Thank you for all of the feedback on my "vacation" conflict; it has been so helpful. I love reading and hearing different perspectives and find it to be valuable to my processing. I've learned so much in the past few weeks; I've learned a lot about myself and how I handle interpersonal conflict. One thing I've realized is that interpersonal conflict consumes me too entirely. I hate unresolved matters and obsess about them until I work it out in my head. And while it's good to work through things, it's not helpful to let those issues take precedence over God and comprise 50% of my thoughts. Although Carter is often on my mind, I didn't find it comfortable to be thinking about him so much (even if it was largely negative as I was building my mental case against the relationship).
So long story short: Carter and I had several long, productive conversations about our misunderstandings in D.C. We talked about how they made us feel, what we each could have done differently, and how we'd like to handle this issue in the future. And as I reflected on my response to the small misunderstandings, I realized how disproportionate my response was to the situation.
For example, on our way to church on Sunday we got lost, and Carter was frustrated. I thought his frustration was an overreaction, and I didn't like how tense things felt. And it totally reminded me of how my home felt growing up. It reminded me of how my step-father would get angry and how tense things felt so much of the time--and how my mom would avoid conflict because of that. And all I could think about is how I couldn't handle a marriage or a home like that. I completely forgot that I didn't tell Carter how I felt, that he makes a big effort to hear me out and resolve conflict and see things from my perspective, and that he's not my step-father.
A counselor told me that "emotional learning" is the hardest to unlearn--and that my response to Carter's frustration is a result of the emotional learning that took place during my childhood. She explained that I probably felt helpless as a child in that environment, which probably added to the intensity of my response to Carter's two minutes of frustration.
It's funny; I thought May would be a great month for Carter and me since we'd spend so much time together, and I'd hope I'd have a clearer picture of how I feel about him. And I do. It's just not come about in the fun and easy way I expected:) Thanks again for all of the words of advice. You guys are great.
p.s. I'm thankful for clarity....and that I may have the answer to what is next vocationally as my time as a volunteer in Nashville ends on July 31.
p.p.s. Here's a few of my photos from D.C. Ha.