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Growing Up

I have a lot of growing up to do and it's a lot harder than I ever thought.

I want to share something that happened this past weekend that was really hard for me to go through while it was happening and is still hard even after everything got all worked out.

Just so you know, Matty saw this post before I put it here and completely supports me in posting it. We made an agreement before we ever started this blog that we would never use the space here to publicly agrue. 

We thought it might be a good idea to share a little of what happened because we're both learning that relationships can get really complicated sometimes and you can't always see what you need to do without the help of friends and people who care enough to be very honest with you.

I'll give a summary of what led up to the problem and then talk about how we worked things out.

Last week Matty had some negative feelings about something that happened between him and a friend of his. He got really worked up about the whole thing and within the span of just a few minutes had decided he never wanted to have anything to do with this friend again. He started saying all kinds of mean and unfair things about this friend -- but not to this friend. He was saying all this to me and a couple of other friends of ours. By the way, we're all friends with this person Matty was so angry at.

Nothing anybody said to Matty about how he was handling this was getting through to him. Everybody was telling Matty he should talk to the friend about what was bothering him and try to work things out. Matty kept getting more and more mad and said some really nasty things about the friend. It was really hard for all of us to be around because he was getting more and more worked up and couldn't see how talking to his friend would help. He just kept saying all these harsh things about his (and our) friend and wouldn't let any of us help him think about what he could do.

After a while he eventually calmed down and contacted his friend and within about five minutes everything was worked out. It had all been a misunderstanding on Matty's part and they're good friends again.

Matty then apologized to me and the other friends he had been talking to for saying all the harsh things he did and making all of us get really upset with him. You could tell the apology was real and genuine. Matty was upset with himself for being so unfair to the friend and was also upset with himself for involving all of us and being so self-centered (his words) that he was taking his feelings out on us.

Well, in addition to feeling good that Matty and his/our friend were okay again, we all accepted his apology, not that he was mad at the friend because that happens sometimes, but that he was taking his feelings out on us and pushing us away while we were truly trying to help.

After he apologized and I (thought) accepted it, I didn't realize at the time that I was still feeling really upset with him. To be completely honest, I had this worry that maybe he didn't really learn anything and it might happen again and the apology was just empty words.

I didn't tell him this because at the time I didn't realize I was still doubting his apology. All I knew was that I was still skeptical of his apology and thought I had to keep some kind of "punishment" going because -- and this is hard to admit -- I sorta felt like I couldn't trust his apology. I kept my distance from him and sorta started this cold war.

Later the next day he was joking around with me and just being his usual silly self. He's actually a lot of fun to be around when he's feeling happy and enjoying being with me. Sometime he likes to pick on me, all in a playful and fun way, and we go back and forth with these really silly jabs and usually end up feeling super close to each other. What Matty didn't know was that I had this "secret cold war" still going on inside of me.

At one point I asked him to stop all his kidding around because I was getting irritated with it, but he thought I was just being playful and kept on and on and on, trying to get me in a better mood. When he wouldn't stop and I had enough, I snapped at him and it sorta startled and confused him. He could tell I was serious and, since he didn't know there was this cold war going on, he snapped back at me. Since we're being honest here, I called him an asshole and he snapped back and said I was being the asshole.

Well, the cold war then became a hot war and I stormed out of the house, got in my car and called my sister. My sister and I have always been really close and I can tell her anything and know she'll listen to me, take me seriously, and be totally honest with me.

I told my sister everything that happened over the past few days including how Matty handled the friend situation, including the fact that he apologized for how he had taken out his feelings on me and the other friends who were only trying to help him out.

I told her I didn't know if Matty would go back to his old ways and do it all over again and I had to keep on him and not cut him any slack because I maybe didn't trust his apology.

Eventually my sister said something like, "You make Matty sound like he's our dad." You see, my dad use to make all these screwups when we were growing up and then he'd apologize and we'd believe him and then he'd start drinking again and being a real asshole. It got to where nobody believed him anymore and we all ended up really hurt and didn't trust his apologies anymore. My sister pointed out that when somebody close to me screws up and then apologizes, I have a hard time believing them.

The other thing I realized was that when Matty gets going with all his kidding around, most of the time he's really fun to be around. He's got a wicked sense on humor and most of the time we have a ball joking back and forth. Then sometimes I start loosing my patience with it and ask him to cut it out. I guess he thinks I'm just kidding and he keeps on with the joking while I'm getting more and more annoyed until I finally snap at him.

I know a lot of it has to do with his ADHD. Up to now I've been putting it all on him to control that. The medication he takes helps a lot, but sometimes he can get really, really hyper and I don't know what to do to make him chill. So, I snap at him. Guess what that does? It only makes it worse and I end up really pissed off at him and he ends up confused and pissed off because he thought he was just being funny.

Two really close friends of mine pointed out to me that this is something Matty was born with it and it's a part of him and if we're in this relationship "in sickness and in health," then I can't just put everything on him to "fix" or "control" his brain and how it works. They said I should have a serious talk with him about it and see if we can't figure out I can help him with it. For example, when I'm getting aggravated and annoyed and irritated, maybe we could work out a signal I could give Matty so he knows I'm not playing around anymore and for him to see if he could take a one minute chill.

So, two big lessons came out of all this for me:

One is to not take out my feelings about my dad on Matty. When Matty does something that makes me mad, like lash out at me when he's really mad with someone else, and then realizes what he did and apologize for it, I have to give him the chance to show he means the apology and not automatically assume he's like my dad and can't be trusted.

The second lesson is about the ADHD. I have to realize that since we're in this relationship together, I have a part to play in helping him understand how it affects me and we both have a part in finding some ways to deal with it when it becomes a problem. That's what being together "in sickness and in health" means to me. You can even change those words to mean, "during problems and good times." It's all the same to me.

So, yeah, like I said at the beginning, growing up is a lot harder and more complicated than I ever thought. I have to trust more (which can be scary because of all that stuff with my dad) and I have to see our relationship as a "partnership" where we work together when we're having problems.

Oh, and the other really, really big thing I learned has to do with how important it is to have true friends in your life. Friends who care about you and aren't afraid to tell you the truth and point out things you don't see. It might strain the friendship because they might be mad at you for being unfair to the person you love, but if friends can't be honest with each other when they care about you, then I guess they're not really friends at all. I'm glad I have some true friends in my life who care about me (and Matty) and help us while we're trying to grow up.
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