We’re in a mad rush. Relatives are visiting soon. Ones I haven’t seen in 3 years. Ones who have never been to the place I now live.
It’s been a flurry of logistics ahead of time – them booking flights, us booking a hotel. Talking to them and seeing what they’re interested in doing. Coming up with a rough itinerary.
Booking time off in my partner’s case (less flexible work hours) and working way up ahead for me (since I run a small business and have no one to cover for me) so we actually have a minute to show them around.
And then it happens. My partner has an accident and hurts themselves. And like that, I’m set back a bit further than I’d expected to. They feel awful. Even though I don’t blame them. It was an accident, after all. Feeling awful about it isn’t going to help me anyway — there are a bunch of things that need to be done and less physical capacity between the two of us to do them. (I haven’t been well myself and am recovering from some physical stuff.)
I get my partner settled in. Take care of them. Make sure they have the best place to sit and an icepack. I make dinner because someone has to.
And I’m talking through the logistics of figuring out a deep clean of our apartment (which my family has never seen) when my partner interrupts me. “How things change,” they say.
I’m staring at them, wondering what they’re talking about. Are they loopy from the pain or something?
“In the past, it would have been me worrying about making sure the place is tidy enough for company,” they say.
And I guess something dramatic happens to my face when they say this, I guess I look wounded or something, because they’re rushing in with reassurance. That they don’t mean it as bullying or anything like that.
I’m not taking it that way. It takes me a moment to speak, to gather my thoughts.
“When you change,” I say, “even if it’s considered for the better, it’s a reminder that you used to be another way — and maybe a way you don’t like.”
They say something reassuring, but I hardly register it because I’m not done making my point.
“And anyway, when you’re the way I am, and you change for someone else, you find yourself wondering if it’s a good, positive thing — or if it’s a sign that you’re getting sick again.”
Because I have suffered from people pleasing my whole life, and am inclined to change too much for other people, especially if I like them. Even if it makes me miserable.
It’s easy in such a situation to be suspicious of your own growth.
My partner says more reassuring stuff. I feel myself drift away for a moment. I don’t know what any of it means, but I don’t have the energy or the time to contemplate it. I have to get my work done. I have to get organized.