lucky and unlucky

Last Friday was Friday the 13th, an historically unlucky day and apparently the 3rd one this year. I experienced a bit of "bad luck" with my DVR erasing all of my recordings, the ones I've been saving for weeks while I've been too busy to watch or not in the right frame of mind or I've been watching Criminal Minds on DVD with Michelle. I freely admit that I watch a lot of TV; it's my thing. Some people wind down by crocheting or reading or playing video games; I watch TV. I've never in my life watched as much TV as I do right now and if I didn't have DVR, I probably wouldn't watch half of the shows I do. But it's nice to sit down whenever I want to and watch a show I really like. So, I was upset and annoyed that the recordings disappeared though I let it get to me more than I should have. And maybe that's the point with believing in luck and bad luck; it's the belief and our reactions to what happens to us that creates how we see it. Unlucky can turn to lucky by thinking differently about each experience. Perhaps, that is naive or idealistic but I believe that we can make our own luck, at least through our own reactions.

Before that though, and all this week as it's getting close to Thanksgiving I've been reading people's thankful lists, their facebook statuses, etc. and thinking a lot about all of the wonderful people and opportunities in my life. I've mostly been thinking about M. And you wanna talk about lucky? I'm not sure what else could explain how I managed to keep her in my life for this long.

I'm not an easy person to get along with. I'm difficult, annoying, selfish but I'm also smart and giving; I'm trying to be more compassionate and thoughtful. I drive M crazy; she drives me crazy. But I always feel like we're in it together. I feel like we're working toward the same goal, that we want the same kinds of things for our life. We were listening to the radio recently and they were talking about compatibility versus the idea that opposites attract. M and I aren't opposites, not really. We aren't alike, either but I do think we complement one another. There are many things I love about our relationship and I've talked before about how and why I love M. One of the nice things about being together so long is that I'm understanding how to be a couple. Or maybe I should say that I'm learning how to be us.

One of the things I always found annoying about some couples is the way they act as they cannot think or move or make a decision without the other one. You know, the ones at parties that are glued to one another in weirdly obnoxious ways. I even noticed it at a faculty function recently. I understand it can be hard when you don't know anyone besides your partner at a work function or something but sometimes, man-don't you need some breathing room? I appreciate that M gives me a lot of breathing room and I try to give her some back. She has a game room upstairs that is her own space where she can escape and ignore me and watch whatever she wants on TV. I love spending time with her, but I get it when she needs a break from me.

I like that M will do things without me. If I don't want to go to something and she does, she'll go anyway. I love that she will do her own thing. It's nice to feel included, of course but just because I opt out of something doesn't mean I expect her to. I think we're really good at being our own people while being together. We consider one another but don't lose ourselves.

When I was with a particular ex, we never fought. At the time I thought it was because we were good together but later I realized I was too afraid to fight. I was afraid it would end things, somehow if I said how I really felt. I knew I loved enough for both of us and was terrified to rock the boat until I couldn't take it anymore. I'd outgrown my need for the particular role I played where I, too easily, gave in and took others' opinions as my own. It was strange ending the relationship because when I told people we were no longer together they almost always said, "Why? You guys never fought." Not fighting is sometimes worse than fighting, I learned.

M and I rarely fight but when we do it, we do so heatedly and loudly. We flare up and then head to our corners. We bicker more than we fight, though. Webster's defines bickering as prolonged noisy or angry expressions of differing opinions. That pretty much sums it up. M and I disagree and we tell one another about it. We are opinionated and stubborn but I'd like to think our bickering keeps up from truly fighting. I don't think we bicker as much as we used to but neither of us is afraid of disagreeing or arguing or debating. We aren't hurtful or at least we try not to be. I never feel disrespected or unheard, which is really important to me. There's nothing worse than feeling ignored or disregarded. M and I spend a lot of time together. We have the same friends and rarely do we spend much time apart. When you're as close as we are, it is important to make it okay to need space. I think you need to find a way, as a couple, to fight, to disagree, to say "you drive me crazy and if I have to look at you for one more second my head might explode," without either person feeling too terribly slighted. (That last one is tough.)

And even though my feelings might be momentarily hurt when she says she needs space, I know how much it means that she is comfortable telling me how she really feels. It's better than being annoyed and short and getting into a fight. I'd rather feel a little hurt while also understanding than feel a lot hurt after a fight.

When we played a game called "Loaded Questions" this summer, one of the questions was what are the most important things for a successful relationship. We both wrote down honesty and a sense of humor. It's very true, for us. It's what makes our relationship work. I also think it's important to appreciate one another vocally and openly. I try to say thank you when M does something for me, to be sure she knows I do not take her for granted. I think it's easy to get comfortable and begin expecting things from one another. I try to resist that as much as possible.

I never completely believed in happily ever after; I thought that kind of love was meant for someone else. I thought myself unworthy of it and therefore, I was. I think relationships take work; they take time. You have to devote yourself to one another and the life you want to build and even then, there are no guarantees, none at all. I don't know what the secret to a happy relationship is. I don't think there is a magic compatibility formula. I don't think there's a list to follow but I do think you have to fail a few times at relationships, friendship or otherwise before you figure out what works for you. You have to grow up, a bit. And you have to be willing to let the seams show. You have to know yourself. You have to know and embrace and own your shortcomings. You have to get over yourself and realize that the fact that someone amazing loves you despite or even because of your weird eccentricities is worth the effort. I don't know why M stuck with me. I don't know what she sees in me most days. But I accept that she does. I also know that she gives gravity to all the things I do. I said so in my dissertation acknowledgments and I believe it more every day. I would probably be doing something similar if she hadn't come in to my life but I seriously doubt it would feel as wonderful, as worthwhile, or as meaningful as it does because she is part of it.

I know how lucky I am every single time I look at her.