you know that mushy, gushy, almost gross thing that comes with new and exciting and happy love? when you almost feel like you shouldn’t talk about it because everyone will get tired of hearing you? when you feel like you have almost nothing else to even talk about because you have never been this happy in your adult life?
yeah. i’m there.
and while i know my friends are happy for me, i’m finding myself questioning how much i should actually talk about it. or post about it on social media… see, when you’ve spent years dishing dirt with everyone about how much things suck, how unhappy everyone is, about the traumas and dramas you’ve gone through.. its a strange shift to suddenly recognize that you can live without that stuff in the forefront. that even if it stays in your periphery, its no longer your priority or your go-to for conversation starters.
like, does anyone care that your fingernails are the longest they’ve maybe ever been – like, so long that its hard to type this post – because you’ve been a lifelong anxiety induced nail-biter and no longer bite your nails? all of a sudden one day you just stopped and now your nails are beautiful and manicured and it feels pretty impressive…
or has anyone noticed that the work you’ve submersed yourself in for the last couple of years sometimes feels like a chore now that you’re not escaping from life into it? i have my days and weekends mapped out every day for months at at time in order to finish these somewhat seasonal collections of quilts and pillow covers and dyed fabrics etc for my online shop – and up until fairly recently this worked perfectly because i literally had nothing else to do. i was alone 24/7/365, and my work came first and fast and furious. this past weekend, in order to drive the 400 miles to joshua tree to see J, i had to pack up a quilt in progress and my sewing machine and spend a few hours there working on it before i could enjoy the rest of my “vacation”. although i was super excited to cross the quilt off of my to-do list and revel in its completion (another large project done!), i was grumpy about having to actually sit down to do the work. had i bypassed it and left it for later, i’m sure it would have gotten done in time, but i wouldn’t have had the chance to photograph it among the joshua trees with boyfriend/photographer help.
i’m learning, very slowly, how to continue working full steam ahead but how to loosen my grip just a little bit so that i can let this love live where it belongs in my life.
i’m sort of a scales tipped way to one side kind of woman. when i love something, i love it A LOT. when i focus on something, i focus on it A LOT. when i’m working on something i obsess about getting it perfect. i have no issues with commitment. (lol.)
my faults lie in knowing when to rest – or moreso – allowing myself to actually rest. and for me, “rest” includes anything that isn’t work. its cooking myself dinner. doing the laundry. going for a hike. visiting with a friend. talking on the phone long distance to J (which admittedly i do a lot of the time while i’m doing any of these other things, as well as working). i catch myself sometimes needing the reminder not to glorify Busy. that the busier i am doesn’t necessarily indicate how successful i will be. usually it means after a week or so i burn out and need a total day off to nap and watch netflix, which often is not something i can squeeze into my self-imposed deadlines.
and so, here we are with june already upon us.
i have been working this way steadily for over a year.
its our hope that six months from now J will be here full time, likely in my space for some time until we can find a new space together (because even though this apartment is plenty big enough for me to live and work, its a bit small for two to live and work). with this hope, i catch myself daydreaming about what our new place could be like, what our work stations would consist of, what kind of plants we will have (everywhere) and what type of library we will build, where all of our gems and crystals and rocks will be displayed… and i daydream about weekends that are lazy and quiet.
except i know that if i still want to run my business, weekends will not be lazy and quiet. i will be working, just as i am now, straight through them.
and so, balance.
we have talked about less netflix and more reading before bed. making time to visit the farmers markets. having one room (living room likely) to set up a dual studio so that i can quilt and dye, and he can crochet and work on his jewelry and set up his own sewing machine. its exciting. all of it.
until i recognize that i just want to stop and bask in that new love glow a little. my independent business and hustle thus far has not included entire days of cuddles. (i want entire days of cuddles! especially after so many months of long distance!) i will have to learn not to feel guilty about or resent needing to do my work in the balance of wanting to take a day off. because when you get that thing you feel like you’ve always wanted, don’t ignore it to spend all your time working… this is one of the benefits of being long distance – i can still get my shit done and not make myself feel bad about it. (because honestly, any and all guilt is my own doing.)
