How a week can be so awesome and, at the same time, so totally crappy, I'll never know. But it's been a rough week around here.
My oldest daughter came home from college on July 2. She's a biochemistry graduate student and only gets 2 weeks off during the summer. We had an awesome party on July 3, and spent July 4 playing with my younger kids and just hanging out. It was a great 2 days. Then, on Friday things kind of blew up.
My 17 yr old daughter was being.... well.... a moody 17 yr old girl, and she decided to change her plans at the last minute without telling me about it...which in turn, meant completely changing family plans. I go out of my way to treat my 17 yr old like the mature young woman she is. She gets good grades, plays 4 different musical instruments, sings, is active in our church, has a part-time job, knows what she wants to do after high school, and had solid career plans. I like and approve of her boyfriend, and can be as headstrong as her mother. I don't mind my daughter changing plans, and I try to accommodate her, but I very much dislike having family plans changed at the last minute. I work hard to make sure family plans work for everyone involved, including my daughters boyfriend, and having my daughter change those plans with no consideration for everyone else involved irritates me. So, on Friday my daughter and I were dealing with typical mother/teenage girl tension. I was irritable and my knight was off kilter and a bit needy. Then I found out that he lost the cable to the printer when we moved 6 months ago. Not a big deal in the general scheme of things, but at that moment it was a big deal - mostly because I remember giving him specific packing instructions regarding the cords to the printer before we moved. Those instructions were not followed. The lack of printer cable meant that our plans for the day were even further screwed up and that sent me into an even worse mood. My 17 yr old had the car so we couldn't just run out and buy a new cable. Everything my oldest and I wanted to do together on Friday was hosed because somebody else didn't follow through. That kind of thing makes me very angry.. and by 6 pm I was in a rotten mood and felt like I was surrounded by people who just did not care about keeping their word to each other. And, it didn't help that I it was pms time, so my hormones were a bit out of whack. I went to bed early and hoped Saturday would be a better day.
My knight was still off kilter on Saturday. I admit that was probably my fault. When I'm irritable my knight tends to internalize it. It doesn't matter why I'm in a bad mood.. I could be irritated with a difficult client, distracted with a writing project, or just irritable, regardless of the reason, my knight takes it to mean he's not doing "something wrong." He has a difficult time understanding that sometimes I'm just irritable.. and it's nothing he did. I try to give him the extra guidance he needs during those times, but on Saturday his neediness just annoyed me further. He wanted to talk about the missing printer cable, and how he didn't feel it was his fault. I didn't want to discuss it . I just wanted him to go out and buy a new cable so I could print what I needed, and be done with it-- And I told him that. But, my knight kept pushing to talk.. kept insisting that it wasn't his fault. As far as I saw it (and still see it) if he had packed the printer the way I asked him to, the cable would not have gone missing. He didn't do as I asked, therefore he lost the cable. Just go out and replace the damn thing, and move on. Except my knight kept talking about it. I finally blew up. During the very short argument that followed my knight said something that made it sound like he was questioning the FLR. I walked away from him and his comment.
That evening when we were alone I asked him if he wanted to continue the FLR dynamic, if he was starting to resent it and wanted to go back to a 50/50 arrangement. He didn't answer me. I gave him 15 minutes or so, and asked again. Still no answer. After another 10 minutes or so, I asked a third time... his answer was "I don't know. I need more time to think about it." Okay.. fine.. but what do we do in the meantime? He had no answer. We ended up going to bed with that question unanswered. Now.... if you've read this blog for any time at all you know that a lot of the time I worry that I forced my knight into FLR against his wishes. Since he "was still thinking about it" I decided the best thing I could do is to back off of FLR while he thought things over. So, on Sunday I assumed a 50/50 type of dynamic. I told him that while he was thinking about whether he wanted to continue the FLR dynamic, that I would drop the FLR and go back to 50/50 because I didn't want to force FLR on him.
I stopped giving direction. When my knight asked me if I wanted him to do A or B, I answered with.. I don't know..that's your decision to make now. I didn't ask my knight to do things, or get things for me, I simply did it myself. I didn't make a big deal out of it, I just took care of my own things, and expected him to do the same.
