of us modern mamas, I deal with anxiety. I do. I never liked to admit it, but I do. Lucky for me, my anxiety is not usually debilitating, it just keeps me up at 3 am as I second-guess the conversation I had the day before with an adversary and also wonder if chickens have knees (Spoiler alert: they do.). Unlike many who struggle with disorders like anxiety, rather than being caught in the trap of inaction and indecision, I act and decide. Because what I worry most about is "how does this go and how does this end?"
Rather than focusing on "what is," I am overthinking about "what could be."
Overthinking may be the root of a lot of the confusion, frustration and gut-wrenching heartache that a lot of us experience in a relationship when it hits that tipping point - is this a forever thing? Or is it just a for now thing?
Commitment can be scary. When you have a person in your life with whom your soul connects on a deep level, with whom you share interests and goals, with whom you feel your most authentic, at home and at peace, often a future becomes that frightening but exciting possibility. However, it becomes a will 'o the wisps that can dissipate into the air when we start to overthink. What if I hurt him? What if I give everything and end up with nothing...again?
More terrifying to me than venomous snakes, F5 tornadoes, nuclear holocaust and even loneliness (avoiding that is probably at the root of many of my impulsive decisions) is regret. Overthinking for me, and maybe a lot of people almost always leads to regret. I've missed opportunities in life and love because I thought too hard about all the reasons something was wrong and couldn't work, rather than all the reasons it could and would be the best thing for me. For all of my anxiety-ridden, negative "what if it doesn't work out?" questions, there is always a more pressing one: "what if it does and it's amazing?"
I love fiercely. That's the best way to describe how I love. I'm a passionate person about the things that matter and love really matters in my life. I don't ever expect anyone else to match my intensity - no one ever has (who didn't turn out to be a complete psychopath in the end...begs the question about me, huh? Yoda has confirmed, I'm not a psychopath, so we're good folks. No worries. I'm a lot of other things, just not a psychopath. Phew!)
Matched passion and intensity is not exactly a deal maker or deal breaker. Obviously affection and some passion (ear muffs, moms) is a necessary requirement, but I'm most certainly not looking for over the top public expressions of love. (That's the stuff a lot of psychopaths do...just sayin', Tom Cruise...)
Everyone loves in a different way and expresses that love differently. I say "I love you" a lot. Probably too much, but I never want anyone to doubt or wonder. And I do things, for people, maybe too many things to try to show how much I care. I "over-do" and "over-give." Another good way to describe how I love is louder, perhaps. It's not more or less than someone else, necessarily, I just wear my heart on my sleeve and express my feelings more readily in what I say and do.
How you love someone isn't a contest about who does it more or better. It's being a partner - a true friend, a cheerleader, a counselor, a playmate all wrapped into one super taco. It's more than just initial attraction - falling for someone is an amazing thing, but it's a fleeting feeling.
What sustains a relationship is acceptance of all the weirdness that surfaces after the initial fireworks, butterflies and wooing, when maybe we don't always have our best face forward, when real life begins to bubble into the fantasy of kissing and hand holding under a clear, star filled sky (maybe that's just one of my fantasies).
Overthinking love allows not only the" inside our head demons" of insecurity to infiltrate the relationship, but also those outside forces I call the "saboteurs," those so called friends who offer advice because "I just want to see you happy." They say things like, "I can't believe he did that, you deserve so much better." Being mistreated by someone is no joke, most of the time the implication is "you deserve what I can give you - dump the chump." But they don't ever come out and say that. Or they tell you, "come on, don't you see how much fun we're having going out and meeting people. That's what you need. Forget him! He's not worth it."
When we overthink, we let those saboteurs, climb into our brains, and suddenly what they say makes a whole lot of sense. They justify our insecurities - "you think so too?" But we become the true relationship saboteurs - eventually we can ruin a really great thing if we are always questioning it and second guessing. We create issues and problems that aren't even there by overthinking - it's a special form of fear. Shockingly, so many other people are happy to see a relationship fail, which I find disgusting. Not because they want to be with us themselves or even can, just because misery loves company.
How you love or what makes you love is completely personal. Certainly, we can't make another person have feelings they don't have (that damn Bonnie Raitt song is right, by the way). But when we second guess ourselves because we overthink - maybe I love him? is this really what love is? I don't think this is love...? - we miss out on tremendous possibilities. What messes us up most in life and creates this second-guessing is the picture in our head of how we think it's all supposed to be rather than just rejoicing in "what is" and what we have.
Closing out the constant thoughts of "what if this is wrong for me?" and exchanging them with thoughts of "there are so many reasons this is right for me" has helped me not just in relationships but even in making professional/career decisions. Sure there are always cons to most everything we do, but by starting with the pros, the negative stuff really isn't so bad. There will always be a downside, but focusing on only that eliminates any possibility of seeing what may be an amazing up-side. Opportunities missed, love lost.
Ultimately, we have to get out of our own heads and out of our own way to understand what we want and need. There's clarity there. It has taken me a long time to get there, and there is still some gray clouding my vision. Letting go of the "what if this is bad?" and taking a chance on something being good hasn't always worked out in my favor, especially when I'm willing to take a chance and the other person isn't. That has been everything from just disappointing to earth shattering and life-altering.
Regardless of the ups and downs that exist in every relationship and even the starts and stops, how I love isn't going to change. But I am working on staying in the moment with "what is."