A Common Heart

Last night I swallowed another truth about myself.

I see the world in negative, in what is wrong, in what needs to be fixed. I walk into a room, a situation, a relationship and notice what is not right rather than what is. I focus on what was not done rather than what was done. I never actually feel “okay” about anything enough to relax and enjoy it thoroughly. I generally expect to be disappointed and so. . . I usually am.

I would like a new self-fulfilling prophecy, please.

I do not know how to rest easy, sit still, feel satisfied, savor the moments, be at peace inside myself. It is exhausting and I am fed up. But I don’t know how to feel or be otherwise and so I’m in that place between knowing and change where I dangle between feelings, raw in the rough patch of change.

I am not completely callous and constantly displeased. I’m speaking in generalizations in an effort to succinctly convey my struggle. I can see the other side to all of this. I see effort, attempt, and good faith. I sense the feeling behind an endeavor even while I weigh the “mistakes” against it. I push and pull between the two and what comes out of my mouth is usually thinly veiled disdain, possibly couched in a sense of jest. Messages of “you do not measure up” which really should read, “no one could ever measure up to the impossible standards I’ve set for myself and those around me- good luck with that!”

Lately (the last six months) I have been struggling to not completely give in to negativity. I’ll admit I’ve failed pretty miserably. What happened six months ago? Oh right, Mr. Darcy moved in.

That was a big, huge, monumental change in both our lives and since then we’ve been struggling. The more we’ve struggled, the more knotted up we got, the more knotted up we got, the harder we fought to untangle ourselves out of the tangle of bullshit until we’d fatigued ourselves. Our struggling became labored. Our energy lacking. And there have been moments when I curled into myself and said, “I can’t do this” only to hear myself say that and like an athlete in that final sprint to the finish line, have found a modicum of energy to rally anew.

I am attempting to own my shit. I am saying this publicly because maybe you or someone you’ve been in a relationship with has struggled with seeing lack and error rather than effort and love. I am talking about this because I am ashamed that I have contributed to Mr. Darcy feeling like he’s not good enough. (He is very good. More than enough.) I am putting this out there because realizing you’re doing something that hurts someone you love is step 1 and step 2 is jumping the divide between knowing you must change and actually behaving differently. Because I want to get to step 3 where I’m living the shift in my consciousness and am truly, happily participating in a healthy relationship.

Knowing why I’ve done this isn’t enough. Learning to behave differently is my love in action.

“If you place two living heart cells from different people in a Petri dish, they will in time find and maintain a third and common heart.” -Molly Vass



25 thoughts on “A Common Heart

  1. I am so sorry to hear that it is such a struggle for you to enjoy the relationship with the person you love. You totally deserve to be happy and it must be so frustrating to know better, but still not be able to control those negative feelings.

    I think you’re a real trooper for putting it all out here and for working so very hard on yourself!


  2. Instead of talking about a fire between our cheeks, yesterday my Bar instructor shouted “Be mentally tough!” during one of our more difficult circuits, and it really resonated with me. Being an athlete most of my life, it’s advice I used to know by heart, and advice I think is universally applicable, especially to the heart.

    It takes strength to hold on, at work, in relationships, to our dreams. It takes mental and heart toughness to hang in there when we’d rather quit. (Of course there is the underlying irony that we wouldn’t really rather quit. Because we know value and worth when we see it. And we inherently want that in our lives, for ourselves and for those we love.)

    All of that to say: Trusting and opening ourselves up, opening our hearts and growing, is like working a muscle (metaphors, ahoy!). It takes time, and pain, and continual stretching and pulling and weight. And then one day you wake up and realize you are totally (heart) buff. And you (see also: me) realize it was all worth it.

  3. I could have written this post myself—I’m a fixer, and while I don’t want to see the negative, I tend to do that without trying. I know that with hard work you’ll be able to figure it out.

  4. Lately I’ve had to practice daily to wake up and decide to think and act in a certain way. At times in the past it has come easy to me, and I think it will be that way again, but when it’s hard it’s really hard and it does require a lot more mental strength than I was prepared to need. Sometimes we have to dig for it, and in certain situations surrounding the choices we’ve made for the direction of our lives, there will always be some sort of digging, I think. Knowing it’s worth it doesn’t make it easier, but it does mean it’s right.

