Operation BWYP: Almost There, But Not Quite

Since moving our family from Connecticut to Florida five months ago, Chris and I have been working on Operation: Bloom Where You Are Planted in our marriage.  It’s what we are calling our attempt to not keep looking ahead and waiting for things that are coming (i.e. a job for me, a house, etc.) but to find happiness in the situation we are living in today.  We’ve been spending more time together as a couple and as a family and it has really helped.  Chris and I are talking more and a lot of the tension that was hanging over us when we first got to Florida seems to have lessened – not completely gone away, but lessened significantly.

In the past couple of weeks though, we have had some major things happening – all good – but big things that have the potential to bring lots of changes with them.  But none of them are happening right now. So, once again, we are back in the place of waiting.  And worrying.  And wondering.  And while we’re still making the effort to be present in our day to day lives and to bloom here and now, knowing that some major things are just sitting out there on the horizon has brought some of that tension back.

The other night we had big fight.  Chris needs to be able to work through worst case scenarios as part of his crisis management process.  He needs to think through the most dire of circumstances and put all the negative out there on the table for him to look at.  I think to him, naming those fears and talking about them helps to move past them.  But I’m really different.  I am aware that the obstacles and worst case scenarios are there.  I feel them in the back of my mind all the time.  But I don’t want to explore them out loud until we have to.  I don’t want to plan for the worst in an already stressful situation.  That makes me even more anxious.  So, Chris and I fought because he wanted to talk through the “what if’s” and I didn’t.

The next day after the fight, I thought all day about what had happened.  And I realized that I had been selfish.  If Chris needed to talk through things, then as his wife and his partner and his best friend, I should be there for him while he goes through that process.  When he got home that night, I apologized and together we worked through every negative, worst case situation that we might come across in the next few months.  We had to talk about money and jobs and our house and Bean and all those things that we both worried about.  I did most of the listening as I let Chris go through the process that he needed and when we were done, I had a good long cry of panic at the obstacles that are in front of us right now.  But as hard as it was for me to go through that and to hear some of my worst fears laid out right there in front of me, it was an important step for Chris and I could tell that he felt much better when the conversation was over.

I think I was doing the Bloom Where You Are Planted wrong.  That’s what I’ve decided after this week.  To me, blooming where you are planted meant being happy in the moment by ignoring the stresses that were still there. I wasn’t solving any problems, I was just ignoring that they were there.  And that is a false happiness.  I think that’s what had built up in the past couple weeks for us.  We were working so hard to be happy and to live in the moment that ignoring several large elephants in the room seemed to just add to the unspoken stress level.  We were happy, yes.  But we weren’t being proactive.

I’ve learned this week that happiness isn’t about ignoring the negative or the fearful.  Things don’t have to be happy in order for ME to happy. Happiness, much like the peace that my BFF Emily has, is inside of you.  It’s a state of being.  And you can face scary things and you can work through problems all while maintaining that happiness that comes with growth in your marriage.  Happiness to me this week – blooming for me this week – happened because we faced the things we were scared of and planned for worst case scenarios.  It was hard and it was scary, but because we faced those fears together, hand in hand, instead of ignoring them, we moved forward and we grew.  Today I am happier than I was yesterday because I dealt with those things in my marriage.

For the past couple of months, I have felt like a victim.  As if all of these challenges and trials were being done to me.  I kept praying and asking why all of this was happening.  Had I done something wrong?  Was I being punished?  I kept praying for God to take some of this stress off of me and even though I knew he wouldn’t give me more than I could handle, I continued to insist that I just couldn’t handle anything else right now.  But after stopping this week and talking things through with Chris, I have realized that, you know what?  I’m not a victim.  Nothing that is happening to me isn’t anything that the good Lord hasn’t equipped me to handle.  And just because there is stress and anxiety in my life right now doesn’t mean that there isn’t also a whole lot of blessings and a whole lot of happiness, too.  I’m not a victim here.  People go through these things every day.  And even though it might feel like everything good is just beyond our reach right now, when I really stop and talk to Chris about things, it is easy to find the blessings in our day to day lives and those are the things that will carry us through this.

Blooming where I am planted is not about ignoring what is happening around me.  It’s not about choosing to only focus on the good in my life.  Anybody can bloom when the sun is always shining.  Blooming and growing is about finding the good and the blessings on a cloudy day.  Or a cloudy week.  Or a cloudy month.  Or a cloudy five months.  That is the true key to finding happiness.  The conditions around me will come and go, but if my happiness comes from inside me, I’ll always have it.  Even when I have to deal with things that I would rather not deal with.

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33 thoughts on “Operation BWYP: Almost There, But Not Quite

  1. Good morning Katie. :)

    Yep, healthy plants require pruning and pinching back and long, soaking storms. Just sticking them in a pretty pot in the window isn’t enough.

    I’m glad you and Chris talked through your “stuff”. You’ll look back on this period one day and be proud that you made it through.

