“What is guiding you? (And no, I don’t mean some idealistic thing or even a spiritual or religious one either.) What is keeping you within the lines of the life you have? What’s the internal influence that distinguishes one thing from another, good from bad, right from wrong, how you should behave, act, or respond? What’s setting out the parameters of why you do what you do?Bishop, Gary John. “Adding Value.” Love Unfu*Ked: Getting Your Relationship Sh!t Together, HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, NY, 2022.
In chapter 7 of Love Unf*cked by Gary John Bishop, just the title will get you thinking about your own accountability within your relationships. Just saying, Adding Value, out loud got me in my feelings. We all want to believe that we are giving 110% to our relationships but in all reality if we aren’t giving ourselves 50%, we are definitely not supposed to be giving 100% to someone else, are we? As atypical as that is, we 80HDer’s over here don’t know the difference between do it all or nothing because we are labelled “half-ass” or “lazy” our entire adolescent years. How are we supposed too respectfully accept our own judgement?
This hit a nerve within me reading through this book. How am I supposed to compromise these sorts of things with someone who is bringing their values into the mix? How am I supposed to set boundaries when I want to build up this person who will one day have to hold me accountable to? Deep diving these questions like a study session throughout the months of June and July before meeting Ryan is what saved us some time. I recommend planning big conversations like Bishop discusses in this chapter within your interpersonal relationships.
Second, I questioned my own history of these values and my intent on keeping them, like traditions. Chasing that dopamine as a child I can still give you a list of the things that bring me joy. The joy of sunsets and sunrises, in that order, for example. Bishop then asks this question: “What kind of personal values are evident from the life you are living?” (Bishop, 2022) and my big bright lightbulb blew up. The thought that my values in life are dictated by the people I choose to befriend, spotty work history, slumlord rental history and even my shitty eating habits have everything to do with my own conscious set of principles.
Then this bitch called love throws those in a Faraday box and gives you the adrenaline and endorphins old people wish they still had. *Insert a romantic ballad playing in the background here* Ryan William Smith was born somewhere beautiful and with so many opportunities I was not. His parent’s worked multiple jobs to secure his families livelihood. He got into trouble doing “boy” things like riding his bike off mountains of dirt, fishing in a no-fishing spot, bullying kids who bullied his little sister, and all while medicated for his ADHD. Fighting the internal depression that accompanies these symptoms, using the same excuses we have been told are the only answers to our why’s, and how we compensate now as adults have only added to the reactions from others.
“How You Got ‘Em
There’s an old line of thought in philosophy that insists our values are inherited, that you have no say in them, you got what you got, and that’s that. That they were instilled in you by your parents, by your teachers, by your surroundings, by your culture, by your DNA, whether individually or all at the same time. The values you hold are simply the ones you’ve been conditioned to, often without even knowing it.”Bishop, Gary John. “Adding Value.” Love Unfu*Ked: Getting Your Relationship Sh!t Together, HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, NY, 2022
Accountability is why I was so indecisive when it came to the thought of marriage, again. This man knew as early as 3 months into our relationship that I was his lost peace; his saving grace. Chasing each other’s tail, we built a life together from what we had in our pockets. I wished for him. You know, like Practical Magic, even wrote it in a poem once when I was 12, down to the blue eyes and pancakes.
The need for someone who could complete the broken circle and accept all parts of me; I desperately wanted to be “normal.” Mr. Smith is the same deep down inside, just took that “Oh, I am an asshole? Let me show you ASSHOLE!!” concept and gave it a full back story. This part of him is what I understand the most. The misunderstood misfit trying to show patterns no one else is seeing.
Ryan has made it clear throughout our relationship that his trauma is nothing like mine because of my childhood being so different. Between the age of 4 and 8 I had two families: my biological parents and the Bryant family. Growing up in two households was hard because it felt as if my life depended on surviving my father’s home. Acting out at the Bryant’s never seemed to be as detrimental until I was a teenager; i still wanted to just live with them. All of my parents pulled 10+hour jobs to keep us feed, house cleaned, etc. At the Bryant’s I was compensated with affection for being useful, at my father’s house my usefulness was required.
Ryan also got to spend time with his grandfather growing up but not in the way I did. I cherished the many summers I spent with my grandpa who taught me things about gold mining and old cars. Ryan’s childhood was different. Filled with loss of loved ones at a very young age, losing childhood routines due to moving, and plenty of traveling vacations outside of California. It wasn’t that I didn’t lose family members as a kid, I just wasn’t close to them like he was and if we didn’t have to go somewhere far to pick up a family member due to trauma, we didn’t go as a family; I usually always stayed with the Bryant’s.
Seen as an atypical male in metro cities in California were “bullies bully the bullied kid into being a bully” and I witnessed this so much growing up while Ryan became one to others. Hurt kids taking their pain out on their classmates and this part of him I am also drawn too. I can remember wishing my brain, body, SOUL would just wash out into the gutter so others would leave me alone; I was fearful of setting boundaries because I was the big kid. I wanted nothing more than to just start today as if yesterday didn’t exist; they did. Ryan was a “normal” kid with friendships that came from his big heart and smooth charm, of course that was never his intention because beyond making his comment out loud, he had no expectation let alone an idea that a good thing would come from it because that wasn’t the pattern.