  5. At least there is a positive in all this and you said it yourself – you know what’s going in your head and your heart and you’re trying to change that so that it won’t lead you down a negative path. That’s a HUGE positive. You’ll get there, don’t you worry. Just keep pushing on.

  6. Don’t for one second get down on yourself, okay? This growth thing is massive, but it’s so so good. We can’t grow without opposition, but so many times we run from the opposition because it’s uncomfortable, thereby stunting our growth and keeping ourselves in negative patterns. (ask me how I know that)

    *hugging you*
    *holding your hand while you bodly face opposition*

    You’re doing great! xo

  7. Maybe not entirely pertinent, but your post made me think if this — something a dear old friend sent me recently. For what it’s worth.

    “Midlife crisis. Age. The heart gets more interesting than structure. I’ve got kids, I’ve got a wife, we’re stuck with each other for a while. And suddenly there’s an understanding that this is what life is — it’s actually the mess, it’s the mud, it’s the tangle. It’s not the clean, hygienic … fireworks. It’s the little invisible novels that get written between two people every day of their lives. It’s the subtle power shifts. It’s the love, it’s the less-noble sentiments that make every single day either good or bad or not so good or wonderful or moving through all these things at the speed of (West Cork) weather. This is interesting stuff. Why go out there in search of extraterrestrial life when it’s already here?” – David Mitchell

  8. I swear that the first few years of my relationship were the hardest years ever. I knew we were good together but it is just so hard to get used to living with someone that closely and learning to become a couple. I, by no means, have it perfect now, but it is much more comfortable. And I still need to remember that my neuroses are mine and he is not responsible for keeping up with them. But god damn, put the peanut butter away in the morning. (See still working on it)

    It’s a long haul, be patient with yourself.

  9. Oh Sizz. I have to give you so much credit for realizing this about yourself and wanting to work on it. I am inspired now to finally write up that post about E and will be linking back here…

  10. I will say I’ve become more accepting with a glass is half full attitude the closer to 40 I got. I know that my happiness is a decision. No one can get inside my head and make it happen. Now I am way easier on myself about the house, my job and my relationships. We’re never going to perfect, no one is, so find joy in each other, try not to focus on the negative. I had a grief therapist tell me that I needed to give my hubby power to please me. I don’t need to do everything my way, let him try to help me. Amazing things happened when I followed her advice. I ask him, he tries, I accept it. Good, bad or ugly. His behavior changed for the better once I let him participate and make decisions. He felt like a contributor to our life, instead of watching me running around like a crazy woman trying to fix the world and ordering him to do this or that or why didn’t he do this or that? Your man is there in your apartment because he loves you. Remember that. Light a candle, pour some wine, sit on the couch with your guy and enjoy the moment.

  11. your post made me thinking about expectations. i have a friend who is constantly disappointed by others, by their not “measuring up” to whatever she is expecting. i try to remind her that these folks have no idea what she’s thinking and what her expectations are.

    i have problems too with too high or too low expectations. it’s my way of trying to control the unknown. what i’ve been trying to do is having NO expectations, which is different than having low ones.

    it’s a difficult balance between NEEDING and RELYING on someone to be a certain way, and shirking people all together and relying only on oneself. how to strike that balance, i don’t even know! i guess being aware of that dichotomy is the first step.

  12. I bet if he read this he would start to realize he is enough and that we each have our own things to work on 🙂 Good for you for owning up. I have a long list of things to work on too (anxiety/impatience/bad listening skills/being judgmental…yeah).

  13. I tend to be overly critical and hold exceptionally high expectations in many if not all aspects of my life. *Sigh* I know the struggle. You’re a brave one Sizz, you’ll find the way to turn the realization into palpable action. You will, I just know it.

  14. I went through a pretty serious happiness transition last year and moving forward. I have to say that a lot of what tracy wrote here resonated with me and what I learned. It’s so easy to slide back into negativity and feeling like nothing is good enough–but the truth is, once you get there it’s much more rewarding when you choose happiness…then it gets easier to keep choosing it. I’d be here to chat or email anytime. You are brave for putting your truths out there. That’s the hardest part. Promise.

