So I have now been in my relationship for 3 1/2 months, the majority of that time being over long-distance.
This post is basically here to grade myself on how I am doing on maintaining myself and my independence throughout this process.
After a year of establishing ME as a whole and healthy individual, I thought it would be easy to just slip right into a relationship and maintain that same routine and state of mind.
It is not. I catch myself, more often than I would like to admit, slipping into a state of co-dependence again. Mr. Wonderful is an amazing man who loves to take care of me. There are times when I can take that for what it is, and then there are times when I feel myself relying on it....and that just cannot happen. It's one thing for him to say he can't wait to come back and help me fix things up around my house, it's another for me to let things go and not even TRY to do it myself because I'm depending on him to take care of it, just as an example.
The thing I am struggling the most with is the whole diet and exercise thing. Mr. Wonderful is a bit of a health nut and in perfect shape; ladies....I mean...PERFECT ;). Way before I met him, I was taking care of myself, staying in shape and eating right because I like the way it makes me feel. He loves me, loves my body...but my own insecurity took over at some point and started whispering things in my subconscious about how I needed to be "perfect". I fight it, a lot. The minute I start doing it to look good for him and not because I like how it feels and because I want to take care of myself, it becomes something else and that much harder to do. The mental leap is astronomical for someone like me who has always struggled with the psychological aspects of weight gain and loss (history of anorexia, etc). I must continue to concentrate on being healthy for myself or it will slip through my fingers. I've got to think about looking good for him as a nice bonus, not the goal.
Other than that, I have maintained my friendships at the same level that they existed before him. I still see my friends regularly for girls nights out and have never turned down a night out that I wouldn't have before. I'm still doing all the things that I'm passionate about, like exploring music, having nights out and nights in with my kids, trying new activities and things, and traveling. Life still feels fulfilling outside of the relationship. Work is going better than ever; I feel more inspired than I ever have, and I think my work is reflecting the fulfillment I have found.
I know things will change again once he is home (in HELLOOOO....34 days!!!) and we will be able to physically be together and fit a whole new routine into each other's schedules. But he is just as independent as I am, has his own group of friends who value his time as much as my friends value mine. He also has his own passions and interests that he can't wait to pursue. Some of those I'll be joining him for, others he'll do on his own. The goal is to be two happy and fulfilled individuals whose interests overlap at some points, spend time together when we can and as much as possible without losing ourselves in the process. I know it won't be perfect...nothing about this whole process has been...but I really do think I'm doing the best I can after being in such an unhealthy place for 12 long years (really, longer).
There have been times when I have felt that being alone and still single would be easier. Everytime we have a really difficult disagreement or have to come to a compromise on something, I do somewhat miss the days of not having to "answer" to anyone. When decisions were just mine and I didn't have to think of anyone else's feelings or situation. Many times over the year that I was living alone, I would cringe when a friend couldn't go out because her husband didn't want her to, or she maybe felt guilty about being away from the family too much. Being happy about not answering to anyone but myself on my nights away from the kids became a way to help myself cope with being alone: I allowed it to become a "positive", and for good reason. Now I'm having trouble letting go of that. And make no mistake, I'm holding onto a little bit of it. I will always make my own decisions, while yes, being considerate of other's feelings and opinions, but if I want to do something and it's not hurting anyone, I'll do it.
But in the grand scheme of things, it's worth it. I love him, everything about him, and he loves me like no one ever has. Our love is truly special, one that doesn't come along often. I've come close to losing it more than once and I know that this is what I want. I can't wait to have him here in my life and see where that road takes us.