During the course of my previous relationship, I lovingly and systematically eliminated the utter horror from his wardrobe, gradually replacing items which made me feel borderline nauseous with style worthy of a seat at a fashion show front row. Maybe the front row of a ‘Topman’ show (we were teenagers) but still, a vast improvement on what I’d started with.
Some of you make think this awful; that I were trying to ‘change’ him. I was! Well at least his outer casing. The internal stuff took much more sustained mind-gamery and manipulation.
But during this progressive change in his ‘style’ I occasionally had this absentminded thought: “This will save a lot of time for his next girlfriend”. That’s just the kind of staunch feminist I am. Always putting the rest of woman-kind before myself. You may be able to read from that statement that I wasn’t exactly thinking long-term in this relationship; that’s sadly where we differed. When I eventually released my former fleece-wearing lover into the wild to fend for himself I felt a strong sense of pride at what I’d achieved, pausing only briefly to ponder the extreme heartbreak I’d caused. But as we all know, what else eases heartbreak more than a cracking pair of boot-cut corduroy jeans and an ironic 70’s band t-shirt, and I’d sent him into the void with all of those and more, so I knew he’d be just fine.
Nowadays when I buy clothing for my current beau it’s because I want him to look great and feel great. I suppose I do know that in the process of him looking great there is a much higher chance of other women looking at him and potentially daydreaming about marrying him, but that’s fine, it’s me who knows where the life insurance policy lives and holds the hard-drive full of blackmail. I’m also thank-fully secure in the knowledge that he wants to be with me and that’s great because I both love him and can’t be bothered planning ahead for his eventual new wife.
Style makeovers aside, I don’t get it all right in my current relationship; neither of us does a lot of the time, but we prevail.
Life is hard and communication often harder, something I struggle with a lot of the time. I can talk the hind legs of my massive dog about nonsense but when it comes to the important stuff my go-to is clamming up and bottling my feelings with more precision than a micro-brewery. This isn’t healthy or sensible of course, but its learned behaviour and a bad habit I can try to break.
It’s important in any relationship to be open and honest, but potentially more so when one of you lives with a chronic illness. I can’t expect my love to know my every gripe and moan or to understand my pain and symptoms, without verbalising it all. An issue I often have is in worrying how boring it must be to hear me wax lyrical about my discomfort every 5minutes. This point would be valid were that the case – but I don’t. I feel it all constantly, but that is far from the same thing as talking about it. A flinch or a sigh isn’t enough to explain to someone how you are feeling – it takes effort and energy and the use of the English language in formed sentences and most of the time I JUST CAN’T BE BOTHERED.
But part of being in a relationship (romantic or otherwise) is in making the effort for the person you love, so it must be done. If you are feeling awful and don’t want to spend all night talking about it in graphic detail then just explain exactly that – it might not be ideal but it’s at the very least honest. So long as you ensure you take the time when you are up to it, to talk over what’s come and gone. It’s very important we don’t leave the people we love in the dark, often what they are left to imagine is far scarier than the reality. It’s hard enough living with chronic illness and/or living with someone who does without existing in a void of confusion and silence. So talk and talk and gripe and moan if you need to – the person on the receiving end will be quick enough to tell you if it’s going too far the other way. I speak from experience…