When are you Happiest in your Relationships?
When you read that, if you are currently married or dating do you immediately think of your other half?
I am guessing most people would.
Yet when I read this morning’s journal prompt card, another person popped into my head immediately. That other person was myself.
So I’m going to start on this one. Because I believe my subconscious was trying to deliver a message and maybe it’s one you need to hear too?
Your Relationship with Yourself – When are you Happiest in Yourself?
Right now, what is your relationship with yourself like?
When are you happiest with yourself?
What things help you have a stronger and deeper connection with yourself?
I think this one popped into my brain first because I personally had a big breakthrough this weekend. I’ve been at what I’d describe on paper as a business conference with a ridiculous twist courtesy of social media business personality Dan Meredith. It has taken place in Brighton which involved a 6 hour journey down there and I’m currently stopped at Oxford services writing this now so I have another 2.5 hours to get home. In total, I’ll have probably clocked up around 11-12 hours driving time over the last couple of days.
I do love a good long solo drive. Rather than seeing it as a chore I see it as an exciting opportunity. I can’t check emails or social media or messages. I load a good audiobook and I immerse myself in it for many parts in the journey. Or I’ll sing at the top of my voice. Or like I did on the M42 yesterday I’ll play 90s Clubland classics as loud as the volume will go and proper lose myself in my steering wheel dance while I get all the words wrong but don’t give a crap. (Pump Up The Jam anyone?)
Sometimes though I will just drive in complete silence and practice mindfulness – trying to experience everything around me without external thoughts creeping in. Side note – the thoughts never stop! But the trick is to really focus on the present.
I am an extrovert for sure, but I really crave my alone time. I love sitting in complete silence for hours while I’m working. I adore being on my own. One of my greatest pleasures is sitting in a good coffee shop, book or journal in hand, just hanging out with myself.
This doesn’t mean I don’t love my husband and son. I do! I just sometimes need a break from everything and everyone. Years ago I would never have realised this. Before I went travelling solo in 2006 I could never be alone. I was terrified of being lonely. Yet then I found myself on the other side of the world with no choice but to be alone and with my own thoughts. I learned to love my own solo company and so a habit of craving alone time began.
Remember those Duracell batteries you used to get where you’d squeeze both ends until your thumbs hurt and the energy levels would display? Well I feel like if you were to have squeezed me to check my levels in the last few weeks those batteries would’ve been near on dead. Whereas now, this weekend, after alone time and also my other great pleasure – learning, I feel like I’m recharged to about 75%. I’m looking forward to heading home and getting that charge up even higher with some quality family time.
I’m also looking forward to putting some stuff into practice I’ve learned this weekend and been inspired by. I am happiest in the relationship with myself when I look after my health. I’ve been listening to Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis in the car and I’m up to the chapter when she talks quite directly about health and self care. I really used to love the gym. I know I’ve mentioned it a few times this week when journaling but I’ve got to stop with the bullshit excuses and get my ass back there. I know happier me lies just beyond a few sessions back on the weights.
Happiest in Marriage
When am I happiest in my marriage? When I feel like I’m not pissing him off. That’s the truth and it’s a shit one because I shouldn’t let my happiness be defined by someone else. BUT gotta take responsibility here – I HAVE been pissing him off a lot lately. That comes down to miscommunication or me flying off the handle with rage.
I’d love to sit here and write some fluffy stuff about happiness in marriage being all about intimacy, or having breakfast in bed, or weekends away, or walks down the beach. The truth is, the happiest I am in my marriage at the moment is when Shaun makes me a coffee in the morning. We discussed this the other night. It’s shit when him making me a coffee is the absolute fucking highlight in our marriage.
But just like a child learns all their behaviours, in a couple what you do is often mirrored by the other. We both have got so bogged down with the stresses of the house renovation/living in a caravan/balancing the budget and our two extremely stressful full time jobs while parenting that we have forgotten to give a shit and care about each other. And it shows!
My rage is my own issue and fault. It’s my own internal stress and shit going on and I blow it out of proportion at times and aim it at Shaun in an argument. It got so bad last week he even sat me down and suggested we split. He was serious too. He’d just reached a point where he felt like we couldn’t do it anymore. It comes from this extreme stress we are in at the moment and the saddest thing is – I didn’t even get sad at first when he suggested it.
I am happy when we communicate honestly – which is what we did when we explored what it might look like to split up. Honest and open communication (without me shouting and controlling my temper) gets us one step further to sorting our shit out, evolving and growing. It’s hard and it’s crap but each breakdown leads to a breakthrough in some respects. I broke down at the thought of splitting and we had a breakthrough in making vows and promises to change stuff to get back to being happy.
Happiest as a Mum
I love being a mum. But I feel like I’m shit at it. Before you argue with me and tell me I’m a brilliant mum let me stop you. I’m a FUN mum. Yes. Brilliant mum? Not so much these days.
These days I can often count out the MINUTES (not hours) of one-on-one time I spend with Blake. I’m lucky (and ashamed) if it’s a total of 20 minutes a day during the week at present.
Because I’m not present.
That’s not why I had him.
I didn’t spend 56 hours of labour pushing that boy into this world and the last 8 years of loving him until it hurts for him to become low on my priority list. Not a fucking chance.
I am happiest as a mum when I spend quality time with him either one-on-one or the three of us together. I love those rare weekend mornings when the three of us lie in bed together. I’m quite excited about sorting our bedroom and dream of lazy Sunday mornings with breakfast in bed, watching films. It’s something we’ve never done but I’d love for it to happen – and before he approaches his teens and its too late!
I love taking him swimming too. One of the main reasons is because there’s no electronic devices in the pool! No work distractions, or let’s be honest the addictiveness of social media, to distract me. Plus because he’s not the strongest swimmer I keep my eyes on him like a hawk and there’s lots of cuddles and fun in the water.
Dad’s only been with us once (because he’s been working on the house) so the dream with this little activity is to get to a place where that’s part of our family routine. I am looking forward to wet hair, cosy warm clothes and a post-swim hot chocolate together.
It’s the reason I’m driving home right now even though I’ve paid for a hotel room in Brighton tonight. I’m going to go to his football match in the morning and then take him swimming. I can’t wait!
Start with Self
The funny thing about writing this daily blog and getting it done no matter what is I’m forcing myself to face shit that’s going on. I’m seeing patterns in this writing every day that is proving so beneficial for me. Thanks for reading along and joining me on this. I’m aware it’s very personal so I hope it’s not boring. If you weren’t here keeping me accountable, I wouldn’t be writing. If I wasn’t writing, I wouldn’t be making these daily discoveries.
Today’s question glaringly and obviously links back to one massive issue here. It’s something I know inherently and I try preach about it to all but looks like actually, I haven’t been practicing it as much as I thought.
Start with self.
^^^ this is my advice to myself right now and I’m guessing it’s probably the advice you need to read too.
All my happiness in my relationships has to start with self. I’m happiest when I trust myself. When I trust myself I prioritise my physical and mental health with self care. When I take care of myself I have more headspace. When I have more headspace I am more organised. When I’m more organised I feel able and happy to take care of everyone else – mainly my husband and son. When I take care of everyone from a place of genuine love I’m not resentful. When I’m not resentful, I’m happy. On the flip side – when I’m happy and taking care of them and taking care of myself then both husband and son are happy too!
Moral of this story? Start by taking care of your own needs first.
Fit your own oxygen mask.
Nobody can be responsible for YOUR happiness.
It can only come from within.
PS – tomorrow’s blog will feature a sweaty selfie from me at the gym. By hook or by crook I’m getting there. Time to put SELF as agenda item #1.