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The Truth About Partnership

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I think most of us have heard the saying, a partnership is 50/50. The truth of it is, many days it is not 50/50. There are times when either our partner, better half, significant other, spouse, best friend, etc or ourselves are not able to pull our weight in the relationship. There are times when it is more like 70/30 or maybe even 90/10. There are times when the other will carry the bulk of the relationship on their shoulders and will likely feel stressed by it, but should remember that sometimes it’s the other way around.

A true partnership has many ups and downs. No relationship is perfect, no matter how wonderful some make theirs look to their loved ones, every relationship has its issues. All of the posts about flowers they got from their boyfriends or husbands, the amazing meals and gestures their wives or girlfriends made them, the romantic nights, the terrific family vacations, or how perfectly happy they appear in pictures, there is always more to the story then the rest of us see or yes, more than we ourselves share when we’re the ones gushing about our amazing partners and “perfect” relationships.

Growing up, many of us have fairy-tale relationship expectations. We think we will find our prince or princess and ride off into the sunset together, living happily ever after. Happily ever after does exist, but not in the perfect state of bliss we imagine it to be. There are sleepless nights, arguments over petty stuff, short tempers, illnesses, financial struggles, death of loved ones, loss of a job, differences that are hard to overcome, lies, grudges, rough days that lead to one or both taking it out on their partner, issues with the kids, and so much more that get in the way of perfection. They say, “don’t go to bed angry.”, but the truth is, sometimes it happens. Sometimes we are too hurt or angry in the moment to talk calmly, sometimes we need moments to ourselves to calm down, sort things out. None of that means that a couple is unhappy or that their relationship is failing. Every relationship struggles from time to time.

Does the good outweigh the bad? Do you trust your partner, do they trust you? Do you respect one another? Do you make one another laugh, smile, and enjoy life? Do you love one another? If so, then you know that the bad will come, but it will pass and until it does, you work together to get through it. It won’t always be 50/50 through those tough times, but that’s okay. Expecting 50/50 all the time is unrealistic and unfair. What should be expected is that you give your best, whether it happens to be 10% or 90% at any given time will vary, but always give the best you can. When you’re the one pulling a lot of the weight, try to remember the shoe will be on the other foot and when your partner is the one lifting you up, be thankful for that and do the same when they need you to do the same for them.

A true partnership works together daily, giving the best of themselves each day to make it work. Whether you’ve been together one week, a year, or 50 years, nothing changes that it is a daily effort to make your relationship last. If it is worth it to both people, then both must give of themselves. It won’t survive on the efforts of just one. We may not be able to give 100% of ourselves each day, but we can give the best we have each day. I urge you to look at your partner in a new way today, to see them the way you did in the very beginning. Think about how they have changed over time and about how you have changed, the good and the bad. How have you inspired one another while together? Let’s face it, partners habits, ways of thinking or doing things, and so on rub off on one another. Have you helped your partner become better throughout the time you’ve been together, have they done so for you?

Let today be a day of reflection about our relationships, our partners, and ourselves. May we work on lessening the weaknesses and making the strengths even stronger. May our relationships grow, may we get closer to our partner, and may we find more love and compassion for ourselves as well. We can be our own worst critics, so I also urge us to find ways to see us the way others see us, especially those who see our beauty, strength, and worth. When we love ourselves, let go of guilt and regret, we can be better partners and also better parents, children, friends, and so on. May today be the beginning of changes, healthy ones. Our relationships will benefit from them, as will we and those we love.

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A Success Story, Of Sorts

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Over the years, I have had quite the journey. I have been knocked down, taken others down with me, been helped up, and been blessed enough to help others get on their feet as well. I know my journey isn’t over, but I have come to realize lately that thus far I do have quite the tale to tell. I do view it as a success story, for I have come a long way from where I once was. While I still have time left, I aim to accomplish even more. Though right now I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge just how far I’ve come and may my story inspire those of you take a moment to read this.

A few times, I should have been dead and God saw fit to keep me here. He has told me my time isn’t up yet. What comes to mind the most are the car accidents in 1999 and 2000, they could have very well put me in my grave. The drugs I experimented with in my younger days could have easily sealed my fate, didn’t always know what my friends were handing me and just wanted to be cool, but too often that has led to people’s deaths. We take so many chances in life, some very careless and reckless chances….to be accepted by those around you or sometimes just for the very rush it gives you, the thrill of it all so to speak. Luckily thus far, I have survived everything. I know God has a reason for me to still be here and I am grateful for it. I hope that I continue to use my moments to do good for others, to inspire, and to be that beacon of light.

