Ice on the road

“So the relationship’s been going really really well,” she tells me.  “He’s attentive and sweet, and we like the same food and music, and he accepts my feelings and even tries to share his own.”

“Okay,” I say.

“And then he had to go out of town on business for a week, and even that feels pretty okay at first.  He stays in touch — texts me, sends me pictures of where he is and what he’s doing, tells me he misses me, that sort of thing.  Like I said, sweet.”

“Okay,” I say again.  Waiting for the other shoe.

“Then two nights ago he goes to a party with his coworkers and meets the daughter of a state senator.  And he sends me a picture someone took of them laughing together, and she’s blonde and beautiful, and then he texts me about how interesting and funny she is, and I freak.”

“Freak how?”

“You know how.  All my insecurities rise up and strangle me.  I start thinking things like I can’t compete with that and Why would he bother with me if he can hang out with a state senator’s daughter and look at that hair.  That kind of crap.”

“And you’ve been doing this to yourself since then.”

“Yes,”she says bleakly.  “Make it stop.”

I laugh. 

“Well, I can’t make it stop, but maybe you can.”

“How?”

I think for a minute.

“Ever go on a road trip?” I ask.  “A long one?”

“Sure.” 

“Good.  Imagine you’re on a 100-mile road trip, heading north in winter.  And along the way there are patches of ice, so every few miles the car skids sideways and you get nervous.  You’re able to drive through each skid and get back on dry pavement, but it keeps happening.”

“Okay.”

“So what you have to decide is if the trip is worth the skids.  Whether you want to get where you’re headed enough to tolerate some skidding — some losses of control — and whether you can do it without panicking or blaming yourself or worrying that there’s something wrong with the car.  There’s nothing wrong.  There’s just ice on the road.”

She frowns.

“The road is the relationship,” she says.

I nod.

“And I have to accept not feeling in total control of it.”

“Yup.”

“And not turn into a big baby each time the car skids.”

“Yes.  And that includes not blaming or insulting yourself.  You’re not a baby.  It’s okay to feel unsure.  But you get through it by remembering that all roads get icy, all drivers skid, and no road trip goes as planned.”

She sighs.   “And that all that is okay.”

I shrug.

“It’s the cost of ever going anywhere in the first place.”

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