And.. that's when things REALLY went to hell. My knight became irritable, depressed and angry. I told him that we would do things 50/50 until he made a decision as to whether or not he wanted to continue the FLR. He kept asking me "Why are you doing this to me?" My answer was that I wasn't doing anything to him.. that I was assuming a 50/50 arrangement until he made a decision. I really was not trying to punish him. I was trying not to force him to accept my authority if he didn't want it. He kept coming back to the printer cable thing. He thought I was being unfair, and at one point muttered "I'm not sure I want to give you that power over me." When I asked him what he meant he said that he thought I was being unfair about the printer cable. and it really bothered him. I pointed out that HE was the only one still harping on the cable. We bought a new one, and I dropped it because there was nothing either of us could really do to fix it.
Things continued like this for the next couple days. Every day, I asked my knight if he'd made a decision yet. And every day he said he was "still thinking about it" Everyday I reminded him that we would do things 50/50 until he made a decision. It was obvious to me that he was feeling lost, depressed and miserable, but I was determined that if we returned to FLR it would be at HIS request.
By Wednesday we were barely speaking, and I'm not sure either of us knew why.
I told him that I hate feeling like I'm forcing FLR on him and that I need to know that he WANTS the FLR. It has to be something we do because he wants it.. not because I force it on him. I told him that if we return to FLR that I need to see, hear, and know beyond all doubt that he wants that dynamic. We got into a long discussion about how I always question whether he wants it because he won't talk about his needs and his desires as far as FLR goes. His answer was that all he really wants is for me to be happy. I reminded him that I AM happy.. happiness comes from within.. it's not something he can give me.. no matter how much he might want to. Then I told him that regardless of anything he says.. we "do FLR" for HIM.. not for me. I took charge of him because it makes HIM happy. He finds contentment and security when I am in charge of him, and that's why we do it. I don't need the FLR to be happy, and I told him that it ticked me off that keeps saying the FLR is for me. It's not. I do it for him.. because he seems so much more content, and secure. I don't do FLR for me.. I do it for him. That's where I left it on Weds night.
Thursday morning nothing really changed.My knight still said he was thinking about it, while at the same time constantly asking for my guidance.I pulled him aside out of earshot of the kids and told him to stop asking for my guidance unless he'd made a decision about the FLR. Again, he said he was still thinking about it.
Thursday evening, we were watching a movie with the kids. The kids were all on the couch, and I was in a nearby chair kitting. When my knight came downstairs, my oldest asked the younger kids to scoot over and make room on the couch for daddy. The kids moved, but my knight came over and sat on the floor at my feet. My oldest told him, "You don't have to sit on the floor, there's room over here." He answered with, "Yep. I know. I'm comfortable here." I stopped knitting and played with his hair as he nuzzled my leg. My knight sat at my feet until we went to bed a few hours later.
When we were alone I asked him, "So, you've made your decision, then?"
He said, "I'm sorry. I just want to get back to normal."
We talked for a couple hours about what happened. Finally he told me he felt like he shouldn't need the structure of FLR, that he thought he should be able to do this... to make me happy ..... without FLR. That he should just know. He apologized for needing the flr, and being so needy.
I told him that I don't mind FLR, but that I need him to show me that he wants and needs it. Show me it's important to him.. because I hate feeling that I've forced him into it. I told him that I do the
FLR for him (not to him) ... because I love it when we're close.. and I want him to feel comfortable relaxing into his role.
My knight kept telling me that he feels like he shouldn't need me to set his priorities..that he feels like he should be able to figure it out for himself. But he can't. I reminded him that I tried to shoe horn him into "typical 50/50" for years.....I expected him to figure out priorities himself, and it almost landed us in divorce court, because we were both miserable. It wasn't until we found FLR that things got better for us.
I don't understand why he's so concerned with what "should" be... and I'm not sure how to help him feel okay with what IS. My knight is obviously happier under the FLR. How do I help him accept that there's nothing wrong with him because he prefers to be led rather than lead?