When your past is present

I’ve got a lot to learn about relationships, especially the ones where you never want it to end. I’m new to those types of relationships. I’ve never been with someone who I was as certain as I am that they’ll still be there in 10 years. I can imagine him still being there when we have kids who have kids of their own. In fact, I look forward to that and all the things in between. He’ll make a great dad, he has some of the great qualities I love about my own dad and many more. I can imagine him looking after our grandkids and spoiling them to make sure he can see them often. Despite all my imaginings of our future relationship, our current relationship is in its infancy in terms of an intimate relationship. We were best friends for over a year before we got to this stage. We did everything together. Everyone saw the relationship coming a long time before we did. When we had our first kiss it was almost a test. We were already in love but we needed to check that there were sparks as well as emotions. And there were. We were standing knee-deep in glacier cold water and not noticing anything but the kiss.

Now we live together and things are still amazing. It’s a slightly less intense form of amazing than right at the beginning, I don’t have to wait long to show him I love him so it’s less likely to be bursting out of me. I love coming home knowing I get to give him a hug. I get to see him every day and sleep next to him every night. Our “intimate relations” (for want of a better term) are amazing as well. We have fun. We respect each other. At different times they’ve been intense, passionate, curious, funny, experimental, a bit naughty and most importantly, really enjoyable. I love sex and I love having sex with him. But, and unfortunately there’s a but, I have my own demons and no two people are ever perfectly on the same page when it comes to intimacy. We both have different pasts and nothing can undo those. I wouldn’t want to undo those experiences but they change how we view our current experiences. 

I’ve had a previous boyfriend who was controlling. He was emotionally manipulative and generally not much fun to go out with. My ex was definitely emotionally manipulative when it came to sex and intimacy. And unfortunately his legacy lives on, although diminished, in my experiences. Separate to that, there’s a part of my personality that doesn’t like to say no to anything (I have a fear of missing out). I’ve gotten better at assessing what I really want to do, and saying no when I don’t want to, but generally in life I really enjoy being involved in as many things as possible, and I like helping people out. So when our two personalities met, it didn’t really work out in my favour. I often felt bullied, probably because he was a bully, and I often didn’t feel like I could say no. I’m not claiming that anything ever happened totally against my will, just that I knew that if I didn’t want to do or try something, I would experience the bully side of him. We fought a lot. And I’m a laid back person so really, he fought a lot. He fought with me a lot. He obviously got some enjoyment out of it, I’m not sure what, but I didn’t and ultimately I’d had enough of being his outlet so I got out of there. This whole experience could be a blog post in itself, but basically I wanted to give a background of my experience of intimacy in relationships. He was my first serious relationship, and he was a bully so I have some leftover feelings attached with those experiences. In addition to that, I have some more recent demons to deal with that involve my sexual assault. Once again, there’s so much more behind that story but it adds to the sometimes dark complexities in my mind.

Despite the damaging side of my past relationship, I learnt a lot. After it ended I became very good at doing things because I wanted to, and finding things that nourished my soul. I became empowered by realising that I was in control of my choices. I became more active, I learnt how to sew and paint, I dated, I slept around, I travelled and I realised the world had a lot to offer that I hadn’t experienced yet. And I did it on my terms because I hadn’t liked doing things on someone else’s terms. In a way it made me a selfish person, but I believe I’m selfish for all the right reasons. If I wanted to do or try something that made me happy then I did. I still do this but I’ve gotten to stage now where I’ve realised that I still need to take into account others feelings. I’m more perceptive than I was a few years ago but I’m still selfish in my own ways. I think and hope that this is an attractive quality in myself but I’m willing to change when I realise that certain aspects aren’t.

So let’s fast-forward back to now. Trying to find my feet in the best relationship I’ve ever had, with a caring, attractive, smart, interesting, fun, respectful and pretty much (in my eyes) all-round person. So how do I tackle the issue of my past, and sometimes saying no when I’m not quite there, without damaging anything that we have? I don’t think any one experience will damage our relationship but maybe over time it would if I didn’t explain my thought process. When my brain isn’t really in the intimate headspace sometimes it just needs convincing because it’s momentarily forgotten the fun it’s missing out on. But other times my brain thinks that this convincing is instead bullying and goes to a darker place in my thoughts. Other times I’m definitely in the right headspace and I just want to rip his clothes off because who would want to say no to that?! I think communication is the key, but I’m definitely not perfect at that. Ideally I would explain what’s happening in the moment (maybe not all my thoughts but enough for understanding to be found) and explain what’s happened in the past (again enough to gain understanding between the two of us). Explaining these things can only be beneficial. Hopefully I’m getting there. I’m hoping that when we’re old enough that we have kids who have kids of their own, I’ll still want to rip his clothes off, because who would want to say no to that?!

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