*(Anyone mentioned in this post has probably been mentioned in earlier blog posts, but have not been named. I have started giving aliases to people who I mention but wish to keep anonymous in an effort to make the story more clear and effective. While the events mentioned remain true, names mentioned in this post have no relation to the actual person and is not the real name of the person mentioned.)
Since the start of quarantine, I have been faced with the challenge of self-change with a high focus on mental change. This idea of self-change was caused by a culmination of life events in the past few months, but the apex of this idea was when I had just asked Riley out on a coffee date which just so happened to be a couple of days before COVID-19 hit. So, how does asking Riley out predicate the idea of “untangling the ropes” — the idea of inward and mental change? Well, let’s take a look at the timeline that led up to the moment that I asked Riley out.
The timeline of when I asked Riley out plays a critical role in this new-found idea of “untangling the ropes.” I will talk about the timeline briefly but you can get a more in depth view by reading my earlier blog post “Trusting God.” So, I first met Riley in October 2019 but I didn’t ask her out until March 2020 even though I knew that I had a crush on her the entire time. The night that I asked her out (which I call the night of supernatural forces) I had actually fought with myself trying to decide if I was going to ask her or not.
Let’s pause right there for a minute… naturally, I’m a planner. I like to have things planned out, even the smallest details sometimes. I mean I was the kid who in third grade was picking out colleges already. So, as weird as it may seem, I just so happened to compose a script of what I would say to Riley when I asked her out even including my possible responses depending on her answer. I had my entire “script” memorized and the night planned out… I was ready to go!
Night time came and it was time to get to church… time for me take my shot… I was kind of excited but still nervous! But by the end of the night, I had finally decided that wasn’t going to ask her out; however, I ended up being in a situation where I was kind of trapped, for lack of a better word, beside her. Here’s the thing though, for about a year-and-half I’ve been trying to be less planned and more spontaneous. So, here I am “trapped” right beside her. Although I had just decided that I wasn’t going to ask her out, I followed my gut and threw caution to the wind. I got rid of my script and asked her out (looking back though I probably should stuck to the script, things might have went a little bit more smooth) but I was completely taken aback by her response. She said, “yes!” Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting for her to say, “no,” like every other girl I have ever asked out has said. At this point, I’m shell-shocked and I’m trying to play it cool but deep down inside I’m speechless and so nervous. I remember feeling like I was swimming in sweat from being nervous and hoping that she didn’t notice the sweat and couldn’t tell that I was nervous. I don’t know why, but every time I tell this story I feel like I’m describing a movie scene, LOL!
Anyway, back to actual reason for this post. So, how does me asking Riley out on a coffee date have anything to do with the idea of inward, mental change? Well, since I was forced back home to Tennessee because of COVID-19, I knew that the coffee date would be postponed to an unknown time. Now, I always to try to do a little self-reflection at least once a month and this time had this date to reflect on. So, I got to thinking (It’s a dangerous thing when I think. I kind of scare myself sometimes with the things I think up.) and I realized that my family relationship dynamic is very transactional (not really expressing our feelings or showing love)… it’s strange but it works for my family. What do I mean by a transactional relationship dynamic? Our communication is 90% when we need something from each other and 10% communicating as a family. I knew that by default my personal relationship dynamic would be the same. So, here I am amid the uncertainty of what direction my relationship with Riley was going, but I knew that she deserved better. I knew that my transactional relationship dynamic was not good enough for her. I knew that if Riley and I were to start dating, that she needed someone who wouldn’t just communicate when they needed something from her. She also deserved someone who wouldn’t be afraid to express their emotions towards her — the understood knowledge of how I felt for her wasn’t going to be good enough. I just couldn’t expect her to accept the fact the because we were dating that she knew how I felt and not be able to show her how I felt. That is how me asking Riley out on a date became the basis for this idea of inward, mental change — this idea of “untangling the ropes.”
So, what do I mean by “untangling the ropes?” I’m essentially attempting to re-wire how I do both platonic and romantic relationships by being more relational and less transactional. You see, my problem is that I am horrible at staying present in the moment. I’m always running away in thought or planning the next thing I have to do in my mind. Secondly, I don’t openly convey my emotions and basically only communicate when I need something from someone. I also never really had a good relationship model growing up, so most of my ideas of how relationships work come from television which honestly is not the best model to have. While this is only the start and I have not seen the results yet, this attempt of “untangling the ropes” and re-wiring how I do relationships requires staying present, openly expressing emotions and communicating more, and allowing my relationship ideas to be changed.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: In the last two years of my high school career, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of a mental health group that raised awareness about mental health. Those two years happened to be the best years of my high school career. So, while this post presents a problem but no solution, it is my hope that when you read it you would have seen similarities in your story and start to make an effort to better your mental health. I can’t wait until the day that I will be able to write a post (or a book even) that gives an in depth solution to the problem that I mentioned in this post! I am so thankful for everyone who reads my blog, I hope my posts challenge you and give you chance to laugh. Love you guys!