i am lucky that J is 8000% supportive of my work. i’ve never had a partner so on board and helpful with what i do. he listens to me think out loud, helps me brainstorm, endures endless photos of what i’m working on, encourages me when i’m unsure about what i’m making, spends hours helping me photograph products, and gladly accepts all misfit bandana donations for his own personal wardrobe. this is the kind of partner i need, because my quilting work has become my life. even though i work my full time 40 hour a week dayjob. i am lucky that his creative brain knows things that mine doesn’t, and that it compliments mine. he wants to see me succeed.
this is lightyears from that other guy who told me my work was never going to be good enough, that no one would understand what i’m trying to convey, that my stories weren’t important. that kind of talk stays with you for a long time (trust me), and no matter how confident you are about your work it lingers just beyond you, teasing you from days past. i don’t hear that voice anymore. but that doesn’t mean it was never there.
i am lucky that there are things about my work that set me apart from other makers. maybe not my resources or supplies, maybe not my shapes or designs. but my style, my colors, and my drive. these are the things that i strive to nurture more and more as time goes on. these are the things that no one can copy, duplicate, steal, or mimic. they have taken me twenty years to develop to get to this point. this is the momentum i had hoped for. its kinda like, well if you want in you better jump on this bus because its not stopping. i am lucky that J is all in. our first verbal exchange was him complimenting a project i was working on. …that my friends is the way into my heart. or at least the start.
and yet, theres so much more to me and to being in a relationship aside from my work. i’ve had partners who have died. partners who have period shamed me. partners who have battled addictions. i myself have in turn fought with all of these things within myself. i’ve been with partners who made me feel more alone than when i was actually alone. and so. work became the way i coped with so much of it. need to tell a story? make a quilt. need to connect online with people just to get outside of your head? make a quilt. need to stew in anger for days? make a quilt. …i have to admit. the last few quilts that i have made this year, within the last six months having known J, i have not worked in anger or as a coping mechanism.
i’ve had some off days where maybe i’ve struggled to process how to let my past be the past – but things are immensely different. within myself.
i have forgiven a lot of things that used to bother me. things that traumatized me.
they have not been replaced. they are irreplaceable. happiness does not negate the trauma and difficult things that i have felt and lived in for years. but. it instead offers new opportunities, new experiences, new feelings, new moments, new memories. its not so dark when i close my eyes now. my anxiety is less, my depression at bay. do i feel healed? in a lot of ways i do, having someone who understands my wounds and is willing to let me care for them when necessary infront of them is huge. it is healing. to be seen and held and heard without judgement. there is something very unconditional (though there are many logical and reasonable conditions!) to this relationship. and that is very real.
and real is what i was never allowed before… having had to walk a tightrope or on eggshells to make sure that i was doing everything right under someone else’s rules. under someone else’s non-emotions. under someone else’s unpredictability and around their erratic behavior. over and over.
i used to think i was not a complicated woman. over the years i’ve realized i am actually very complicated, but i am not high-maintenance. i desire and crave and need many things, but they are very simple things. love me without makeup. love me without booze. love that i always say “i don’t need any more crystals” and then ten minutes later i buy one. love me eating delivery chinese food in bed. love me after a long busy day. love how nervous i always am about my car (re: packrats nesting under the hood). love my necessity to have a clean house. love my work. and remind me to rest.
i now have all of those things, and more.
like when i visit, how he goes out to pick up breakfast and comes back with breakfast and sunflowers. endless foot and back rubs. a quick note when he won’t be near his phone for a while so if a message goes unanswered my mind doesn’t go back to the days of previous partners ignoring me for days at a time. more compliments than i can even handle (because i haven’t gotten good at accepting them all yet). sweet and kind gestures that do not go unnoticed.
after years of mediocre one-sided relationships, another type of balance to learn: reciprocation.