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.