That was the name of a book our kids loved - a very long time ago. But it is also my emotional state, my thought processes, and my understanding of this whole thing at the moment. Since everything is now turned on it's ear, this all may not make any sense, and I'm pretty sure this isn't the end of it, and I really hope that it will evolve and clarify. It's also long - I apologize.
I had been feeling restless about where we (my husband and I) were with our relationship. Not bad - but ready and wanting to move forward. I think that must just be what happens to people: as you learn or try something new, as one step becomes incorporated and comfortable, there is an internal urge to try the next. But I had no idea whatsoever what that would mean or entail in a practical sense.
My husband is not interested in playing the manager for my life. There is no formal list of rules or chores or have-to's or don't-you-dare's. There is a long history of us living together, so I know some of his preferences, and we both know what needs to happen to keep the family and household running, and we coordinate to work out who can and should do what, when. In fact though, I feel like I don't know a lot of his preferences, like he is reluctant to express or impose his choices on me or on us, and I feel like I must have caused that reluctance over the years. It's a big part of the appeal and the potential for ttwd for me: it offers a way for me to step back and show him that I want to hear him. I had the notion that the way to move forward must be for him to exert more control over my day to day life, to somehow make it harder.
Patience not being one of my virtues, I decided to try something. I made a list of the things I think are important to him, about me: things he has hinted he would like me to do or change or pay attention to. The list had things like following through with my job search leads, exercising more, keeping things more under control with the kids and the house, and being more focused and organized so I don't end up panicking to get big things done last minute. My hope was that commenting on a list I generated would be easier for him than just telling me what he wanted of me.
He came back with a list of his own, a much shorter list, but a list of how he want's me to be. It had three points, and they boiled down to he wants me to be happy. He wants me to feel okay to really pursue all the oppurtunities that are now available in my career, he wants me to "stop sweating the small stuff" so I don't get so stressed about day to day to things, and he wants me to make time to do things for myself, things i really enjoy. My initial reaction was - good I can make lists of things I can do to work towards these goals - and that will make my husband happy. But as I really thought about it, it dawned on me that I would need to change fundamentally the way I work and react and even feel.
This part should probably be a whole other story - but since I don't know why it is what it is, I can't really write that story. The essence though is that I get deeply distressed having things done for me or things being about me. I am happy to be the one working to do things for others, to take care of others, to see to their needs. It is the way I want the relationship to flow. I can politely tolerate letting people do something for me, like haircuts or service at a restaraunt. I can, with effort, be gracious if a group is doing something in my honour; birthdays are tolerable, my wedding day was awfully difficult.
As the idea of having my husband focus his effort and attention on taking care of me began to sink in, I became more and more distressed. This was supposed to be about me doing more for him, it was supposed to shift the focus further off of me. I'm not even at all sure how to go about accepting or accomplishing this. The in-side-outside-up-side-down part is that this is far harder for me to submit to than just about anything else would have been. I know I have some serious challenges ahead.
The Irony of it all is that it should be easy for me to let him focus on me, to let myself be taken care of. Isn't that what most women want? Yet it is, short of him being sick or no longer in my life, the very hardest thing for me to face. To make him happy, I have to figure out how to let him make me happy, which at this point makes me unhappy, which isn't going to make him happy, which makes me unhappy also. Furthermore, I think it should be easy for him to want things for himself; I'm offering him really whatever he wants- but what he chooses is to take care of me. It's not just in-side-outside-up-side-down, it's also backwards.