Four weeks and one day ago I posted on Facebook about my partner, Jennifer, going away:
“I believe that the relationships we draw to us provide us with opportunities to learn, grow, heal, and process through that shit we call karma. A big chunk of my karma is related to abandonment. I have feared it. I have allowed myself to be a victim of it.
And so, of course, I have a partner who leaves. First for a weekend, then 5 days, 7, 9… Now for a full 35! But she comes back. And she and I are both better for it.
She makes it safer by leaving me delightful treasures… and this time, for our sweet boy too.”
I’ve opened all the cards (each of the colored envelopes had a drawing with a word that describes me. I cried every morning that week. <3 ) and there are now four more sleeps until she comes back and I’m finding myself confused by my emotions. I am not in a state of actively “missing” her. I feel her absence but it hasn’t destroyed me. I am more nervous than excited about her reintegration into our family home and I feel guilty for that and so the shame spiral begins… Or, I can stop it right there and look for the lessons and see if it can all make sense.
How to begin?
First, I apply curiosity to this state I’m in.
Did it hurt too badly to long for her so I didn’t let myself feel it? No. I let myself feel it. I spent plenty of time wrapping myself in the sleeves of her robe, sobbing and letting the waves of fear and pain crash over me. Every moment? No. Sometimes I have to work. But enough.
Do I have a threshold for staying interested in things outside of myself that maxes out at three weeks? Maybe. I should try applying that to sugar and cheese… perhaps if I distance myself from those for three weeks I won’t miss them either. If my interest does wane that quickly, that’s good to know… I am more than a brain with typical functions though. I get to rise above a neurological tendency and choose to bring her back into my life. And I do so with enough care and thoughtfulness that it incites nervousness. I want for both of us to have been better from this experience which means reevaluating patterns, habits, and rituals… shedding what hasn’t served us and bringing in new.
Is this a sign that I’m better off alone or we aren’t meant to be together? Its possible, but not likely. I have no disdain for her nor displeasure at her return. I haven’t been lavishing in her absence. Instead, perhaps, the information here is that a relationship doesn’t need to look like what I’ve assumed it did. It can have distance. And time. And space. And both people can change. And it can still exist. And be healthy.
Did I find myself filling the space she left behind with things that are more nurturing of me than our relationship? I went to bed early a lot. And I binge watched a lot of TV including two seasons of “Married at First Sight.” I spent more time with friends than usual. I cleaned and organized a few closets. I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay. Those last three are keepers…
Do I need more time because I failed to turn this five weeks into an epic weight loss and other “get life in order” spree? When life isn’t as fucked up, it doesn’t need as many overhauls. There wasn’t any pressure to “get it together” this time. I did a lot. I gave a TEDish talk on a white paper I wrote, I made a halloween costume, I managed the household (that’s usually managed by her) while still being present for the kid, I did the job of four people while my team changed at work, I didn’t get a promotion I thought I was going to get, I widened my circle of support seeking love and encouragement and found it, I got a different promotion, I ate vegetables every meal of every day last week, and it’s nice to have realized that I’m ready to be and do what I need to do for myself to be well whether someone else is around to watch or not.
Second, a little celebration. If nothing else, this state I’m in seems like a victory over codependency. I don’t know that our relationship was codependent (I tend to avoid that word because of my disdain for it), but I’m confident now that it isn’t. I exist as independent. She exist as independent. We’re co-independent. How’s that?
Maybe what I haven’t let myself feel is the bigness in the little things. This wasn’t as hard as I thought it wasn’t going to be. I accessed a lot of tears, but they were cleansing… and I welcomed them. I continued to show up as the parent I want to be and enjoyed it (which is actually pretty big). I didn’t become a whole new person… and I’m glad, because I like the me I bring into the world every day. I want to continue to be her, and just learn a few more things.
I’m ready for you to come home, babe. I’m ready for us to be who we are. Authentic and together. Like we always have, but with room for both of us to be a little different. <3 Also, the kitten needs her nails trimmed and I’m too afraid to do it.
It’s not as romantic as the movies because it turns out I can live without you. I just don’t want to.