I made a mess of my life, so many mistakes. It wasn’t just hanging out with the wrong crowd, the drugs, or the constant partying that I did that I reflect on. I led, cheated, and stole my way through my younger days. I am not proud of who I was. I was constantly floating from job to job, moving around to be by people who made my life more interesting, and just not being willing to do what was expected of me. When my son was first born, I wasn’t there for him as I should have been. I knew I wasn’t ready and so I handed him to my mom. I saw him now and then, but not often enough. When his dad got involved, I was around a bit more, but still not enough. I gave his father temporary primary placement when he asked for it because I thought it was what was best at the time for our son. He made more money and had a more stable life. I wanted my son to have what I didn’t growing up, a parent who could provide and also be there for them. After awhile though, his dad started keeping him from me and I just let him do that. It took me years to finally step up and then I had a fight on my hands just so I could get the time with my boy that both he and I wanted.

That fight helped me grow up a lot. It was stressful and took years to resolve. It wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but it was better than what we’d had. Instead of wondering when and if I’d get to see my son, there is now a schedule on paper that has to be followed. His dad and I tweak it as needed, but it’s something we work together on now, instead of fighting. It’s nice to know when I will see my son, it eases both of our minds a bit. That road was a bumpy one, but I needed to travel it to grow. I am proud of myself for finally growing up and doing what needed to be done. Fighting for your rights as a parent is tough, but your child(ren) need to come first and spending time with them is so important. There was a time to be young, naive, foolish, and irresponsible. That time for me is over. I have my moments of being immature and silly, but it never compromises my tasks at hand that need to be done. We all need to be youthful from time to time, but remember to balance that out with adulthood. 😉

The other big milestones that come to mind is the whole house gutting/cleaning project and now taking care of my grandma. Those helped me mature in ways I can’t properly describe. When it got tough, someone had to step up and do what needed to be done. There were moments when we wanted to throw our hands up and be done, just give up on the house. I would get angry and then the determination would set in. I’d talk to my mom and re-inspire her and we’d get to it. We had some help in the beginning and a bit at the very end, but largely this task was taken on by my mom and myself. Gutting and cleaning my grandma’s home was a daunting project. My grandpa grew up here, so imagine just how much stuff there was to go through. His childhood was spent here, much of my mother’s and uncle’s were spent here too, some of mine, and also some of my son’s. Years and years of stuff had to be pitched, deciding what could and should be saved wasn’t really easy.

My uncle and grandma had done so much damage in the last 16 years though, that was the worst part. My uncle and myself, we moved in a week apart in 1996. He was going through a divorce and was only blocks from his sons if he stayed here, so Grandma let him stay here to save him money since he was to pay support on four children. My mom convinced her to let me stay here just before my 18th birthday so that she could go live with her boyfriend. At first, it was manageable for me to keep up after them. They both worked and it gave me the time to clean. But each time I moved away and came back, it got messier and harder for me to deal with. The last time I moved out, I swore I was never coming back. The place had gotten so bad I couldn’t deal with it anymore, it had become too much for me to clean, to keep up. But, last summer I realized something needed to be done. They’re hoarders, but that wasn’t my problem. What was is that my grandma’s health was being jeopardized and someone needed to do something. My mom and I put calls into the Dept. of Aging and they began the process of getting my grandma help. She had to be hospitalized because as it had turned out, she hadn’t been taking her medicine in over a year, she was also severely dehydrated because she was drinking mostly soda, some milk, but no water. Her blood pressure was through the roof and she needed help. During her stay, I called the city and they inspected the house. It didn’t take long before the lady knew it had to be locked up, it was unsafe because of the roaches, the pet dander, the mold, the raw food everywhere, the filth. She later worked with us to have our own locks put on the doors so we could start coming to gut, clean, and repair. After Grandma was released, she went to an assisted living place on a temporary basis and then to my other uncle’s home in MN while we worked on the home.

So the home project began and as I said, it was rough. It took three months from the day Grandma went into the hospital to get the house good enough for the city to lift the restrictions and let Grandma come home. In that three months, my one uncle here was told by us he had to go elsewhere because the two of them can not be allowed to live together because they enable each other to be messy and to be compulsive buyers. It was said that I would move in and take care of Grandma. It was stressful and there were fights. He’s been staying with a friend since he came home from working Scout Camp all summer to find his home had been locked up. It seems to be working for him. Anyway, so I moved in a couple of days before she came home and the first month together wasn’t that bad. We got along most of the time and she worked with me on taking her medicine, bathing two to three times a week when she hadn’t been bathing at all before, etc. We’d run errands together, eat meals together, and made the situation work.

