by Alyssa Worth RYT
He’s sweet, handsome, works hard and chases his dreams; also, he loves me. Before he came into my life there were boyfriends I thought about dwelling with and marrying but, in those younger years under the guise of love, perhaps it was really out of fear for marriage’s sake that I would consider those things. I’m eternally grateful such things never came to fruition.
With the stress of the world encapsulating us we fell into a heated discussion that left us concerned about our relationship and saddened by the other as well as the role we each play individually. Fear of the commitment called marriage and fear of committing to living together without that piece of paper as a thin slice of abstract protection, we come from different angles in regards to what the next step is. One of the desired qualities of this relationship is that we are happy together – sometimes I forget this. I get stuck living in my head instead of a harmonious balance that includes being rooted in my body. I’m aware that not all folks who are married experience happiness together consistently or at all, living together won’t necessarily prevent us from “marrying the wrong one,” and marriage won’t prevent us from losing each other. There are daily variables that either bring us closer together or pull us further apart within and outside of the relationship. And so, even though I tend to try, I can’t find 100% of life stability and security in the context of this romantic relationship or in marriage alone. A great source of it must be found within my own being. Yes, external factors play a large role, nonetheless I have responsibility to myself.
It is a challenging matter for me to remain present with my partner during the communication of differing opinions without adding the stories from my head into the mix. During this particular conversation I realized I will be 28 soon (by the time this article is released.) I never thought I would still be single at twenty-eight. And by single I mean unmarried. An odd thing it is: unmarried = single. But I don’t feel single because I’m not. I have a partner; we commit to each other according to the terms and values we each see fit. I have no paper, no gown, no ring, no new last name. I have my own place, my own money, my own work, my own dreams, my own ideas, and the freedom to do what I want when I want sans Coronavirus. He has a house with land, his own money, his own work, his own dreams, his own ideas and the freedoms that come along having lived thirty years as a single man. We have our love for one another, an ornery ass cat son named Miles, dreams for vacationing in beautiful, faraway places as well as local adventures even within the bounds of our own spaces. We have heartache when we imagine life without the other.
So what’s a gal to do? If I was still confined to the limiting beliefs of yesteryear I might run, leaving behind all we have invested into the relationship for the sake of finding a man who will offer me marriage the exact moment I want it. And then what? There’d be something else bothersome, no longer stinky feet but a stinky work ethic I’d come to find for trading in a man who loves me for a man who loves the idea of me: a motivated woman down to f***, cook dinner, clean and pursue dreams. That guy might not be able to handle the intensity that comes along with my passion, the parts of me that bring about challenge and suffering, my blood and the fact that I, too, sh*t.
The conversation had an ebb & flow to it of fear and relief, frustration and understanding. By the end, other things that were affecting us made their way to the surface.
Context: I have a client who is very special to me that’ll be moving to another state in the near future. I live in an apartment above a garage and am not allowed pets such as dogs.
“If I had a yard I would take Buzz and Woody; Buzz’s face is so cute. I’m going to miss Jennifer.” I burst into a deep cry, “She’s my friend!”
In that moment I moved into an extreme state of grief. I looked into my lover’s eyes, he too was crying, “It makes me sad seeing you sad.”
I was sitting in his lap facing him, we hugged tightly and cried and something within led me to ask, “You miss your dad, don’t you?”
He wept deeply, “Friday was 10 years.”
I completely forgot. In February I kept thinking to myself, “The date of his passing is coming up.” But I got so busy with my own life it stopped crossing the forefront of my mind. On the tenth anniversary of his father’s passing we went on a date. I had complained bitterly that evening about where we parked and why he turned the direction he did. I thought to myself, what’s important to me must not be important to him, as if he only cared about what he wanted and not about me. If it was his nice car surely he wouldn’t have parked there and now that I have a nice car I want to protect it.
The list goes on. It was a rough start to that date. All the while I was oblivious to what he was or could possibly be going through. Because he hadn’t said a thing or given a clue to the degree I’d be able to perceive, I assumed all was well with him; perhaps in those moments I even thought he was getting on my nerves to be cruel to me. How ridiculous a belief that is! This man has never been cruel to me. Why would he start then? And over a parking space? There’s plenty he could be cruel to me about but instead he has continuously shown me grace, patience and love even in the midst of this self-absorption fit. While believing my partner to be selfish, it was really just me.
So, there we sat on the couch, four days later, feeling sad because of inward struggles we face and the outward struggles we participate in response to the other. We were mourning a loved one and grieving each other and living through the pandemic that is Coronavirus without being totally aware of it all until those things rose up into our consciousness to be experienced in a more obvious way. It was incredibly humbling. I kept thinking to myself “I didn’t know. Why didn’t he say anything?” as I shamed myself for having forgotten. But, to be sure, I don’t need (read: shouldn’t have) to know everything my partner is going through in order to be kind, gentle and loving to him. These qualities needn’t a special reason to be expressed or received. This is what I’m finding, when the hope that security and stability (beyond a certain degree) is possible and it becomes a goal I work to achieve, it simultaneously destroys any harmony that may exist at present because of its illusory qualities. No longer am I living in a place of contentment; I end up with a scarcity mindset. I’d been living with the notion that marriage could magically save me from feeling loss.
It’s 2020 and with all the information, technology, and money in the world we still face a pandemic – where’s the stability in that? What’s the real issue I’m facing here, the root? Hanging onto imaginary security as if it will save me from any potential suffering. It’s also me thinking my partner is sooo selfish because, in any given moment, I have chosen to believe I know everything going on with him when in reality that is never possible and so I’ve forfeit the truth that he is good by nature, that he is doing the best he can. The issue is my own delusion, to think that every moment that is good must be totally pure and separate from any other experience that is qualified as less than good, as if good moments were not intertwined with a twinge of grief coming from somewhere long ago.
The times are harsh and yet goodness arises.
We have each other.