  2. I am always amazed at how clearly you are able to lay out what each of you needs. I think it’s probably due to having been together so long. I just find myself as a newlywed still caught up in how I communicate, and not understanding that there’s another person in the conversation. I love these posts where you bring it home that there are truly two sides to every story.

  3. Kat

    LOVE that you can reflect on your fights and apologize. I’ve been working on that in my marriage…so far I’m still too stubborn. dang it

  4. That’s so great you guys were able to sit and talk out your worries and problems. It’s so easy sometimes to just try to ignore those issues until you have no choice but to face them. That, and as someone about to enter into marriage in just a little over a month, I really appreciate the honesty you give in these posts. I really appreciate it!

  5. I always appreciate your honesty.

    My husband is similar to Chris, in that he has to talk about all the possibilities good and bad. And I prefer to just wait and see what happens. Worrying won’t make something not happen. So I know where you’re coming from. But you’re right, I need to let him explore all the different scenarios so that he will feel better. And then we will both feel better.

  6. Sarah H.

    Wonderful post! Everything you said is so true. You are so good at writing clearly about the issues. The conflict, the resolution, it’s all so reflective. I can only imagine what it will be like to read these posts a few years from now! Keep up the blooming Katie :)

  7. Katie – Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart that you wrote this. My husband and I have been struggling in this for awhile and while its flip-flopped (I’m the worrier) your post made me realize that we need more COMPROMISE. He needs to let me hash out stuff and sometimes, sometimes I need to just hush. So thank you!

  8. Isabel

    I understand how you feel. Inspired by you (and BWYP) I have been trying to be a lot more positive about my recent move. I decided a couple of weeks ago that it was up to me to be happy regardless of what was going on around me (blame it on a few too many yoga classes).

    That doesn’t mean I ignore what’s upsetting me but that I try to be more positive about the situation and take pleasure from small things. I will admit though, that there are days when I feel completely defeated and just need to have a little cry on my own.

    I guess it can be hard to get the balance right between “forcing” yourself to be happy and being realistic about the challenges that are facing you (and your family). If you do figure that one out can you please let me know, I could really use the help! :-)

  9. Tressa

    Those that say only sunshine brings happiness, has never learned how to dance in the rain!

    Have a great weekend!

  10. I love your honesty. I’m going through changes and transitions right now also, and this post so accurately reflects my struggle to thrive during an “in between” time period. I find that even within myself I need to find a balance between highlighting the happy moments of today and facing the fears of future challenges. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

  11. Katie… I look forward to your posts everyday. You put your life situations in such a way that it helps me with my life experiences. While my husband and I did not go through a major move like you did we still can take your experience and help us through our rough times.

    Thank you!

  12. Great post! I agree with Katy @ Monster Proof… I still struggle with the whole communication bit. Thanks for keeping thing in perspective and sharing honestly!

  13. Really beautiful post, Katie. I think sometimes I’m like how you described yourself – aware of all the negatives lurking around the corners of my life like monsters in a closet. But I have some sort of superstitious belief that by naming them, I’ll make them real. But there’s the other side of things, too. By naming them, you make them real, and making them real allows you to deal with them… plan for them… prepare for them… face them head on. And sometimes it turns out they aren’t as scary as you thought.

  14. You’re so deep and wise.

    I think I might make you my guru.

    Partially because I just love the word guru.

    But also because you’re wise.

  15. Callie H

    Not being the victim is in the top five lessons my mom ever taught my. Every time I’m in a situation where I just want to whine and complain and feel sorry for myself, I hear her voice in my head saying those exact words.

    Great post, Katie. Blooming where you are planted is one of the hardest things to do (I find myself looking to future too much sometimes), but so necessary to be happy, and to have a happy relationship. Thanks for sharing this struggle that so many can relate to :)

  16. Shawn

    I think that sometimes the Lord does give us more than we can handle so we HAVE to depend on HIM to help us through it. Blessings!

  17. Jenna

    Your post reminds me of this quote I saw yesterday. Love it!

    “Like a plant that starts up in showers and sunshine and does not know which has best helped it to grow, it is difficult to say whether the hard things or the pleasant things did me the most good.” -Lucy Larcom

  18. Hmm I should show this to my husband! We’re opposite… I need to talk through things and plans and all the what if’s and my husband wants to just fly by the seat of our pants. It stresses me out and makes me anxious, and in turn makes me feel like I’m not “allowed” to bring things up.

    In my new marriage, I definitely need to learn the BWYP lesson.

  19. My hubby runs his own tool business and I get so tired of hearing how lousy some of his customers are when it comes to paying their bills and stuff. However, I know its what he needs to do to help relieve some of his stress. I really need to be a better listener to his problems. I usuaully nod my head and act like I’m listening but I’m usually not. It’s hard when every night it’s the same thing over and over again.

  20. Heather

    I needed this today. Thanks.

