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Prior to dating Hapa Papa, all my relationships were full of drama. When things were good, they were AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and FATE and when they were bad, they were HORRIBLE and ALL IS LOST and ANGST ANGST ANGST. So exhausting.

Part of it was I was in my late teens and early twenties and my pre-frontal cortex wasn’t finished developing. (Yes, yes… that’s it! Blame it on the pre-frontal cortex!) Part of it was me learning how to navigate my own needs, wants, and desires as well as healing from the ways my parents (in particular, my father’s abandonment) broke me. Also, I was crazy. And emotionally unstable. So, there was that working for me.

Since I was always playing out the drama that unfolded only in my head, I was constantly pushing my boyfriends away, expecting them to chase after me and beg me to stay. That was how I confirmed I was valuable and loved. I was the damsel in distress needing the hero to run after and save me me from myself. Needless to say, it was tiring for everyone and eventually, the “passion” as I thought it was (vs the incredibly passive aggressive co-dependency that it truly was) burned out.

Well, when Hapa Papa and I started dating, I would pull that crap on him and he would have none of it. More to the point, he was completely oblivious. I was so confused. One night, I was so pissed at him, I slammed the door to our apartment and left. We lived in a sketchy neighborhood so I fully expected him to come running after me, begging me to come back and stay and to be safe. Nope. The man had the nerve to fall asleep almost immediately.

I stormed back in after about fifteen minutes and roughly shook Hapa Papa awake, demanding him to explain himself. He looked up at me, blinking sleepily and said, “I assumed you left because you didn’t want to be around me. So I let you be by yourself. I just figured if you wanted to be with me, you’d come back. Was I wrong? I’m not really sure. Is that the way relationships are supposed to work?”

I was floored. I think I stood there, mouth agape, opening and closing like a fish. My brain stuttered to a stop.

“Well?” Hapa Papa asked. “Was I supposed to chase after you? Is that what you want? Should I do that from now on? Because that seems really stupid to me. If you wanted me to be with you, why would you leave?”

*sigh* I hate it when he’s right. I thought about it for a bit, my brain frantically churning through all these scenarios about what I wanted and what would be the best response and I gave up. I told him that he should continue what he was doing. If I stormed out, he was absolutely not to chase me.

Turns out, that was one of the best decisions I ever made. With that pattern of victim/hero disrupted, we were able to proceed on healthier grounds. Of course, there were still times I still bolted because I was pissed off beyond all reason, but I did so knowing that Hapa Papa was not going to be chasing after me. I tested him a few times, but he never did. After awhile, it just got lonely and stupid so I stopped.

Now, of course, we still fight every now and then, but I can honestly say that I have never had a healthier relationship. It also helps that Hapa Papa is what my brother calls The Most Patient Man in the World. Thank the Good Lord for that!

Plus, Hapa Papa is so quick to apologize and admit when he is wrong that just by doing so, it immediately diffuses most volatile situations and stops me from going to DefCon 1. Even I am now able to look past my immense pride and sense of “Look Out for Number One” (a lesson I inscribed onto my heart once I watched my father walk all over my mother for the majority of my life) and have come to apologize as quickly as possible. He has been good for my soul.

All because that one night, Hapa Papa let me walk out that door. I am utterly grateful.