I hate hanging up a wet Gi. Like, HATE.
For those of you that don’t know, a Gi is the formal “uniform” of jiu-jitsu. Think karate-kid and his white, black or blue outfit…
My guy is a tall man. This means that whatever he buys typically perfectly fits him right off the shelf. What this further means is that there is rarely little room for shrinkage to new clothes he buys.
While he does dry other items like his T-shirts and just chooses for them to remain a little short – he is particular about his Gi length. This doesn’t quite make sense to me as Gi’s stretch out with use with all the pulling done in the class – but nonetheless, this is his preference.
I never had this problem when I trained jiu-jitsu. Considering I am only 5’2”, it really made little difference if I took my dirty Gi, put it in the wash, and dried that motherfucker to a tight, crisp and newly shortened length. However, with my guy, this is not the case.
Gi’s are heavy. They comprise of really tough materials – suitable for gripping, pulling, wrapping, tossing… basically a lot of abuse. The material is rough and thick. Add to that, after a Gi goes through the wash cycle? I’d swear it gains an 10 extra lbs while you’re trying to pull that bad boy from the washing machine.
While I don’t mind the initial effort of pulling it from the washing machine, I then have to set it aside on a clean surface whilst I pull all the other clothes from the washer and load them into the dryer. But my work is not done there… nay. I must get the other clothes loaded and started in the dry cycle, but I have to go BACK to the wet, heavy heap of fabric and shake them out with vigorous effort – they are quite wrinkly, and did I mention fucking heavy? Next, I have to lug those heavy, wet fabric pieces to the guest bedroom/jiu-jitsu room in our home. Then commences my search for 2 different types of hangers… one that grips the pants and one that will hang the jacket. Typically these are of the flimsy plastic variety that taunt you with immediate breakage and re-hanging (thereby doubling your efforts when it fails to withstand the lead-weighted fabric)… Once I have placed the Gi pieces on their respective hangers, I then hold those heavy assholes while I maneuver the pieces for their prime drying state. This means a short struggle through the myriad of obstacles blocking my clean entry into our (tiny) closet only to begin forcing all his other coats to the back of the rack, while creating room for the Gi to hang and dry. I need ample space here, ensuring the Gi has enough air between its matching counterpart for adequate and faster drying.
I am typically the one who takes care of our laundry’s final stages of drying and folding. While my guy helps out and pitches in semi-regularly, he typically will do great at getting the laundry started – you know, the easy stuff of loading and beginning the wash cycle – but he’s not always the best in bringing it all full circle. Therefore, if I want it completed, that largely lies within my realm. (And in the rare occasion when he does complete the task – I enjoy wrinkled, albeit dry, fabrics hanging in my closet causing extra work on my part to re-dry and prep the clothing for actual use…) This is okay. I am not too bothered by this fact. I get it done, I feel good that the laundry is complete, and I wait again for a few days until the next cycle begins. (Plus, he cooks. A lot. And I don’t really like cooking. And takes care of yardwork, and takes the trashes to the curb every week…)
But that Gi. That damn Gi…
Every time I see it in the wash I groan inwardly. I know, I know, first world problems. But it’s exhausting to think about the work promised to me in order to prep this uniform for it’s next abused use, only to cycle back around to the next laundry day, facing me once again. It’s bulky, and heavy and wet and awkward and stiff. (that’s what she said?) But yet, I do it. Despite my logical reasoning otherwise, my guy wants it done this way. And so as I do it, I know I am doing it not for me, but as an act of love.
My guy and I talked about this a few nights ago. I don’t know how it’s never really come up before, as I am not particularly shy in withholding my complaints. But for the first time the other night, he learned that I loathe this practice of hanging up his Gi. Like, hate, despise, and rage inwardly at this practice. I also told him how even though I hate this practice, I still do it. I still do it to his standards or better, because I love him. And that love, although doesn’t make the process more enjoyable, it makes it worth it. Unseen acts of love. Unseen moments of suffering for the greater good.