  15. I am a bit of a pessimist. I want to change the world but sometimes I think I just like to pick at the scab rather than letting it heal. I, too, am way way way too negative about things…

    FWIW, I hear you. Don’t give up, change is hard.

  16. I just love that you are so introspective about this and willing to take action. That is one of the things that makes you such an amazing person! I have the same negative tape in my head, about me never being good enough. I don’t think I project it on other people and their actions but I DO project it into hearing that whatever I did is not enough when other people say things or suggest things I should try or try to help me with things. When people try to help me, I hear it as “because you can’t do it” which is wrong and I am consciously working to not hear that. Hopefully with time we both can erase our negative tapes and maybe even record a positive one so we can only see the good in things.

  17. I (once again) can relate to your blog. I tend to let my mind focus on the negative aspects of my relationship far too much. And the thing is – there really AREN’T many negatives. The positives FAR outweigh the negatives with my boyfriend. And what I would consider a negative really isn’t! A close friend of mine (who gets the ‘luxury’ of being the recipient of the good, bad, ugly and beautiful tales of my relationship) tells me that I do this because I’m continually waiting for the other shoe to drop, that I don’t feel that I deserve to be treated well, that I worry I’ll always end up disappointed, let down, and heart-broken. And she’s right. I could easily blame my ex for all this and more, but I really do need to own it myself. When I find myself focusing on the negatives, I try to quickly remind myself of all the good in my relationship. And trust me, there is SO much good… and that should be my initial focus. It should be your focus, too. I would venture to say that the positives outweigh the negatives in your relationship with Mr. Darcy. Am I right?

  18. Thankfully you can take a step back and see what is happening. How it is impacting your relationship. These aren’t easy things to admit so good for you. I’m happy you’re both working through this as best as possible. Good luck.

  19. Oh Sizz, I read your words so often and feel like they could be my own. First of all, I think everyone struggles when they cohabitate. Especially people who like things a certain way and are used to having their space to themselves. Second, take a seat, take a breath and give yourself a pat on the back because you’re doing everything you can to process everything going on and preserve your relationship. That’s huge.

    I think in these situations, there are really only a few things you can do: 1. Decide whether you really, truly cannot live with certain aspects, and if you can’t, move on (which of course no one wants to do) 2. Accept what is. Realize that another person’s shortcomings are not a poor reflection on you and that we all have our faults, so we might as well make peace with them. 3. Shift your focus to something else.

    As a self-admitted control freak, I struggle with all of these options. But if you can put any of them into effect, I think they work. If you can try to just accept the things that bother you as being things that’ll never change, you’ll free up so much energy. And the focus-shifting is a really effective one. I know I’ve told you, but in therapy my counselor told me the old, “keep your own side of the street clean” line. And when I find myself picking apart other people’s choices or worrying myself with their problems I try to turn back inward and ask “what choices am I making that could be better?” or “what problems do I need so solve for myself?” Shift the focus back onto you and let them figure out their own business.

    I don’t think you’re a negative person, I think you’re just a perfectionist. You see potential everywhere and you want people and things to live up to it already! And actually, that’s an admirable trait. Don’t be too hard on yourself and keep doing all the things you’re doing, because I think they’re all going to help you get to where you want to be.

  20. Sizzle, you are an amazingly honest and wonderful woman. For me, recognizing the issue is half the battle. You will get through this, life is messy and hard sometimes. I never thought I could muddle through my situation, but I continue to do and each day is a little easier. Luckily, we have the power to make better decisions when we know better. I’d love to catch up soon.

    Hugs and Kisses,

  21. I think most people who are hard on others are twice as hard on themselves. So maybe it follows that if you ease up on your expectations of yourself–if you realize how awesome *you* are–you’ll be able to appreciate Mr. Darcy too. Of course, like all things therapeutic, this is easier said than done. So don’t be too hard on yourself for being hard on yourself (says one who’s been there, done that, still working through it).

  22. You’re a brave girlie to face your inner less-than-gorgeous parts. I loved this: “I would like a new self-fulfilling prophecy, please.” Guess what? I think you’re on your way.

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