08. January 2020
As my friend is not only a business man but also a husband and father he asked what trying too hard can mean in relationships.
If you have read my older blog posts (Rejection of Love) you will know that I had a very – let’s call it trying – relationship. I take the liberty to use this as an example for better understanding and making my point.
What trying too hard means in a relationship is more difficult to answer as it includes the partner, the family and all aspects of social life – it simply all goes together for me. I ask you not to be judgemental as I can only give my very personal (and this is very personal) view with the little information available to me and the conclusions I draw from that. I also apologize if some of it may seem confusing as I am not a professional writer. If anything is unclear or too confusing – please ask before making assumptions…
It might come as a surprise but while I am writing this I realise that he was the first man in my life who got to know me, the real me – with warts and all – from the very beginning. Occasionally I tried too hard with him as well, and that is ok, but he liked me for just being me, he even fell in love with the real me (or I thought so). Perhaps it was because in the beginning with him I felt safe as I had nothing to lose. Of course I was aiming to please him on many occasions but I tried as best I could to speak my mind and do what is right for me – ok, love got in the way, even if it didn’t last in the end, but there are my short comings again. But out of total lack of practice, I know that speaking my mind and doing what was right for me was often a little (or even very) clumsy. But like a pair of new shoes that are a bit stiff and uncomfortable in the beginning, after walking in them for a while you never want to take them off again.
But back to the point. He was an amazing man, a man with high values, morals and a code of what he had been taught is honorable (even if his self perception was often extremely far from reality).
He had told me a few things from his childhood and I truly believe that there could still be many things from that time that makes his life more difficult than necessary. I will try a simple example – the way he ate or used to eat. He himself stated that it came from the time he spent at boarding school where you had to eat very fast or be hungry. If something that simple affects him until this day, imagine what else there could be affecting him. And that doesn’t mean that he had a bad childhood or was traumatized. Sometimes it just helps to understand where habits, constraints or behavior patterns come from. You can then choose if and what you would like to enhance, change or just give up.
In a way I absolutely believed him when he said he deeply loved his wife (even though I also believe that he was trying too hard to make that true). I also believe that the love to her had changed over the years, into a love of gratitude for the life together, for being the mother of his children. It changed into a love of companionship for being there when the going was rough. It is from what I know, not a passionate love anymore and no one was at fault.
Relationships are a funny thing. They change and sometimes need to be reevaluated and even ended. No worries, I did not try to convince him to leave his wife, that was not my call and it was in my own arrogance and hope and love that made me try that once. So please don’t hold it against me, I am not proud of having been the other woman. But I must admit that I found how he defined his choice (for her and against me) as being one between duty (her) and passion (me) unbelievably sad and even frustrating. But that is what he called it. So forgive me for doubting the absolute sincerity of that love just a little.
I know how difficult it is raising children and believe me when I say, as a single mom of two children, I know of the sometimes overwhelming responsibility that comes with this and that trying too hard is such an easy trap to fall into. But no matter what and even if they resist you at times, they love you because you care. Children are actually very simple. There are usually (even if this seem very simplified) three phases how your children see you:
- you are the greatest
- you are the greatest Idiot (born old, don’t know and understands anything)
- they learn to understand you (or as I did, they do everything differently)
Due to his personal sense of failure he tried too hard in so many aspects – as we all often do – loosing the sense for reality and trying to live an illusion.
I believe that his very high (possibly too high?) ideals and standards were in his way to personal development as it could be if you just learn to be kinder to yourself and more aware of yourself. I believe that this is actually the key (to pretty much everything)…
He had the tendency to beat himself up about things that were so manifested in his head (and often only there) that I sometimes wanted to scream in frustration and shake him up to at least try and let him see some things through my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, he was more often than not a coward as well as a selfish and self-righteous prick with narcissistic tendencies, but I also saw so much more in him. I saw the gentle and also passionate soul that needed to be seen, heard and loved so desperately. I saw the man he could have been, the man that was just waiting to come out and be his very best self.
I suppose I started off as someone for him that fulfilled an aspect of his life that he had lost (or never really had) on his way. What he did not expect (and neither did I) is that it would become so much more. With me he had met his intellectual equal, an unprecedented intimacy and a bond that could not be logically explained (at least I couldn’t). This turned his life completely upside down – and not only in good ways. It collided with his self imposed value system, with everything he stood for so I think he tried harder at home, he tried too hard. His conscience was threatening to overwhelm him. His very maifested sense of honor became unstable and to compensate he tried too hard. He was trying too hard to be the ideal husband (no such thing), the ideal father (no such thing), the ideal provider for his family (no such thing), the ideal son and business man as expected of his parents (no such thing), the ideal whatever (no such thing)… He was being so hard on himself that he even thought about ending it all, ending his “one wild and precious life”. He really should have tried to learn more self-love and self-care without victimizing himself constantly. I believe that letting go and surrendering to some of his ideals could have possibly helped him to put things back into perspective.
He even once said that he believed that the universe was punishing him because of his relationship with me. He was only punishing himself, and for all the wrong reasons… What he did not or could not see was that he deserves the best, his wife deserves the best, his children deserve the best and I do as well. But it was not his job to be the best for everyone at all times. His job was to be the best for himself and there he could really have tried a little harder. And that has nothing to do with selfishness. There is a reason why you are asked to put on your own oxygen mask first in case of an emergency during a flight.
He is an intelligent man, a man of vast reading but sometimes he was just plain stupid, a complete idiot, and so terribly insecure, which he covered up by trying too hard on all fronts – no one can do that without losses. You may win a battle or two but you lose the war in the end.
I truly wanted him to be happy and it pained me to see how he kept following the same pattern over and over again, incapable of changing and developing.
I know that it was his comfort zone, or so he believed. The trouble with comfort zones is that they are more often than not very uncomfortable. The reason why we stay in them is because we know how to deal with them. They have become the known, even if they threatens to destroy us and possibly others. The fear of the unknown outside of the “comfort” zones is often too terrifying to take the risk.
That is why so many children grow up to do exactly what they learned in their childhood, even if they were beaten half to death or abused in any other way. But you can make choices. I made a very deliberate choice to not follow in my parent’s footsteps and it was not easy and often exhausting to be explicitly going against everything that grew up with. But it was so worth it. I may not (yet) manage that quite as well in other aspects of my life but I am working on it and I will keep on doing so.
I truly believe in kindness, kindness towards others but also towards ourselves. I believe in trying, I believe in trying hard but trying too hard is exhausting and many times simply destructive.
So in essence I really believe that if you have to try too hard – in whatever aspect in your life – for too long, you should take a step back, reevaluate and consider to change something.