A year ago today I was at my hometown fair thinking of a boy who was playing poker in Vegas.

I never would have imagined at the time that in exactly a year I would be picking that same boy up from the airport on his way home from that same poker tournament in Vegas.

Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I got.

Tonight I am going to J’s parent’s house for dinner. J is out of town. Soooo…in case you didn’t put two and two together…I will be spending significant time tonight with just his parents…just the three of us…whoa. I’m a little nervous. No idea what we’re going to talk about without J there.

It’s actually pretty sweet. I have to go over there to pick up J’s dog since he’s out of town. They were watching the pup while our out of town days overlapped. I really had very little doubt that they would offer to cook dinner for me. They’ve treated me so well since they met me about 8 months ago. They love me. No doubt in my mind. It’s cute how excited they are to cook me a meal that J would never eat…shrimp.

As I mentioned, I’m a little nervous. Plus, I would love to just go home and relax with a glass of wine and the Bachelorette tonight. I’ve been traveling with friends and family for the past 4 days. I could really use some alone time (with the extra snuggly puppy of course). I don’t really want to go to dinner with J’s parents tonight. But I will. Because that’s what you do when you love someone. Lord knows that J puts up with a lot when it comes to dealing with my family. He does it (without complaint) because he loves me. It’s just what you do.

In spite of not wanting to go tonight, I still feel so grateful for the relationship I have with J’s family. It’s not just his parents…it’s also his aunts, uncles, and cousins. They all try so hard to make me feel welcome and comfortable. I really do enjoy spending time with them.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is the first time I’ve ever loved a guy’s family like this. I spent significant time with my high school sweetheart’s family and eventually grew to love them (after a very rocky beginning). It was harder to break up with the family than the boy. Ever since then I’ve craved being a part of my guy’s family again. There’s just something so intimate about being close to the people who raised the man you love.

No doubt it’s so special to me because of my relationship with the Ex’s family. Or my nonexistent relationship with them. It always hurt so bad that I couldn’t be a part of his family. Their intolerance and lack of respect for the life their son wanted should have had me running for the hills very early on, but I was in love. The only thing missing from that love was being a part of his family. I just never had the whole package. I never had all of him. I thought I could live without that piece, but in the end it ruined our relationship.

So please excuse me if I gush a little over the fact that I get huge hugs every time I see J’s family, that his mom sends me e-cards every holiday, that his aunt has added me to her kind of annoying email forward list, that his parents email me occasionally to say hi, that his cousin wanted to interview me for a school project, that I’m invited to every single family holiday or event, that the intimate (immediate family only) gathering when his brother is in town this month includes me, and that they invite just me to dinner when J is out of town.

It all means so much to me. I could truly be a part of J’s family and not just his girlfriend or wife. I could be their daughter, sister, niece, or cousin…all while being in love with the man of my dreams. It really is everything I have ever hoped for.

Well June was one helluva month.  Things are better now, but I still see that there is plenty of room for improvement.  One of the main things that I want to do is concentrate on myself a little more.  You know, do things JUST for me.  I’ve been talking with NYSoonerGirl who is a huge fan of MMA.  I’ve been reading about Jobo’s love of Barre 9 for awhile now.  Then there’s One Twenty Five who has recently found herself a CrossFit convert.  All of those girls are doing something just for them.  All of those girls seem to love the physical aspect of their chosen form of exercise.  All of those girls seem so much happier now than they were before they found their “thing.”


So I’ve been making a list of things that I can do for myself.  I’m like a professional list maker so I have tons of things on my list.  But there’s no way I can actually focus on more than a few things and still see the benefits.  Here’s what I narrowed it down to…


CrossFit.  I picked this one for a couple of reasons.  1) I think I need something to really challenge me, not something that I can master very quickly, 2) The reviews all made it look like such a fun team environment, 3) It’s not super close to my place, but it’s within a 10-15 minute drive and has plenty of parking (rare for Chicago).  ***Note: I still have to pick a location and go check it out.  There are about 3 gyms that look good right around the same area.  Also I probably won’t start this until August due to all that I’ve got going on in July.


Volunteering.  I still need to narrow this down.  I want to do it for three reasons.  1) I really want to help people who are less fortunate than I am, 2) I selfishly think this will help me put my own problems in perspective, 3) I want to connect with humanity.  I’m thinking that I would really like to do something with kids.  I’ve always considered being a Big Sister, but I think I’d thrive better in a group environment.  Plus, I wouldn’t want to disappoint some poor girl if I end up moving away or not being able to fulfill my commitment after a year or so.  Maybe the Boys and Girls club…or Jobs for Youth…or the free children’s hospital where I spent some time as a baby.  The hospital is my first choice, but I also think it would be hardest one to get.