I don’t know that I can look at our life and pick out things he does in a similar manner for me, but I may be unaware to them just as he was unaware of this unseen act I do for him. However, I find that I often do these unseen acts of love in a myriad of ways… Feeding the dog the way he likes it done, organizing his shoes where he will find them easily after he leaves them in the living room, being the only one to gather the smaller trashes in all the bathrooms, brushing our dog’s teeth, picking up his beer cans in the living room and bedroom almost every night… I do these things. Yes, sometimes I groan when he’s not there, and scold him to myself. But I do them. And after I do them, I feel gratitude and a sense of completion.
But this isn’t about the silent feelings of gratitude I receive and keeping it at that. Nope. This is about calling it out and giving my partner the opportunity to realize those acts of love that I feel go unnoticed.
I am not one to do things for free. Maybe in the beginning I might, but certainly not for extended periods of time without some form of acknowledgement. Honestly, I don’t know many people who are content in constantly giving in a silent, unseen way and just holding onto the good of the act. I am not saying they aren’t out there, but this isn’t me. And I’ll tell you why…
I take time out to actively look for contributions from my guy. I try to actively show gratitude and appreciation for him for every large and small act of kindness and love he displays (that I can pick out). This is great for him as he often feels appreciated and cared for – seen. But when that scale is tipped for too long, and I don’t receive the reciprocal appreciation, it is up to me to express that imbalance. I cannot expect him to read my mind to know that I am feeling slighted. I cannot risk falling into that state of steady resentment that it brings – and I cannot sit back and silently hope that soon enough, he’ll finally notice. Because I know myself well enough to know that if I feel this way too long, it means the next time he may finally appreciate it, could be when my heart has gassed out and has officially left the building.
This is not a threat. This is the work.
As the conversation continued the other night, we discussed how if we’re in a relationship it doesn’t mean you get to just exist in one. The very nature of relationships is work. It’s learning to actively care and actively love your partner. It’s learning to avoid the 4 deadly horsemen that Dr. John Gottman preaches in his Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work book. It’s learning to actively appreciate this being you are choosing to spend your life with instead of checking out, gliding along and missing the small moments of love.
It’s not that my guy has done these things intentionally. That’s quite the opposite. It’s just that he hasn’t actively trained himself to look for these acts of love. But inaction is action unto itself… And because he hasn’t seen this issue as a possible threat, he’s been gliding along while I feel frustrated and unappreciated in the relationship, opening myself up the potential of harboring resentment. And I do feel resentful at times. But this conversation we had allowed me to clear the air, and at the very least, the next time he sees his Gi dry, hanging in the closet – I might have been able to give him something to actively appreciate about our existence together. He might now be aware to the act of love I choose to give.
So I’m not about, “let’s give, give, give without being seen.” While there may be a time and a place for that, I am of the mind that in a relationship, if your significant other is not actively looking for how you contribute, it can be helpful to firstly express your frustration to this (gently), and then call those items to attention. They might not know just how much toil goes into your participation of the relationship. But they also can’t read your mind, nor automatcally know what you do when they aren’t around. And It’s not fair for us to expect someone else to read our mind or know what they don’t, anyway.
I am about to start reading a book Aly has recently lent me called Awareness by Anthony De Mello. On the back cover of the book, it states: “We must leave this go-go-go world of illusion and become aware. And this only happens, he insists, by becoming alive to the needs and potential of others, whether at home or in the workplace. Here, then, is a masterful book of the spirit, challenging us to wake up in every aspect of our lives.”
Awareness. Isn’t that the first step anyway? Isn’t that what I’m asking for overall? For my guy to open his eyes and see what is happening all around him? For him to see beyond his limited lens of his own world, and attempt to see from another’s (my) perspective? And how can he see unless I let him know?
And what do I hope he sees?
I hope he sees that when his girl hangs his wet Gi, he is reminded just how deeply she loves him.
*For an additional resource on this topic:
Please listen to the podcast by Dear Sugar, called: Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work (Most) Women Do. This podcast doesn’t necessarily speak to informing your loved one of one particular act of love you may feel is going unnoticed, but rather speaks to the wider labors typically assumed by women (or the primary domestic caretaker) that largely go unnoticed and/or unappreciated (i.e. all the behind the scene mental “labors” such as planning, preparation, scheduling, budgeting, etc for a household/relationship).