In his song, “Foldin Clothes,” J.Cole writes about taking care of a partner through his lyrics of the simple act of folding clothes.
“Listen, this is a meditation for me
A practice of being present
There’s no where I need to be, except right here with you
Except right here with you
Foldin’ clothes, watching Netflix
Catching up on our shows, eating breakfast
Raisin Bran in my bowl with bananas and some almond milk
I never thought I’d see the day I’m drinking almond milk”
Why would someone write a song about wanting to fold their partner’s clothes? As I have folded my partners’ clothes understanding the gift of time and closeness, as I add almond milk to my tea, I am blown away by a man singing about this experience.
I started a list a month ago with things I deserve, but it immediately felt selfish and self-indulgent. How does one become conditioned to think that deservedness is selfish? My friends say the things that live in that list are basic human decency within relationships. I feel affirmed by the list and yet like it’s an impossibly difficult list to accomplish.
My best friend Patti has an amazing partner, Todd. On a typical New England fall day, I arrived for a BFF day, grey and drizzly and raw. Her car was not in the driveway when I arrived, causing me to ask where it was.
“Todd is filling it with gas and filling the tires with air.”
I chuckled in disbelief and expressed, “Wow Patti, you could totally do that yourself.”
Her response, “Yeah but it’s raining.”
I didn’t understand.
I really didn’t understand.
Patti is a strong and capable human, why would she need her partner to do these things for her? Why would her partner do these things for her? It just didn’t make any sense to me at all.
Over the years I’ve watched Todd carry her bags to my car when we go on a weeklong road trip; sit beside me at a half ironman and talk with me about timing when she got a concussion; pack “go bags” when we go to NYC and hide emergency supplies in her car; ensure we have enough battery packs when we are in Boston for the day.
All of these things made me chuckle before. Those chuckles were caused by my discomfort with these actions, a love that is so demonstrable, so tangible. And I show it. Outward, big, giant expressive love – that‘s what I do. I love big, I forgive often, I allow less than big into my life in terms of romantic relationships. Unlike romance, My friendships are big, expansive, and loving. But romance is different. There I squeeze myself into less, I give excuses, I look the other way, I rationalize the treatment. I feel like I would say that I have gotten better at not doing this, but I am still learning.
Nine years ago I wrote a list of what I wanted in a partner. It was comprehensive, filling 3 full pages in my journal. It was full of things like “leaves me love notes”, “likes my cats”, “likes to read,”and “likes popcorn, doritos, fried chicken, iced tea, mexican food and guacamole.”
Minus the last part I think it’s a pretty accurate list still. But somehow I still need the “I deserve” list now? I thought through years of therapy and so many failed relationships I would no longer need this list at my age. How can I so clearly express what I want and need 9 years ago but still find myself in relationships that aren’t meeting these basic needs? My ability to love close and hard might be my biggest downfall.
I am honest and open publicly so I can be held accountable to myself and won’t hide when things aren’t serving or loving or deserving. I no longer need to accept less than what I deserve.