I recently got up the courage to tell my boyfriend what I wanted for Valentine’s Day. His response blew me away and made me love him more! We were sitting on the couch and he playfully touched my arm and asked me what I’d like to see or wear on my wrist.
I smiled because I knew he was fishing for ideas, but at the same time, I felt my anxiety rise and a committee meeting began to form in my head. The spirited conversation in my head sounded like this:
The tough single mom voice – “A bracelet, you don’t need a fuckin’ bracelet, why don’t you tell him what you really need, ask him to pay a bill!”
The pleaser voice (who was taught “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” and “to keep a man happy, you keep your mouth shut”) – “Tell him you would like anything, whatever he wants, tell him you don’t need anything”.
The avoider voice- “Oh God, change the subject, don’t say anything, ask him what he wants.”
The negative voice– “You’re fucked, if you tell him what you want you will be vulnerable and he will have the upper hand. If you don’t say anything or pretend a bracelet is a great idea, you will be pissed with yourself for not speaking up. Either way, you lose, this is not going to end well.”
The stronger me (who is a work in progress) voice – “Relax, take a deep breath, he is just trying to make you happy. He loves you and he wants to give you what you desire. I know you are uncomfortable with this conversation, so TELL HIM you are uncomfortable and explain why.”
Luckily, the stronger me who is trying to do things very differently in this newish relationship (8 months) won this debate.
Before I could say a word, he looked at me and said, “What’s wrong, I can see you thinking, you look upset”.
I smiled because his insight gave me the courage to speak my truth. This man is paying attention and he cares for me, I told myself. I sat on his lap, looked him in the eyes and said “I am not upset, I am scared. Thank you for loving me the way you do. I appreciate you and I want to let you spoil me. I would love anything you pick out for me and while I love surprises, what would really help me at this time is a gift certificate for any of the numerous services that I regularly want to get to look and feel good.”
I explained that because I was investing so much in my business, beauty services that used to be in my budget were now a guilty luxury I could not afford. He immediately said yes, of course that makes sense, and asked where I wanted services from. Before I could answer, he began naming spas nearby and I smiled, but I wasn’t happy—more anxiety!!!
He was naming expensive spas and I knew that with the same amount he would spend, I could get more done if I went to my no-frills providers. Again, the voices in my head began to debate. Can I tell him more truth?? Is he going to get mad because I am making this so hard?
I remained strong and gently told him I prefer to go to my regular people. He offered to give me money. I was crushed (another debate in my head ensued). This was a loud debate because the offer of cash triggered me.
I was reminded of my ex-husband who used money to manipulate and control me. But, thankfully, because there are absolutely no similarities between my kind, humble, and loving boyfriend and my ex-husband, I persevered. My boyfriend was with me the entire time – staring into my eyes, holding me, looking for a solution and wanting to see calm return to my face and body. This beautiful soul was just trying to make me happy. He wants to provide, protect and support me any way he can, but it is up to me to allow him to do so.
In the end, I shared three contacts with him (my hair, nails and facial place) and said I would be happy with any of those, he can surprise me.
I am learning that receiving things from others depends on my willingness to allow them to give them to me. This is true with family, friends, and in business too. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity for someone else to show you how much they care for you. Being specific and asking for what you want is also an opportunity to grow closer to someone who really does want to give you whatever your heart desires.
P.S. I am writing this before Valentine’s Day. I already received the best gift of all, his loving response to this conversation and the strength I felt when I spoke up and asked for what I wanted. There is no better feeling than being heard and understood.
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