It would be so nice if in third grade we all sat down, opened our Relationship Textbooks, and started learning a set of skills. But, unfortunately, that shit doesn’t happen. In childhood we aren’t all taught the skills necessary to build solid, strong relationships. For the majority of us we learn how to “relationship” by what we see and observe in the relationships around us.
I know, personally, that my anxiety often rattles around in my brain with negative thoughts. My skull is a gumball machine, my negative thoughts are hideously moldy gumballs, and they love to try and accumulate.
Over the years I have spent way too much time thinking about all the things I “should” be doing better or that I “could” have done differently. I have spent a lot of time fixating on what “might” go wrong in the near future/distant future/hypothetical futures. And when it comes to my intimate relationships and the years I spent trying to enter into the dating world I spent a hell of a lot of time hating myself and my patterns.
It’s really, really easy to get stuck in a merry-go-round of feeling helpless and fucked-over by X, Y, or Z. It’s really, really easy to blame yourself. To blame your brain chemicals. To blame a person at work. To blame the institutions around you. To blame your parents. To blame your friends. etc etc on and on and on until the world starts to feel very dark and sad. But whenever I find myself slipping into these caves of muck I remind myself I have a choice in how I shape my life and I need to make a motherfuckin’ plan.
When I saw a headline on the internet that Drew Barrymore was separating from her husband I felt a stab of sadness. The sadness didn’t come from any kind of obsession over their relationship or an obsession with Drew Barrymore (though I am a big fan). The sadness was rooted in a quote I’d read. It was a quote that stuck with me. Barrymore was discussing why she fell in love with her husband. She’d said he was “someone who has this incredible blueprint of a family that I don’t have.”
That idea of a blueprint stuck with me. It appeals to my pragmatic side, my planner side, and my poetic side that loves a good metaphor. And it felt really beautiful since it was Barrymore gently acknowledging her childhood/family hadn’t provided her with the skills to build a healthy relationship, but that didn’t make her incapable of identifying one she admired and moving towards it.
A blueprint is a design or a plan that can be followed. It is a detailed plan of how to do something.
A blueprint is something you can take with you, refer back to, and rely upon when you are feeling a bit lost.
If you find yourself stuck in that merry-go-round of negativity, sadness or feeling hopeless, remember that you are capable of building yourself an exit strategy. You’re capable of building yourself a new ride entirely. And you don’t have to figure it out all on your own.
Start by looking outside and finding examples of what you do want. Find examples of people who you admire, list why you admire them, and think through how they achieve these qualities. What do you imagine they do on a daily basis? What small steps can you take to get closer to this lifestyle?
There’s a fine line between observing others and feeling inspired and observing others and feeling jealous/cynical. Remember, there is enough love and happiness and beauty for everyone. Look at those you admire, feel happy for them, and use them as a shining light of guidance.
I’ve come to realize for myself how important it is to look out in my world and collect blueprints of people I admire. This is especially true when it comes to my intimate relationships and my marriage. Like the Winchester Mystery House, my marriage is something I will forever be building, forever working on. I want to make sure I have some BADASS blueprints to help guide me.
All of us, always, are learning what it means to be alive. And even though we may not sit down in third grade with our pencil and relationship textbook, we can sure as hell look around us and go THAT’S what happiness looks like.