Last night, our son ‘graduated’ fifth grade. We sat through a ceremony our boy didn’t particularly enjoy being a part of, and then had family over for pizza and dessert. The Boy has the next day or two off school and then goes back for his report card and after Friday, he’s officially a Middle Schooler.
When The Boy got in the shower, J asked me if I got sad at all during the ceremony, and I honestly told him ‘no.’ Our Boy is emotionally and mentally ‘done’ with elementary school, and frankly, so am I. But J said HE kinda did feel sad.
He and I were chatting via text in the space between our son’s bedtime and our routine one (I know…we text in the same room…we’re quiet people; what can I say?). This is a regular occurrence. Sometimes the texts are light and flirty, sometimes they’re silly, sometimes they are matter-of-fact, ‘Here is what our week/tomorrow/plan for some future event looks like,’ type of messages. Last night’s was different.
J: I saw you have a meme of this: “How your partner reacts to your sadness and things that bother you, should tell you all you need to know about how long the relationship should last.“ Do you feel I don’t react well?
I was surprised, not that he took something like that so personally, and he felt like he was doing poorly as my partner. I mean J is the person in my life who’s reacted the best…the most helpfully…the most positively to my sadness and things that bother me. He’s the person who gives me the most long lasting, constant, and effective reassurance. And that’s a major reason WHY our relationship has lasted so long. That’s why I have that meme…it’s a reminder to myself about how lucky I am to have J in my life; another reason to be mindful about never taking him for granted. “How could he even ask that?” I thought to myself.
But then, I thought maybe I don’t react well for HIM when HE’S sad or down or something is bothering him. Maybe HE’S not getting the reassurance he needs from ME. So I asked him. And he said yes, which was relieving, but then I thought…he actually needs reassurance from me that he’s giving me the support I need. That’s what I asked him for. Reassurance that I was doing the right things and doing enough for him when he needs me…and he needs that too.
I think sometimes, as a person with nearly constant anxiety, particularly when J is such a strong, steady person usually, I forget that he has concerns and insecurities too. Most of his insecurities are just different from mine. J worries when I have bad days that he’s failing me; that he’s not taking care of me well. I try very hard every day to make sure J knows I don’t take him for granted, and how grateful and lucky I feel to be his partner in life, because it honestly fulfills internal needs of *mine* to show him this appreciation. That eases my anxiety…to openly appreciate J. But it’s very important to remember that he’s still human, and he is going to need the occasional ‘extra’ just like I do.
Me (in response to J’s text about my meme): I’m way less anxious with you than I am with any other people. I keep that because it’s true. And young people…and even older people…looking for good relationships with good men like you read my blog now.
When I came downstairs for bed, we talked a little more about things. About how quickly time is passing, even though it seems like no time at all. About The Boy and how much he’s grown and how proud we are of him. About how our doggo didn’t make it to fifth grade graduation and that makes all of us a little sad. About our upcoming family vacation. About how The Boy takes too damn long in the shower at night now. About lots of things. I love that I can talk to J about lots of things and he always listens, and he always talks it out with me, and we laugh together a lot, and he gives me a lot of reassurance. And that helps me with my anxiety and self-confidence more than anything or anyone else ever had.
Then we settled in for sleep. J cuddled me a little more…a little longer…a little closer…a little tighter than he usually does (although he always does…last night was just…a little more). It helped my anxiety a lot, but I really hope it also helped ease his.
Sometimes, people who don’t have regular anxiety issues need reassurance too.