  21. Your post reminded me of this magnet I have near my computer at work. It says:

    Peace
    it does not mean to be in a place
    where there is no noise, trouble
    or hard work. it means to be in
    the midst of those things and still
    be calm in your heart.

    I agree that YOU are in control of how you deal with situations and YOU are in charge of how happy you are every moment of every day. And I can’t count how many times I’ve had to stop being a stubborn baby and talk with my husband about whatever he needs to talk about. It’s tough, but it’s worth it.

    Thanks for the post!

  22. Keshet

    I think it’s wonderful how honest you are being about this time in your life, it’s a good reminder that even the best relationships and families go through times like this. Wishing you the best!

  23. Thank you. Always good to have that ‘not alone’ feeling.

  24. mm

    I would have to say my husband and I are different in some ways, but also similar. I like to acknowledge the bad things, in an effort to manage my expecations. Early in our relationship we realized that if my expectations are really high, it has the potential to really destroy my outlook if that isn’t what actually happens. It’s better for me to know the worst, so I can determine logically what is most likely to happen and go from there. That way if the worst happens, I’m not blindsided by it, but if the best-case scenario happens, it’s a bonus!

    My husband is an extremist in pretty much everything, so he tends to focus only on the really negative things and go over and over those… even if it’s not logically the most likely thing. He doesn’t want to get my hopes up, so he’s really TRYING to do what would help… but it still frustrates me, because while I like to manage the expectations I am not a negative person. So we’ve had several fights over the years trying to find the balance between talking about and acknowledging the worst-case scenario, versus focusing on that completely.
    It’s just one of those differences between us that pops up every now and then, and we handle it better every time. :)

  25. Nikki

    Thank you again for the wonderful post. I’m going through this type of situation, but at work. Does that count? I’m in the process of getting shuffled around and keep looking to the future hoping that being compliant now will benefit me later. To not cause other people anxiety I say it’s fine, but I think it’s time for me to speak up. Even if we don’t want to discuss difficult things sometimes, I guess it’s a must…

  26. You’re so right! Oh, and I wrote about you today….not because I’m a crazy stalker….but because I’m trying to get back to writing *something* every day and you’re inspiring me to do so! Plus, I really do feel like you peer into my head and then write. It’s crazy. Must be the redhead connection :)

    Is it strange to think that there are people you’ve never met who “know” you? Or at least think they do? Again, totally not a crazy stalker :)

  27. Great post Katie! So glad you were able to take a step back, diagnose the real problem and then deal with it in a healthy way. This will help out sooooo many times in your marriage in the future.

  28. Way to go Katie! It’s so hard to talk about things that can cause more worry and stress but doing it for Chris was the right thing to do!

    In my humble opinion that is.

    :-)

    Megan

    P.S. You two are such a positive example to others!

    http://www.reddirtandcrazy.blogspot.com

  29. Stephanie

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing!! My boyfriend and I deal with similar things in our relationship, except I am “Chris” in our relationship. It’s so good to hear that we are not alone in dealing with these problems. You guys are so inspiring.

  30. Laura

    I can relate. I sometimes need to talk through the “what ifs” but sometimes it’s too hard to talk about all the possibilities, to worry aloud about everything that could go wrong, or is already going wrong.

    But I think if one person in a relationships NEEDS to talk, it’s the right thing to do to at least work through it on some level. Even if you need a little cry afterwards as you wrap your head around it.

    Keep blooming! It will all be okay!

  31. This one hit home again for me today! I think I might have to forward it to my husband to read as we just recently went through a very similar “fight.” He always wants to talk about the “what ifs,” and I get so sick of it and don’t want to think about them until we are in the moment and a real solution needs to be figured out. I told him I didn’t want to hear it since what he needed to work through was so unlikely to happen in the next 6 months, and I really hurt his feelings. He needed to get it out, and eventually I did listen to his concerns, and we did work through potential solutions. And luckily he listened to me when I told him why I hate talking about the future when so much is up in the air for our present. I have my own little “bloom where you are planted” thing going (thanks to you!), and the conversation we had was a big step in him understanding why I’m so focused on that right now.

    Again, thanks for sharing your life and so eloquently writing about it so that we all don’t feel so alone in our struggles.

  32. I appreciate your mention of allowing Chris to work through his crisis management process. My husband does the same thing – and I also tend to push him away, wanting to just be optimistic. Your thoughts on being a best friend and not being selfish were very convicting. Thanks!

  33. Thank you for this post. I read it last week and tucked it into my subconscious somewhere, and today it suddenly came flying out at me! My husband and I are contemplating some major life changes, and he’s always bringing up what I think are the most absurd what-ifs. It’s been really bothering me because I thought he was trying to come up with reasons for why we shouldn’t do what we’re discussing. Today he brought up something really far-fetched, and I thought of your blog post and asked if he was just trying to talk out the worst possible scenario as a way to cope with his fears. Hit the nail on the head! And of course he didn’t realize I didn’t know that’s what he was doing. Ah, communication in marriage. It’s a lovely thing when you can manage to do it!

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