Eating right.  This one obviously isn’t an activity.  Well, I guess it kind of is…  Anyway, I find myself thriving when I’m putting healthy things into my body.  This has slipped quite a bit in the past year since I’ve started spending about half my nights at J’s place.  I’ve gone grocery shopping (besides picking up frozen pizza) about twice in the past 6 months.  Yeah…seriously.  I need to find a way to make this a priority regardless of where I am.  I truly believe you are what you eat.  My poor eating habits could be contributing to my lack of true happiness lately.


Saving money.  About two years ago, I had managed to pay down all of my debt.  I even built up a small little savings account that I was proud of.  Since then, I have spiraled out of control with my spending habits.  I was making progress at the beginning of the year, but things have swiftly gone downhill.  The main reason is probably my new apartment.  Originally I was going to move to save money.  But then I started thinking about how much more space I could get for just a little bit more.  Well…a little bit more is possibly understating it.  I also had a lot of moving expenses and new furnishings to buy.  Another reason is that I’ve been spending more money in my relationship.  When J used to travel several times a month, I would buy food (like frozen pizzas) to eat by myself.  Now that he’s home more, we order takeout or go out to eat a lot more.  Since we’re about a year in, he has stopped paying for everything (at my insistence).  Anyway, eating at restaurants in Chicago adds up.  Then there’s his birthday which I went a little overboard for.  Um, there’s also some new summer clothes that I have recently purchased.  Aaaaand, I put quite a bit of money into fixing my car.  The point is, I need to control my spending and start saving more money.


I hope that’s a doable list.  I really think focusing on the above four things will help contribute significantly to my happiness.  Here’s hoping I can get motivated and stay that way!

It’s in the way he proudly smiles while gently teasing me in front of his friends and family. 


It’s in the way he thrives on my happiness. 


It’s in the way that he kisses my forehead and strokes my face when he thinks I’m sleeping.


It’s in the way that he includes me in almost all of this plans.


It’s in the way he looks at me when someone brings up a topic that coincides with one of our private jokes. 


It’s in the way that he sweetly demands my affection before I leave for work every morning.


It’s in the way his friends all seem to know things about me before I tell them.


It’s in the solo dance parties that he does just to make me laugh.


It’s in the dinners he cooks for me, the wine he buys for me, the plants he gives me, the theater tickets he purchases, the TV shows he records for me.


It’s in the way he calls me “baby” like I’m something special to him.


I don’t think he’s going anywhere.  I hope I’m right.


I didn’t sleep hardly at all that night.  Morning came, and I just laid there.  I wasn’t going to walk out.  No one deserves to be walked out on.  But I didn’t know how to face him.  Eventually he got up, filled his water glass, and went to the bathroom.  He came back to bed and tried to go back to sleep.  Then I got up, went to the bathroom, and filled my water glass.  When I got back to bed, I reached for my phone because I was done pretending to sleep.  I was planning on checking in with the world to get my mind off things.  Next thing I know, J’s head is in my lap.  I didn’t know what to do, but I figured this was an apology gesture of some sort…or at the very least a sign of affection.  So I absentmindedly rubbed his head while staring out the window.


After a little while, he told me that he was sorry about how he had acted the night before.  I apologized for my bad timing, but said that I had just really needed to talk right then.  He acknowledged that and said he understood where I was coming from. 


We then proceeded to have the talk.  We definitely didn’t right the world with our conversation.  He said some painful things.  He didn’t say them in a hurtful way.  He said them in an honest way, which actually made them that much worse. 


To sum it up, he thinks there’s been a problem since April.  We had a big blowup that month, which really affected me and how I thought about our relationship.  Essentially, he said ever since then I’ve been trying too hard to make things perfect, I walk on egg-shells around him like I think he’s going to break up with me at any time, and I get too easily stressed out and worried about silly little things.  All true.  Very, very true.  He then went on to say that he has concerns about a long-term future with me because of these things.  Yeah, I almost hid that part from you guys.  But I’m trying to be more honest about the bad things in my life.


There was a long silence after that.  I couldn’t say anything.  My heart was breaking.  I eventually told him that I didn’t know what to say…probably because everything he said was true.  I said that I was really sad that he has such a hard time seeing a future with me.  He quickly corrected me and said that he didn’t have a hard time seeing it…he just had some concerns, especially about how we would handle the big, stressful things in life. 


