For the last few weeks I've been convinced that Wine Guy and I were going to break up. I didn't tell anyone this fear because, well, I didn't want to disappoint my friends (or blog readers) with yet another relationship letdown. I decided to keep it all inside and figure it out for myself.
What happened instead was festering of worries, exaggerated fears, and bullshit errors in thinking. Nothing new for me. And neither was my clamming up. I have this whole pride issue about failure and when I suspect I'm on the road to it, the last thing I do is reach out for help from my friends. Which is funny because if/when they reach out to me, it would never occur to me to be disappointed in them. I would feel honored that they felt comfortable enough to come to me and do my best to be there for them and help.
As usual, I was under the mistaken belief that I was different than everyone else. News flash: no one is really different. Whatever insurmountable problems I was thinking Wine Guy and I were having were, well, nothing new -- and ones I would find with just about with any male that ever existed.
This all emerged after a night out last weekend with my Veteran (soon to be married) couple friends. Wine Guy had met them before but only in group/party settings - not his speciality. This was our first couple's outing and I went in to it feeling tense and irritated for the reasons stated above.
But the evening went quite the opposite of what I expected. A few glasses of wine to loosen us up and off we went to a warm, Italian restaurant where, for the first time since WG and I started dating, we had "couple banter." You know, all that semi-joking-but-not-really conversation about little fights you've had with each other, what annoys you about your partner, how men and women bicker over the silliest things, etc.
It sounds trivial here but I assure you, this seemingly inane conversation was causing me to have some sort of relationship epiphany. All the reasons why I was convinced Wine Guy and I were going to break up were the same silly fights and annoyances my couple friends were complaining about. Except when they have them, they don't think it's the end of the world.
This outing was a rare occasion of four people being wholly open (and slightly drunk) with one another - one of the reasons why I like these couple friends in the first place. As we touched on each new topic, I felt more and more reassured by their concurrence and advice. All this time I thought they were the "perfect couple" who met and fell in love within two dates (seriously), moved in together after three months, and now (to quote the detestable Dr. Laura) have "a ring and a date." Now I know that despite their sped up timeline, they are just like us. Except they don't walk around thinking every fight could mean the end of their relationship.
This is how my friends earned their new nickname - The Coracle (or Co-Oracle). For every problem we threw their way, they had an anecdote, advice, tale to tell that put me at ease and reminded me that there is no such thing as "perfect."
It was a great Friday night out that led into the first relaxing, romantic weekend Wine Guy and I have had in a while. Probably because it was the first weekend during which I wasn't rehearsing our breakup in my head (Yes, I'm a pessimist. But I've also been severely disappointed in the past. So sue me).
On Monday, I called Mrs. Coracle to tell her how profound the evening was for helping me snap out of my relationship panic. She surprised me with her response, "You know, the next day [Mr. Coracle] and I felt better too. I'm not sure why, exactly. But, you know, we have problems too sometimes, and it felt good to talk about it with other people going through similar things."
Suddenly I started to understand why my friends who have kids go to those annoying Mommy & Me classes we used to make fun of together. We need to be around people going through similar life events. It sucks to admit, but it's true. Not all the time, but just enough so that we can learn from and be around people that make us feel "normal" (at least for a little while).
I did not grow up in a home with any sort of married couple to look to (my mom was widowed when I was 5 and stayed single). So I have no idea what a "normal" relationship looks like. I'm flying blind, except for the examples being set for me by my friends and television - and I prefer my friends since I hardly think Ross and Rachel are a good example.
So, as much as I hate to admit this after so many years of proudly wearing my "single girl" badge, I will have to make room for more double dates. Hey, it's cheaper than couple's therapy.