Can I just confess that I have had a crush on Kevin Arnold for decades now? Surely you can relate to this adorable guy from the Wonder Years. It’s my favorite background noise while I’m painting, and the timing of last night’s episode was profound.
As luck would have it, a clothing store in the next town was holding a huge clearance sale. As good wives and mothers do, Norma convinces her hubby Jack to take their growing 14 year old Kevin to purchase a new suit. The two wisely obey. They proceed to get lost and refuse to stop for directions (why?). They also get a flat tire. They struggle the whole way. They never get the suit. But of course it ends up being worth it because they make memories and grow closer. What a beautifully scripted happy ending.
Real life is rarely like that. What happens now? We ask Siri to guide us to our destination. We call AAA to change the tire. Actually we just order the suit online and never leave our couch in the first place.
And families have their own issues, as does the one portrayed in this Netflix series. No one individual is perfect, yet they are held together by love and commitment. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. These are your chosen family if your given one doesn’t work so well.
Good people – both friends and family – will be honest and they will care. They won’t make assumptions or demands. They will understand when plans change or when life takes over for a spell. They will do and say just the right thing at just the right time because they choose to do so. In tangible ways, good people honor who you are and respect the bounds of the relationship.
How do you know if a relationship is good? Take an honest evaluation. How do you feel when you’re around this person? Is it energizing or is it draining? How do you feel after having spent time with them? Are you sad when they have to leave – or are you relieved that you can breathe again?
A healthy relationship allows for you to easily be yourself. If a relationship requires more energy than you’re willing to give, then don’t be in it. Sometimes it’s a seasonal hiccup, or sometimes they change, or you change, and you have to let them go. No matter how long they’ve been around, it’s okay to evaluate and make adjustments as needed.
After spending the past few weeks with the tall, dark and handsome man, I realized I hadn’t been honoring myself. Initially when something didn’t sit well, I spoke up, but then I found it harder to do so. There were minor things that I overlooked without protest. As of late, I was finding more energy going out than I was willing to give.
When some miscommunications happened, and hurtful words were directed my way, I chose to completely disengage. I had hoped to have a “farewell” conversation in person, but took the chicken route and sent an email. Spending the energy to sort through it all seemed pointless, given the realization that it needed to end anyway.
Even the best breakups are painful. However, the more painful thing is to allow relationships to continue when they aren’t working. It’s like driving down the road when you know you are heading in the wrong direction. Which, in my case, I guess I didn’t know where I wanted to go in the first place.
One could call it a directional miscalculation. I knew going in – as did he – that neither of us were really in a place to invest in a relationship. It was just going to be fun, until it wasn’t. I am a firm believer in finding the lesson in everything, and I definitely learned some important ones:
- Be honest with yourself about how this person makes you feel.
- Be ready to speak up when something doesn’t sit well.
- Be willing to sacrifice to make room for this person.
- Be realistic about how much you can invest (time and energy) in this relationship.
- Be aware of getting too close too quickly – emotionally or physically or both.
It’s clear I have some work to do, so I’m not playing the dating game for a while (sorry, alphabet fans). For now, I’ll be painting and basking in the final week of my summer break. I’ll have a heavy class load soon enough. Hopefully the lessons ahead will be easier than this one.
Thanks for reading, until next time,