“I am that bitch! I will be the first one to admit I am wrong in a relationship because I misspoke. Yeah, I am full of inference towards my partner, regardless of the relationship. I watch your patterns, reactions and responses to fight, flight or freeze. This has been the downfall of many of my relationships. No one wants to be reminded that we don’t know ourselves better than someone else.
See, why I am that bitch is because I can only repeat myself so many times before I get tired of it too. I can’t sit and watch others suffer. I am willfully ignorant to the reasons we as human beings want to hurt ourselves because the knowing why makes me hate the system of things even more.”“Rules to go by If you want to be my friend.” Austin Smith
Ryan’s highly medicated passion was and will always be exploring his surroundings, breaking as many rules as possible while doing it #ACAB. While I struggled then to see my own self-worth, Ryan was paying for one hobby with the wages of another. Unmedicated, I struggled to learn all the life hacks I now use within my small business to survive while the voice of many replayed “you are going to have a hard time later in life making money doing that” usually because it was a male dominated position. Sayings like this just pushed us both to be the “best” at whatever it was we attempted one day and give nothing to it at all after being rejected.
“This man has shown me what love really is. Truthfulness, compassion, acceptance and accountability. This man of mine — has taken me on a ride I have never been on before. Places I would have never thought to visit. Unapologetically me + unapologetically him = a lifelong partner I never knew I needed. I mean, I am usually the one there for others. Usually deep in shit I didn’t create or stretched so thin I can’t seem to remember to eat. This man is my saving grace.”“Why him and not me?” response — Austin Smith
His quick wit and need to be useful lead him into positions that allowed him to teach others, I just shutdown. This man is full of one-liner’s just like me constantly getting the last laugh in the room. Though so many used these instances as their backbone for bullying us. His enthusiasm as an umpire is inspiring, as I got to witness our first year together, building up kids individually and not just for the “win.” His desire to give back to a sport that taught him about life, or so he would say to me, is admirable because it’s not for personal gain but for the kids.
No matter the life we lived outside of our personal interest, the dopamine and serotonin were never enough to help us forget the pain our peers caused us. The crime we witnessed in our communities and the loss our “homemade families” had during these times boggled the minds of many of our actual family members. Being misunderstood by them started to become an excuse for the distance between us now.
This type of societal trauma builds fear in what the world really has to offer someone with nothing handed to them. It is common to be jealous of others who DO NOT work as hard as Ryan, and I do, because they are privy to opportunities 98% of us will never have. 1% having it handed to them on a silver platter and 1% busting their ass to make it happen, while simultaneously ruining thousands of people’s livelihoods in the process.
The over explanations I give, the “nagging” you might want to call it. I say shit out loud so others can tell me if I am being “too much.” There is no one being too much in my head. The people around me talking over the noise I am making, maybe. You’d think I could busk all day with the amount of masking I’ve been doing my entire life — So we could make it through lunchtime.
The Value in Relationship
So, what about you and relationships? I mean, look closely. What are the things you say a relationship should be about? What lights your fire, settles your demons, and pulls you forward? What is this thing, this lifelong union of relatedness, supposed to be organized around?
What are the fundamental things you believe are critical to a great relationship?
Love? Connection? Loyalty? What about those gnarly little fun nuggets of adventure or inspiration or hell, a healthy dose of mystery or romance? What are the components that you say a relationship should be?Bishop, Gary John. “Adding Value.” Love Unfu*Ked: Getting Your Relationship Sh!t Together, HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, NY, 2022
I am an idiot. I love too easily. I give loyalty where crumbs should be. All of that said — SO DOES RYAN! The ability to check your partner is heaven-sent but I hear so is ROCK, PAPER, SCISSOR. Holding each other accountable for our communication pitfalls (words, tone, body language, etc.) during conversations is a game changer.
Accountability is a hard pill to swallow, as depicted through my series. Allowing yourself to take the added pressure of your own personal intention (aka personal gain) within these interpersonal relationships. We learn to love our parents as we grow up, understanding their reasons for their choices, and grow to respect them as we become the adult children. These building blocks are how we judge the interpersonal relationships we have within societies construct of what is considered acceptable behavior. The people we see as role models, modeling a path we want to emulate as a child, that we eventually outgrow as our own version of what an adult is.
Statistically speaking, these are considered our learned behaviors from our environment. If there is growth, then you prove to me that you are willing to develop your own personal principles “against the fold,” which would allow you to be the person I see within. You’d change your POV if someone with more experience or knowledge shared with you, to develop your intention to a health expectation and not an entitled one. These are my people, those I refuse to give up on because someone did the same for me more than once. My neurospicy brain doesn’t look at relationships as the same as others because we accept any “fault” in others as a result of being outcasted for so long by those same type of entitled people.
Ryan and I both do this. We both see the reasons for not giving up on someone whose caused pain to us, personally speaking, because we know we do it too. A bad day should never demonize us but show us space where we need to be for ourselves so we can be there for others. We are coming to terms with our trauma, our accountability within that traumatic event and how to heal in a way that models the responses we hope from our children if confronted with the same.
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