I’ve had a really good time over the last month or so. Work has been busy and I’ve stayed productive and focused. I’ve taken some time alone to rest and be still. And I’ve had an awesome time being with my lady friend. It’s really been great. We cook dinner together at her place a couple of times a week. We play board games or cards, and take walks around the neighborhood. Weekends we have gone out dancing. We’ve talked for hours and hours about just about anything and everything. We laugh, we cry, we share.
It’s exactly the kind of relationship I’ve wanted.
Except now she has a new job. She hasn’t been able to work for the past year due to an injury to her shoulder that required multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy and recovery time. She’s been looking for work the last three months however, and just like everybody else, has found the job market to be brutal. There are just so few jobs available, and so many people looking for them. But in spite of all that, she has managed to find work. And that is a very good thing, and I’m happy for her. She’s fortunate that during all this time she has another source of income, so it’s not like she’s been destitute or anything. She hasn’t even been drawing unemployment. But working can be a big part of just about everyone’s self esteem, and having the independence and self sufficiency is important to being healthy mentally. And I’m really glad for her that she has a job.
But here’s the thing. The new job is on second shift. Not even the normal 3:00pm ~ 11:00pm second shift; she is working 4:30pm ~ 1:00am Monday through Friday. And she also has to work one weekend a month those same hours. So while I’m happy she is doing something positive for herself, it’s going to pretty much eliminate any time we can spend together. We won’t even have much if any chance to talk at all during the week. When she’s available, I’m at work. When I’m available, she’s at work. When I get up in the morning it’s the middle of her night, and the same is true with me when she gets off work. With her working one weekend a month, that only leaves three that we can even hope to see each other. That’s six days a month. But it’s not that simple. She has family, including grand children, that live three hours away that she goes to see on a regular basis. Even if she only goes once a month, we’re down to four days.
That’s not much of a relationship.
I try to take into account the lessons I’ve learned over the years, and not jump to too many conclusions too quickly. She hasn’t actually started the job yet, and it’s possible that it turns out to be somewhat different from what she’s been led to believe at this point. Or she may get into the job and decide that it’s just not something she wants to do. She may get promoted quickly, or moved to a different shift or any number of changes that there is no way to predict. Now is not the time to panic or make any snap judgments. But another lesson I’ve learned is, don’t ignore your feelings. Suppressed emotions become resentment; resentment becomes anger; and anger leads to really bad decisions.
So I decided we needed to talk about it.
I waited a couple of days so she could enjoy the relief and satisfaction that comes with a new job. I celebrated it with her, and supported her decision as the right one. She should be happy she found a job, especially in this environment, and I wasn’t going to take that away from her. But a few days later, I asked her…’Have you thought about what these hours are going to do to us?’ Her response was that she hadn’t thought about it, and she wouldn’t think about it until it actually happened. Now, I’m not trying to borrow trouble or anything, but in my opinion, if you are faced with something that is going to have a major impact on your life, you should think ahead and plan how to adapt. Not thinking about change is just as bad as suppressing emotions… events and feelings overtake everything else, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a place you really don’t want to be. The more I tried to talk about it, the more upset and angry she became. Her position was that she didn’t have enough information to make any kind of decisions yet. Until she actually starts she won’t know the details or just how big an impact it will be. But she spent days telling me in great detail about what she was going to be doing and when she was going to be doing it. And even if it does turn out to be different, isn’t it better to have a plan in the event it isn’t?
She asked me to leave. She needed time to process.
I got an email from her later that night saying she wasn’t upset because I asked the question, she was angry because she felt that I was predicting failure and giving up before anything actually happened. So now we’re in a different place. The immediate situation is; do we even try to continue? What she says she’s processing and trying to decide is, is it worth the investment to work through this if I’m going to have such a negative outlook? I don’t believe that acknowledging that there is going to be a problem if things turn out the way they look is a negative outlook. It’s just being realistic. Are there other options? Is there a way we can organize our time to stay in touch enough? Is the relationship strong enough to survive such limited interaction? If we don’t ask the questions, we’ll never know. How is that negative?
But of course, my brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s. My emotions run from one extreme to the other, and frequently overrule intelligent thought. So now I’m asking myself… Did I overreact? Have I jumped the gun? Did I push it too early? Am I worrying about things before they happen? I have a tendency to codependence; am I putting too much emphasis on time spent together? We are very happy when we’re together, shouldn’t that be enough? Should I trust that if the relationship is strong it will find a way to survive? And the big question…should I have worked through this with my counselor before taking it to her? I’m bipolar. Relationships don’t come easy, and too often end as a result.
It really doesn’t matter at this point. She’ll come back after a day or two and tell me if she’s decided if she wants to stay together or just end it now. My only choice is do I wait for her decision, or just move on without her. And I really don’t want to do that, so I’m kind of stuck while I’m waiting on her to make up her mind. If even if she decides she wants to continue, there’s still the problem of how to deal with the different schedules. So at this point, I really have nothing at all. Four days ago, I was happier than I thought I could be; and in an instant, it’s gone.
The good news is, I’m stronger and healthier than I have been in years, so this isn’t the devastating event that it could have been in the past. I’m sad, but I’m not depressed. I’m lonely, but I’m not alone. I don’t have a lot of hope about this relationship, but I have hope there will be another if this one doesn’t work. And time will tell. Maybe she’s right about the job being different than I’m afraid it will be. You can’t really know how things are going to develop and how the reactions are going to be until they really happen. This has been a good relationship; perhaps it’s strong enough to adapt and survive. But I’m prepared either way. If it ends, I’ll miss her a lot. But it won’t kill me. If we make it through and continue on together, it will be a stronger and healthier relationship. Regardless of the outcome, it’s part of my growth and understanding of myself and others around me.
But damn, it’s hard.