A month later, she had a stroke and then we found she’d had others and no one knew, not even her. November 27th, 2012 is a day I won’t soon forget. Since that day, nothing has been the same. Her falling got worse, her speech lapses in and out, her memory is even worse than before, etc. A couple of weeks ago, I was told she has Dementia. I was also told that her good days are going to become fewer and fewer as time progresses. I have already noticed the decline and it’s become very difficult for me to bear at times. I thank God for His continued strength and for the support He’s given me in the people who have been there for me through this. I have pretty much toddler proofed the house for a grown adult. She is no longer allowed to use the stove because she’s left it on, ruins pots and pans, and makes a huge mess. She has tried to once recently, but I was home and stopped her. I then cooked the egg for her, told her I am supposed to do this. Sometimes she forgets and I also think her stubbornness comes into play too, just hard to tell which it is at times. She leaves the water running, the refrigerator door open, messes on the floor, has pooped on the floor a couple of times now, etc etc. I have now hidden all of our sharp knives and have taken to using only plastic cups. When we had our bathroom redone by my boyfriend’s dad and company, we had grab bars installed…both on the outside and inside of the tub. We also have a shower now, so she doesn’t have to try to lay down in the tub anymore. There are nightlights throughout the house because I noticed her most dangerous falls were happening at night when she wouldn’t turn on a light. I have a separate trash bin for her Depends and take those out to keep the ammonia odor out of the house, do all of the cleaning….including her laundry which I have to do every few days because she likes to try to wear the same thing for days and/or puts the dirty clothes back in the drawer.

Some days I want to scream, to give up, to just be done. I keep pulling through the best that I can. We are having the Dept. of Aging in to evaluate her again however. She’s become a danger to herself and I can’t be around all the time. She needs to be somewhere where there will always be help should something happen. Until things change though, I am going to keep doing the best I can for the woman who has given me so much. I do feel that I have needed this experience to grow, to mature. I have been told by many that love me that I should be very proud of myself for how far I have come, for all I do for my grandma. I am, I know it’s not easy. I am not a caregiver by nature, not in the least. I have an enormous amount of respect for those who do this day in and day out for a number of people. I tip my hat to you! I do what I do because it’s for my grandma, for a woman who supported me through so many ups and downs, a woman who never gave up on me, a woman who has believed in me and my potential when many others didn’t.

I am still looking for work, but I am not just sitting idly by until then. I do take care of Grandma, but I am also now doing side work for my boyfriend’s dad to earn money. He owns his own business, builds houses, renovates, repairs, etc. He totally redid our bathroom. He and the people he contracted for the plumbing, electric, and drywalling did an amazing job. Well, anyway, he’s getting so busy and needs help keeping up with paperwork, dropping off plans to contractors, etc. I learned how to use Quick Books yesterday and know a lot already! I am going to be of a great service to him, save him a lot of time he said. Ah, but it is he that is being of great service to me, I feel. I suppose we’re helping one another, as God calls us to do. It’s a win/win for us both.

Currently, my life isn’t so bad when I really look at it. I have time with my son now, set on paper. We’re very close and am grateful for our time together. I cherish our bond, one that has never gone away, despite the rough times. I love my kiddo so much! I have been given multiple chances to grow and mature. I am giving back to an amazing woman by taking care of her. It is so stressful sometimes, but it’s rewarding knowing I can be there for her when she needs me. I have an outstandingly wonderful boyfriend who has been such a stronghold for me. We celebrate six months together next Tuesday. 🙂 I can’t even begin to express the joy he brings into my life and how grateful I am for his love and support. I also have some fiercely loyal and loving friends as well who have been so supportive with everything….letting me vent when I have a rough day, pointing me in the right direction with my job search, making me laugh and smile, telling me how proud they are of me, and just being so totally stellar. My mom has been great through all of this too and I’d like to think we’re a lot closer now than we ever have been because of it. I have been thoroughly enjoying my time spent on WordPress. Again, you guys and dolls have inspired me more than you know and I thank you for that. Knowing I have inspired and lifted others spirits as well has been so humbling. That was why I was encouraged to join and every day, I am reminded of why I am glad I did. My writing is getting out there and it’s helping others, so beyond blessed is how I feel about that. I have a job of sorts that allows me to help someone I care about and it helps me to feel productive and needed beyond my own home.

Throughout life, it’s not always beautiful, but it’s definitely been quite the ride. I am thankful for every experience, good and bad. It’s all shaped me into who I am and has brought me into contact with some amazing people. I am not where I am meant to be, but nor am I where I once was. I think though that can always be said, for the till the day we die…we are always changing, growing, and moving forward. This is my success story, of sorts, as it stands now. Of course there will be changes as time goes by, but I did want, as I said, to take a few moments to be grateful for how far I have come and where I am at now. Now is huge, we must remember that because we don’t know how many more “now” moments we will have. ❤

Emma Ortega Negrete

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