The conversation went on for awhile.  I told him that I think he has an issue with trying to make things perfect too…and that I wished we could hang out without any plans more often.  I told him that sometimes I get stressed because he projects his stress on me.  I said that I’ve had a hard time communicating with him lately, which means I keep all of my emotions inside…causing me to turn into a crazy person.  He said he wants me to stop trying to do everything that I think he wants.  He wants me to start planning some things for us that I want to do, regardless of whether or not I think he would like it.  I honestly told him that it’s very hard for me because he’s such an opinionated person that he makes it obvious when he doesn’t want to do something.  It feels like rejection to me when he makes a face at my ideas so I’ve stopped having an opinion on what we do.  But we came to a tenuous agreement that I need to start mandating we do some of the things I want.  I think I can do that.  I also need to stop walking on eggshells around him.  I’ve already decided not to plan another thing for awhile.  It’s okay because we have some really busy weeks coming up.  I think it will work out for the best this way.  I’m also going to try hard to not think about our relationship too much.  Does that sound weird?  I’m going to try to concentrate on other things when we’re not together so I don’t obsess. 


I don’t know.  I feel like we finally had a good conversation about what is wrong with our relationship.  I no longer feel like he is going to walk out on me.  I mean, he wouldn’t have been making suggestions and talking about our summer plans if he was, right?  He wouldn’t be annoyed about me thinking he’s constantly going to break up with me if was about to actually break up with me, right?  I really don’t think so.  I know that I need to get back to the person he fell for a year ago…the happy, confident girl who was relatively stress free and liked to have fun.  I need to find her again.  It’s not impossible.  But it’s not like snapping my fingers either.  It’s going to be a long journey to get there.  I’m disappointed in that because it feels like we’ve taken a giant step backwards instead of forwards.  If he has concerns about our future now then it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to allay those concerns.  I wanted to be farther along as we hit our one year anniversary…


But I’m not going to give up.  I’m going to give it all another shot.  Because even though the above is probably making you wonder if this relationship is worth it, I know in my heart it is.  I know he’s going to start trying harder because he thinks it’s worth it too.  I can still remember all the good things about our relationship and I do not want to give that up.  I can still be in love with that man even if he treated me a little poorly the night of the talk.  He made up for it the next morning.  Instead of shutting down, he gave me what I wanted…a chance to heal our relationship. 


I need to remember that sometimes I have to let myself feel pain so that I can truly feel the happiness when it comes.

I tried not to imagine the conversation in my head too much beforehand.  I didn’t want to over think it.  Somehow though, I just thought everything would be right with the world immediately after the conversation.


It wasn’t.


It was terrible.  Horrible.  The only way it could have gone worse is if he had asked me to leave or told me he never wanted to see me again. 


Luckily, he didn’t do that.  But I still laid awake almost the entire night after the conversation wondering if I should give up on this relationship.


I suppose my timing could have been better.  That’s what he said anyway.  He was not at all receptive to having a conversation late at night after we’d had a few glasses of wine.  Yet to me that was the perfect time. 


All night long I just kept wondering if I could really be happy with someone who got angry when I tried to open up about my feelings, even if it wasn’t the best timing. 


Don’t get me wrong, I mean he didn’t yell at me or say really mean things to me.  He just didn’t really want to talk right then and made it more than obvious. 


I told him I needed to talk to him.  He initially said okay, but looked weary over it.  I had to get it out of me though so I went for it.  I knew I wasn’t going to make it through without crying.  And cry I did.  I told him that I felt like things between us have been off for the past few weeks.  I said that I’ve been trying to figure out what caused the shift in our relationship and what I could do to fix it.  But the truth was, I didn’t have any answers to either of those things.  All I wanted was for our relationship to be normal again. 


He replied that he couldn’t believe I was doing this right then when he had been drinking and was so tired.  I closed myself off at that moment.  I just went silent.  I couldn’t even cry anymore, I was so shocked.  There was silence.  He attempted to give me a little of what I was looking for by telling me what he thought was wrong.  I really couldn’t reply to any of it.  I could not believe he wasn’t being more understanding about my need to have the conversation.  He felt bad, I could tell.  He wrapped his arms around me once it was clear the conversation was going nowhere and held me until he fell asleep.


I stayed up staring at the ceiling wondering if I was strong enough to leave the love of my life…

Last night’s post may have some of you thinking that I’m crazy.  First I posted about how I think my boyfriend is done with our relationship.  Then I posted about how amazing it is to have been together for a year.  I’m not crazy, I promise.  I’m also not in any sort of denial.  I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate how much we have done together this past year.


We have actually had a pretty great week celebrating his birthday (many times over) and our anniversary. 


It’s probably because I finally managed to find the courage to talk to J about a week ago.  My next post will give you the honest details into that conversation.  It’ll be a little backwards for you to read, but who cares.  I’m sure you’ll work it all out just fine. 


We are doing so much better.  It’s amazing what that talk did for us even though it completely sucked to have.  We are back to our pre-April happy relationship. 


Things still aren’t perfect.  We have A LOT of work to do, which you will soon see.  There’s a chance that things won’t end up like I want them to.  But as it stands today, I have my sweet, goofy boyfriend back.


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